January 15, 2024

Samantha Couick

How to Build the Perfect Wedding Timeline

Building the perfect wedding timeline can be so challenging when you first begin. I remember when I was a bride (the first of my friends) and I had no idea where to start. Where to allot time for getting ready? Family photos? Bridal portraits? It all felt so overwhelming. After years in the industry, here’s a few tips I’ve learned to building your perfect wedding day timeline.

bride and groom kissing in garden. garden wedding

Building your Timeline

What type of Wedding do you want?

1. Determine if you want just a simple afternoon or morning ceremony or if you’d rather your wedding day stretch into the night. Choosing the style of wedding day will affect your budget, so this is important to consider right at the beginning of wedding planning.

Time of day for Wedding Ceremony

2. If you decide you want a longer wedding with dinner service, then choose an afternoon ceremony time that works well with a cocktail hour and dinner time. For example, Ceremony at 4:30, cocktail hour from 5-6 and dinner served at 6:15pm. If you choose an earlier wedding day, then consider an afternoon ceremony at 2pm or an early ceremony at 9am. This will allow your timeline to be shorter if you desire that! Brunch weddings are becoming more of a trend and I’m loving them. Rather than waiting the whole day to see your groom, spend then entire day with him! You will also have the rest of the day for spending time with family, taking fun portraits somewhere else, or going ahead and traveling to your honeymoon destination.

Time the Sun sets

3. Another thing to consider is when the sun will set. If you do intend on having an evening wedding, it is a good rule of thumb to have your ceremony at least two hours before the sun sets so that you have time for the ceremony and any pictures afterward before the sunlight dwindles. 

What’s important to you on your wedding day?

4. Decide what is important to you on your wedding day- do you want to spend more time together? With your friends? Do you want to allot more time towards romantic portraits or would you prefer to do that a different day? 

bride at McAllister Leftwich House, Greensboro, NC

How many Hair and Makeup services do you need?

5. How many bridesmaids do you have and are you hiring a HMUA? Each service will take 30-45 minutes (hair = 45min, make up=45 minutes) PER PERSON so be sure to plan for that! 

Plan ahead.

6. Things always get behind at some point, so buffer time is awesome to plan for. 


1pm- Details photos/Venue photos/start getting ready photos (it’s good for the photographer to arrive in the last hour of you getting ready. Most brides do not want photos of themselves without their make up done, but of course that’s up to you!) 

2:45pm- Get into dress and enjoy a few moments with your gals

3:15pm- First look with your fiance (A first look is a great way to save time after the ceremony. It can also give you a few special minutes to soak in the emotions and show off that dress to your man!) 

3:30pm- Wedding party photos

4:30pm- Ceremony!!!

5pm- Family Photos and Bride/Groom portraits (to save time, it is best to keep the family portrait combos to a minimum. Plan for about 2-3 minutes per grouping!) 

6pm- Grand Entrance and DINNER!

6:45pm- Cake Cutting/First dances

7:20pm- Get on the dance floor with your guests!

9pm- Send off! (Or keep partying the night away! Some people opt for a fake exit, others prefer to really exit, and others decide to skip the exit all together and just enjoy dancing!) 

Your wedding day does not have to be stressful. If you want to enjoy time with friends and family, plan for buffer time. Hiring a wedding day coordinator will also greatly help with helping the day move along on schedule! One last thing: many wedding days tend to run behind schedule, which is totally fine! Be flexible, and remember that the whole purpose of the day is for you to GET MARRIED! Now go, enjoy making your timeline and reach out if you have any questions! 

If you are ready to book your wedding photographer, send me a message here!! I’d love to chat, talk about your wedding goals and help you finesse the perfect wedding timeline.

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