Start With The Details That Are Already Locked In
This is a good place to begin when figuring out how to make your day-of-wedding timeline.
List down the start time of the ceremony , as well as the start and end of the reception time.
You can also include when your suppliers are allowed to set up your ceremony and reception venue.
SIDE TIP: If you have DIYed many things for your wedding, it is necessary to label your products and match them to the labels you will be using for your timeline. Assign a person/team who will execute the products/things that you have already DIYed.
Getting Ready: 1: 4: 45 Pm
After the details have been photographed, its time for you to get into your dress.
This is when the day starts to feel real!
This is a good time for the mother-of-the-bride and your bridesmaids to get dressed, too. After youre in your gown, you can put on your jewelry, veil, shoes, etc.
This is also when your photographer would capture candid moments with your bridesmaids, mom and other loved ones as the day begins.
Leave Buffer Room When Available
A successful timeline will leave extra time to get the shots needed. Sometimes this isnt possible, and in these cases it needs to be made clear to the client that they need to be prompt to make things happen correctly.
In our experience, we try to leave at least 15-30 minutes of buffer time during the getting ready portion of the day, as well as in the bridal party and family portraits sections. The latter are some of the most important shots of the day that can be negatively impacted if you dont have enough time.
If you are doing a lot of driving from one location to the next, also give buffer room in case there is traffic, you get stuck behind an accident, etc.
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Wedding Day Timeline Tips And Ideas
Planning your wedding day timeline can be one of the most stressful parts of the entire wedding planning process. We have put together a bunch of tips and ideas to help make your wedding day run as smoothly as possible.
There is also an awesome video at the bottom of this post that includes some great wedding day timeline tips from Jamie at JW Coordination.
The entire planning process starts with your ceremony time. This is the first thing that you will want to lock in. The entire day revolves around the wedding ceremony. The second big decision to make is whether you want to do a first look or not . Once you make your decision on these two things, the entire process gets much easier. Another great resource for you to check out is our list of getting ready tips.
When/how: Schedule Of Events
Your finished product should aim to outline the schedule of events from start to finish. Youll likely want to craft your outline in such close detail that you have line items listed in 15-minute intervals throughout the key moments of your day. The most detailed timelines tend to be the most helpful, so dont hold back.
In the section below, youll learn step-by-step, how to create your own wedding day timeline to outline your big day!
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Give Your Wedding Day Timeline Widely
Make sure you give your wedding day timeline to all of your vendors, your family, wedding party, and as VIPs . It will help them know where and when they are supposed to be on the day of your wedding. If you have a wedding planner, then its great he/she can keep track of timeline but if you havent hired a professional, then you could possibly ask your maid of honor to be the keeper of the timeline, who can make sure that things are running smoothly and keep an eye on the clock and enforce the schedule.
Here are some samples of detailed timeline for you:
Have a look.
Noon Dance floor opens.
12:45 P.M. Cut the cake or open the dessert bar.1:00 P.M. Guests sitting for dessert.1:05 P.M. Newlyweds make a thank-you speech while guests enjoy dessert.1:10 P.M. Toss the bouquet!1:55 P.M. Last dance.
Rings Dress Shoes And Other Details
Ideal Time Allotment 30 minutesIdeal Time of the Day MorningIdeal Location Bridal Suite or Hotel Suite
Advice Having at least 30 minutes for details ensures that we have plenty of time to get that perfect photo of the dress, rings, shoes, bouquets, and the other details of the day.
There are times when a hotel room is too crowded or simply unappealing we have to take the dress all the way down to the lobby or even outside. This can take some time, but as you can see from the results, its well worth the additional work.
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Nail Down The Mood/vibe Of Your Day
You and your partner need to decide on the mood of your wedding day!
The best way to decide this is to consider a few different things:
- Are your family & friends going to be a big part of the day? If so, youll want to intentionally include more time to spend with them.
- Are you more focused on celebrating with your partner? Build in more time for just the two of you to get away from the crowd.
- Are you & your partner introverts or extroverts? If youre more introverted, youll likely get exhausted by all the people at your wedding. Build in time for you to spend in a quiet space together away from everybody else. If youre more extroverted, you likely wont need as much break time. Instead, focus your timeline on being around your guests!
- Do you want your wedding to be more on the relaxed, chill side, or be full of energy + be a huge party? If youre super focused on keeping the day more relaxed, be sure to build in plenty of flex time. If youre wanting a party of a day full of excitement, focus on a longer reception rather than a lot of flex time throughout the day.
Additional Wedding Day Details
Table Shots Table shots are when you go around visiting tables. There are two options for photography during this time. You can take formal pictures with each of these tables or we can simply focus on photojournalism, capturing the smiles and hugs as you mingle with each table. If youre planning on doing formal table shots, please keep in mind that these will take about 3-5 minutes per table. For example 20 tables would require 60-100 minutes of time.
Cultural Weddings For cultural weddings like Indian weddings, there are elements like the Baraat that require time to photograph. More more information on this and Indian weddings visit our Indian Wedding Timeline page.
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Talk To The Wedding Planning Experts
Wedding planners and venue event managers are usually the go-to sources to assist you in creating your official wedding day timeline. They’ll have a good idea of how to plan out the day based on their experience, and know how to adjust your vision to fit the realities of time. Youll also want to speak with your other vendors to find out how long theyll need for set-up and prep so that you can schedule them accordingly and provide them with enough time to complete their tasks.
Buy Or Rent The Grooms Tuxedo
The groom walks out first, remember? Make sure that first impression on your guests is a good one. Step one is choosing between a tux or suit, based on the formality of your wedding, and then deciding whether to buy or rent. When selecting the actual ensemble, focus on fit and function. A well-made outfit will be flattering, but also allow your groom to show off any and all embarrassing dance moves without fear of splitting any seams. Finally, if youre going the renting route, avoid these five mistakes groomsmen make when renting a tux or suit.
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Thinking About Getting Ready At A Hotel
Heres a simple way to get Pinterest-like getting-ready photographs: If youre not getting ready at your venue, I always recommend getting ready at an Airbnb instead of a hotel.
- Airbnbs are often much cheaper than a hotel room. A quality Airbnb can sometimes cost less than half that of a fancy hotel and itll have better elements for taking getting-ready photographs.
- With an Airbnb, you can rent out an entire home, which gives you access to many rooms. This will give you the space your family and friends need to get ready while still being together.
No one wants to be on top of each other while getting dressed!
Start Your Wedding Timeline From Scratch
Every wedding is different, so copying a wedding timeline template you found on the internet word-for-word is probably not going to work for your big day . Start fresh, and use your ceremony time as a starting point. Make a list of all of the events that need to happen before and after the ceremony and then determine how long each of these will take. You can then start to plot your wedding day agenda accordingly. Check out the sample wedding day timeline below as a guide :
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Wedding Party & Family Portraits: : 15 Pm: 15 Pm
After your first look is a great time for the wedding party portraits.
During this time, you can take some great images of the bridesmaids and groomsmen separately and together.
Heres a tip to make things go smoothly: One way to make sure you stay on schedule is to ask someone to put the boutonnieres on the guys before they arrive for portraits and ensure the bridesmaids have their flowers.
This time can also be used to capture formal portraits with your immediate families, so you dont have to spend much time taking pictures during your cocktail hour.
This part of the day should be fun and light, and shouldnt feel like a chore.
Taking these photos earlier in the day ensures your friends and family will be free to relax and enjoy the cocktail hour.
Late Afternoon Wedding + Seated
7 A.M. to 7:30 A.M. Wake up freshen up7:30 A.M. to 8:00 A.M. eat breakfast.8:00 A.M. to 12:00 A.M. Bride and bridesmaid do their hair and makeup, while the groom and groomsmen shave, shower, and get ready.
12:00 P.M. to 12:30 P.M. eat lunch12:30 P.M. hair and makeup touch ups1:00 P.M. Bride along with bridesmaids is dressed and ready.1:30 P.M. Photographers shoot portraits with bride, bridesmaids, and others.2:30 P.M. Bride along with bridesmaids, groom, and groomsmen head to the ceremony site.2:45 P.M. Couples have a first look photos3:10 P.M. Time for the photographer to shoot couples portraits, bridal party portraits, and family portraits.4:30 P.M. Ceremony starts.5:15 P.M. Cocktail hour begins.6:00 P.M. Guests moving from the cocktail hour to the reception venue.6:15 P.M.Newlyweds enter can either have their first dance or take a seat.6:25 P.M. Dinner service starts.6:35 P.M. While guests are eating, speakers making short toasts.7:00 P.M. Time for Mother-son, father-daughter, and other predetermined dances.7:15 P.M. Dance floor is now open for guests.8:00 P.M. Cake cutting or open the dessert bar.8:15 P.M. Guests sit for dessert.8:20 P.M. Newlyweds make a thank-you speech while guests enjoy dessert.8:45 P.M. Toss the bouquet!9:30 P.M. Announcement for the last call.9:55 P.M. The last dance.11:00 P.M. Dismantling and cleaning up
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The Reception Begins: : 00 Pm
The fun has begun! Its time to relax, dance and celebrate.
Your coordinator and DJ should take care of making sure that everything stays on schedule so that you can enjoy your night.
At this point in your wedding day, the timeline will become a bit more relaxed.
Your photographers approach will most likely become more photojournalistictheyll be capturing things as they happen, as opposed to giving you direction.
Example Wedding Timeline With A : 30 Pm Start Time
The typical wedding ceremony last 30 to 60 minutes, but if youre having a secular ceremony, it could be as short as 15 minutes. If youre having a religious ceremony it can be much longer and sometimes take over 2 hours. Speaking to your celebrant is your best bet to figure out how much time you will need.
Wedding receptions usually last 4 to 5 hours, but of course this will vary depending on your venues packages and any restrictions they might have so make sure to find out early on.
To give you a better idea of how your wedding day might run, you can use the following timeline as a guide for creating your own wedding day runsheet! Were going to assume that your wedding ceremony and venue locations are within the same vicinity so no time is lost between locations.
10:30 a.m. Start getting ready / Hair & makeup artists arrive
12:00 2:00 p.m. Photographer, videographer, and other vendors arrive
2:00 p.m. Bride hair & makeup
2:30 p.m. Bride begins getting dressed
2:45 p.m. Bridal portraits
3:00 p.m. Bridal photos with Bridesmaids
3:30 p.m. First look with Bride & Groom
3:30 4:10 p.m. Bride & Grooms photos
4:10 5:00 p.m. Wedding party photos & family photos
5:30 p.m. Ceremony starts
5:50 6:00 p.m. Family and group photos
6:00 7:00 p.m. Cocktail hour, move guests into reception room by 6:55 p.m.
7:00 p.m. Grand entrance / Reception starts
7:10 p.m. Dinner begins
9:30 p.m. First dance, followed by parent dances
9:45 p.m. Open up dance floor to guests
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Factor In Buffer Time
If you think your wedding wont run late, I hate to tell you but youre very wrong. Weddings ALWAYS run late, whether its due to your parents getting stuck in traffic, taking a little longer to do hair & makeup than you predicted, or the ceremony running long.
You do not want to plan every event of the day 2 minutes apart from each other, as this leaves little room for error. Instead, leave intentional buffer time between each part of the wedding day. As a photographer, I always make sure couples leave at least 10-15 minutes between each section of the day, so that way if something is running late, your day will still be on track. No need to panic if youve prepared for it already!
When To Begin Creating A Wedding Timeline:
So, when should you begin to draft a timeline? I suggest creating a timeline early on in the planning process to be able to discuss your plan with vendors. For instance, you’ll want to know how many hours of photography coverage you’ll need when consulting with a wedding photographer. The difference in photos between 6 hours and 8 hour coverage can be significant. Build a timeline that includes your priority events being photographed.
If you’re starting to break out into a sweat thinking about crafting your own timeline- HAVE NO FEAR! I have created the perfect wedding timeline templates for you to build off of!
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