Creating Your Wedding Day Timeline

Updated: Feb 12, 2020

When creating your timeline you should work backwards from your ceremony start time to plan the first part of the day, then work forward from your ceremony for the remainder of the day. Planning around times that can't be changed such as ceremony and reception start times, hair and makeup appts. , etc.

A few things to keep in mind:

Schedule in time for your formal photos. Family photos (usually at the ceremony venue directly after the ceremony). 30 minutes. Bridal Party Photos- 30 minutes. Bride and Groom Photos -30 minutes. If time allows, also schedule in 15-20 minutes for sunset photos, you will be so glad you did.

If you are not having a first look, you will need to allot time for photos between your ceremony and reception. You can plan a cocktail hour to entertain your guests for a portion of the time you will need for photos.

Factor in drive time between each location in to your timeline.

Prioritize the things that are most important to you. Consider skipping things that aren't important to you. Skipping the receiving line can save as much as 30 minutes of time on your wedding day.

Doing a first look before your ceremony allows you to be able to get most of your photos done before your ceremony, and removes big gaps of time between your ceremony and reception for your guests.

Sample Timelines

With first looks:

11:30 AM -Photographer arrives at the hotel for make-up shots

12:30- travel to venue

1 PM- Photograph the dress and details (rings, invitations, flowers)

1:30 PM-Getting ready shots of the guys at the venue

2:00 PM  Bride getting into her dress at the venue

2:30 PM First look 

2:45 PM Bride and Groom Portraits

3:15 PM Bridal party photos

4:30 PM Shots of the venue, any remaining details shots, 

5:30 PM - Candids of the guests arriving

6:00 PM - Ceremony

6-30 PM- Family Formals

7:00 PM-Reception

8:30 PM- Photographer leaves

2 p.m. Photographer Arrives- At Venue

2:15 p.m. Bridesmaids are dressed and ready, bride’s hair and makeup is complete.

2:30 p.m. Bride Gets Dressed

2:45 p.m. First look

3:00 - 3:30 p.m. Bride and Groom Photos 3:30 - 4:15 p.m. Bridal Party Photos

4:15 - 5:00 p.m. Family Photos

5:30 p.m. Start Time Listed on Wedding Invitation

5:45 p.m. Actual Start Time

5:45 - 6:15 p.m. Ceremony

6:15 - 7:15 p.m. Cocktail Hour

7 p.m. Sunset Photos

7:30 p.m. Grand Entrance and First Dance

7:35 - 7:40 p.m. Welcome Speech from Hosts

7:40-7:45. Cake Cutting

7:45 - 8:30 p.m. Dinner

8:30 - 8:40 p.m. Bridal Party Toasts

8:40 - 8:50 p.m. Parent Dances

9:30 - 9:45 p.m. Bouquet Toss and Garter Toss

9:45 p.m. Open Dance Floor

Dance until the night ends!

11:30 p.m. Grand Exit

12:00 p.m.—Hair and makeup / Getting ready

12:00–2:00 p.m.—Most vendors arrive for setup

1:30 - First look / Bride and Groom Photos

2:00 p.m.—Wedding party Photos

4:30 p.m.—Doors open / Room ready for guests / Pre-ceremony music starts

5:00 p.m.—Invite time

5:15 p.m.—Ceremony starts

5:45 p.m.—Ceremony ends

545 p.m.—Cocktail hour starts

5:45-6:15- Family formal portraits

6:20 - Bridal Party Announced In

6:30-6:40 PM- Cake Cutting

6:45 p.m.—Buffet opens / Dinner served

7:00 p.m.—All guests have food

7:15 p.m.—Toasts

7:40 PM-8:00 PM Sunset Photos

8:15 p.m.—First dance

8:20 PM - Father / daughter dance

8:25 PM - Mother/ son dance

8:35 p.m.—Open dance

9:00 PM- Bouquet / Garter toss

9:45 p.m.—Last call

10:00 p.m.—Guests depart

11:00 p.m.—Breakdown done / All staff departs

Without first looks:

2 p.m. Photographer Arrives- At Venue

2:15 p.m. Bridesmaids are dressed and ready, bride’s hair and makeup is complete.

2:30 p.m. Bride Gets Dressed

3:00 - 3:30 p.m. Ceremony 3:30 - 4:00 p.m. Receiving line

4:00 - 5:00 p.m. Family Photos

5:00-5:30 p.m. Travel to Forest Park

5:30-6:00 p.m. Bridal Party Photos

6:00-6:30 p.m. Bride and Groom Photos

6:00 - 7:00 p.m. Travel to reception venue

7:00 p.m. Grand Entrance

7:05 - 7:10 p.m. Welcome Speech from Hosts

7:10-7:15 Cake Cutting

7:15 - 8:15 p.m. Dinner

8:00 - 8:10 p.m. Bridal Party Toasts

8:15-8:20. First Dance

8:20 - 8:30 p.m. Parent Dances

8:30- Open Dance Floor

9:30 - 9:45 p.m. Bouquet Toss and Garter Toss

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