Creating a day of wedding timeline

Timelines:

So it’s January and you may be recently engaged, in the middle of heavy wedding planning, or about to get hitched because you are a winter bride bamf.

Either way, the day of timeline for your wedding is SUPER important!

One of the benefits my brides get when they book me, is my ability to whip up a timeline for them and be super hands on about it so that there’s no confusion.

 

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Weddings, ALL WEDDINGS, are chaotic in some way or at some point during the day. So being a little “A-type” on the back end allows for the day to sorta unravel and you know it’s going to still be ok.

So, in order to help y’all out, I decided to take some time to write down a little guide.

Alright.

So the first thing when mocking up a simple timeline is to answer these basic questions:

  1. Are you having a first look with your fiancé?
  2. Are you having a first look with anyone else IE Dad?
  3. What time is the ceremony
  4. what time is dinner
  5. is this an all in one venue?
  6. Will there be a cocktail hour
  7. what time is the sunset on your wedding? (http://suncalc.net)
  8. Where will you be getting ready/into the dress

There are many more questions I ask my couples to help narrow down the timeline best, but these are the big ones to know.

Based on your answers you can make a first draft of a timeline. So, for example, here are the answers

  1. Yes we will be having a first look
  2. Yes a first look with dad as well
  3. Ceremony is at 4pm
  4. dinner is at 6pm
  5. Yes all in one venue and reception
  6. Yes there will be a cocktail hour
  7. Sunset for the day is at 7:35

Let’s begin the timeline with the ceremony time and work our way backwards.

So, the ceremony is at 4pm

Great! Most ceremonies are 30 minuets.

*Always assume everything takes at least 30 minuets. 

4:00-4:30 Ceremony

Next, you work your way backwards and add a break or rest time before the ceremony because, believe me, you will want a buffer and some you time before the ceremony.

3:30-4:00 Rest time Before ceremony
4:00-4:30 Ceremony time

Alright. Assuming we are in an all in one venue and we are doing first looks we know we can hammer out all of the bridal party photos and the family photos before the ceremony.

2:30-3:00 Bridal party photos
3:00-3:30 Family photos
3:30-4:00 Rest time Before ceremony
4:00-4:30 Ceremony time

(Tip: If you have more than 6 in the bridal party, you might want to add more time for photos)

Then you assume that right after the first look, you will sneak off and take some couple portraits/photos.

If you are planning a first look that is off site from the venue, you will have to figure out travel time etc.

2:00 First look with groom + couple portraits
2:30-3:00 Bridal party photos
3:00-3:30 Family photos
3:30-4:00 Rest time Before ceremony
4:00-4:30 Ceremony time

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Ok so if you are having a first look with dad you are going to want to include some buffer cry time/re-apply makeup/ gather my thoughts time. So-

1:30-2:00 First look with dad
2:00 First look with groom + couple portraits
2:30-3:00 Bridal party photos
3:00-3:30 Family photos
3:30-4:00 Rest time Before ceremony
4:00-4:30 Ceremony time

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SO, now you know that you have to be drop dead gorgeous by 1:30. That means you have to start putting on that dress at LEAST  30 min prior, if not give yourself more time for the shoes, garter, jewelry, wardrobe mishaps etc.

1:00 Get into dress
1:30-2:00 First look with dad
2:00 First look with groom + couple portraits
2:30-3:00 Bridal party photos
3:00-3:30 Family photos
3:30-4:00 Rest time Before ceremony
4:00-4:30 Ceremony time

2017-01-10_0002.jpgAssuming you want photos of your lovely dress and accessories, PLUS moments of you and your ladies captured you will want to have photo coverage start about an hour or so before hand

12:00 photographer arrives – Getting ready photos
1:00 Get into dress
1:30-2:00 First look with dad
2:00 First look with groom + couple portraits
2:30-3:00 Bridal party photos
3:00-3:30 Family photos
3:30-4:00 Rest time Before ceremony
4:00-4:30 Ceremony time

Whew! Hopefully you are still with me at this point.

Ok so now we skim alllllll the way back to ceremony time that ends at 4:30 and keep going.

Now, this is usually where the cocktail hour begins and social hour magic is happening.

This is where more photos of you and your betrothed are taken, as well as photos of your guests.

12:00 photographer arrives – Getting ready photos
1:00 Get into dress
1:30-2:00 First look with dad
2:00 First look with groom + couple portraits
2:30-3:00 Bridal party photos
3:00-3:30 Family photos
3:30-4:00 Rest time Before ceremony
4:00-4:30 Ceremony time
4:30-5:30 Cocktail fun time

Your venue will decide the how and when specifics of dinner. Some venues have to flip the ceremony site, sometimes it takes awhile to get guests seated, etc.

12:00 photographer arrives – Getting ready photos
1:00 Get into dress
1:30-2:00 First look with dad
2:00 First look with groom + couple portraits
2:30-3:00 Bridal party photos
3:00-3:30 Family photos
3:30-4:00 Rest time Before ceremony
4:00-4:30 Ceremony time
4:30-5:30 Cocktail fun time
6:00-7:00 Dinner

During the end of dinner are speeches and somewhere in this time is probably the cake cutting if you’re doing the cake thing.

12:00 photographer arrives – Getting ready photos
1:00 Get into dress
1:30-2:00 First look with dad
2:00 First look with groom + couple portraits
2:30-3:00 Bridal party photos
3:00-3:30 Family photos
3:30-4:00 Rest time Before ceremony
4:00-4:30 Ceremony time
4:30-5:30 Cocktail fun time
6:00-7:00 Dinner
6:45 Speeches

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 *It’s important to stick to the timeline for speeches or at least be informing your photographer of any changes so that they can be sure to be photographing the speeches and not slamming down that delicious chicken you provided for them 😉

After Speeches, couples usually get up to mingle with their guests and depending on the sunset time, you would either go into first dance, OR run off into the sunset for epic photos!

The whole reception is waiting for your first dance to kick off the party (unless you have kids at the wedding, cuz kids bring their own party to the dance floor)

12:00 photographer arrives – Getting ready photos
1:00 Get into dress
1:30-2:00 First look with dad
2:00 First look with groom + couple portraits
2:30-3:00 Bridal party photos
3:00-3:30 Family photos
3:30-4:00 Rest time Before ceremony
4:00-4:30 Ceremony time
4:30-5:30 Cocktail fun time
6:00-7:00 Dinner
6:45 Speeches
7:00 First dances

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 Alright so you did your first dance and the DJ opens up the dance floor for all of your party people.

It’s time to haul tail into the sunset for those epic photos you are sure to want.

12:00 photographer arrives – Getting ready photos
1:00 Get into dress
1:30-2:00 First look with dad
2:00 First look with groom + couple portraits
2:30-3:00 Bridal party photos
3:00-3:30 Family photos
3:30-4:00 Rest time Before ceremony
4:00-4:30 Ceremony time
4:30-5:30 Cocktail fun time
6:00-7:00 Dinner
6:45 Speeches
7:00 First dances
7:15-7:45 Run off into the sunset for photos

 

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After the sun is gone there is not as much of a rush anymore so then the party just opens up and it’s pretty much time to dance!

The garter, bouquet, etc can go near the end of the reception or really you can do that whenever you feel like it….it’s your wedding!

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Last questions are if you are having any type of send off because that needs to be documented.

Also, towards the end of the night I might steal my couple to take a few more photos of the two of them.

The emotions of the day have settled and the emotion is a little different in the end of the night photos 😉

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12:00 photographer arrives – Getting ready photos
1:00 Get into dress
1:30-2:00 First look with dad
2:00 First look with groom + couple portraits
2:30-3:00 Bridal party photos
3:00-3:30 Family photos
3:30-4:00 Rest time Before ceremony
4:00-4:30 Ceremony time
4:30-5:30 Cocktail fun time
6:00-7:00 Dinner
6:45 Speeches
7:00 First dances
7:15-7:45 Run off into the sunset for photos
-Dance Time!
9:00 end of night photos
10:00 Epic send off into married life

So, obviously there are many other factors and details that go into planning a wedding, but this is a good start.

The important thing is to talk it out with your photographer (hopefully yours truly) and go from there.

Whew! That was a lot of thought.

More coffee needed.

So, did that help? Let me know in the comments 😉

  1. Katie

    January 14th, 2017 at 9:35 am

    You are amazing! I have been struggling on figuring out a general time line for my wedding. We are just in the firat stages of planning now but I couldn’t find any info on how to sort it out. This helped me immensely.

  2. pennyphotographics

    January 14th, 2017 at 9:56 am

    Thanks Katie! I’m so glad I could help 🙂 Wedding planning can be overwhelming but just remember that as long as you get to marry your best friend, you win!

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