Wedding Timelines

Updated: Sep 1

As fun and exciting as planning a wedding can be, it can also be very stressful for a lot of couples. Having a timeline that details the day will help ease this and pre-wedding jitters! However, there are a few things to consider when building this perfect timeline. Through our years of experience, we have tested various scenarios, and this is what we have found works best for both the client and the vendors. If you are already working with a planner, be sure to consult them as everyone may approach the wedding day differently!



Things to consider first:


How important is it that you enjoy your wedding day?

So, you’ve invested thousands of dollars, spent countless hours, and poured your blood sweat and tears into planning this wedding for months, you want to enjoy it, right? Here’s where you scream…RIGHT! Building an optimal timeline will ensure that you and you and your bride or groom can do just that. Start a sketch timeline before you get bogged down in the planning details and consult with your vendors along the way. Don’t forget to be flexible! The last thing you want is to feel bored taking pictures or realize halfway through dinner you’ve allocated too much time for the buffet and be twiddling your thumbs asking, “what’s next?”. On the flip side, you do not want to feel rushed. There is a fine balance here! Consider your day and make sure you enjoy yourself.


How important is the guest experience to you?

Do you want your guests talking about how amazing your wedding was for years to come? Well, don’t forget about them! Remember to keep them in mind as you plan out your wedding. Having a good flow to the day will allow the guests to have a good time and enjoy the celebration. If they are waiting around for long periods of time before the next thing, it can become an overwhelming process. Consider the amount of venue locations, how far people need to walk, how late the party goes, how long the ceremony lasts, and how long speeches or traditions take. All these details add to the overall experience of your wedding day.

Consult with your vendors

Each of your vendors is going to bring their unique skill set to your wedding day, however, it’s likely that many of them have not worked together before, and each of them will come with their own unique needs. This is why a detailed timeline is so helpful in making sure all vendors are on the same page and know when things are happening. However, it’s important to not just assume whatever you put out there will work for all your vendors. Discuss delivery times and contracted hours at booking and follow up 30-45 days before the big day to confirm nothing has changed. Send the timeline out early to get input from vendors, especially if you don’t have a day of coordinator or planner (which we highly suggest having!!) to make sure there is no overlap or interference and send the final copy out in a timely manner!


Questions you may have:

How long should I build in for photography?

We did an entire blog post about building a timeline from a photographer’s perspective, click here for that! However, here is a basic guideline to guide you on how much time should be allotted for photos.


· One hour for detail shots

· One hour of getting ready shots

· 30 minutes for bridal party shots

· 30 Minutes for family shots

· 15-30 minutes of bride and groom photos

· 15 minutes of reception details before guests enter

When should vendors receive their meals?

Your vendors should eat when you do. This will ensure no important moments are missed or held up by vendors taking their break. You will want to allocate 30-45 minutes for this but be sure to check your contracts.


How do I keep the reception flowing?

One of the biggest concerns our couples have is how to keep the reception moving along so guests don’t get bored. This is what we suggest:

· Keep toasts short and sweet- You don’t need to have 6 toasts at 15 minutes each. Keep it to 2-3 and give them each 5 minutes, short, sweet and simple is best. If you have more close friends and family wanting to say something, ask them to give a toast at the rehearsal dinner instead!


· Break up the festivities- Instead of doing the cake cutting, special dances, and bouquet toss all back to back, break them up. Consider doing your first dance as a part of your entrance and doing the mother/son and father/daughter dance later right before you open the dance floor as a way to get the party started!


· Don’t spend too long on dinner- Serving a buffet or stations? You may have some guests that head through the line first and are done before the final table gets their plates. Do your cake cutting and speeches towards the end of dinner. This way there isn’t a big lag for those who have finished already and it gets you to the dance floor sooner!


· Get people on the dance floor ASAP- It goes without saying, people love to dance! You want to get them dancing and moving around as soon as possible, but keep in mind about an hour to an hour and a half is all people can handle before they get tired and start to leave. Something to think about when you're deciding on how long your reception should last.


· Don’t spend too much time on wedding day traditions- This is a tough one, you want to incorporate these special moments, but they don’t all need to be a big production. For example, you can have your cake cutting announced, but it’s not necessary to wait for everyone to gather around and watch you cut it. Most everyone has seen a cake cutting, and those who want to watch will hurry over. Everyone else will watch from their table while they are visiting with their friends.


When should I have my timeline finalized?

You will want to get your vendors a rough draft 30-45 days before the wedding and send a final copy about 2 weeks out!

So there you have it, how to build the perfect timeline! Please remember that everything we mentioned is our opinions and things that we have found to work. It’s important to get the opinions of your own wedding planner as everyone approaches the wedding day differently. We hope this helps and thanks again for stopping by! Can’t wait to see you back here soon. 😊


We have a special freebie for you! Download your FREE Wedding Day Timeline template below!


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