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Wedding Day Timeline – A Guide To Help You Build Your Perfect Day! Part 2 (example)

Wedding & Elopement Tips

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Okay so now that you’ve read about the considerations in Part 1, let’s walk through a Wedding Day timeline example!!

The Scenario

So let’s say the sun sets at 8pm, the couple is doing a first look, their getting ready space, ceremony and venue are at the same location, and they have a relatively small group for family and wedding party photos. 

Here’s how we would build it: Start with the sunset, add coverage for dancing, and then work backwards from the sunset. 

How to build your wedding day timeline

8pm sunset 

(add 1 hour of dancing photos)

9pm photography coverage ends

7:15-7:45pm sunset photos

(subtract 45 minutes for sunset photos)

8pm sunset 

(add 1 hour of dancing photos)

9pm photography coverage ends

6:50-7pm cut the cake

7-7:15pm first dances 

7:15pm dance floor opens

(subtract 25 minutes for first dances and cake cutting)

7:15-7:45pm sunset photos

(subtract 45 minutes for sunset photos)

8pm sunset 

(add 1 hour of dancing photos)

9pm photography coverage ends

6:30-6:50 speeches

(subtract 20 minutes for speeches)

6:50-7pm cut the cake

7-7:15pm first dances 

7:15pm dance floor opens

(subtract 25 minutes for first dances and cake cutting)

7:15-7:45pm sunset photos

(subtract 45 minutes for sunset photos)

8pm sunset 

(add 1 hour of dancing photos)

9pm photography coverage ends

6-6:30pm dinner

(subtract 30 minutes for dinner)

6:30-6:50 speeches

(subtract 20 minutes for speeches)

6:50-7pm cut the cake

7-7:15pm first dances 

7:15pm dance floor opens

(subtract 25 minutes for first dances and cake cutting)

7:15-7:45pm sunset photos

(subtract 45 minutes for sunset photos)

8pm sunset 

(add 1 hour of dancing photos)

9pm photography coverage ends (unless including an exit)!!

Keep backtracking from sunset until you finish the draft like this: 

9am hair and makeup

(subtract out the amount of time it would take for hair and makeup!! Definitely consult with your makeup artist and hair stylist on this!!)

1pm photographer arrives at wedding suite to take photos of getting ready 

1:30pm second shooter arrives to take photos of partner

Subtract amount of getting ready coverage

2:30 walk to getting ready spot

subtract the amount of time it takes to get from your getting ready spaces to the venue and add 10 minutes

2:45pm First look, portraits, family photos

(subtract another ~20 minutes for first look & portrait photos)

(subtract another ~30-40 minutes for family photos)

(subtract 15-20 minutes of just hiding from your guests as they arrive!)

4pm ceremony

(subtract 30-60 minutes for ceremony)

4:30-6pm Cocktail hour – during this the wedding couple will likely be taking portraits and possibly wedding party photos 

(subtract 1-1.5 hours for cocktail hour.) 

6-6:30pm dinner

(subtract 30 minutes for dinner)

6:30-6:50 speeches

Subtract 20 minutes for speeches

6:50-7pm cut the cake

7-7:15pm first dances 

7:15pm dance floor opens

(subtract 25 minutes for first dances and cake cutting)

7:15-7:45pm sunset photos

(subtract 45 minutes for sunset photos)

8pm sunset 

(add 1 hour of dancing photos)

9pm photography coverage ends (no grand exit)

Timeline First Draft

9am hair and makeup

1pm photographer arrives at wedding suite to take photos of getting ready 

1:30pm second shooter arrives to take photos of partner

2:30 walk to getting ready spot

2:45pm First look, portraits, family photos

4pm ceremony 

4:30-6pm Cocktail hour 

6-6:30pm dinner

6:30-6:50 speeches

6:50-7pm cut the cake

7-7:15pm first dances 

7:15pm dance floor opens

7:15-7:45pm sunset photos

8pm sunset 

9pm photography coverage ends 

So this couple would likely be perfect for an 8-9 hour wedding day coverage as I would likely go through and give even more time for transitions etc.!

Key Things to Remember

The timeline is going to be totally different based on your day, including but not limited to, the unique events involved, if you have to travel between ceremony and reception, how many people are in your family photos and wedding party photos, if you’re doing a first look, etc.!!! I hope this helps you with how to begin thinking about your timeline and all of the considerations to take into account!!

Wedding day timeline example by Rachel Christopherson Photography

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