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wedding planning timeline

Consider This Wedding Timeline Template Your Step-by-Step Guide to Planning a Seamless Wedding Day.

If there’s one goal everyone has on their wedding day, it’s to keep stress to a minimum. That is easier said than done…unless you take the time to build your timeline with our wedding timeline template.

The purpose of your wedding day timeline is to keep everyone on track – from your photographers to your caterers to your bridal party. Having this timeline prepared helps you find any potential issues throughout the day, and fix them before the issue even arises. You’ll have a better idea of what time you need to start getting ready, when vendors should arrive, and even setup and breakdown times.

Read More: 3 Reasons You Must Have A Wedding Day Timeline

What to Include In Your Wedding Timeline:

  • Getting Ready Time
  • Transportation Between Venues
  • First Look
  • Ceremony
  • Cocktail Hour
  • Photography Time
  • Grand Entrance
  • Cake Cutting
  • Dinner
  • Toasts
  • Special Dances
  • Dance Floor Open Time


Wedding Timelines

How to Use the Wedding Timeline Template:

The wedding timeline template is broken into 3 categories – church weddings, venue weddings with a first look, and venue weddings without a first look.

  1. Start by choosing the template that best fits your wedding day.
  2. Next, plan what time you think your ceremony should start. It is best to plan the start time, and then build your timeline around that. If it seems you won’t have enough time, or something doesn’t flow, then change your ceremony time and try again.
  3. Use the guidelines below as you plan each part of your day. We’ve been part of over 25,000 weddings, and have a good idea of how long each moment takes.
  4. Use the “notes” section to jot down things like vendor arrival times, deliveries, and more.
  5. Don’t feel restricted. While this template is meant to help you plan your timeline, we recognize that every couple is different, and you may need to add or remove some things.

wedding timeline template

Wedding Timeline Guidelines:

When building your wedding timeline, it is important to give deep thought to each moment of your day, so you plan enough time. Use this as a guideline, but also consider any unique moments you have planned:

Getting Ready – 3 Hours

Start off your wedding day by giving yourself and your wedding party plenty of time to get ready. The exact time will depend on how large your bridal party is, and things like how intricate your bridal style is. Ask your beauty team how long they expect it to take.

Another tip, have the bride’s hair and makeup completed first. That way, your professional wedding photographer can begin your portraits as soon as you are ready. Your hair and makeup look won’t change dramatically, but the number of pictures captured can. You don’t want to be rushed out of the chair to keep your timeline intact. Let your makeup team finish with bridesmaids and retouches – not you!

Pro Tip: Add some buffer time – you would rather have extra time than be rushing! 

Bride Gets Dressed – 15 Minutes

Plan what time you are going to put on your dress! This seems like a quick task, but it’s actually a huge moment that should be included on your timeline. You’ll want to make sure your photographer and videographer are there to capture the moment, along with any loved ones who will be assisting you. And trust us, sometimes those corsets or bustles can take longer than expected.

Pro Tip: Make sure your mom or whoever is helping you dress knows this time and is ready for photographs too.

Solo Portraits – Bride: 1 Hour / Groom: Half Hour

Plan time for your photographer to capture solo portraits of both the bride and the groom. Plan ample time, so you can get all the shots you want.

Wedding Party & Family Photos – 30 Minutes to 1 Hour

If you’re opting not to do a first look, then you want to capture as many photos as you can prior to the ceremony, so you have plenty of time to capture your wedding day portraits with your new spouse afterward! During this time, you’ll want to capture these shots:

  • Bride & Bridesmaids
  • Groom & Groomsmen
  • Bride & Her Family
  • Groom & His Family

Pro Tip: Make sure to let all the important folks know in advance what time the family formals are going to begin. Your photographer can only snap those precious moments if everyone is present. We wouldn’t want anyone to miss out on being part of those cherished family pictures just because they didn’t show up at the right time during the day. 

First Look – 30 Minutes to 1 Hour

If you are doing a first look, then this time can be used to capture most of your images. The first look does not take very long, so the remainder of this time can be used to capture your wedding portraits, additional wedding party photos, and family formals.

Travel – Depends

If you are not getting ready at your ceremony venue, then you want to plan for travel time. Give yourself ample time to avoid travel mishaps.

Prelude – 30 Minutes

Arrange for your wedding DJ to begin playing music as guests arrive for your ceremony. This will start the celebration, and alleviate any awkward pauses.

Ceremony – 30 Minutes to 1 Hour

This time block will vary most among couples. A secular wedding ceremony can take just 15-20 minutes, while a religious ceremony will take closer to an hour.

Portraits / Cocktail Hour – 1 Hour

After your ceremony, you’ll want to capture any remaining family portraits. There are plenty of combinations to include in a short amount of time, so have a list prepared to share with your family and your photographer.

Additionally, if you did not opt for a first look, then now is the time to capture all of your photos with your new spouse. This is the time that your wedding photographer’s artistic abilities can really shine. Develop a plan for what images you would like to capture of you as a couple

Read More: Your Checklist for Family Formal Wedding Photos

While you’re busy capturing photos, your guests will attend cocktail hour. You’ll want to discuss this time with your venue, DJ, caterer, and bar to ensure your guests have cocktails, light bites, and music to enjoy.

Grand Entrance – 15 Minutes

Once the reception opens, guests will take their seats. First, your wedding party will make their entrance, then you’ll make your grand entrance as newlyweds.

Cake Cutting – 10 Minutes

Once you’ve made your grand entrance, now is a great time to cut your wedding cake, so your venue staff has time to cut the cake for guests to be served later in the evening.

Toasts – 20 minutes

No one wants to sit through hours of speeches, regardless of how loving and thoughtful they may be. Plan a few minutes for a quick welcome toast, followed by 15 to 20 minutes (max!) for wedding party toasts.

Dinner – 1 Hour

It is entirely up to you whether to start serving dinner before or after toasts. You’ll want to plan 1 hour for dinner, to allow plenty of time for guests to eat and mingle. This is also a great time to go table-to-table to greet and thank your guests.

First Dance & Parent Dances – 20 Minutes

Once dinner wraps up, it’s time for your special dances! You’ll start with your first dance as newlyweds, followed by the father-daughter dance and mother-son dance.

Party Time – 2 to 3 Hours

Once all reception traditions are complete, your DJ will invite guests to the dance floor which officially opens the dancing.

Wedding Exit – 15 Minutes

If you’re planning a wedding send-off, you’ll want to notify your photographer and videographer to ensure they will be there to capture the moment.

Mike Staff Productions Guarantee

The Mike Staff Productions Guarantee

At Mike Staff Productions, we trust that you’ll choose the perfect person to work with because you know what you want on your wedding day!  There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all wedding DJ, photographer or videographer – we get that, that’s why we invite you to be a part of the planning process.

Let’s bring your wedding vision to life!


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