A guide to creating your wedding day timeline
One question that always arises is where do I start? What do I do? How do I create a timeline? Is a timeline even something necessary for me?
The answer is ABSOLUTELY YES! Planning a full-bodied timeline is one of the greatest things you can do to relieve stress on the day of your wedding. Even better to create a timeline for the entire weekend. This will give you and your vendors a clear timeline of the day and eliminate any confusion or conflicts.
A rich timeline will help your bridesmaids, glam team, and all of your other vendors (such as myself) be as precise as possible so that nothing is missed.
Always finalize your timeline with all vendors about a month before the big day. This will give everyone enough time to go over it a few times and become familiar with the details. Once a week has passed.. confirm that finalization with everyone one last time.
It doesn’t matter if you’re using a family member as your point person/organizer, a wedding planner, or a day-of-coordinator, first get familiar with the potential length of each activity. I’ve outlined some steps below that should help you on your way to create a proper timeline for your needs.
Below I’ve outlined a general, but informational, breakdown of how long each activity typically takes based off my bride’s experiences.
Wedding Party: 2 hours
That astonishing moment where everything you’ve been planning and waiting for begins. Make sure your wedding party is on time, throw on some of your favorite playlists and custom robes or clothing and enjoy!
Dress time (Bride):15 minute
If you’re wearing something along the lines of a traditional wedding dress, you’re going to want to allow yourself enough time to comfortably dress and add accessories. One thing you never want to be is scatterbrained and frazzled trying to get out the door.
Solo portraits: 45 minutes +
The time has come for your intimate solo portraits with your photographer. More time with your pro means a ton of chances to get all of those glam shots you’ve been dreaming of.
Wedding party Photos: 25 minutes
Grab your crew for wedding party photos! Remember, including your parents, your in-laws if they’re near by and any kids in the wedding party photos always brings a ton of smiles!
1st Look!: 30 minutes
It can seem like an eternity for the both of you for this 1st look. The anticipation of the love of your life seeing you in your wedding dress and make up for the first time slows time down. However, in reality it doesn’t really take that long. Maybe 10 minutes tops. So why the extra time? For some couples pictures with the wedding party and family nearby of course! Capturing the entire wedding party together is a ton of fun also and helps calm the couple down before the ceremony.
30 minutes +: Travel to Ceremony Venue
The reason for the + is to allow additional time if you’re not getting ready at the ceremony venue. Allowing extra time for traffic or any other obstacles is never a bad thing. If you’re both getting ready near or at the ceremony venue, obviously this time can be trimmed down.
1 hour +: Ceremony!!
If you’re having a secular wedding you can chop this time all the way down to about 15-20 minutes. If you’re having a longer traditional ceremony this time block could be anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half.
1 hour : Family Photos
Family portraits time!! I always suggest being somewhat generous of this specific time block. Specially if you have large families. Giving your photographer a list of family you intend to have wedding photos with is a must. This time will typically be somewhat of a time crunch simply because there’s the amount of groups attempting to take photos with the couple.
1 hour: Cocktail hour
I might even say to try and cut this time to 45 minutes if possible. Talk with all of your available vendors for this time in order to make sure things go swimmingly. It’s always awkward to walk into the reception area and have to wait 30 minutes. Even 15 minutes can seem long when people are hungry, thirsty, and waiting for the couple of the hour to arrive. Make sure you’re planner or point person is here before doors open in order to greet people, direct the gifts to the gift table and the bar as well as the guest book and seating arrangements.
Grand Entrance!: 15 minutes
The time has come to make your grand entrance being introduced as Mr. & Mrs. and roll right into your first dance
Dance Floor invite: 20 minutes
Obviously everyone wants to party with you after the first song. Talk with your DJ or band to arrange a few hits to get the party started.
First course: 40 minutes
After those hits are done playing work with your DJ to slow things down a bit to let everyone eat and chat. This is the time the vendors will take some time to eat as well. Don’t forget to feed your vendors. They work hard to make this day happen for you and just want a little recharge to jump right into the excitement of the rest of the night.
Welcome: 15 minutes
You can have your hosts give a welcome speech during this moment. Parents can speak or you and yours can thank everyone for arriving. Strictly your call. Sometimes this is done during the first course.
Wedding party Speeches: 45 minutes
Typically at this time all guests are seated and it’s the perfect time to have your wedding party begin to make their speeches with the Bridesmaid and the Best man going last. I would definitely suggest going over this part of the timeline with your DJ or Band to make sure they get a feel for the flow of the evening.
Parent Dances: 15 minutes
One the dinner is complete it’s time for the DJ to mix into the parents dance songs and begin this very special moment which mixes in a lot of emotions.
Cake Cutting: 10 minutes
Time to break into a funny cake cutting song if that’s your thing, or mix right into dance floor songs and be lead to the cake cutting ceremony. This is prime time photo time for you and your guests.
Garter toss & Bouquet toss: 30 minutes
From here it’s time line into the bouquet toss with all of the single ladies in the house! Directly after is the garter belt toss for all the single guys in the house! Who knows.. maybe there’ll be some connections! Also a great time to add the dollar dance if you do one right after!
The Grand Exit!: 15 minutes
Time to cue the last song for the two of you. This is the time for Sparklers, fireworks, a decked out car get away or whatever you prefer.
Pro-tip: 15 minutes
Sneak-away romantics! I personally like to steal you away during the main course while everyone is chatting away and get some personal and romantically lit photos away from the party.
If you have any questions about building a timeline or how to coordinate your vendors feel free to send me a message and I will happily help. Click Here