Making your wedding day timeline doesn't have to be complicated.

Even if you aren't a planner at heart, you can master your wedding day timeline.

I've put together some of my favorite tips below as a guide for you to get started! First things first, make sure you and your fiancee sit down and discuss your top three priorities for your wedding day. Then start with making sure those priorities get the right amount of time on your schedule. For example, if you care deeply about your family, you might want to extend family photo time or sprinkle in opportunities for your photographer to capture your family throughout the day. Or if you care deeply that you have a longer reception so you can talk with your guests, then alot more time at the end of your day.

Start writing things down now.

You might feel more comfortable just typing out your list in Word or Excel, but I would highly recommend using a free tool like Online Wedding Planner or Canva to make an online version of your schedule to easily share with friends and family. Also, when you use an online tool like this, you don't have to worry about re-distributing an updated schedule when something changes, each time they visit the online link it will update to the newest version automatically!

Ideal Time Blocks

  • Details (rings, heirlooms, flowers, etc) = 20 minutes
  • The Gals getting ready = 45 minutes
  • The Guys getting ready = 30 minutes
  • Groom + groomsmen portraits = 20 minutes
  • Bride dressing = 10 minutes
  • Bride + bridesmaid portraits = 10 minutes .
  • First looks (often with Dad, then the groom) = 15 minutes
  • Full wedding party photos = 20 minutes
  • Couples portraits = 15 minutes
  • Ceremony = 30-45 minutes average
  • Family formals = 30 minutes
  • Optional sunset couple photos during reception = 15 min
  • BONUS: Travel time! Be sure to account for any travel time between your ceremony, reception, or prep venues.

Sample Timelines

These examples are not detailed but should give you an idea of what a wedding timeline looks like!


6:30 am - Get Ready

8:30 am - Transportation to Venue

9:00 am - Pre-Ceremony Photos

10:00 am - Ceremony

10:30 am - Brunch Reception

11:00 am - Dances/Traditions

12:00 pm - Lawn Games/Live Band

1:00 pm - Dessert and Farewell

Early Afternoon

9:00 am - Get Ready

12:00 pm - Bride gets dressed

12:20 pm - First looks

12:40 pm - Party photos

1:30 pm - Bride and Groom photos

2:30 pm - Ceremony

3:00 pm - Cocktail Hour and Photos

4:00 pm - Reception Begins

5:00 pm - Speeches and Toasts

6:00 pm - Cutting of the Cake

6:30 pm - Dancing and Celebration

7:30 pm - Late-Night Snacks

8:00 pm - Farewell and Grand Exit

Late Afternoon

9:30 am - Get Ready

12:00 pm - Bride gets dressed

12:30 pm - Bride and Bridesmaids

1:00 pm - Groom and Groomsmen

1:30 pm - First Looks

2:00 pm - Full Bridal Party

2:30 pm - Family Photos

3:15 pm - Places for Ceremony

4:00 pm - Ceremony

4:30 pm - Cocktail Hour

5:30 pm - Reception Begins

6:00 pm - Toasts/Dinner

7:00 pm - Dancing

8:00 pm - Sunset Photos

9:30 pm - Farewell and Grand Exit


12:00 pm - Get Ready

2:30 pm - Groom and Groomsmen

3:00 pm - Bride gets dressed

3:30 pm - Bride and Bridesmaids

4:00 pm - First Look

4:15 pm - Full Bridal Party

5:00 pm - Places for Wedding

6:00 pm - Ceremony

6:30 pm - Reception Begins

7:00 pm - Toasts/Dinner

7:45 pm - Dancing

8:00 pm - Sunset Photos

10:30 pm - Farewell and Grand Exit

Other considerations

You do not have to follow all old traditions at all! In fact, I've captured some wonderful new traditions at recent weddings that I would love for you to think about including in your day!

  • Private personal vows - consider writing personal vows but only reading them to each other during portrait time before the ceremony.
  • No bridal party or just one per side - sometimes it's hard to move large groups of people around on your wedding day! The weddings I've had that have limited their attendees have greater freedom to move around on their wedding day. Plus, it puts the focus on you as a couple.
  • Unplugged wedding - when guests are encouraged to put their cell phones away it is so helpful to your professional photography and videography teams. No one wants cell phones in their wedding photos during an important part of your day.
  • Anniversary bouquet - I've noticed a lot of couples ditching the single ladies/garter dance for an anniversary dance. The DJ invites all of the married couples on the dance floor, then dismisses them by decades. Whoever is left at the end gets the bouquet from the bride.
  • Photobomb song - the couple sits in chairs and then the DJ plays one song where all of the guests have to rush in and photobomb the couple. This is a great option if you want to feature all of your guests in your wedding album.
  • Mother + son/Father + daughter dances - instead of spending the whole time on the dance floor with your parents, invite all mothers + sons and all fathers + daughters join you halfway through your dance. This also gets folks out on the dance floor!