Wedding Timeline | The Basics

When it comes to building a timeline, we would love to say that we could put things together and say Bam! Here’s your beautiful Wedding Timeline and it would work for everyone. However, that’s not the case as each wedding has so many unique timeline issues and factors that can really change the way any wedding day would look.

So, where do you even start then?

We suggest breaking your wedding timeline into 3 sections:

  • Ceremony and work backwards to start of the day
  • In between Ceremony and Dinner
  • Dinner and beyond to the end of the night

From there, we’re going to break down what questions you need to have answered before any of your vendors can help you put together a timeline and if you have no vendors helping you, we’ll be giving you a few generalized times for various events like a First Look, Golden Hour Portraits, Speeches, etc. so you can hopefully get some help!

To begin with, the first part is completely focused on the beginning of the day up to your ceremony. Here are the questions you need to have answered:

  • Are you getting ready somewhere else off the venue site?
  • How many people are getting their hair & makeup done?
  • Are you doing a First Look?
  • Don’t know if you’re interested in a First Look or what the benefits of having one might be? Check out Stephanie’s Blog here!
  • Are you able/want to have photos of the wedding party before your ceremony?
  • Are you able/want to have photos of Immediate Family before your ceremony?
    • Parents, Grandparents, and MAYBE siblings
  • Is the ceremony and reception at the same location?
  • What time does the Ceremony start?
    • How long will your ceremony last?

From there, we need to break down the middle part of your wedding timeline. That time would be what needs to be done in between your ceremony and dinner. Here are the questions you need to have answered before you begin planning:

  • Are you thinking about doing a Receiving Line?
  • What time does Cocktail Hour Start?

Lastly, we need to figure out what is going to happen from Dinner all the way through to the end of the evening and you’re happily married. Here is what we need to know:

  • What time does Dinner Start?
  • What big events would you like to have at your Reception? 
    • Speeches. How Many? 5-10 minutes each
    • First Dance as a couple, with parents?
    • Cake Cutting?
    • Anything else? Sparkler Exit (more than likely will be staged)
  • Are you hoping to get Golden Hour or Sunset Photos?

The next part is for if you do not have a wedding photographer, planner, or day of coordinator who will be able to help you figure out just how much time so many things take.

Timing Based of Various Events: 

  • Getting Ready – 30 Minutes per person. Bride/Partner #1 typically 1 hour
  • First Look/Couple Portraits – 30 Minutes
  • Wedding Party – 30 Minutes 
  • Family Portraits – 30 Minutes 
  • Ceremony – Non-Religious (30 mins to 1 hour) Religious (1 – 2 Hours)
  • Cocktail Hour – 1 to 2 Hours
  • Grand Entrance – 10 to 15 Minutes
  • Dinner – 1 Hour
  • Speeches – 5 to 10 Minutes per person
  • First Dances – 5 Minutes per Dance
  • Golden Hour/Sunset Portraits – 20 Minutes
  • Dancing – 3 to 4 Hours 

Other timing Factors to look out for:

  • Travel Time
  • Tear Down. How long is your venue giving you to get out?

With that, we hope to have helped! As always, please reach out if you have any questions!


April 20, 2021

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