Planning Your Wedding Day Timeline

Wedding Planning

May 15, 2019

Want to ensure that your wedding day goes smoothly and is (mostly) stress-free? A well planned out timeline will go a long way in ensuring that things go according to plan!

While you may be working with a wedding planner (planners are experts at timelines!), I still suggest working with your photographer on this as well. Each photographer has a different approach to how they photograph each portion of the wedding day, so amounts of time needed for different things may vary. Ensuring your timeline is designed with this in mind will help to make your wedding day less stressful and ensure that your final gallery is everything you dreamed it would be!

Don’t know where to start when creating your first timeline draft? I suggest starting with your ceremony or reception time and working outwards from there. For example, if your ceremony is set for 5:00pm, you know you’ll want to end all photos by 4:30 (at the absolute latest) so you’ve got a little bit of a breather to freshen up and prepare for the ceremony. 

Here’s a loose first draft sample:
1:00pm Lunch in bridal suite
2:00pm Photography coverage begins with detail photographs
2:30pm Hair and makeup conclude
3:00pm Bride gets into her dress
3:30pm First Look 
4:00pm Bridal party portraits
4:30pm Photos conclude. Bride and Groom freshen up and prepare for ceremony.
5:00pm Ceremony begins! Bride and Groom get married!
5:30pm Ceremony concludes, family formals & cocktail hour begin
6:00pm Family photos conclude. Bride and Groom join cocktail hour. 7:00pm Reception begins with bridal party intros
7:15pm Bride and Groom’s first dance, followed by welcome speech
7:25pm First course served/Bride and groom sneak out for sunset photos
7:45pm Dinner served/Bride and groom return from sunset photos8:00pm Toasts begin
8:15pm Parent dances
9:00pm Cake cutting
10:00pm Photography coverage concludes
11:00pm Reception ends

This timeline draft assumes that the ceremony and reception are in the same location, but if you are utilizing multiple locations on your wedding day, you’ll want to ensure you add adequate travel time into your schedule. You’ll also want to add a little bit of buffer time to that in case there’s traffic (wedding Saturdays in Spring and Fall always seem to be full of festivals and events!) or someone gets lost, etc. Adding buffer time (making more time than you think you’ll need) for portions of the wedding day is always a smart idea because if things run over or late as they inevitably do, you’ll still be able to relax knowing things won’t go too far off track since you planned for the unexpected!

I work with each of my couples to create a really well-rounded timeline that ensures we have time for all of the photos that are most important to them. Using my experiences as a wedding photographer and my knowledge of how long it takes me to photograph certain parts of the day, I help plan out the day’s itinerary. I love planning so this is a favorite part of the process!

PRO TIP: Coordinate with your other vendors to make sure your timeline is realistic, besides your photography team, especially hair and makeup! I suggest working with your beauty team to find out how long their process typically takes and when you can expect to be ready. You’ll also want to work with your floral designer and anyone else who’s contributing towards the reception design (catering team, rentals, etc) to find out when the reception will be completely set up and ready to be photographed. 

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