Creating the Perfect Wedding Day Timeline

One of the most daunting parts of wedding planning is creating the perfect wedding day timeline. Planning out when everything is going to happen and where everybody needs to be can cause some people to pull their hair out. Thankfully it doesn’t have to be stressful. The key is to trust the experts. This most likely is your first wedding and it’s okay that you have no idea what to do. That’s why you pay the experts. Your planners or photographers are happy to help give advice and help plan your day to help you stress a little less on your big day.

Below you’ll find 2 sample timelines, one with a first look and one without to use as a guide in planning your own timeline for your wedding day. These timelines assume that the ceremony and reception will be at the same venue and that the ceremony will start at 4:30 PM. Catholic ceremonies are often held earlier in the day or you might have 2 different locations for your wedding. Use these samples to get you started and then factor in your own unique situation to adjust as necessary.

Photo: Broc and Alexa Photography

Timeline with a First Look 

12:30 – Photographer arrives and takes detail photos; invitation, shoes, perfume, bouquet etc

1:00 – Bride finishing up hair and makeup

1:15 – Getting Ready Photos with the Girls

1:30 – Bride Getting into Dress / Groom getting into Suit

2:00 – First Look

2:30 – Bride and Groom Portraits

3:00 – Full Bridal Party Portraits

3:30 – Groomsmen Photos / Bridesmaid Photos

4:00 – Bride, Groom, Bridesmaids and Groomsmen take a break before the ceremony

4:30 – Ceremony Starts

5:00 – Ceremony Ends; Family Photos Start; Cocktail Hour Starts

5:30 – Bride and Groom get 30 minutes alone

6:00 – Entrance into Reception

6:10 – Toasts

6:30 – Dinner – Bride and Groom take 15 minutes for sunset photos

7:15 – Cake Cutting

7:20– First Dance

7:25 – Father/Daughter Dance

7:30 – Mother/Son Dance

7:35 – Dance Floor Opens

8:30 – Photographers Leave

10:00 – Dance Floor Closes, Everyone Goes Home

 

Timeline Without a First Look

1:00 – Photographer arrives and takes detail photos; invitation, shoes, perfume, bouquet etc.

1:30 – Bride finishing up hair and makeup

2:00 – Getting Ready Photos with the Girls

2:30 – Bride Getting into Dress / Groom getting into Suit

3:00 – Bride and Bridesmaid Photos 

3:30 – Groom and Groomsmen Photos

4:00 – Bride, Groom, Bridesmaids and Groomsmen take a break before the ceremony

4:30 – Ceremony Starts

5:00 – Ceremony Ends; Family Photos Start; Cocktail Hour Starts

5:30 – Bride and Groom with Full Bridal Party Photos

5:40 – Bride and Groom Photos

6:00 – Entrance into Reception

6:10 – Toasts

6:30 – Dinner – Bride and Groom take 15 minutes for sunset photos

7:15 – Cake Cutting

7:20 – First Dance

7:25 – Father/Daughter Dance

7:30 – Mother/Son Dance

7:35 – Dance Floor Opens

9:00 – Photographers Leave

10:00 – Dance Floor Closes, Everyone Goes Home

 

Tips for Creating a Timeline

Plan the Ceremony 1.5 Hours before the reception

By doing this it ensures that you have enough time to get family photos done and any other photos done that weren’t taken before the ceremony. Non-Catholic ceremonies typically last 15-30 minutes. That will give you about an hour to finish any photos while your friends and family enjoy drinks at cocktail hour.

Plan in Buffer Time

On a wedding day, things rarely always go as planned so it’s important to prepare for the unexpected. Plan a little more time than necessary for everything so that if something runs over the allotted time you aren’t left feeling stressed and rushed. Hair and makeup typically take longer than anticipated, especially if you have a friend and not a professional do it. Tell them you want your makeup done 30 minutes prior to when you actually need to be ready to give you some extra time in case things take longer than anticipated. 

Photo: Broc and Alexa Photography

 

Don’t Make Your Guests Wait at Cocktail Hour for Too Long

Cocktail hour is an hour, not 3 hours. Make sure that you don’t keep your guests waiting because they will start to get hangry and overall most just want to be able to sit down. Plan out your photos accordingly so that they only take an hour or if you do a first look get them all done beforehand except the family photos so that you can enjoy cocktail hour if you want.

 

Planning a timeline doesn’t have to be stressful. Trust your vendors to give you insight on how long things take on the wedding day. Give yourself some buffer time and plan ahead and it will help you to be more stress-free and able to enjoy the day.

Broc and Alexa Photography are a husband and wife wedding photography team based in Columbus, Ohio. They love sharing wedding planning advice with their couples and capturing beautiful images on wedding days that their couples can treasure for a lifetime.

Website: www.brocandalexaphotography.com

Instagram: @brocandalexaphotography

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