How to Create a Wedding Day Timeline

Let me begin by saying I am the epitome of a type A personality. I love to make lists and plans, and I tend to obsess over punctuality.  (Ok, before children I obsessed over punctuality; with the kids, all bets are off!)  When we shoot weddings, Phil brings the chill vibes, while I keep things rolling on schedule.

Maybe you are like me and you plan out every detail of basically everything in life or maybe you are super laid back like Phil.  Either way, when it comes to your wedding day, we both agree that having a timeline is essential.

“Why?” you might ask.  Well, let me just list a few reasons for you. (List making! can you feel my excitement?) Having a wedding day timeline:

-lets everyone know where they are supposed to be and when

-ensures that there is time for the photos you want

-takes care of all scheduling issues ahead of time

-helps the officiant, caterer, and DJ to follow your wishes without asking you a million questions all day

-allows you to relax and have fun, knowing everything is going smoothly

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So, how do you make a super amazing timeline?  You follow these simple steps:

1. Start with the ceremony because you probably already have a time set for that.  Then, work backward from there.

2. Leave a half hour of unscheduled time directly before the ceremony.  Trust me, you won’t regret this!  If all goes well, you and your besties will have a chance to relax and drink in the moment. If something unexpectedly goes awry, you’ll be glad to have a little buffer time!

3. Next, decide if you want to do a first look.  (If you are waffling between first look and tradition, this might help.) If you are going traditional, you won’t need as much time up front, but leave plenty of time after the ceremony for couple and bridal party portraits. If you are doing a first look you can cut some time out of your post ceremony photography, but make plan enough time for photos beforehand.

4. From there, you can continue to work backwards and set a time for hair, makeup, and putting on the dress.  I’m just going to throw this little tip in here. Plan a little extra time for makeup.  I have nothing but love and a lot of envy for my makeup artist friends, but in my experience, makeup is the one thing that repeatedly takes longer than expected.

5. This next one is another biggie! Don’t forget to schedule time to eat something before the ceremony!

6. Now for the post-ceremony. At this point a lot of people are ready to loosen their tie or take off those pumps and get to dancing!  Particularly if you are doing bridal party, family, and couple portraits here, you might want to limit family portrait time to immediate family only.  On the other hand, if family pictures are important to you, go with that.  Do a whole audience picture if you want.  It is your day, play the bride card!

7. My type B friends, am I wearing you out?  Don’t worry; we are almost done.  In my opinion the reception is the most flexible. Throw down an order of events for your DJ’s sake and make sure you save time to get a bite of your cake!

8. Finally, do a quick review.  Did you take into account when your venues are available and the drive time between locations?  Check with your photographer to make sure that you’re working within your coverage hours. Go ahead and show her your timeline to make sure the time allotted matches the amount of posed photos you want.

If you need a little more guidance, here are two sample timelines to peruse. Here is the supercharged one for my fellow type A people, and here is a condensed one for those of you who like to go with the flow.

That’s it; you did it! You’ve created an organizational masterpiece! Print out a ton of copies.  Give them to everyone involved in the wedding, and let them take it from there!