Four Steps to Planning the Perfect Wedding Day Timeline

If rom-coms have taught me anything, it’s that a wedding day is supposed to be stressful and hectic. I could not disagree with that more! (Your wedding day is supposed to be fun, right?!)

All you need need to avoid a stressful wedding is to have a well-planned timeline for the events of the day. If you consider how much time everything will take and schedule it out in advance, there will be plenty of time for you to actually relax and enjoy the day you planned! (Not to mention have time to celebrate the special, candid moments you couldn’t have possibly planned!)

Step One: The First Look

The very first thing you need to ask yourself is if you are going to see each other before the ceremony. There are plenty of pros and cons either way, but it comes down to what would be the most special for you two (and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!).

Step Two: Special Celebrations

Once that’s decided, think about any out-of-the-ordinary events for the day. Are you and your groom sneaking away to get ice cream before you walk down the aisle? Do you want to do a first look with your dad before you even see the groom? Are your bridesmaids planning the ultimate prank on the groomsmen at some point during the day? (And if they are I want to know what it is!)

Make sure these get added to your schedule before you start figuring out exact times, so nothing gets left out!

Step Three: Don’t forget travel time

What is the first thing you do when you find out you have somewhere to be at a specific time? Google how long the drive is, right? (Please don’t say I’m the only one who does this!) But wedding time isn’t the same as Google time. Between gathering up accessories, collecting emergency bobby pins, rounding up that one groomsmen no one can never seem to find, and unloading all those same things in the new location, traveling on your wedding day always takes longer than your phone says it will.

Maybe we can all get together and convince Google to create a “wedding time” setting; who’s with me??

Step Four: Talk to your photographer

Most brides out there are planning their first wedding, and it’s absolutely impossible to know how long things take when it’s your first time. (That’s what she said!) But chances are your photographer has been to a lot of weddings, so lean on them for help!

Your photographer is the only vendor who spends the entire day by your side, so just tell them what things you’d like to do and what your shot list is. They can take care of the timeline from there!


If you are planning to do a first look, here’s what I recommend:

  • 12:00 - detail photos and getting ready photos
  • 1:00 - bride and groom first look and photos
  • 2:00 - bridal party photos
  • 2:30 - family photos
  • 3:00 - hide away
  • 4:00 - ceremony
  • 4:30 - cocktail hour
  • 5:00 - sneak out for sunset photos
  • 6:00 - dinner
  • 7:00 - speeches
  • 7:30 - first dance
  • 7:45 - party time

If you are not planning on a first look, try this option:

  • 1:30 - detail photos and getting ready photos
  • 2:30 - bridesmaid/groomsmen photos
  • 3:00 - hide away
  • 4:00 - ceremony
  • 4:30 - family photos
  • 5:00 - bridal party photos
  • 5:30 - Bride and groom photos
  • 6:30 - dinner
  • 7:30 - speeches
  • 8:00 - first dance
  • 8:15 - party time

There are TONS of things that can be changed and updated based on your day. Take one of these as a starting point, and customize it based on the steps above.

You got this, girl!