How to Create a Wedding Timeline

Close up of bouquet

Ensure your dream day runs smoothly with a day-of wedding timeline

A well organized wedding timeline is a must for your wedding day! Either your photographer or wedding planner can help you create out a wedding day timeline to execute your dream day. More than likely not everything will go as planned and that’s completely normal when it comes to weddings, trust me! But there are steps you can take to prepare for the unexpected. My biggest piece of advice is to add in cushion time. Sometimes the most simple things can take an extra 20 minutes and then all of a sudden things start running behind. It’s a smart idea to overestimate time allowances here and there and build in some wiggle room.

 

First Look or Not?

A first look is when two partners see each other for the first time before their wedding ceremony. Usually I will put one partner in a secluded place to wait for the second partner. The second partner will then approach from behind and tap partner one on the shoulder to turn around. This is when I step back and let the couple share a few intimate moments taking in all that is happening in private. This is a good option if you are both non traditional, private, or highly emotional. After a few minutes when the couple is ready, I begin taking more posed romantic portraits. Afterwards, we can then move on to wedding party photos. Once complete, the bride goes into hiding so guests cannot see her while they are arriving. Sub-sequentially, the ceremony takes place. Immediately following the ceremony, family portraits are taken and then the newlyweds and wedding party can be announced to the reception. First looks save time after the ceremony, so that the couple is able to enjoy more time at their cocktail hour and reception.

Here are two different timelines to consider when figuring out your ideal wedding day:

CEREMONY, COCKTAIL & RECEPTION AT ONE LOCATION WITH FIRST LOOK

This timeline is based on a couple who has opted to do a first look and wedding party portraits before the wedding ceremony, meaning they’ll be able to attend their own cocktail hour which gives the bride & groom extra time to mingle with guests. Usually this will result in the couple getting to eat dinner in peace instead of greeting guests at their table.

  • Getting ready and bridal details: 1 Hour
  • Bridal portraits: 20 Mins
  • First look & romantic portraits: 30-40 Mins
  • Wedding Party: 30 Mins
  • Family formals: 30 Mins
  • Groom’s portraits: 20 Mins
  • Pre-ceremony hiding (the time before the ceremony where the bridal party goes into hiding so as not to be seen by guests – I do this 30 minutes before the ceremony is set to begin)
  • Reception setup: 20 Mins
  • Ceremony: 15-30 Mins
  • After the Ceremony everyone goes straight to cocktail hour
  • Extra Newlywed Portrait Time: As much time as you’ll give me later on in the evening for things like sunset photos

 

 

TRADITIONAL COCKTAIL & RECEPTION AT ONE LOCATION NO FIRST LOOK

This timeline is based on a couple who’s decided NOT to do a first look, meaning all of their portraits will take place after the ceremony. This is when I advise my couples that they will need to extend cocktail hour to 75 minutes, to make time for all their portraits, and also let them know that by pushing all portraits until after the ceremony, they will miss their entire cocktail hour.

  • Getting ready and bridal details: 1 Hour
  • Bridal portraits: 20 Mins
  • Groom’s portraits: 20 Mins
  • Pre-ceremony hiding (the time before the ceremony where the bridal party goes into hiding so as not to be seen by guests – I do this 30 minutes before the ceremony is set to begin)
  • Reception setup: 20 Mins
  • Ceremony: 15-30 Mins
  • Family formals: 30 Mins
  • Wedding party photos: 20 Mins
  • Newlywed photos: 20 Mins
  • Wedding Party Introductions to Reception

Two brides embracing

 

RECEPTION TIMELINE

If your reception will be at a second location don’t forget to add travel time to get there. As a side note, I only do the timeline up until the reception. I generally leave the reception timeline up to the planner/ DJ because most of them prefer to do things in a certain order. But here are the important moments that occurs during a typical wedding reception:

  • Introductions
  • First Dance
  • Father/Daughter Dance
  • Mother/Son Dance
  • Welcome & Blessing
  • Food Served
  • Toasts
  • Dance Floor Opens
  • Cake Cutting
  • Bouquet Toss/ Garter Toss
  • Newlywed Exit

Want more tips to help plan the day of your dreams? Click here to learn more.

Good luck and remember use your wedding vendors; they have years of experience they would love to pass on to you! Your vendors should strive to give their clients a stress free wedding day.

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You Might Also Like

5 Tips to Consider When Hiring a Wedding Photographer

Hello there, engaged friend! So you just got the ring from the love of your life ... now what? Most brides secure their dream venue first, and then a photographer to document their wedding day. But there are so many wedding photographers to choose from. How do you...

You Booked Your Wedding Photographer; Now What?

Hello there, engaged friend! So you secured your dream wedding photographer; now what? 1. SCHEDULE AN ENGAGEMENT SESSION I include a complimentary engagement session with my wedding packages because its a win win for both my clients and I. This session will make a...

Tips for the Bridal Suite

It's no secret that the bride is the focal of a wedding day, and it all begins in the bridal suite. Whether your wedding is taking place at a huge venue with hundreds of guests or is a more intimate affair with only your closest friends and family, taking the time to...

How to Create a Wedding Timeline

Ensure your dream day runs smoothly with a day-of wedding timeline A well organized wedding timeline is a must for your wedding day! Either your photographer or wedding planner can help you create out a wedding day timeline to execute your dream day. More than likely...

CHARLESTON GARDEN WEDDING | GOVERNOR THOMAS BENNETT HOUSE

Something Blue in a Charleston Garden With You Vendor Spotlight | We Do! Charleston | February 2nd, 2020 Vision This luxury editorial garden wedding was planned by Haley Guthrie & Baylye Burnette of We Do! Charleston. We Do! is a newly launched wedding planning...

Beach Proposal on Isle of Palms, SC

Isle of Palms Beach Proposal | Andrew & Murray| February 1st, 2020 I was so excited when Andrew contacted me about photographing his surprise beach proposal on Isle of Palms in Charleston, SC.  I had recently taken photos of him and his girlfriend Murray in...

5 Wedding Day Essentials

Friday Fives Hey friends! I'm Leigh an engagement and wedding photographer based in Mount Pleasant, SC. Over my 14 years of photographing Charleston weddings, I've learned a few tricks to survive. I am currently prepping my gear and personal items for this weekend. I...

DUSTY BLUE CHARLESTON WEDDING | THE PAVILLION AT PEPPER PLANTATION

Blog post about a recent gorgeous Charleston wedding with dusty blue color palette! The venue was The Pavillion at Pepper Plantation, a hidden gem.

INTIMATE CHARLESTON GARDEN WEDDING | PRIVATE RESIDENCE CHARLESTON, SC

Amie and Rob’s beautiful garden wedding at a private residence in Charleston was one for the books!  The day began with Amie getting dressed in the carriage house of the main residence. Rob & Amie then held hands around an ivy covered wall to have a moment of...

CHARLESTON ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS | ELIZABETH + TROY | DOWNTOWN CHARLESTON, SC

Photographing engaged couples is my jam …. and downtown Charleston is my absolute favorite romantic backdrop for an engagement photos! There are just so many streets to explore. I seem to find a new one each time I photograph clients in the historic district. And...

About Leigh

Leigh Hayward

Leigh Hayward

Charleston Wedding & Engagement Photographer

I’m Leigh, a wedding & engagement photographer in Charleston, SC. I’ve been photographing great love stories for the past 13 years, and I LOVE what I do! It’s true: I love love, and I love telling love stories through photos even more!

Let’s Connect