Your wedding day is supposed to be magical, and you will want to ensure your day runs as smoothly as possible, allowing you to relax, enjoy the day with your family and friends and not have to rush, or worry about what happens next.

Creating a realistic timeline leads to “less worry and more party”.

Let’s start with the basics.

  • Ceremony – 30-40 mins
  • Cocktail Hour – 60 mins
  • Dinner – 90 mins
  • Party – 180 mins

Obviously timings may be slightly different, dependant on your wedding, but you can make the changes to suit your day.

To make this a realistic timeline, you should now consider special details. Those “I hope the photographer gets a shot of these” moments.

A few examples might be:

  • First Look
  • Couples Photos
  • Group/Family Photos
  • Toasts/Speeches
  • First Dance
  • Cutting the Cake
  • Throwing the Bouquet

But hold on a minute. The day doesn’t start magically with the ceremony. There are preparations, possibly travel to venues, photographs to be done, hair, make up, showers, breakfast.

Obviously, I have a particular interest in the photography side. So should you. Group Photographs take time. They take time to gather everyone together, without them getting bored (and looking unhappy), or wandering off to the bar (and getting missed out of the shot). I usually allow about 6 minutes per Group Photo. This allows for everyone to get in place and then say ‘Spaghetti’ at the right time, then for everyone to look at the camera, then to wait for cousin Billy to stop crying, then to wait….you get the idea.

You will also want to factor in some time for some ‘Couple Shots’. Just you two and the Photographer going away somewhere for some beautiful photography of the newly married couple.

And importantly, you will want to have some time to speak to your friends and family. You will want to spend some time chatting to all (most) of them, and you will want to spend some time eating the canapes you spent sleepless nights choosing.

Let’s pad out the timeline now to include all of the above. This timeline is based on a 2.00pm Ceremony.

6am – 7.45am Wake up, shower and breakfast (having something to eat is super important on the morning of your wedding!)

8am Depending on how many bridesmaids and ladies need hair and makeup done this can take 45mins to an hour per person for makeup and the same amount of time for hair. (Remember to wear a button down top or shirt to change out of easily and  not mess your hair and makeup before putting on your gown.)

10-11am Photographers and videographers arrive to capture preparation shots, detail shots and location shots.

11.30am Suit up and put your wedding finery on!

1pm First look (if you are having a first look we would recommend allowing at least a half hour for this, there will be so many emotions and it’s not something you want to rush)

1.30pm Photographer and videographer leaves to set up at ceremony

2pm Ceremony – say I Do! (Woohoo!)

3pm Couple Shots (and/or group) photos

4pm Cocktail reception, this time can vary if your portraits were taken a distance away from the venue.

4.30pm Couple Shots (and/or group) photos

5.30pm Call for dinner

5.45pm Speeches – you may prefer to do this after the meal.

6.30pm Dinner

8pm Cake Cutting

8.30-9pm Band starts with First Dance and plays for your agreed amount of time. This is followed by afters food and DJ until your agreed time or until last orders or venue closing time.

You may have noticed there are two occasions when ‘Couple Shots (and/or group) photos’ is mentioned. This is because Couple Shots normally takes about 30 minutes and Group photos takes as long as it takes. I try and do the Group shots during the Cocktail/Canapes time, using a family member to help wrangle the guests into position. Once all the Group photos have been taken, I usually roam and take lots of candid photographs of you and your guests enjoying the day.

Feel free to amend this to suit your day, and consider these tips too:

Think about your wedding’s unique logistics.
Every wedding day is different. Is there travelling between different locations? Will you be having a receiving line? How many special dances? How many toasts/speeches?

Start early
Start planning early, and start your day early. You will have a lot to get done, and you want to enjoy the day.

Talk to your suppliers
They will have a good idea on how to plan the day, based on their experience and on how much time they need.

Add some ‘Buffer’ time
For those ‘little’ things that need to be done. Signing the register, eating breakfast, a loo break etc

Remember your Photographer
You want your photographer to capture all these special times? Right?

Don’t make guests wait to eat
Evan though you will have provided some yummy canapes for your guests to eat, don’t leave it too long before dinner is served. You must try and balance having sufficient time to mingle, chat (and have photographs taken) with having guests fainting due to hunger.

Distribute the timeline
The week before the wedding, share your timeline with suppliers, VIPs (Family members, wedding party etc). That way other people will be aware of where you should be at a particular time. On the day, your wedding plannerevent manager should make sure things run on-time, but also enlist a family member to assist with enforcing the schedule.