• Sydney Leigh

Planning a Wedding Timeline

Updated: Apr 3

Planning out times is definitely a difficult task for your wedding day! This blog is for brides who want to do a first look before the ceremony! I always get questions about how long things take, how much time to set aside for things, and when to start getting ready! If these are questions you have, let me help! Now, every photographer has their own schedules and their own times planned out, so make sure you check with your photographer while you are making your timeline! Also, to all my brides, I will help you make your timeline! We will do it together so we are on the same page! With me, your day is all about being relaxed and move smoothly! Alright, let's talk timeline!

First up, decorating. If you can, decorate the day before your wedding! Start early-mid morning so you can have a calm, relaxing day of decorating with friends and family! Make sure all your details and decorations are exactly how you want them! If you CANNOT decorate the day before and can only decorate the day of, absolutely NO worries. Here are things you NEED to consider or NEED to have! 1. If you do not want your family (moms and dads, aunts and uncles) running around trying to decorate everything in the morning, HIRE A WEDDING PLANNER OR DECORATING SERVICE. You guys, it is SO worth it! For the stress off of you and your family! It is SO SO worth it! They will take care of EVERYTHING. From decorating, to talking with other vendors, to making sure you have all of your ducks in a row! Just do it. Here are some amazing planners and decorating services! Jane Rae, Alyssa Walker, Johnny & Dottie, and Serendipitous Events! These vendors are amazing for day before set up too! If you are totally NOT about decorating, reach out to them! Decorating will not be something to put into your wedding day timeline! That is not something you should worry about at all! Put your mind at ease, hire someone to do this for you! Or create a team (NOT family members) to decorate!

BTW, setting aside all your details you want photographed (shoes, dress, accessories, perfume, your man's details, rings, flowers, heirlooms, etc.) all in one place for your photographer to easily grab and shoot is SO much easier and saves so much time to get those done! :)

Next, getting ready on your wedding day should be the START of your day! :) First up, EAT BREAKFAST. Have a breakfast bar up and ready for your family, bridal party, and vendors! Start your day off with energy! This is something you can assign to your aunts and uncles, closer family, or friends! Set aside the amount of time + 15 minutes it takes your hairstylist to do your hair. Set aside the amount of time +15 minutes it takes your makeup artist to do your makeup. Then set aside some time to hang out with your girls and watch them get ready! Set aside at least 30 minutes to do this! Make sure it is AFTER you have done your hair and makeup! :) You will want this time to enjoy the morning of getting ready!

After your hair and makeup is done, it will be time to get dressed! Set aside about 30 minutes to get dressed, yes I am serious!! Ha! Getting dressed will take longer that normal! Your mom, sister, or friend will help you get in your dress and will want time to talk and have a moment with you! You will also be putting on jewelry, shoes, veils, hair pieces, etc. It all takes time! Plus, you will want to check yourself out too, because, duh, you look AMAZING!

DO NOT FORGET YOUR MAN AND HIS GUYS! They will need to eat and need about an hour for getting ready together! Make sure they have all of their outfits and accessories all in one room! Full men = happy men! ;)

After you are allllll ready to go, it is time for your first looks! You may want one with your dad, with your girls, and then with your man! So, for every first look, set aside 15 minutes for each! :) So, if you are doing all three, set aside 45 minutes worth of first looks! These are things you do not want to rush and I do not want to rush you! I want you to soak these moments in and really make it intimate and beautiful!

After your first look, we will move in to your session with your hunny! I set aside 45 minutes to 1 hour of pictures together! Again, this is NOT something I want to rush! This day is about you and you two only! So, we want lots of time together, alone! Take your time to soak this time up! You are taking pictures, but I really want you guys to focus on each other and love on each other! IT IS YOUR WEDDING DAY! :) Make it a special time! Bring some champagne or have your dog photo bomb!

After your portrait session, EAT LUNCH! Set aside at lease 30 minutes for a break for everyone to eat lunch wherever you are taking pictures! If needed, pack coolers with drinks, buns, and chips! Remember, full men = happy men! ;) Also, do not forget to keep hydrating and going to the bathroom whenever is needed!

After your lunch break, it is time to party with your wedding party! I set aside an hour for your people! This means 20 minutes for the ladies, 20 minutes for the guys, and 20 minutes for the whole wedding party! Again, NOT SOMETHING TO RUSH! It may be the only time you really get to spend relaxed time all together! Have fun with this time! Pop champagne with your girls, have a few beers for the guys, or have some flower petals for your wedding party to throw while you kiss! :)

Next up, family time! Set aside 1 hour for family sessions! So, a half hour for hers and a half hour for his! AGAIN, NO RUSHING! Take the time to hang out with your family! You want to talk to them, make moments, and just be present with them! Have your family wrangled and ready to take pictures!

After we are done with family, it is time for a break! Set aside an hour break before your ceremony to relax, touch up, hydrate, and go to the bathroom! Yes, do not forget to go the bathroom! ;)

Now, it is time for the ceremony! During your rehearsal or talking with your pastor/minister/father, ask him how long the ceremony will be, put that time in + 1/2 hour for everyone to get out of the ceremony area! If your ceremony is outside, make sure you choose a location and time where the sun is not blasting your eyes! Try to have the sun behind you and the wedding party! So, later afternoon/early evening is best! :)

Now it is time to party! Let everyone eat as soon as you can! No one likes to wait! Once the last table is through being served, go cut the cake! Then once you start speeches, they can finish eating or have dessert! Once you are finished cutting the cake, start speeches! Let everyone enjoy the speeches while they are eating! Do not wait until everyone is done eating and just sitting their waiting! Let them multi-task! They will appreciate this! Once speeches are done, go straight into first dances! Some people may still be eating, so they are all still in their seats! After dances are done, I may steal you for a quick 15 minute sunset session while your caterers clean everything up! Once we are back, go talk to your guests! Your dance floor will be hopping later and can wait! Go chat with guests before they leave! After you have done this for awhile, head to the dance floor and have a great night! :)

Set aside 15 minutes after dances (this time slot may change based on sunset time) to take sunset pictures! This session is sooooo important! It helps you decompress, relax, breathe, and just have a moment together! This can be a very intimate moment, a fun, playful moment or both! You decide that! You can extend this time to add in your wedding party as well! We can do some fun shots with them too! :)

So, there are my wedding timeline tips for you! Here is how I plan my 'typical' wedding day timeline! Hope this helps you plan yours! :)

8:00am-11:00am - Getting ready

11:30am-12:30pm - First look and Bride&Groom Portrait session

12:30pm-1:00pm - Lunch

1:00pm-2:00pm - Wedding Party Photos

2:00pm-3:00pm - Family Photos

3:00pm-4:00pm - Break

4:00pm-5:00pm - Ceremony

5:00pm-12:00am - Reception

7:00pm - Sunset Photos


  let's be  social

  • Facebook - White Circle
  • Pinterest - White Circle
  • Instagram - White Circle
Mountain Elopement Photographer

subscribe to newsletter

Destination wedding and

elopement photographer
based out of Minnesota but

always ready to travel.