Bride and groom at cermeony in dubbo

Are you overwhelmed at the thought of putting together a timeline for your wedding day? I get it, most of us aren’t wedding planners by trade, and most of us have never organised an event as big as a wedding. When I got married back in 2018, it was the first time I’d ever planned a huge event. Some things I didn’t allow enough time for because I didn’t take the time to sit down and think about the day as a whole; for example, I didn’t take into consideration travel times between locations, which meant there was limited time photographing prep.

It was my wedding that made me understand the importance of pre-planning and having a structured timeline before the actual day. None of this changing the schedule the day before crap (thanks past Amy 😂). And now, I’m able to use my past experience to help you create a seamless and killer timeline to be sure that anxiety doesn’t come creeping up on the day, making you feel like you have no idea what the hell is going on!

A timeline doesn’t only help you on the day, but it communicates with your vendors exactly whats happening when and will ensure your wedding day goes as smoothly as possible. It will save so much time and will mean people won’t be coming to you every 5 minutes throughout the day asking questions.

HOT TIP: try to be realistic with your timing. Think about things like travel times between locations, sunset, down time with your guests ect. You don’t want to feel rushed and you don’t want to miss out on valuable time with the special ones you’ve invited to spend your wedding day with you.

Here’s a brief overview of things that are typically included in a wedding day timeline:

  • Couple preparation, either separately or together
  • Guest arrival at ceremony
  • Couple arrival at ceremony
  • Ceremony, from start to finish
  • Congratulations after the ceremony concludes
  • Group & family photos
  • Wedding party portraits
  • Couple portraits
  • Reception shots, both details and candid of guests
  • Couple reception entrance
  • Cake cutting
  • Speeches
  • Sunset portraits
  • First dance
  • Dance floor/party shots

Bride and groom wedding portrait at reception

Some additional things to think about…

Getting Ready

This can differ depending on when you need to be ready, how many people you have getting ready with you and how long it will take for everyone to be ready. If you’re not keen on waking up at the crack of dawn, consider having 2 hair stylists or makeup artists on the day so that things can move along quicker. Make sure to coordinate with your photographer the parts of the morning that you really want captured so that they can be there for it. It’s all about a stress free, seamless morning. Communicate with everyone what’s happening, and don’t forget to add a little buffer time just in case.

Ceremony

Something super crucial to the planning of your ceremony is to consider the time of year you’re getting married since it will determine when the sun will set and also how the weather is likely to be. For example, if you’re getting married in Summer, I would recommend scheduling your ceremony for later in the afternoon as this will give you the softest light, and your guests won’t be as uncomfortable in the hot sun.

However if you’re getting married in Winter, you can be more flexible with your time. The sun is softer and sets earlier so you should have your wedding earlier in the day to avoid losing light too quickly.

Don’t forget to chat to whoever is marrying you about the length of your ceremony, and mention to them anything you wish to relay to your guests. Things like having an unplugged ceremony (no phones), confetti throwing, hanging around after the ceremony for photos ect. They can give this info out before the ceremony to make sure everyone knows the plan!

Final note: it’s a good idea to leave no more than 2 hours in between your ceremony and the reception. You don’t want to leave your guests hanging for too long before the party actually starts. Chat to your wedding planner of whoever is in charge of the event if you help.

Bride and groom at wedding ceremony location in dubbo

Portraits

Don’t forget to include this time in your overall timeline. I usually like to include 15-20 minutes for family photos right after the ceremony, 20-30 minutes for wedding party portraits (if you are having one) and another 30-45 minutes for couple portraits. I don’t want to keep you from the party for too long, so I like to keep it short and sweet. But don’t worry, this amount is the perfect amount of time to make sure you get epic, natural photos that you’ll love!

I also recommend schedule your portraits for later in the day to make the most of the time just before sunset. This light is the softest, most even and flattering light so it’s the perfect time to take photos. Also think about whether you are having your portrait session on site at a venue or if you are going to other locations – don’t forget to factor in that time.

Bride and groom portrait

Reception

The number one piece of advice I give to my couples is to take 10 minutes to escape the wedding day madness. The day goes so fast and more often that not, you don’t actually get to spend that much time together when the day is all about you! During that 10 minutes we will sneak out to take some last minute sunset portraits and it give you the opportunity to soak in the day, and spend time alone. None of my couples have ever regretted doing this, and this is one of my favourite things we did on my own wedding day.

The key to a well flowing reception is to have everything allocated to a time. Don’t be scared to include all the little details so that nothing is overlooked. Another great tip is to get all the formalities out of the way sooner rather than later. This is a great option if you’ve booked a smaller photo package or if you simply just want more time to hang out with you guests and enjoy the party!

Bride dancing at wedding reception

The biggest takeaway? Communicate! Let your photographer and other vendors know what’s happening so that we can make any last minute decisions when needed. And if things go wrong or slightly off schedule, don’t freak out. We are flexible and able to work with (almost) anything. We can always make things work in the end, and as long as you have trust in your vendors, all will be okay.

Enjoy your day, soak it up, spend time with the people you love and PARTY!

Amy Allen

September 14, 2022

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How to organise the perfect wedding day timeline

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