Let's take a minute and be real, weddings would be so much easier if we could just not do wedding timelines and the wedding day would magically just be on time. That's not going to happen though, unless you are in contact with a genie. The easiest way by far to have a great timeline is hiring a wedding planner that works hand in hand with your photographer and other vendors to ensure everyone isn't feeling rushed (especially you!) If you're more on the DIY side of things, your photographer will be a great resource in addition to this little guide. Keep in mind without a good timeline, you'll probably miss out on some of those must have photos and memories you have been adding to your pinboard since you've had the ability to. Those photos on pinterest are occasionally the result of sheer luck (seriously, sometimes awesome things happen without warning) but are more often the result of a good timeline with room to breathe. Honestly, who wants a tight stressful schedule without breathing room on thier wedding day? That leaves no room for fun, and your wedding should be fun.

The first step to creating your timeline is deciding on which things are most important to you. More time in the getting ready part of the day gives you more detail shots and candids, meanwhile a first look ads an intimate mini session in your wedding day. If you want fun reception images you can always set time during reception to break away for some creative shots and time away from the reception can also give you a much needed break. Going through the optional parts of a wedding day and deciding which of those parts are key to you will ultimately help you build out the perfect day keeping everything to a nice paced schedule. Once you figure that out you can create an outline and work with your photographer and planners to make sure you have included any necessary travel time or optional extras in a way that works for everyone.

Optional Parts of The Wedding Day

When mom first sees you in your wedding dress

First look anticipation is the best!

Post Ceremony Bliss

Sparkler exits can be fun, if done safely...

Getting Ready

Some couples don't care about this stuff, but here's why I believe it's important. This part of the day includes candids of your bridal party, the first time mom/dad see you in your dress (on your wedding day). and a million little moments you want to remember. It's not a photoshoot of you getting your hair done.

First Look

To me this is an absolute key part of the day. This is where your fiance see's you for the first time, and it's just for you two. Every other part of your day is filled with people, but these 10-30 minutes are 100% just for you two. It's also a key time to get some stress free emotional photos of you two away from everyone

Post Ceremony

You spent months waiting for this moment, you're finally married. Throwing a quick 30 minute session away from the bridal party for photos of just you two will be a very nice break before the intensity that is saying hello to everyone at reception. Sometimes I refer to this as a recharge session, it's a fun and relaxed little break for memories.

Formal Exit

Just take a look at these on pinterest. They're amazing and fun. You can do balloons, confetti, rice, bubbles or even just a nice car. You can do this right after the ceremony or anytime at reception, though I recommend doing any exit early before guests find that bar. You can always go right back to your reception.

sample wedding timelines (assuming one location, no travel)

Wedding Timeline (+First Look)

1pm – 2:00pm – Getting Ready Photos

2:15pm-3:00pm – First Look and Couple Portraits

  • Couple together
  • Bride/groom solo
  • Partner solo

3:15pm-3:45pm – Wedding Party Portraits

  • Whole group
  • One side of wedding party with couple
  • Bride/groom with his/her side of wedding party
  • Bride/groom with partner's side of wedding party
  • Other side of wedding party with couple
  • Partner with bride/groom's side of wedding party
  • Partner with his/her side of wedding party

4:30pm-5:00pm – Ceremony

5:00pm-5:010pm Ceremony Exit with Bubbles

5:15pm-5:40pm – Family Portraits

  • Couple with bride/groom's parents
  • Couple with bride/groom's parents and siblings
  • Couple with bride/groom's parents, siblings and grandparents
  • Bride/groom with parents
  • Bride/groom with each parent individually
  • Couple with both sets of parents
  • Couple with partner's parents
  • Couple with partner's parents and siblings
  • Couple with partners parents, siblings, and grandparents
  • Partner with parents
  • Partner with each parent individually

6:00-6:20pm - Sunset/creative Photos of Couple

6:30pm – Reception Entrance

6:40pm-7:00pm - Speeches

7:05pm-7:40pm - Dinner

7:45 - First Dances

8:00pm-8:10pm - Sparkler Exit

8:15pm-End Dance Floor Opens

Wedding Timeline (No First Look)

1pm-2:00pm – Getting Ready Photos

2:15pm-3:30pm – Separate Wedding Party and Family Photos

  • Bride/groom with his/her side of wedding party
  • Bride/groom with parents
  • Bride/groom with each parent individually
  • Bride/groom solo
  • Partner with his/her side of wedding party
  • Partner with parents
  • Partner with each parent individually
  • Partner solo

4:30pm-5:00pm – Ceremony

5:10pm-6:15pm – Couple Portraits and Group Portraits

  • Couple
  • Couple with wedding party
  • Couple with one side of wedding party
  • Couple with other side of wedding party
  • Couple with bride/groom’s parents
  • Couple with bride/groom’s parents and siblings
  • Couple with bride/groom’s parents, siblings and grandparents
  • Couple with both sets of parents
  • Couple with partner’s parents
  • Couple with partner’s parents and siblings
  • Couple with partner’s parents, siblings, and grandparents

6:25-6:45pm - Sunset/creative Photos of Couple

6:30pm – Reception Entrance

6:40pm-7:00pm - Speeches

7:05pm-7:40pm - Dinner

7:45pm-8pm - First Dances

8:05pm-8:15pm - Sparkler Exit

8:15pm-End Dance Floor Opens

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