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How To Build A Perfect Wedding Day Timeline

Updated: Jun 25, 2023

Planning a wedding means planning a million and one events for a single day, and for so many couples the day really does just fly by. I've met some couples that feel like they barely remember their wedding because they felt like they were being pulled left and right to go do things but never got to fully enjoy themselves doing those things. One of my favorite things to do as a wedding photographer is help build a wedding day timeline specific to photos and events. No, I do not handle your other vendors like a day-of coordinator would, but I can certainly help organize times for first looks, letter readings, group photos, and so much more. If you don't know how to start planning your wedding day, here are some helpful tips!


Start with the ceremony

The ceremony time is a perfect reference point to plan around for the rest of the day's activities. When thinking of a ceremony time, take into consideration the season your wedding is taking place during (is daylight savings active?) and when sunset will happen (there are apps like "Sunrise Times" that can give you future sunrise and sunset times based on location + date). Do you want a sunset ceremony? Do you want something earlier in the day so you can do all of your photos after? There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing your ceremony time. If you decide you want a sunset ceremony time, make sure to get all of your photos before the ceremony - there will likely be no light when your done! This means you might want to opt for a first look and have your family arrive early so you can get your photos done before your ceremony starts. If you opt for an earlier ceremony, you may have more flexibility for photos after the ceremony is over! Keep in mind this might be different for indoor ceremonies.



Build in extra time

Almost every wedding I have been to has had some change to the timeline on the day-of. Whether a groomsman forgot a belt at the hotel or hair and makeup is taking longer than expected, make sure to space out your events with a little bit of buffer time in between in case anything changes! Even having 15 minutes between events can save you from a little stress, especially if you are very particular with times. A little extra time also could mean more possibilities, like changing your mind from no first look to a yes first look!



Be flexible

Piggybacking off of building in extra time, a wedding day timeline is a guide, not a set in stone ordeal! Don't stress out if things aren't going exactly as planned. This is your wedding day, your love story! You can't go back and change it, so enjoy every bit that you can. Changes are just a part of what built your perfect day. The most important part is:

YOU JUST GOT MARRIED!!!


Build in some personal time

Wedding days are really busy for the couple and its very rare that they get to step away and just be with each other. Carve out some time to be alone and soak up your newlywed feels! Whether its before the ceremony, during dinner, or in the night - sneak away so you can focus on each other for a few minutes.



Sunset photos

Sunset photos are a really good segway into that alone time I was talking about! If your ceremony takes place at sunset, maybe consider pushing it up 20 minutes early so you can get some beautiful golden hour sunset photos of you and your new spouse. Or if your reception has already started, carve out 15-20 minutes between events to go outside for some sunset photos with just you two. Even spend 5-10 minutes after just soaking up each other's company! You just got married!!! You should enjoy it!



The reception

The reception timeline can vary couple to couple. If you want to frontload your reception so you have no interruptions with the open dance floor, consider going from a grand entrance straight to a first dance, then doing toasts during dinner. This starts the reception off strong and leaves less to squeeze in around dancing. If you want a more relaxed reception, feel free to spread out your events so your guests can have a break! You are the one that will know your family and friends the best, so you know whether they will want to dance all night or would rather have highs and lows in energy. Make sure to coordinate with your DJ, who often has great advice and additional events for your reception!



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