Top 5 reasons for a wedding day timeline

A little bit of information can go a long way! Believe me, when the day is rushing by, the last thing you want to ask is,  “what time did we say we were going to cut the cake?” or “Are we supposed to take those photos, now or later?” Okay, so here we go. I’m going to give you the top 5 reasons, having a wedding day timeline is important & I’ll even show you an awesome timeline provided to me by one of my amazing couples. When I first began to shoot weddings, I never heard of a timeline. Even during our own wedding, I don’t even think we had one! 1. Keeps your organized. There is no doubt, a wedding day goes by so quickly! I always tell my couples- as soon as your ceremony ends, it’s going to zoom by, so enjoy. Your timeline is not only going to keep you organized to stay on time, but it will be so helpful for your DJ, videographer, photographer, caterer, and your venue/event coordinator (if you have one). Plus, there is just something about seeing your wedding day played out in writing, that just makes it so real! It’s exciting! Questions to ask yourself:

  • What time will I be arriving to the ceremony location?
  • Where am I getting dressed?
  • Will my makeup artist & hair dresser meet me at the getting ready location? If so, how much time will I need to comfortably get ready?
  • Do I want photos of myself in my dress before or after ceremony?
  • Do I want photos with my family/bridesmaids before the ceremony or after?
  • Should I do a first look? (blog about that coming soon!)
  • If I plan to take b&g photos before the ceremony, how much time do I need?

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Give yourself plenty of time to get ready. Better to have lots of extra time for photos before your ceremony, then rushing after your ceremony. If your ceremony & reception will be at the same location, we highly recommend for you to have your hair & makeup done on site. Not only will we have plenty of time for getting ready photographs, but we will also be able to photograph the reception hall, before guests begin to arrive.

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2. No need to worry. When you have everything written down, you won’t have your vendors coming up to you asking, “what time is cake cutting?” or “what time were you planning on doing your sparkler exit?” When you provide a wedding day timeline, all of your vendors should have access to the timeline as well. I usually have a copy on my iPhone & a printed copy as well. I want to have easy access to it without wondering if this is a good time to take a potty break! I know it sounds silly, but the last thing I would want to do is take a potty break or even take a break to eat dinner & next thing you know, time to cut the cake or MOH is up for her speech, etc.

ANP_5002 3. Keeping it real. I have only shot a handful of weddings where the wedding day timeline is followed to a tee. Usually this is because the wedding needs to be wrapped up at a certain time, but it’s also because there is someone, usually the event coordinator or the MOH who is keeping an eye on the clock and the timeline. Let’s keep it real though, sometimes weddings don’t always go as scheduled. Anything can happen! The most important thing is to keep calm, and let’s move on. I will say this though, if you are interested in having your photographer fulfill certain requests, such as, photographing the decorated venue before guests pour in, or setting aside an hour for bride/groom photos- it is important to stay on track & not deviate from your timeline.

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Staying on schedule will provide you lots of natural light for photographs after or before your ceremony. I usually recommend for my b&g to take their portraits immediately after their ceremony, during cocktail hour. This is especially for my b&g who prefer not to do a ‘first look’. For my b&g who do want do a ‘first look’, their b&g photos are attained before the ceremony & they are able to enjoy their cocktail hour right away.


4. Bridal party & family. It would be great if you send your wedding day timeline to your entire bridal party, that way you aren’t receiving the, “what time does the wedding start?” text messages. I’ve had brides send out timelines through text message, emails, and even providing a printed copy on rehearsal day. Speaking to your family members before the wedding day, is a sure way to make sure they stick around for the traditional family portraits. I usually take these immediately after the ceremony. After your ceremony, there can be an announcement made that family members will be staying to take photographs, or if photographs will be taken at the reception- your DJ can also help you round everyone up by making an announcement.

For my couple, Seoyoung & Adam, they had plenty of light & time for fun photos with the groom & his groomsmen, as well as family portraits with Adam’s family. These were all taken before the ceremony. I was able to spend some time with Seoyoung & her mom, while they were getting ready & Seoyoung was able to have lots of bridal portraits taken before the ceremony. About 30 mins. before the ceremony began, Adam took some time to take photographs with just the boys, and his family members. This helped speed up the family portrait process after the ceremony, giving Adam & Seoyoung more time for their b&g portraits & more time to spend at their reception!

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Seoyoung & Adam decided not to see each other until the actual ceremony, so we took family portraits with both families right after their ceremony. Guests went into the reception hall to enjoy appetizers and cocktail hour, while we worked on portraits.

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5. But you gotta have fun! As a couple getting married, there is no need to have a physical copy at your sweetheart table, making sure you are keeping everyone on track! Once you provide a timeline, your only job is to have a blast! Designate someone to take charge, and when it’s time to do first dances, cake cutting, bouquet tosses, grand exit- they will let you know! ANP_5595


Timeline example

9 am – breakfast with family

10:30 am – hair & makeup: bridesmaids.

12:30 pm – hair & makeup: bride

1:00 pm – photographer arrives

1:45 pm- bride gets dressed

2:15 pm- leave to ceremony

2:45 pm- arrive to ceremony

3:00 pm – ceremony begins

3:30 pm – ceremony ends

4:00 pm – traditional family photos

4:45 pm – leave to reception

5:00 pm – bridal party portraits

5:30 pm – bride & groom portraits

6:00 pm – cocktail hour

6:30 pm – bridal party announced

6:45 pm – first dances: bride & groom, FOB, MOG

7:00 pm – dinner is served 8:00 pm – dance begins

8:45 pm – bride & groom speech.

9:00 pm – cutting cake

10:30 pm – bride & groom get ready to leave

10:45 pm –  sparkler exit


& that’s it! Simple right? Lol! Sometimes it can seem hectic to try to figure out what time everything will be done. If you have any questions over your timeline or your wedding day schedule, ask me! I’ll be more than happy to help.

Happy wedding planning!