Wedding Tips

5 Tips for Creating a Wedding Day Timeline

June 20, 2016

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Hi I’m Morgan! I’m a photography educator and Raleigh, NC newborn photographer and family photographer.

Meet Morgan



Creating a wedding day timeline can be overwhelming. How are you supposed to know how long it takes to get your makeup done to perfection? How are you supposed to know how long it takes for your guests to eat dinner? Why on earth do you have to get your hair done at 8 AM when your ceremony doesn’t start until 3:30? “THIS MAKES NO SENSE,” you say. Girlfriend, I know. I was a bride once too. Let’s walk through this together.


Your first order of business is nailing down a start time for your ceremony. I know they say to get married on the :30, but my husband and I got married on the :00 and we’re still kicking so I wouldn’t put too much emphasis on that. After your ceremony time is decided and you know approximately how long it will be, you can work backwards and forwards based on that.

5 Tips for Creating a Wedding Day Timeline

1. Determine whether or not you’re doing a first look.

This can drastically affect your timeline. If you’re doing a first look, you can likely knock out all of your pictures before the ceremony and leave a smaller gap of time between your ceremony and reception. If you’re not, then the majority of your pictures will need to take place between your ceremony and reception. This can also affect the time of your ceremony. Without a first look you’re definitely going to want at least an hour of daylight post-ceremony to allow for good photo opportunities!

2. Go into hiding 45 minutes before your ceremony.

You certainly don’t want your guests to see you all decked out in your wedding gown prior to your monumental walk down the aisle. So plan to be finished up with pictures (or getting ready if you’re not doing a first look) 45 minutes before your ceremony start time, and tuck yourself away in a room before guests start arriving.

3. Set aside two hours for pictures.

My breakdown goes something like this: 30 minutes for the bride and groom, 30 minutes for the wedding party and 20 minutes for family. Yes, I know that leaves 40 minutes left over. You’ll find out quickly, though, that sometimes things don’t always go as planned. So having a cushion there definitely won’t hurt and neither will 40 extra minutes of photos of you with your soon-to-be spouse if the opportunity presents itself!

4. Leave some wiggle room.

If you try to cram everything in back-to-back-to-back, I can promise you that you’re going to start running behind schedule. This can lead to some serious stress that you definitely don’t want to experience on your wedding day.

5. Don’t forget to account for travel time.

Are you getting ready at your ceremony venue or do you have to drive there? Are you taking wedding pictures at a location separate from your ceremony venue? Take these things into account! And don’t just Google Map it and then tack on the exact time it gives you for commuting. Take what Google Maps gives you and then tack on another 15-20 minutes, because TRAFFIC. You never know about it, and it doesn’t know that you need to be walking down the aisle at a certain time.


Creating a wedding day timeline and wondering how it will all actually come together on the big day can leave you stressed and frazzled. So here’s the number one thing to remember: YOU ARE MARRYING YOUR SOULMATE. Maybe it will happen on time, maybe it won’t, maybe your hair will be perfect, maybe it won’t, maybe you’ll have two hours for pictures, maybe you’ll have 15 minutes. Either way, it doesn’t matter. The only thing that really matters on your wedding day is the commitment that you’re making to one another and the huge love that you’re celebrating. So as long as you make those vows and exchange those rings at some point, it will all be perfect.

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