4 Simple yet Effective Ways to Make a Perfect Wedding Timeline

April 25, 2021

Time is of the essence when it comes to your wedding.

Things can get unmanageable really quickly if you haven’t planned your day, and once that happens, well, you can imagine…

This is when a wedding timeline comes in handy! It keeps every step in check, with exact minutes allocated to each part, activity, or event in the day.

Even though every couple’s wedding timeline is different owing to several factors, there are a few rules and guidelines that you can follow to create a wedding timeline that will help your big day go as smoothly as possible.

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Consider Your Wedding’s Unique Aspects

All wedding days are unique where different factors need to be considered to create a hassle-free wedding plan.

Checking off the following questions can help you do that easily:

  1. Where will you be getting ready? On site at your ceremony location, in a hotel room or an air-bnb? Or somewhere else entirely?
  1. Whether or not your wedding and reception are in separate locations? If they are, have you factored in the travel time in your timeline?
  1. Will you provide transportation for guests or wedding party members? If yes, you can save up some time that can be used somewhere else.
  1. Do you want to have a “first look” pre-ceremony? Or do you want to go traditional?
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Start From the Beginning

A good timeline starts from the very beginning.

You will find plenty of wedding templates online, but they are best used for inspiration or to think of things you might miss otherwise. I have attached a sample timeline below to help you with the basics of photo timings.

More importantly, when planning your timeline from scratch, you get to add everything that a template might miss. Add all the important events in a list, such as photo sessions, getting ready, first dance, or cocktail hour.

This will allow you to keep everything in one place and allocate time that is appropriate for them.

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Get Professional Help

When in doubt, talk to an expert! I cannot stress how helpful it is to get a professional planner to help ensure your day will run smoothly.

Wedding planning experts usually have the experience of handling many weddings with different formats and unique situations! Hiring a wedding planner will let you focus on other things while using their knowledge and experience to create a perfect timeline for your big day, as per your instructions.

They’ll also give useful suggestions about what you could add or keep out of your timeline to make the day go as smoothly and happily as possible.

Quick Service of Food and Drinks

Guests get #hangry when they don’t get to eat on time.

Ideally, you should plan the timeline so that the food is served at most 30 to 45 minutes after the reception begins.

I’ll also be cheeky and slide in a lil’ note to suggest feeding your vendors at the same time, if not after the wedding party has been served and before the rest of the guests. Nothing worse than being served cold meals because speeches or sunset photos are scheduled the same time we are expected to receive our meals. I get #hangry too… LOL

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Sample Timeline

01 Preparations

Note: make-up and hair to be completed prior to my arrival

Time with Grooms: 45mins – 1 hour

Time with Brides: 1 – 1.5 hours

02 Ceremony

Note: allow extra time during the ceremony and reception in case anything runs overtime and please let me know if you would like a group shot of all guests post-ceremony.

Civil Ceremonies: approx. 30 mins

Hugs & Kisses post-ceremony: approx. 10 mins

03 Portraits

Note: I will email you a ‘family photo list’ questionnaire a month from the wedding to assist with this. You can also nominate a ‘photo captain’ who knows everyone and can assist. 

Family portraits: approx. 20 mins

Bridal Party: approx. 10 mins

Just the two of you: at least 10 mins

Sunset: 15 mins

04 Reception

Note: Remember to factor in drive-time if going offsite, or if the venue would like you to return early to ‘freshen up’ as they call it.

Speeches: 5 mins per person

Cutting the cake: 5 mins

First dance: 5 mins

filed in:

Planning, Wedding Tips

I'm Ash Haase

A professional wedding photographer of nine years and photography educator based in Melbourne, Australia.

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