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How To Plan Your Wedding Day Timeline

Wondering how to plan your wedding day timeline? We're here to help! Your wedding day timeline should include everything from the moment your guests arrive for the ceremony to the moment the party stops. Wondering where your morning activities fit in? You can read our guide to planning your wedding morning timeline here!

Keep reading for top tips to consider when planning your wedding day timeline!

Key Events

Some wedding day events are unmovable, for example the wedding ceremony! When planning your wedding day timeline you should start with these key events, that way you can fit in more flexible events around these!

Ceremony: 30 mins - 1 hour

Talk to your wedding celebrant or solemniser to get their thoughts on how long they expect the ceremony to last.

Sunset photos: 20 mins

The sunset is one event that you have no control over so it's important to factor in a set time for this! There are many websites online that can estimate when the sun will set on your wedding date and location, so utilise those when allocating time for sunset pictures!

Dinner: 1 hour - 1.5 hours

This is one of the more difficult events to plan, there are many factors influencing how long this will take. For example, are you having plated meals or a buffet? How many guests are attending? How many courses are there? If you're having plated meals how long will it take the venue to serve them? Will you have any entertainment and/or speeches throughout dinner?

Photo ops

Below are a list of some suggested photo ops for your big day, prioritise which ones are most important to you and slot them into your wedding day timeline. If you're unsure you can always speak with your photographer about the type of photos you would like, or what they would recommend.

Detail photos

Things like jewellery, stationery, wedding shoes, and the wedding dress for example. Speak with your photographer about how long these will take.

Getting ready photos

This can take around 30-40 minutes, depending on the type of photos you would like It's a good idea to factor in an additional 20 mins if you’ve only got one photographer and you’d like photos of your other half getting ready too!

Bridal party photos

Aside from the photos of everybody getting ready, you may want to have some lovely photos of all of you dressed and ready to go (prior to the ceremony). It sounds like something that would take no more than 2 minutes, but your photographer will be able to tell you exactly how much time to allocate so be sure to ask!

First look photos

This one may not be for everyone, but lots of couples choose to take the time to see each other before the ceremony and to have the photographer document this special moment.

Family photos

This is possibly the one and only time you will have both of your entire families at the same place, so make the most of it! We recommend getting these photos taken soon after the ceremony, before everybody has scattered. If you’ve got a list of who you’d like in each photo and a family representation who knows everyone on the list, you’ll save yourself the hassle of having to herd family members.

Couple portraits

You know those beautiful Instagram-worthy couple portraits you’ve been swooning over? This is what we’re talking about! As mentioned above, the timing of this will be particularly important if you are wanting to include some gorgeous sunset photos.

Reception photos

This is the time you’ll have photos of your family and friends dancing terribly! You’ should relax and enjoy your wedding reception, and allow your photographer to do what they do best. Included in your reception will be things like a cake-cutting, speeches and a first dance.

Last dance / formal exit

This is the moment when you and your other half are tired and ready to head to the hotel for the night. It’ll be the final item on your wedding day timeline. The last dance and formal exit won’t take any longer than 5 minutes each, but we recommend setting aside 20 minutes to gather guests, hand out sparklers (if that’s what you’re doing) and get everybody in place.

Fill in the gaps

Now that you have your key events in place, and have slotted in the most important photo ops for you, you can begin to fill in the gaps. Here is a list of some common wedding traditions that you might want to add to your timeline:

  • First dance

  • Bouquet toss

  • Garter toss

  • Cake cutting

You may have other activities, games or entertainment you’d like to factor in as well, so now is the time to do just that! Below are some examples of wedding timelines to get you started!

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