One of the most important elements of planning a wedding is the development and execution of a wedding schedule. Depending on the number of factors such as your wedding party, number of guests, and activities, your wedding timeline may require a couple of hours to a full day. Whether you are working with a wedding planner, mom, or someone in your wedding party, it is good practice for you to have an agenda of your special day that lists all of the important activities and allocate time for them.   Over the course of time, expect adjustments to your agenda once you begin working with wedding vendors and they provide professional feedback. When you’re developing your wedding timeline, you will have to start off early in the day when you’re getting your hair and makeup done.   Your timeline should include all of the basic events such as your ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception, then factor in sub elements such as travel time, preparation time for the bride / groom, and time in between to relax.  

One of the vendors that will be with you during the majority of your wedding day is your wedding photographer, so it critical that they are aligned on your wedding timeline. During the initial consultation with my clients, I help develop a draft agenda of events that includes the couple getting prepared up until the final send off at the reception. It is advised that during the day, you schedule ample time for your photo session at a point after the ceremony. Remember that couples invest lots of money for photography, so they should allow ample time for their creative portrait session.

During the planning process it is suggested that you take ownership of the timeline of events and identify events that are high priority to you and your significant other. Of course the entire day is very important but what happens if your are running a little behind and you only have 20 minutes left for your creative photo session before being introduced on the wedding reception? Your prioritization of events will help your vendors determine a path that will allow for you to catch up with the planned schedule of activities so that you and your spouse can enjoy the celebration.   As you are finalizing your wedding plans, make sure all vendors supporting your wedding have your latest timeline.   In addition, it is great practice to find vendors who can work with other vendors so that your event will go as planned. For instance, your planner should coordinate with your Dee Jay, or Master of Ceremony to ensure all of your reception activities is running on schedule.


Below is a list of items that should be included in your wedding day plans:

  • Bridal Preparation: This includes bride getting her hair prepared and make up done ahead of the ceremony. Allocate 2.5 to 3 hours.  
  • Groom Preparation: This includes time for the groom to get his haircut with a barber and head to the suite to put on his tuxedo. Allocate 2.0 to 2.5 hours.
  • Final Bridal Preparation: I make a distinction from item 1 because this segment includes the bride getting the final touches of her makeup, and then putting on her wedding gown.   There will be a lot of photogenic moments. Allocate 1 hour.
  • Wedding Ceremony: Make sure to talk to your wedding officiate about the amount of time to perform a wedding service. Then you will need to include time for processional, recessional and travel time to the ceremony site.   Allocate between 45 min to 2.0 hours.
  • Cocktail Hour: Time for guests to chat and mingle while enjoying appetizers.   This is also the time where photographers traditionally capture formal portraits of the wedding party, family formal portraits, and creative portraits of the bride and groom. Allocate 1.0 to 1.5 hours.
  • Reception: This portion of the wedding day includes the celebration of the newly wed couple.   This includes the newlyweds’ grand entrance, first dance, toasts, parent dances, dinner, and all until the final farewell.   This will depend on the contracted time frame with your banquet venue. Allocate 4 to 5 hours.


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