How To Create An Epic Wedding Timeline

Welcome, I hope you’re feeling well and have grabbed a warm cuppa or glass of scrumptious wine.

I understand that planning your wedding can get stressful, so I am here to assist you! Planning your wedding is vital to ensure that everything goes according to plan for everyone, including your guests, vendors, and even your photographer.

Do you find organising your wedding stressful? To show you that wedding planning doesn’t have to be stressful at all, here is how to create an epic wedding day timeline so you can enjoy your day, to the fullest, using a ceremony at 1pm as an example.

Couple Portrait at Chycara, Truro, Cornwall, Uk

Why You Should Create a Wedding Timeline

Most of us aren’t event planners, so it’s understandable that figuring out how to organise every little aspect of your wedding day can be a little daunting. Especially when you have to try and keep all aspects in order to make sure that it runs smoothly without a little speed bump.

We are here in this together, so I’ll make sure you leave here feeling all refreshed. We’ll plan out a solid wedding day timeline for your big day ahead of time so that you can keep the creeping anxiety of “it’s my wedding day, I have no idea what is going on…and why are the caterers coming at dawn when we’ve planned a sit-down dinner at eight?!” well and truly at bay.

A timeline for your wedding is not only helpful for you, but it’s also really helpful for any staff or suppliers that are working together to pull off your event. Having everyone on the same page can be a lifesaver (and a timesaver!).

In my experience, the more planning a couple does before the big day, the more their wedding runs like clockwork. The best part of doing some major planning ahead of time? Your only job during the ceremony and reception will be to enjoy yourself and soak in every moment.

One tip: Try to be realistic when allocating time to each specific section – you don’t want to feel rushed in completing any step. It’s much better to have a little bit of extra time than to stress over a task not being completed.

Example Wedding Day Timeline with a 1pm Ceremony

Start your wedding day timeline by writing down all of the non-negotiable details you have already agreed upon, such as your ceremony start time, ceremony finish time, reception start time, and reception finish time.

This could include the time you have the venue reserved and the deadline for taking everything down at the end of the evening. These essential components on your timetable will provide you with a framework for your day, which you can then work around.

Now you know when food will be served, when the bar opens and closes, when you may get your hair and makeup done, and when guests can arrive for the ceremony and the evening festivities.

I always make sure to revise my couples’ wedding day timeline as a wedding photographer so I can capture the important details naturally.

Of course, every wedding is unique, but your wedding may flow something like this, assuming you have a 1pm ceremony:

  • Bride prep photos – 10:00
  • Groom prep photos – 11:00
  • Guest arrival at the ceremony – 12:30
  • Bride arrival at the ceremony – 12:45
  • Ceremony commences – 1pm
  • Ceremony concludes – 1:45
  • Group photos – 2pm
  • Family photos – 2:30
  • Bridal party photos – 2:45
  • Couple portraits – 3pm
  • Guests to be seated at the reception – 4pm
  • Bride and groom to enter the reception – 4:15
  • Cutting the cake – 4:45
  • The first dance – 5pm
  • Speeches – 6pm
  • Father/daughter dance – 7pm
  • Sunset portraits – 8pm
  • Meals – 8:30
  • Dancing – 9pm
  • Exit


Getting Ready

This step can sometimes be a long process if you have a larger bridal party or if everyone is getting their makeup and hair done. If you’re getting married in the afternoon and you hate waking up early, consider hiring more than one makeup artist and hairdresser – this can make the process more streamlined.

If you want photos taken of you getting ready, it’s best to get your makeup and hair done last so that you’ll still look fresh when it’s time for the ceremony.

Make sure to coordinate a time with your photographer so they can also capture the groomsmen getting ready. When planning out your wedding day timeline ahead of the wedding, communicate with your makeup and hair artists and work out an estimate of how much time they’ll need to complete their work on your whole wedding party. Then add in a little spare time so that getting ready can be stress-free.

How To Organise A Wedding Timeline For A Stress Free Wedding

Cornwall Wedding Photography

During The Ceremony

When thinking through the timing for your ceremony, it’s important for you to consider what time of year you’re getting married since this will determine when the sun will set. For a summer wedding, I recommend having your ceremony later in the afternoon (especially for outdoor ceremonies), as this will give you the best lighting opportunities for your photos.

Plus, you won’t want your guests to be uncomfortable in the hot sun, which can happen if your ceremony is booked for midday.

Getting married in winter? I think it’s best to have the ceremony much earlier in the day than you would for a summer wedding so that you don’t lose all the light for your photos. If all of your wedding events are happening indoors or at night, you don’t need to be concerned about when the sun sets (unless the venue has a lot of glass, this can lead it to get very hot inside).

Also, when planning your wedding day timeline, it’s a good idea to leave about one and a half to two hours in between your ceremony and the reception. You don’t want to leave your guests hanging for too long before the party actually starts.

If you’re not sure of how much time to allow for the ceremony itself, talk to your wedding planner or whoever is in charge of events at the venue. They can help give you an idea of how much time your ceremony will take so that you can be prepared.

St Agnes Elopement | Cornwall Wedding Photography

Taking Portraits

Don’t forget to include portrait-taking time in your schedule. I like to allot 10-15 minutes for a group photo (more if you have a large bridal party), 10-15 minutes for any family photos, and 45 minutes for portraits of the bride and groom (don’t worry this can be split up into chunks if you wish to stay at the venue).

Some photographers can get photos done quicker than 45 minutes, but I’d say this is a good general estimate to ensure you have plenty of time.

If you want your photos taken outside, the later in the day the better. I have to point out that it’s crucial for you to plan travel time on your timeline too. Try to think through the little details of what your day will be like – for example, you’re not going to want to take portraits after you’ve been stuck in traffic for hours.

Also, I recommend planning ahead and Googling any special events that might be on your route to the venue. You definitely don’t want to run into any pesky roadworks on your way! Trust me with this tip – I’ve been caught in heavy traffic due to massive events on my way to venues. Plus, if you’re getting married in a more built-up area, you should add an extra 15 minutes to your drive to account for traffic.

If you’re interested in taking portraits at an offsite location, you should factor in driving time (with traffic), time to park, and the time it might take to find an uncrowded spot to shoot within your wedding day timeline.

Elopement at St Agnes | Cornwall Wedding Photography

During The Reception

To make sure everyone is on the same page, include as many details for your reception on your wedding day timeline as possible. I like to have my bride and groom take 10 minutes out of their reception to snap a few portraits when the sun is setting (golden hour), so find out exactly when the sun will set on your big day and schedule the time in.

None of my clients has ever regretted taking those 10 minutes for an amazing portrait framed by the sunset. Also, since you might not know exactly when your reception will end (who knows how long the dancing will go on?), consider having the photographer get all of the formalities done at the start of the night.

This can be a great option if you paid for a smaller package or if you don’t need the photographer to stick around all night. I love doing ‘sparkler exits’ or ‘confetti exits’ before the night is over – if you plan when this will happen ahead of time, your photographer will know exactly when they can leave the event without missing any important moments

Don’t freak out if everything doesn’t go exactly planned on your wedding day (you can’t control the weather, right?). It’s totally okay to be flexible. In fact, sometimes those improvised moments can turn into the best parts of your celebration.

We can always make things work in the end; just be sure to keep talking with your photographer and the rest of the staff so everyone can make last-minute changes if required. Just leave yourself plenty of spare time throughout your schedule, so that you have time to sip Champagne and have cuddles with your family.

With your wedding day timeline in hand, you’ll be able to sit back, relax, and get the very most out of your special day!

Are you ready to start planning your wedding timeline?

How have you found reading ‘How To Create An Epic Wedding Day Timeline’ blog post? I’d love to hear your feedback. Drop me a message here.

If you want to keep on finding out more about planning your wedding check out my blog on How To Look Your Best In Your Wedding Photos.

This will help you in getting the photos you’ve always dreamt of getting at your wedding!

Speak soon,