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Your Ultimate Guide to Creating a Wedding Day Timeline


March 1, 2023


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I'm so happy you're here. This blog is a journal about our lives, weddings, and engagements. Stay a while and say hello!

Hi, I'm Kristin.


Congratulations—you’re engaged! As you plan your special day, it’s important to create a detailed day-of wedding timeline. A well-planned timeline helps ensure that everything runs smoothly and that you have plenty of time to enjoy each moment. From the getting ready photos to the first dance, many events need to be scheduled into a wedding day timeline. This can include the ceremony, cocktail hour, reception, speeches, and more. As an experienced professional wedding photographer, I’ve seen the differences between weddings that have a well-planned timeline and those that do not. I’m happy to share my knowledge regarding day-of wedding timelines with you so you can create your dream wedding day—with less stress. Who wouldn’t want that?!?

day of timeline wedding - first look with bride and groom

Creating a Day-of Wedding Timeline

Your wedding timeline will include three main parts: pre-ceremony, ceremony, and reception events. The pre-ceremony section of your timeline typically includes getting ready activities such as hair and makeup appointments, as well as any transportation arrangements. You’ll also want to schedule time for pre-ceremony photos and maybe even a first look with your partner (We will talk more about the photography timeline for wedding photos later in this blog post!)

The ceremony section should include things like:

  • the time of the ceremony, 
  • the processional, 
  • the recessional, 
  • and any readings or special traditions you’ve planned. 

Your timeline reception preferences should include times for such things as the:

  • cocktail hour, 
  • dinner service, 
  • toasts, 
  • and cake cutting. 

If you’re planning any special dances, like a first dance or a father-daughter dance, make sure to include those as well. When determining the length of each event, consider the number of guests, the size of your wedding party, and the venue’s policies. For example, if you have a large wedding party, you’ll need more time for photos. If your venue has a strict end time, you’ll want to adjust your timeline accordingly. With careful planning and attention to detail, you will have a day-of wedding timeline that flows naturally.

Sample Wedding Day Timeline Template

A well-crafted timeline can help everything run smoothly so that you can relax and fully enjoy your wedding. To help you design your own timeline, I’ve put together a basic wedding timeline sample that can be customized to fit your specific needs.

day of wedding timeline - wedding timeline day of template - champagne tower

8:00 AM – Hair and makeup appointments
9:00 AM – Photographer and videographer arrive at the bride’s getting-ready location
10:00 AM – Groom and groomsmen/ bride and bridesmaids get dressed
12:00 PM – First look and couple’s portraits
1:00 PM – Wedding party and family portraits
3:00 PM – Ceremony begins
3:30 PM – Ceremony ends
4:30 PM – Cocktail hour
5:30 PM – Reception begins with grand entrance
6:00 PM – Dinner is served
7:30 PM – Cutting of the cake
8:00 PM – Open dancing
11:00 PM – Last dance and grand exit

Remember that this is only a timeline template; your wedding day timeline should reflect your personal style and preferences. 

Creating a Photography Timeline for Your Wedding

It’s important to create a photography timeline in addition to your general wedding day timeline. A photography timeline ensures that your wedding photographer knows what moments you want to capture so they can plan accordingly and not miss any special photos. You will likely want your photographer to capture shots of your dress, shoes, and jewelry, as well as candid moments of you and your wedding party. If you choose to do a first look before the ceremony, some of the time constraints later in the day can be lessened. It’s also important to communicate with your photographer about any special requests or must-have shots. Overall, creating a photography timeline allows you to have beautiful photos that you will cherish for decades to come. As a professional wedding photographer, I am always happy to work with you to create the photography timeline for your wedding.

wedding timeline sample - ceremony timeline

Wedding Day Timeline Do’s and Don’ts

While creating your wedding day timeline, the following do’s and don’ts can help you avoid unnecessary stress and delays.


  • Do communicate with your vendors.
  • Do have a detailed schedule.
  • Do allow extra time so that any hiccups will not throw off your entire timeline.


  • Don’t underestimate how long things will take.
  • Don’t forget to include time for travel and breaks.
  • Don’t try to squeeze too much into any one time slot.
wedding timeline reception - bride and groom dancing at wedding reception

By creating your wedding day timeline, you can ensure everything from hair and makeup to your grand exit is perfectly planned. Of course, if you feel overwhelmed with the thought of creating your own timeline, don’t worry! That’s where I come in. As an experienced wedding photographer, I’ve helped countless couples create personalized timelines that fit their wedding day vision. I’m here to help make your wedding day absolutely perfect. Contact me today to book a call to discuss your wedding day timeline and learn more about my wedding photography services.

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I'm Kristin and I'm so happy you're here. This blog is a journal about me, wedding tips, and engagements. Stay a while and say hello!

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