Getting married and not sure where to start on the timelines? You are in the right place. Creating a timeline for your wedding day helps you stay organized and keep track of wedding planning. It also is different for every wedding. It depends on what type of wedding and when you want to have the ceremony. The timelines mentioned in this article are from our experience photographing weddings. Feel free to modify it based on your needs.
In this article, we will discuss how to create a wedding day timeline—the timelines are different for every couple. You don’t need to include everything mentioned here. Delete the ones that are not needed and create your version of our wedding day timeline.
How do you create a timeline for your wedding day?
The first step in creating your wedding day timeline is to decide when you want to have your ceremony. One other tip is always to include some buffer time. It ensures that you meet the timelines even when an event gets delayed. Based on it, you can create your entire timeline. Before you go ahead and create a timeline, here are a few things you need to know.
Hair & Make-up
Your hair and make-up schedule is crucial. It will set precedence for the rest of the day. One of the mistakes we see most couples make is not giving enough time for hair and make-up. Talk to your hair & make-up artists about the time they will need. Also, leave some buffer time. For example, if your hair and make-up finish at 10.30, don’t schedule your photographer till 11.00. It will give you time if there is a delay. Furthermore, if you are including your bridesmaids in the getting-ready photos, remember they should have hair & make-up done by the time your photographer arrives.
Another crucial component not to forget is travel time. Walking to the elevator, getting into the car, and driving to the location, takes time. Each time you get into the car, add 15 mins. A wedding day is a bit different than any other day. It’s better to have enough time planned than to be rushed.
How much time to allocate for each event in your Wedding day Timeline?
Getting-ready Photos: 2-3 Hours
Usually, you will need 2-3 hours for both of you. Ask your photographers about how much time they want. Sometimes Wedding planners, coordinators, family & friends will suggest the time to allocate for the photos. Ask your Photographers. Each Photographer is different. They will appreciate that you asked.
First look: 15 mins
This one is optional. The first look is a special moment where you and your partner see each other privately for the first time on your Wedding day instead of during the ceremony. We have seen couples do it with their parents too, as it is a special moment. Allocate 15 mins for each first look you are planning on having. If you are going to a specific location, don’t forget to include travel time.
Ceremony: 10 mins – 2 hours
Your ceremony time varies based on your culture, traditions or what you have planned after discussing with your officiant. Leave time 15 mins before the ceremony for yourself to gather your thoughts instead of rushing into it.
Group Photos(family & friends): 30 mins – 1 hour
We usually ask to have group photos right after the ceremony. So the guests can go and enjoy the day instead of waiting for the photographs. 30 mins are enough for up to 100-150 guests. Talk to your photographer about the exact time needed for group photos.
Wedding Party photos: 30 mins
If you have a big wedding party, allocate some time for some fun photos with them.
Wedding day Photos – 1 hour
Once the bridal party photos conclude, it’s time for your wedding photos. We usually recommend that it is just you two with your photographer. It will help you focus, be present and not feel shy. If you want a helper, have one of your bridesmaids with you.
Cocktail hour: 1-1.5 Hours
If your reception is at the same venue, Cocktail hour starts right after the ceremony. If it is at a different location, it can be about 30mins – 1 hour later. It also depends on the drive time. It is a great way to keep your guests occupied when you are with your photographer. Cocktail hour is also the starting point of your wedding reception. Most of the time, there is a grand entrance for the couple. Dinner starts right after. For our couples, we recommend the grand entrance during cocktail hour. Spend at least 30 mins with your guests before the reception.
Grand Entrance: 5-10 mins
The newlyweds and the wedding party are formally introduced to wedding guests during the grand entrance. It can happen either during cocktail hour or at the reception. If you do it during cocktail hour, you can mingle with the guests right after and then ease into the reception.
Dinner – 45 mins – 1 Hour
Typically dinner lasts around 45 mins- 1 hour depending on the dinner service you choose.
Speeches: 15 – 30 mins
A family member, friend or someone from the wedding party will be willing to give a toast. For each person that is going to talk, allocate 5 mins. So you will know the total time needed based on that.
Cake cutting: 15 mins
After the speeches, schedule the cake cutting. It will also help the caterers to prepare for the cake cutting after the dinner service.
BOUQUET AND GARTER TOSS: 15 mins
If you want to do the bouquet and garter toss, include them in your timeline after the cake cutting.
First Dance & Other Dances – 15 mins
The last event on your wedding day timeline before the big party will be your first dance. You can dance to the whole song or ask your DJ to fade it after a few minutes. After your first dance, you can include your parents’ dances. By then, the crowd will want to get on the dance floor. You can even discuss with your DJ and schedule dance sets to set the mood for the night.
Grand Exit – 15 mins
If you want to do a grand exit, schedule it before the dance floor opens to the guests.
Sample Timeline for your wedding day
The above details should have given you information on the time to allocate for each event on your wedding day. Below is a sample timeline for your wedding day, assuming the ceremony will be at 1.30 PM, for 250 guests and a bridal party of 12, including the bride and groom. Modify it based on your ceremony time and create your wedding day timeline.
10-30-11.30 AM – Groom or Partner A getting ready
11.30 AM-Noon – Travel time
12.00-1.00 PM- Bride or Partner B getting ready
1.00-1.15 PM – Travel time
1.15-1.30 PM – Couples prepare for the ceremony. Photographers take detailed photos of the location & set-up
1.30-2.30 PM – Ceremony
2.30-3.30 PM – Group Photos ( Family & Friends)
3.30-4.00 PM – Wedding Party Photos
4.00-5.00 PM – Wedding Portraits of the couple
4.00-6.00 PM – Cocktail hour
5.00-5.30 PM – Alone time for the couple + Photographers get photos of the reception set-up
5.30 PM – Bridal Party grand entrance
5.30-6.00 PM – The couple will mingle with the guests
6.00 PM – Reception starts
6.15-7.15 PM – Dinner
7.15 – 7.45 PM – Speeches
7.45- 8.00 PM – Cake Cutting
8.00 – 8.15 PM – First Dance + Other dances
8.15 PM – 8.30 PM – Grand Exit
8.30 PM – Party Begins
Here are a few other articles we think will help you with your wedding planning and photography.
5 tips to look best in your wedding photographs
How to plan a wedding once engaged
Do you need engagement or save the date photos
5 tips on how to find a wedding photographer
Did we miss any details, want to give a wedding day tip to couples, or do you have questions? Comment below.
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