Do I Really Need a Wedding Day Timeline?

Yes, Yes, Yes!!! A million times yes! You absolutely, positively, without a doubt need a wedding day timeline. Even if you are having a very small, simple wedding, a timeline will benefit you.

The earlier you make your timeline, the better. A basic timeline will help you in all aspects of your wedding planning. This is what will help you finalize arrival time, hair and makeup appointments, and so much more! Please see the sample timeline below for reference.

Wedding Day Timeline (Sunset at 7:00 PM)

10:00   Bride and bridesmaids arrive at venue
10:30   Planner arrives at venue
11:00   Bride Begins Hair & Makeup
11:00   Flowers are delivered
12:00   Photographer Arrives
12:10   Photos of dress, jewelry, rings, invitations, save the dates, shoes, etc.
12:30   Photos of Bride/Bridesmaids getting ready
12:00   Groom and groomsmen arrive at venue
1:00     Photos of Groom/Groomsmen getting ready
1:00     Bridesmaids and Mother of bride get dressed
1:30     Mother helps Bride put on dress
2:00     Bride and Groom first look
2:15     Couple pics
3:00     Bridal Party Photos
4:00     Family Photos of immediate family
4:00     Caterers and Cake arrives
5:00     Clear Venue
5:10     Photograph cake, decor, food, guest book, etc.
5:15     Arrival of guests/ceremony seating
6:00     Ceremony
6:00     Seating of Parents
6:02     Bridesmaids Processional
6:05     Bride’s Processional
6:15     Ceremony Recessional
6:15     Extended Family Photos
6:15     Dinner Buffet Open to All Guests
6:45     Introduction of Bride and Groom
6:50     Opening Dance
6:55     Bride and Father Dance
7:00     Cake Cutting
7:15     Open Dance Floor
8:30     Bouquet and Garter Toss
10:00   Reception Concludes w/Sparkler Departure of Bride and Groom

If you are using a wedding planner, they will take the lead in building your timeline. If you are not using a planner, a good photographer will insist on a photography timeline to ensure you get all the photos you are planning on. If you are on your own, make sure to keep the following items in mind.

  1. How long do you have access to your venue? This plays a major part in how long you will have to get ready, set up, take photos, etc.
  2. How many people will be having hair and makeup done on site? Make sure there is enough room and you start early enough to be done in time for photos.
  3. The arrival time of your vendors is important. Your detail photos will be so much prettier if the photographer has some flowers to work with. And you definitely need your bouquet before having your first look or taking bridal photos.
  4. When is sunset? If you are planning an outdoor ceremony or outdoor photos, this is particularly important. This sample timeline includes a first look between the bride and groom, but if you are not planning a first look you need to consider ceremony time. If your ceremony is at sunset and you don’t do a first look, you won’t be able to do couple photos outside after the ceremony.
  5. How large is your bridal party? Does include children? How large is your extended family? Do you want just large group photos with your extended family, or lots of small pairings? This dictates how long photos of those groups will take.
  6. Is your venue air-conditioned? If the cake is set up too early in a warm environment it will melt. I promise it happens.
  7. Is your family helping with the set-up and decor? If so, make sure you allot enough time for them to do that and get ready for the wedding or photos (whichever comes first). Build in at least an hour longer than you think it will take. Trust me.
  8. Make sure everybody who needs to be familiar with the timeline gets a copy of it. Post a copy in the area where the bride and groom will get ready for quick reference. Let family members who will be included in photos know when and where they should be.

As you can see, a well-planned out timeline can be the difference between a stressful and carefree wedding. If you have a plan, everything will run so much more smoothly. And if you build in a little cushion, running 15-30 minutes late with something won’t be a big deal. Happy Planning!

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