Make a Rough Wedding Timeline in 10 Minutes

help with wedding timelineWhat time should the ceremony start?

If you haven’t planned a wedding before coming up with a general wedding timeline can seem daunting. Fortunately, we’ve seen about 1000, so we have some experience. :)

The first question is the ceremony. Personally, I’m always of the opinion that they should happen a little earlier than later. Why have so many people come from so far away only to hang out with them for a couple of hours? Another practical reason not to have the ceremony too late is dinner. You don’t want to pump people full of booze and not feed them till 8pm. Keep in mind, most of the people that are going to be there, especially if they have kids, probably ate around 12 or 1.

Ceremonies that start between 4 and 5 give a good amount of time for the reception and get dinner going before people get too hungry.

Once you know your ceremony start time, you can start thinking about a couple of other questions.

Do you want to attend your Cocktail Hour?

For me, this is the next question because of how it affects the getting ready timeline and the timeline immediately after the ceremony. If you’d like to attend your cocktail hour, it is very tough to do so without doing seeing each other and doing the bulk of the photos before the wedding.

Scenario 1: WithOUT a seeing each other before the ceremony

I would say that we do about 1/2 with a First Look and 1/2 without it. If you don’t want to see each other before the ceremony, we still recommend doing a lot of the photos before the ceremony. Many of the photos that we do don’t involve the couple, so if planned correctly, we can knock out a lot of the photos between getting ready and the start of the ceremony. We’ll just need to coordinate before about who needs to come a little early – mostly people who would already be there, anyway.

Getting Ready: ? – 3:30pm (start time depends on how many getting ready)
Photos of Groom with Groomsmen and Immediate Family: 3:30 – 4
Photos of Bride with Bridesmaids and Immediate Family: 4 – 4:30
Freshen Up / Guests Arriving: 4:30 – 5pm
Ceremony: 5:00 – 5:30pm
Any other group photos: 5:45 – 6:15pm
Bride and Groom Photos / Cocktail Hour: 6:15 – 7pm
Announce / Blessing / Start Dinner: 7:00
Dinner: 7:00 – 8pm
First Dances: 8:00 – 8:15pm
Dancing: 8:15 – 9pm
Cake Cutting: 9pm
Dancing 9:15 – 10:45
Exit: 10:45 – 11pm

Scenario 2: See each other before and do all photos before the ceremony

Do you want to do all the photos (bride and groom, family, and wedding party)? Plan for about 1.5 hours. That is a rough amount of time and allots for people walking, chatting, etc. Even if we’re only taking photos for an hour of that time, we’ll need time to walk and set up groups. There is one exception: Biltmore or going off property. If you’re getting married at the Biltmore or you want to go off property of where you’re getting married, all bets are off. Call me and we can chat about your ideas and I can help you get a good idea of how much time to plan.

Getting Ready: ? – 2:30pm (start time depends on how many getting ready)
First Look: 2:30pm
Bride and Groom Photos: 2:45 – 3:30pm
Wedding Party Photos: 3:30 – 4pm
Family Photos: 4:00 – 4:30pm
Freshen Up / Guests Arriving: 4:30 – 5pm
Ceremony: 5:00 – 5:30pm
Any other group photos: 5:45 – 6pm
Cocktail Hour: 6:00 – 7pm
Announce / Blessing / Start Dinner: 7:00
Dinner: 7:00 – 8pm
First Dances: 8:00 – 8:15pm
Dancing: 8:15 – 9pm
Cake Cutting: 9pm
Dancing 9:15 – 10:45
Exit: 10:45 – 11pm

Want advice on other things? Here’s an article on 1 Photographer vs 2 and here’s an article about how much time you might need the photographer.

As always, feel free to call or email and I can help with questions specific to your day!