A Guide to Creating Your Wedding Timeline

Wedding Tips

Let’s talk wedding day timelines! Planning a wedding can be overwhelming to begin with, and sometimes figuring out the order of events for the day feels daunting. Many of my brides ask me for help when it comes to this part of the planning process, so I wanted to make a blog post that is specifically a guide to creating your wedding timeline! I am going to share some advice on figuring out when to capture specific moments of your day, making it completely unique to YOU.

To start off, I want to make sure I say that I feel like it’s SUPER important to remember what is most important to you. Please don’t get overwhelmed or stressed and remind yourself that at the end of the day – what YOU want matters most!! Creating a timeline is crucial because you want to be on the same page as your vendors, especially your photographer(!!) to help make the day flow super well. In this post, I am going to samples of a couple “typical” timelines along with giving my best advice and tips on timeline planning and what brides/grooms might want to prioritize for their day!

Deciding WHEN to capture specific moments throughout the day is one of the big factors in creating your timeline. For example, are “getting ready” photos with your girls important to you? Set aside time for it! Want romantic, golden hour portraits? Schedule in a sunset portrait session. Do you want one-on-one time with your partner? Consider a first look!

Portraits before or after ceremony?

Speaking of first looks! Ideally, for time purposes, going for a first look is probably the best way to save time if you aren’t doing an earlier ceremony, this maximizes your time post ceremony. If you want the first time your groom sees you to be at the aisle, consider an earlier ceremony so you can enjoy your cocktail hour!

If you don’t want either an early ceremony or cocktail hour, there are still ways of getting everything done, you might just have to take some things into consideration. For example, you might have to spend cocktail hour taking family photos or full bridal party photos (if those are a priority for you as a couple). You also might want to know that sunset photos or post- ceremony photos might be your only chance at bride groom portraits. If you are getting married in late fall, keep in mind how an earlier sunset and lighting can affect this as well!

Make it as non-traditional as you want!

HERE’S THE THING THOUGH – you can have your day planned as non traditionally as you want! I have had couples do a first look and family photos ALL before the ceremony. Once the reception began and they walked back down that aisle it was time for them to enjoy good food, drinks, and fun with friends/family!

Again, I think the biggest thing is understanding what your top priority is with photos and what is realistic to get done in the timeframe that you have coverage for. If photos of the two of you are what you care about most, or your down for the candids, then I think planning time for it is the way to go. KEEP IN MIND though, that it may not always go perfectly and run to the exact planned minute, so creating buffers of time throughout your timeline is helpful!

MY BEST ADVICE when helping my brides plan out their day: It’s their day and I’m here to assist them with whatever they may need, so let me know what is most important to you and I’ll make it my mission to get it all on my camera!


“Typical” Timeline for a Church Ceremony

11:30am – Photographer Arrives for Details & Getting Ready

11:35am – Groom Getting Ready – Men head to church at 12:00pm

12:45pm – First look with dad, downstairs/outside (optional)

1:15pm – Girls head to church

2:00pm – Ceremony

3:00pm – Family Photos

3:30pm – Bridal Party Photos  

5:00pm – Cocktail Hour – Change into Sneaks 

6:00pm – Entrances

6:05pm – Cake Cutting

6:10pm – First Dance

6:15 pm – Speeches/Blessing

6:30pm – Dinner

7:00pm – Sunset Photos

7:30pm – First Dance/Parent Dances

7:35pm – Open Dancing  

9:30pm – Photographer Departs

A “Typical” Wedding Day

12:30pm – Photographer Arrives at Venue

12:45pm – Groom Detail shots

1:15pm – Bride Details + Getting Ready

2:00pm – First Look

2:30pm – Bridal Party Photos

3:30pm – Bride + Groom Portraits

4:00pm – Ceremony/Venue Details w/o Guests

4:00pm – Ceremony

4:30pm – Family Photos/Cocktail hour

5:30 pm – Reception Start/Entrances

5:35pm – First Dance

5:40pm – Cake Cutting

5:45pm – Speeches

6:00pm – Dinner 

6:45pm – Parent Dances

7:15pm – Sunset Photos

8:30pm – Photographer Departs

I LOVE helping my couples create their perfect timeline that is most unique to their wants and needs! Looking to get married in upstate New York? Check out more of my work on my blog or reach out to book with me! I’d love to meet you!

with love,
Rachel Maloney