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Hello there! My name is Alecs and I am so excited that you found my blog! Now it's time to cuddle up with your favorite furry friend, mine is my cat Goof, and start reading! 


December 4, 2019

How To Create A Wedding Timeline

Creating the Perfect Wedding Timeline – Fargo, ND

A wedding day timeline may seem like a daunting task, but it is an important step in order to help your wedding day run smoothly. Thankfully, most photographers are experts at creating a wedding timeline. Photographers are professionals and use their knowledge to help the day go perfectly! My number one tip on how to create a wedding timeline is to talk to your wedding planner and photographer first. Utilize your vendors to help create the perfect timeline!  Every venue, photographer, and wedding day are different, therefore talking to your vendors you will get the perfect timeline custom made for your day.

If you are creating your own timeline, or just want to get a rough idea before asking for help, here are a few steps you can follow!

Step 1: What time is your ceremony?  What time is dinner served?

Knowing your ceremony time is the starting point to create your wedding timeline. The ceremony is the most important part and the least flexible part of the day. Your guests will be arriving and expecting the ceremony to start on time, so firmly setting the ceremony time is step one. It is not only important to note when your ceremony will start, but how long it will last as well.  It also helps to know when your dinner will be served or when your reception will start. These two times will create the anchor points to build your timeline around.

*If you are in the early stages of planning, you can use tentative times for the ceremony and reception and adjust everything as you get closer to the big day.*

Step 2: Will you be sharing a first look?

A first look is when the bride and groom see each other for the first time before the ceremony. Some couples love the intimacy of a first look, and others prefer to stick to tradition and see each other for the first time at the ceremony. If you want to find out more about a first look, head to this blog post!  Deciding on a first look is important because it will affect when photos are taken.

*Keep in mind what time sunset is on your wedding day. If you have a 4:00pm winter ceremony and dream of outdoor photos, you will need to have a first look to take advantage of the winter sunlight while you can. Summer sunsets are much later, so this is not as much of a worry compared to winter.*

Step 3: How much time is needed for photos?

Everyone photographer is different, so you should reach out and see how much time they need for photos. If you are not having a first look, the majority of your photos will be taken between your ceremony and reception. If you are having a first look, you will need to know how long photos will take so you know when hair and make-up need to be done.

With a first look, I typically plan for an hour of bride and groom portraits, 30-45 minutes of bridal party photos, and 30 minutes of family photos.

Step 4: What time do you want to arrive at the reception?

It is your wedding day, so create the day you want. You can chose to enjoy your social hour with guests, spend time on a party bus with your bridal party, or take more photos with your photographer!  Talk to your significant other and discuss how you want to spend your time between the ceremony and dinner. In order to keep things running smoothly, your DJ will need to know what time you plan to arrive at the reception.

*If you are arriving after social hour, plan at least 15 minutes before dinner is served. That will give time for announcing the bridal party and for everyone to find their seats before eating.*

Step 5: Add in extra time

The trickiest part of creating a wedding day timeline is allowing for extra time. There are a lot of things that can slow down your timeline. First of all, will everything take place at the same venue or will you need to travel? Do you have a bigger than average wedding party? Do you have a lot of family breakdowns for photos? All of these things will slow down the wedding day and should be planned for!

*Always leave an hour of time between photos ending and the ceremony. That is extra buffer time and lets you hide away before the guests arrive! Trust me, you will be ready for the break when this time comes.*

A Bridesmaid steams her dress at the beginning of the wedding timeline

Step 6: Talk to hair and make-up and work backwards

Once you have the main timeline figured out, you can find out how long hair and make-up will take. Use that time and count time backwards from when you are putting your dress on. Don’t forget travel time if you are getting ready at a salon. I also suggest adding an extra 30 minutes or more between hair and make-up and pictures starting. It is always better to have extra time then not enough!

Step 7: Decide on photo coverage

Now that you created your rough wedding timeline, you can decide how much photo coverage you will need. Do you want getting ready photos? First Dance? Party Dancing? Creating a tentative timeline will help you see how much time you need your photographer around for!

Fill-in Guide

Ceremony Time: ____________

Ceremony Length: ____________

Reception Time: ____________

First Look?      Yes/No

Bride/Groom Photos: _________

Bridal Party: ______________

Family Photos: ___________

Arriving at Reception: ___________

Traveling time: __________

Hair & Make-up Time:__________

How to create a wedding day timeline for plenty of fun bridal party photos

Create A Wedding Timeline Examples:


4:00pm Ceremony (45 minutes)  – First Look – 6:00pm Dinner

12:00pm – Final Getting Ready / Detail Photos

12:45pm – First Look

1:00pm – Bride/Groom Photos

1:45pm – Bridal Party

2:15pm – Travel to Ceremony Venue

2:30pm – Family Photos

3:00pm – Photo Break / Ceremony Details

4:00pm – Ceremony

4:45pm – Receiving Line

5:00pm – Social Hour

5:45pm – Bridal Party Arrives

6:00pm – Dinner Served

7:00pm – Cake Cutting

7:30pm – Speeches

8:00pm – First Dances

8:30pm – Party Dancing

Wedding day details with diamond ring with a halo and sparkly shoes.

3:00pm Ceremony (30 minutes)  – No First Look – 6:00pm Dinner

12:30pm – Final Getting Ready Photos / Details

1:00pm – Groomsmen Photos

1:30pm – Bridesmaid Photos

2:00pm – Photo Break / Ceremony Details

3:00pm – Ceremony

3:30pm – Receiving Line

4:00pm – Family Photos

4:30pm – Travel to Photo Location

4:45pm – Full Bridal Party Photos

5:00pm – Bride & Groom Photos

5:45pm – Bridal Party Arrives

6:00pm – Dinner Served

7:00pm – Cake Cutting

7:30pm – Speeches

8:00pm – First Dances

8:30pm – Party Dancing


Now you know how to create a wedding timeline! Want to further discuss your timeline?  Contact me and I would love to help!

Alecs Kay Photography – Wedding Tips

Need to cross a few more things off of your to-do list? Check out my other wedding tips!

Top 7 Reasons To Do a First Look

Top Budgeting Mistakes I Made Planning My Wedding 

3 Must-Haves To Keep Your Bridal Party Happy

Things I Love and Use From My Registry

Preparing Your Bridal Party to Be Funny

16 Best Places to Take Engagement Photos

What You Should Know Before Contacting A Wedding Photographer

The Many Options For Wedding Dessert


Alecs Kay Photography is a Wedding & Portrait Photographer in Fargo, ND

  1. Idamae. Hauf says:

    Can I have snapshots made from out granddaughters wedding?

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