If you’re deep into wedding planning you’ve probably had this plan pass through your mind a couple of times at this point: How do I plan the timeline for my wedding day?!?
You might have a general feel for everything that you want to happen throughout your wedding day, but when it comes to the nitty-gritty you might not even know where to start.
Timeline planning may seem overwhelming, but it definitely doesn’t have to be! Today I’m giving you the full breakdown of what goes into a wedding day, and how to arrange it into a stress-free timeline.
So here’s what we’ll be going through in this blog post:
-What you need to know before you create your wedding timeline
-Everything that is included in each part of the wedding day
-Two Examples of wedding day timelines
You’ll want to make sure you have enough time to take all of your formal photos before the sun sets. This is why it is important to look up the sunset time on your wedding date. Click here to check Chicago’s sunset times throughout the year. Click here to check Bloomington’s Sunset times throughout the year. If you’re having your wedding in another location please use this link and search your city’s sunset time.
Along with sunset, in a lot of cases, the time for your ceremony is often not flexible. After you have your sunset time and your ceremony time, you can then begin to reverse engineer your timeline based on those two events. If your ceremony time is flexible, I recommend having your ceremony start about 2 hours before you would like to start dinner so you have time for your ceremony and your cocktail hour.
Tagging onto the question above, what time will dinner be served? This is one more event throughout a wedding day that often does not have a ton of flexibility. Make sure to ask your vendor what time they recommend for their venue.
I HIGHLY recommend having a first look on your wedding day. Not only does it help with the pre-wedding jitters, but it also allows you to take almost all of your more formal photos before your wedding ceremony. Then, after your family photos are done you and your partner can relax and enjoy your evening with all of your guests!
Make sure to look at travel time as you’re planning out your day-of timeline
Knowing these things will help you create the jumping-off points for the rest of your wedding day
Use the guide below to build your own wedding day timeline!
Photographer Arrives, locates the wedding party and documents details and brings them back to their designated location. Have your wedding details and space ready to make this part of your morning easy. Check out 5 Tips for Getting Ready Your Wedding Morning for more help tips on making this part of your day stress free.
At this point in the day, hair and makeup should be for the most part done. After documenting the details I will document any makeup and hair touch ups for the bride(s) and bridesmaids. Then we will get the bride(s) into their wedding attire. As for the groom(s), at this point I will need you for the most part dressed. Hold off on your tie, coat, shoes, and any other details you might have incorporated in your wedding attire. I will document you putting these things on when I arrive.
I will help position you and your partner in a location that we will discuss prior to your wedding day. If you have any suggestions or places at your venue you’re obsessed with, let me know!
Plan some time to take some portraits with your future spouse immediately following the first looks. This will more than likely be the only time throughout your wedding day that you will have to yourselves. Make sure to take it slow and soak it in! It is such a special time on your wedding day!!!
Timing tip: If everything is happening in the same location, 30 mins is plenty of time for these photos. If you do need to travel to another location for these photos I recommend setting aside 45 mins for these photos. I also recommend taking your wedding party photos at the same location.
These photos can be broken up throughout the day if time permits. Oftentimes if hair and makeup is finished early enough I will take some group photos after getting ready so once we are all together all we have to do is take some of the full wedding party all together.
**Note that if you do end up traveling for these photos you will need to factor in travel time to get back to the ceremony.
This also gives you an opportunity to grab some water, run to the bathroom and relax for a bit before you say I do!
On average ceremony’s take about 45 minutes depending on setup. Some are much shorter and every once in a while a little longer than 45 minutes but very rarely do they go for a full hour. After your ceremony is finished you and your new spouse will exit the ceremony location and then loop back around to take formal family photos.
After the ceremony there is a LOT going on, so the more you prepare for this part of your wedding day the better. I will work with you to create a family photo list prior to your wedding day. The week of your wedding, make sure to let these family members know that you would like them to be present for family photos immediately following the ceremony. Ask them to stick around after you exit so when you come back around we can take these photos right away.
After family photos, we can sneak into cocktail hour and grab you two a drink! Then you can spend some time with your wedding party before you head into the reception! As you walk into the reception I recommend heading directly to the cake, cutting out a slice per tradition, and then beelining to the dance floor to have your first dances.
Served first are the Newlyweds and their wedding party typically. After you’re finished eating take some time to walk around and greet some of the guests! Then, if the timeline lines everything up right, this is also a great time to sneak out for a couple of sunset photos.
if you want to sneak out during the reception for some extra photos
If you want to make sure you get some photos of everyone letting loose, start off the dance party with you and your spouse on the dance floor. Ask your DJ or band to invite everyone to the dance floor to start off your wedding night with a bang. Then, put on a couple of upbeat songs to get everyone up and grooving. The first half-hour of dancing is typically when the dance floor is the most full, so take advantage of dancing around this time!
Hoping to have some sort of send-off to your wedding day but don’t want to book your photographer to stay until midnight? I would suggest having a faux send-off after about an hour of dancing. Have your friends and family gather outside, put on some tunes, and have a dance party with sparklers to break up the night.
Looking for more resources as you plan your wedding day?