How to Create Your Wedding Day Timeline (plus FREE Sample)

Where do you begin? How do you know how long each part of the day will take? Even thinking about a timeline for your wedding day can be stressful. Well…as part of the BBP Experience, I offer a personalized wedding timeline to each of my couples, completely based upon their specific day and needs! I not only enjoy offering this service to help my couples, but it ends up helping all the wedding vendors as well. When everyone is on the same page, we can make it the best possible day for our bride and groom!

Before I begin putting together a timeline, here are a few key factors to keep in mind and address with my couple:

The Sun. If you are having an outdoor ceremony, I recommend going to your venue and looking at where the sun will be shining where you plan to have your ceremony set up. I have photographed many outdoor weddings where the sun is shining directly in the groom’s face as his bride is walking down the aisle (and sometimes all throughout the ceremony)…not ideal. It is best to have even light (shade if possible), to avoid having to squint and also to have the most flattering light for your photos. Another thing to keep in mind is the sunset time. Make sure there will be enough time after the ceremony for family photos before the sun sets (see time suggestions in Sample Timeline below).

First Look.  If you aren’t sure what I mean by a “First Look”, this is a somewhat recent trend where the bride and groom see each other privately before the ceremony. This creates another opportunity for more photos, and not just of the bride and groom. If the couple has already seen each other, we could essentially get all the photos done before the ceremony even begins. This is a big time saver. A First Look would be a good option if you choose to have a sunset ceremony, so that you can have all your photos done beforehand. However, I promise I will not push you to do a First Look. I do not want to sway your opinion either way, especially because I know some brides have always envisioned seeing their groom for the first time when walking down the aisle. I do want my couples to be as informed as possible about this option though, so they can make the best decision. We can easily do the majority of photos after the ceremony.

Type of Ceremony.  I have photographed a wedding where the ceremony literally lasted only five minutes. No, this is not common, but ceremonies really do range quite a bit as far as time. For example, if you are having a traditional Catholic ceremony, we need to allot for a more time.  In my experience, most ceremonies last 20-30 minutes.  Be sure to have a conversation with your officiant to get a good idea for how long he or she thinks it will last.

Venue Travel Time.  This applies not only if you are having two different venues for the ceremony and reception, but also where you are getting ready.  Make sure to map out your getting ready location to the ceremony location to the reception location, as well as time of day and expected traffic. 

The Most Important Aspect of a Good Timeline? BUFFERS.  I always add in a buffer for additional time throughout the whole wedding day timeline.  No matter how much you plan, something will almost always take longer than planned on your wedding day.  And even if everything does go exactly according to plan, it’s always relieving to be “ahead” of schedule and not feel rushed!

Sample Wedding Day Timeline created by Brittany Bishop Photography

Getting Ready Location

2:30 – 3:30                 Brittany Photographs Bride’s Details, Hair & Makeup

3:30 – 4:00                 Brittany Photographs Bride Getting Into Dress

4:00 – 4:15                 Drive to Ceremony Location  

Ceremony Location

4:15 – 4:30                   Bride Portraits

4:30 – 5:00                 Bride with Bridesmaids, Bride with Immediate Family

5:00 – 5:30                 Groom Portraits, Groom with Groomsmen, Groom with Immediate Family

5:30 – 6:00                 Bride & Groom Hide, Rest & Retouch

6:00 – 6:30                 Wedding Ceremony

6:30 – 7:00                 Immediate Family Photos

7:00 – 7:15                   Full Bridal Party Photos

7:15 – 7:45                 Husband & Wife Sunset Portraits

           7:45                  Sunset  

7:45 – 8:00                 Drive to Reception Location

Reception Location

6:30 – 8:00               Second Shooter Photographs Reception Décor, & Guests at Cocktail Hour

            8:00               Guests Seated & Grand Entrances                            

            10:30              Brittany Departs Reception

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