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How To Create A Wedding Timeline That Flows Naturally

Personally, I love the thrill of planning out the wedding and reception order of events – it’s like putting together a puzzle! But I totally understand that for some couples, figuring out how to create a wedding timeline is stressful. After all, you just want to sip bubbles and celebrate your love, not worry about itineraries!

Trust me, I get it – but I will say that the not-so-fun task of putting together a wedding timeline will make your day run much more smoothly, and will ensure you have time for everything, whether it’s a private toast after the ceremony or photos with the grandparents – honestly it really is an absolute gamechanger.

Here are a few tips for creating your timeline. I adore shooting every kind of wedding – Love is Love! – which is how I know there’s no one-size-fits-all approach you can take when planning a wedding. Just like you, your special day will be one of a kind! 

I curate a timeline for each and every one of my lovely couples, and in doing so have become a logistical master! I work with you so that you are absolutely 100% happy with it before the big day arrives.

Prioritise – then work backwards

If the number one question on your mind is ‘How do I create a timeline for my wedding day?!’, don’t worry – you got this! It’s simpler than you might think, especially once you know this tip: Prioritise – then work backwards.

The timeline can vary based on many factors, such as if you’re doing a first look, the time in your package with the venue (Most of the venues I work at don’t have a curfew!) or if you have a videographer who needs more time during the preparations. Having said that, I hope there’s enough here for you to still find it a useful reference.

Google the sunset time for your wedding day

If getting the most epic photos possible is a main priority, then google when sunset is and plan to do your bridal portraits around this time. I would suggest for an hour, finishing 10 mins after the sun goes down. This is hugely dependent on location and the time of year, so no worries if it doesn’t work perfectly. I quite often sneak my couples out in between meals to capture the last of the light and have them returned swiftly before anyone has even noticed!

The Bridal Adventure

The Bridal adventure is the ideal time to embrace wtf has just happened!!! Many people don’t think of it like this, but it’s the only time in the day where you can just have a little bit of a breather and just be with each other – after all it is all about you two!!

I generally spend about 20 minutes with the bridal party and then 40 with you the couple. The bridal party shots are loud and fun and really help to get you relaxed, pumped up and in ‘the mode’

We can make this time longer if you want to have more time to ’embrace’ Once I tell my couples about this, it becomes quite appealing. You can always bring some extra champers and a hamper.

Alternatively, you could join your guests for drinks and nibbles for a while before going off to shoot the bridal portraits before the reception. It all depends on the light. Remember that this is your day; think about your priorities and how you want things to run. You might only want 30 minutes of bridal portraits – and that’s absolutely fine – let’s just make sure it’s in the best light of the day. Read my post on why the Golden Hour or late afternoon is best. 

Congratulations

So bearing the photography in mind, think about when you want to enter your reception. And then work backwards to allow about 15-30 minutes for family photos and 15-30 minutes for the congratulations to happen organically (Time dependent on whether champagne is involved!!!) If you do want family photos, after the ceremony is the time – before your nearest and dearest head off to the bar! It’s much easier for your celebrant to let all of your guests know what is happening next, whilst they still have the microphone and everyone’s attention. I have a few other important tips regarding the family photos, but that is a whole other blog post!! If you end up booking me though, no stone will go unturned. Don’t you worry!

The all important Ceremony

This will now give you your ceremony time. How long is a wedding ceremony? Most ceremonies last about half an hour, but it’s important to know how long yours is. This is something that your celebrant will know exactly, once you have put in place what type of ceremony you want, and whether there’s any additional parts such as a traditional hand tying ceremony.

So what is a good time to start a wedding? there’s no right or wrong time for saying ‘I do’. but things to factor in are… Time of year / weather / light / photography (see all of above!) / kids and babies (If they are on your radar) / The kind of reception you want.

Getting Ready

Knowing this, you can work backwards to determine what time you’ll need to start getting ready with your hair and makeup team. Hair and makeup tends to take longer than you might think and your makeup artist will be able to advise you on this (Depending on the size of your bridal party) so start mid-morning, taking your time to chat with your bridal party, relax, and enjoy your day. I’ll plan to come by and to start with just observe and capture the goings on… this I feel is so important, as it’s all about the real moments. Everything else really is incidental which we can find time for if need be. Plus it’s a really good opportunity just to get used to me being around.

I’ll visit the groom and groomsmen as well – they can feel free to crack a beer and get used to me being there. I will get shots of your clothes and other details if you want me to, but I do like to check as every couple is unique and I never just take shots because the so called wedding photography bible expects me to. I prefer to shoot like its my first and last wedding ever, telling the story and capturing the moments as they unfold. I tend to spend around an hour with the girls and 30 – 45 minutes with the guys. This is ideal if you’re getting ready near one another, and if this is the case I tend to move between the two, but if not, we can plan for travel time. This is always open for discussion and will also depend on the size of your photography package. If you’re a same sex couple, then we can split the time equally or again just have a discussion about it.

Set up of Ceremony & Reception

I like to take a shots of the ceremony and reception set up. This helps to tell your story and is especially important if you’ve spent hours styling everything yourself. Plus if it looks just incredible then documenting this is simply a must! This takes about half an hour to an hour and I would do this on arrival. This being the time to make sure the styling is complete.

After the photos, you’ll be ready to waltz into your party of a lifetime! 

Time to party 

How the reception flows will very much depend on your caterers and whether you’re having a buffet or sit-down meal. From experience, it’s good to do the formalities in between courses so that you have everyone’s attention. I would suggest clumping specific evening’s activities together. Perhaps the first round of speeches between entrees and mains, and then after the mains – the second round followed by the cake cutting and the first dance. I know that for many, speeches are an absolute honour and are taken very seriously so ideally need to be over before too many drinks are consumed! The end of the formalities can be signified with a first dance (should you choose to have one), and then you can absolutely party the night away.

I’ll be there every step of the way, capturing photos of all the beautiful and joyous moments of your reception. 

How do I make an itinerary for my wedding? I hope the tips above have helped! Please just remember it’s your special day, so think about your priorities and plan around that. Take it from me: time will fly by, so sticking to this guide will help both yourself and your vendors.

As part of my services, I curate a personalised timeline for your day. I love connecting with my couples and making sure we’re all on the same page for the festivities. Planning makes everything so much better, so you can enjoy the awesome fun of your wedding adventure! And please remember this is just a guide and there is no set cookie cutter template. It all depends on your specific wedding and what is important to you

Knowing how to create a wedding timeline that flows naturally requires some logistics and patience, sure. But as your wedding photographer, I’m here to help along every step of the way. Let’s meet up for a coffee (or wine) and talk about your wedding goals and plans, and how we can create something beautiful together!

March 9, 2022

Victoria Baker

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  1. Ella says:

    I absolutely LOVE this, thank you Victoria! 17 months out and I am needing to think of starting to plan out my timeline to book vendors in and plan formalities at reception for appropriate times. Not to mention prioritising photos is one of the most important things to us both! This is awesome. Thank you !! 🙂