Wedding Day Timeline and Sample Template

Starting your Wedding Day Timeline

Today, we are going to be talking about creating a perfect wedding day timeline!

Starting off, you just booked your major vendors and you’re trying to decide what happens next,  this is a great next step, because you can use information from the major vendors you booked to start to plan out what your day is going to look like.

So to be able to plan your wedding day timeline I think is one of the hardest things. Because even if you’ve been to a lot of weddings, you don’t really pay attention to how long things take. Especially with everything that goes along with getting ready and all of that. So what we’ve done is put together a freebie that will walk you through how to plan out your wedding day timeline.

Freebie, freebie, freebie! WOOO!

I love the energy, Michael!

So we’ve put together some resources that can help you outline how to create your perfect wedding day timeline. We’ll also be talking about three big things today that you need to figure out, in order to start planning and your timeline.

Deciding on a First Look

So the first one is deciding whether or not you’re going to do a first book. So if you know it at all that we love first looks. We love doing a first look at our own wedding and we love when we get to shoot first looks. It’s such a special time of the day, and we could talk about it in forever! In fact, we already have…

We have already and we’re going to link it here, so you can go and you can listen to why we love first looks. But decide for yourself, whether you wanna do it or not, and that is going to really impact how you’re gonna plan out your wedding day timeline. 

And the freebie that we’re giving away has both a first look and what they call the traditional timeline. So regardless of what you end up decided to do, get this freebie.

It’ll help you out either way. So if you are not doing a first look then we typically recommend you have a little bit longer than an average cocktail hour. We suggest pushing it to an hour and a half, so that you can fit in all the pictures. We’ll be doing pictures of just the two of you, your  bridal party, and family within that time. So an hour a half, gives you a little bit more wiggle room especially if you have to take in to consider travel time.


If you are doing a first look then you’re typically going to have a lot more things taken care of at the beginning of the day,  before the ceremony. So you’ll do getting ready pictures just like normal, but then you’ll also do your first look, your bride & groom portraits, the bridal party, and you can even do family pictures before the ceremony even starts.

So doing a first-look or not is really going to change the outline for the timeline of your day (We’ve also linked a number of reviews from past clients that decided to do a first look here…).

fall retreat at eastwood northern virginia plantation wedding day timeline first look fall retreat at eastwood northern virginia plantation wedding first lookfall retreat at eastwood northern virginia plantation wedding bride and groom

Fall Wedding at The Retreat at Eastwood in Northern Virginia

Schedule times based on sunset for your wedding day timeline

The second and probably most important thing to think about when you’re starting to plan out a timeline is the sunset time on your wedding day. Yes, sunset is huge.

You will want to base everything pretty much off of this sunset time especially if you’re getting married, outside or at a venue that has a lot of outside spaces.

Well, and frankly, most people want to be outside for the majority of their wedding day. Your pictures are gonna be nicer and your venue is beautiful outdoors as well as inside. So it’s important to be able to have the flexibility to use both.

Right. So for an example, let’s say the sunset on your wedding day, is at 7pm. That should be when your reception starts. So, at sunset, we say your reception should start. That means your cocktail hour will be the hour before that. Or it could be a little longer if you’re not doing a first look. But if you are doing a first look, your cocktail hour would be from 6 to 7. Which means your ceremony would be before that. If it’s around half an hour, 5:30 to 6:00pm.

So as you’re seeing he is figuring when sunset is, and then working backwards to figure out the start times for everything throughout the day.

So really focusing on when sunset is is important to be able to figure out the rest of your day.


fall north ridge country club outdoor golf course ceremony wedding day timeline in raleighfall north ridge country club outdoor golf course ceremony wedding day timeline in raleighfall north ridge country club outdoor golf course ceremony in raleigh

Fall Wedding at North Ridge Country Club in Raleigh, NC

Venue restrictions

The last thing that you should do in planning out your timeline is figuring out what your venue allows. Venues may have specific times when you can arrive, and when you need to leave by. And other venues that are very flexible, where you can be there all day. So, you really need to figure out for your getting ready space, for your ceremony space, and for your reception, what is it that your venue is going to allow you to do.

If you’re in one location, typically they’ll allow you to be there all day. But some venues, say, “Hey you can’t be here before 11, and you need to leave by 10.”. So you really need to be able to figure those things out so that you know how much time you have to be able to plan your wedding day timeline.

Church rules change your wedding day timeline

The same thing goes with ceremony times as well. If you decide to get married at a church, or somewhere like that, a lot of those will have restricted times where they have something else that’s happening afterwards. So you will need to keep that in consideration as well.

If you’re getting married in the Catholic Church, a lot of times they’ll have Mass after ceremony takes place. So you need to make sure that you figure that out.  “If I have to be out by 2pm, my ceremony should start at ‘X’ to be done in time.”.

Correct. So those are the three major points that you wanna consider when starting to create your wedding day timeline. First one, whether or not you’re doing a first-look. Secondly, basing everything on your sunset time. And thirdly, figuring out what your venues allow.

Yes, exactly, hopefully you’re winning vendors will be able to help you outline this a little bit more. But to get you started, click below, get that freebie, and hopefully it helps you be able to figure out all of these details. We know it’s hard, you’ve never had to do this before, so we wanna be there to help.

summer virginia beach wedding at the cavalier hotel bride and groom veil wedding day timeline

summer virginia beach wedding at the cavalier hotel venue

summer virginia beach wedding at the cavalier hotel bride and groom wedding day timeline

Summer Virginia Beach Wedding at The Cavalier Hotel

Wedding Day Timeline Freebie WorkbookClick the image above to grab your FREE wedding day timeline workbook.


we're Michael & Laura


hey friends,

a husband and wife photography team based in Richmond, Virginia (though we LOVE to travel!). We hope you enjoy browsing some of our most recent work, reading our tips and tricks for brides, and taking a little peek into our life.  

+ More about us



For Brides

more categories


For Photographers


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


let's be friends






The Blog