Creating Your Wedding Day Timeline

One of the most important wedding planning tasks you and your wedding planner will need to handle is creating your wedding day timeline. It may not be as fun as picking out the flowers or dinner menu, but it’s key in ensuring your day goes smoothly. It may not be glamorous, but we will spend time mapping out the entire wedding day—from the moment you both wake up to your final reception exit as newlyweds. It’s important to map out time for hair and makeup, first-look photos, cocktail hour, toasts, and everything in between. After all, you don’t deserve to feel stressed on your wedding day.

As you begin your initial planning, keep these factors in mind.

Pad your timeline

Does GPS say your trip from ceremony to reception takes 20 minutes? Plan for 40! Account for traffic, transporting your bridal party, and just soaking up the moment. Bustling your dress? Allow for extra time so your crew doesn’t feel rushed.

CREATE A DETAILED SHOT LIST WITH YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER

Your photographer should work with you to create a flow of photography throughout the day listing times, locations & people in photos. This is the best foundation for planning your day once you have a photo schedule.
Still deciding on a ceremony start time?
Read this quick tip from Alison Mae Photography.

carmel indiana wedding
Photo credit: Arielle Peters Photography

DON’T LET COCKTAIL HOUR LINGER TOO LONG

Cocktail hour is great for squeezing in those post-ceremony photos while guests can mingle and grab a cocktail or too. However, if you extend this timing too long your guests will start to get restless or, worse yet, stock up on the open bar before the party has even fully begun.

cocktail hour sign

FACTOR IN SUNSET

You won’t regret those golden hour photos! Allow you & your partner an opportunity to sneak away for 10-15 minutes to capture some great photos.

indianapolis brewery wedding
Photo credit: Blackbird & Rye Photography

PLACE A TIME LIMIT ON TOASTS

As heartfelt as they may be, toasts, if not pre-planned, can negatively impact food and beverage service and create boredom for a couple’s guests. We recommend limiting the length of speeches to 3-5 minutes per person – and communicated in advance to them. Too many speakers? Consider inviting honored guests to make toasts at your rehearsal dinner.
Watch this one minute tip here from The Perfect Host, Jim Cerone.

wedding toast tips

Below is a quick reference guide for wedding day timing.
(Keep in mind your planner can always answer questions and will facilitate scheduling vendors & formalities for a seamless day!)

Wedding day timeline

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