Creating Your Wedding Day Timeline



There are so many moving parts to every wedding day and I know that deciding on a timeline can feel like an overwhelming task! I’m creating this blog post to break down events of the day, how long they usually take, and to provide some helpful tips and insight as you work with you planner to customize your day!

First, there are several major events during every wedding to keep in mind:

  • Getting Ready/Details
  • Ceremony
  • Portraits
  • Dinner
  • Toasts
  • First Dance
  • Exit


Hair and Makeup: Getting ready time can vary greatly depending on the number of bridesmaids. Your hair and makeup artist will help you in deciding how much time you need to have set aside in the beginning of your day. I also suggest that you give yourself at-least a 30 minute buffer from the suggested time!

Location: Whether you choose to prepare at your venue, a hotel, or a personal residence there are a couple of things that you will want to keep in mind. First, natural light is ideal! This will make a HUGE difference in your photos. You will also want to make sure that the portion of your prep area where the photos will be taken is free of clutter when the photographer arrives. I want to make sure that YOU are the focus of the photos and not background items.

Details: Detail pictures usually take about an hour and are also taken in between some candid getting ready shots. It is best to have all details set aside and ready when the photographer arrives. These may include but are not limited to:

  • Invitations (2 complete sets)
  • Dress (out of the bag and ready to go!)
  • Flowers (bouquets and boutineers) * I also recommend that you ask your florist to bring a few “loose” flowers for detail shots if at all possible!
  • Rings (Make sure they are clean!)
  • Shoes
  • Veil
  • All additional jewelry (including hair accessories)
  • Any other sentimental items you would like to include

After details and getting ready shots are completed, it’s time for the bride to get into her dress! I would suggest that all bridesmaids be dressed and ready to assist! I will also grab a few bridal portraits and portraits with bridesmaids if time allows!

I suggest the photographer arrival time be at-least an hour and a half before bride plans to get into her dress.


Doing a first look before the ceremony has become increasingly popular over the last couple of years. There are many pros to having a first look BUT this is a very personal decision. If you choose to have a first look, I would allow an additional 20-30 minutes in your timeline.

I also suggest giving yourself a 30 minute “break” before the ceremony begins. Everyone is dressed and ready to go and simply has a few minutes to breath before events get started!


Ceremony time can verify from 15 minutes to and hour. In my opinion, the most important event you will decide on is the time of the ceremony. Keeping daylight in mind, you want to make sure that you have at-least an hour and a half of solid natural light after your ceremony to allow for portraits. This can be a little tricky when it comes to winter weddings but there are options for portraits earlier in the day if this is an issue! Choosing to have a first look can really help in situations where losing natural light earlier in the day is a concern. This allows for not only some couples’ photos (and some alone time for the two of you!) but also full bridal party photos can be completed (or at-least started) before the ceremony. This will eliminate some of the needed time for portraits after the ceremony! Now once you have your ceremony time set, everything else can fall into place!


Without a first look: You will want to allow for at-least an hour after the ceremony for portraits depending on the size of the family and bridal party. I encourage my couple to keep the family list to 10 groupings and under to stay on schedule. Immediately after the ceremony we will start with family photos and largest groupings first, followed by bridal party, and finishing with couples photos. I also ask for 10-15 minutes 30-45 minutes before sunset (as time permits) for golden hour photos. This is my absolute favorite time for photos as the light is so pretty!

With a first look: Having a first look gives a little more flexibility with portrait time. Please allow about 15-20 minutes for a first look and a few couples portraits. If time permits I also suggest adding in some bridal party portraits at this time as it cuts down on portrait time after the ceremony PLUS everyone is fresh with hair and makeup and ready to go!


Receptions usually last between 2-4 hours. Many things will happen during this time including dinner, toasts, cake cutting, and lets not forget DANCING! As mentioned before I ask my couples to set aside time for sunset portraits during reception time as well.


If you choose to have a special exit this usually takes place about 10-15 minutes before the reception ends.

I hope this little bit of information helps make the planning process a bit easier! I’m always here to help and answer any questions you may have!


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