Wedding Planning Tool #1: Build A Wedding Day Timeline

June 7, 2021

Wedding Planning Tool #1: Build A Wedding Day Timeline

Are you planning yet?

Like most of the people reading this blog right now, you are probably planning your wedding. This is the day that you have been dreaming about for years. You’ve been checking things off your list… 

A good guy who’s gonna love you completely

A beautiful ring on your finger

You know what kind of wedding dress you want

You’ve got your venue picked out

You even know what kind of cake you’re gonna have

But where do things go from here?  What is the next step?

Building A Wedding Day Timeline

The Wedding Day Timeline is where a lot of brides hit the brakes. Not everybody knows exactly what the timeline for your big day should look like. It’s even a point of stress for a lot of people. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard Brides joke that they don’t know what they’re doing because “they’ve never done this before.”

My number one recommendation for any couple that’s working on their Wedding Day Timeline is this…

Don’t forget who’s day it is. This is YOUR big day, and it can look any way that YOU want it to.  

There is no one perfect timeline. Every wedding I’ve been to has looked a little bit different. So this is the fun part! This is when you can get creative!

Wedding Day Timeline

What to consider…

Here are the top ten things to consider when putting together your Wedding Day Timeline:

  1. Ceremony start time.  This is where I start with every couple.  Every event time throughout the day is determined based on this time.  Important note: be sure to leave at least 30 minutes before the ceremony with nothing scheduled.  It is nice to have a little quiet time to catch a breath, grab a drink, and touch up the makeup and hair if needed.
  2. Venue times. Working backward, be sure you know what time the venue is going to let you into the venue, and when you have to be cleaned up and gone. This will give you a good boundary to know how much time you are working with when building out your full Wedding Day Timeline.
  3. Hair and makeup. Be sure to communicate with your HMUAs to know when they recommend starting for the day.  If you have a ton of bridesmaids, then you better plan on getting started early.  It is always a good rule of thumb to assume that the hair and makeup may take longer than you think to finish up.  So, build at least 30 extra minutes into the time for that.
  4. Vendor arrival times. Just so you and all of your vendors are aware of the time they need to arrive, be sure to put all of that info on the wedding day timeline. It’s always a good idea to put the arrival times and the times that they’re supposed to leave.
  5. First looks. First looks are not always for just the bride and groom. Consider first looks with bridesmaids, fathers, mothers, etc. Build-in enough time for any of these that you want to do.
  6. Family photos. If you decide to do a first look with the groom, it is always nice to get the family photos done before the ceremony. That way you can go straight to the cocktail hour with all of your guests. But, depending on the time of day, if it is too hot, or inconvenient for your family to do it before, you can always put it after the ceremony while non-family make their way to the cocktail hour/reception.
  7. Cocktail hour. Not every wedding has a cocktail hour, but this is a good time for family photos or couples photos if you opted to not do them before the ceremony.
  8. Dances. Sometimes it’s very convenient to have the first dances be the very first thing you do at the reception. As soon as the bride and groom are introduced to everyone for the second time, they can enter the reception area and do their first dance immediately.
  9. Cake cutting. The cake cutting can sometimes be a difficult event to schedule. Sometimes it’s hard to know when exactly everyone will be done going through the food lines. At the end of the day, it’s OK to do this part of the reception even if people are still eating. They can simply get their slice of cake when they’re done eating.
  10. Send-off. Even trickier than the cake cutting, the Cinderella is a part of every wedding they can be a lot of fun. The only issue is that it’s usually scheduled at the end of the night after all the dancing. Unfortunately, not every person in attendance wants to hang around for the whole time.  So be mindful to not make the send-off too late for those who may need to get to bed early.  Especially if they have church or work the next day.

How can I help you…

One of the ways that I can help you as a photographer… Other than taking amazing photos for you… Is helping you to plan out the timeline for your day. Now I am the first to admit that I am not a full-on wedding planner. Let’s make that clear. Ha! But I can help you to schedule out a day that reflects who you are as a couple and to help you be able to tell your story the way that you want. For the rest of the styling, decorating, etc.… I’ll leave that up to the pros. But I like focusing on you. 

Let’s focus on capturing your love story and planning your day in a way that showcases the beauty of that story. 

Wedding Day Timeline


What’s Coming Up Next…

Over the next couple of blog posts, I want to give you some tools that you can use to plan your wedding day and make it unique to you.

Be sure to stay tuned in all week for more tips on wedding planning. See you tomorrow!


To see more photo from the Cades Cove Elopement pictured above, follow this link… here