How to Make a Wedding Day Timeline - Wedding Planning Advice

A poorly built timeline can send your wedding day into a frenzy that is tough to recover from.

I’m sharing with you some great ways to build a timeline for your wedding that will result in a relaxed, fun day. The last thing you want to do is run around and stress, right? A good timeline can make or break the experience that you have on your wedding day, and while it’s not the most FUN thing to work on, it’s incredibly important.

Read on to learn some of my best timeline secrets!

Photos by  ELLIOT MARSH PHOTOGRAPHY  at the  Manor House  in Littleton, CO

Photos by ELLIOT MARSH PHOTOGRAPHY at the Manor House in Littleton, CO

How to Make a Wedding Day Timeline

I’m going to start right out of the gate here with a list of reasons why wedding days often feel frantic and stressful. I’m saying this, because none of this has to be a reality for you. (Especially now because you are here reading this post and learning all of my tricks!).

Top reasons why wedding days run behind and feel frantic:

  • Hair and makeup is running behind because 2 of the bridesmaids requested revisions or difficult up-dos, or because your hair/artist lacks underestimated the time needed

  • The groom went to put on his suit and realized he doesn’t know how to tie a bowtie (cue 20 minutes of frantic YouTube video watching)

  • The pocket squares are full of wrinkles (ooops!) and nobody knows where the boutonnieres are

  • A bridesmaid left her flowers in the hotel room and it’s 14 flights up on the slowest elevator ever made

  • Family wasn’t aware that they needed to be in a certain place at a certain time and have scattered to the bar/bathroom/etc.

  • The timeline only included actual drive times, not the time it also takes to load up a wedding party into multiple vehicles that all have to also be pulled from the Valet

I could go on but you should now start to see some common pitfalls, and may be able to now come up with a few of your own!

It is for these reasons and more that it is really important that you build in time for the inevitable delay. No matter how carefully you plan, things come up!

A few extra minutes here and there can really help ease the timeline, and when you are running ahead of schedule, you’ll have that much more time to celebrate!

Wedding day timeline writing tips

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when working on your timeline.

  • Don’t forget that you need to eat! Make sure there is time for you and your wedding party to have lunch during the getting-ready portion of the day.

  • Remember to plan in time for things like gathering the wedding party, walking to a new location or transport, stopping for impromptu photos, and waiting on the valet.

  • Whatever the timeline shakes out to be, share it with family and your wedding party the day before the wedding. Answer time-line related questions then, so that on the wedding day everybody is on the same page.

  • Whatever the groom + guys think they need to get ready, add 20-30 minutes.

  • Whatever the bride + girls think they need to get ready, add 40-60 minutes.

Chat with your vendors

Your vendors will be your biggest asset when it comes to planning a relaxed wedding day timeline.

If you have a wedding planner on your side, that’s even better (hint hint, I’d love to chat with you about your wedding!).

Your hair and makeup artists should be honest about how much time they need for each girl, and to that, add a little buffer for redo’s. Many couples believe 30-45 minutes will suffice here…most professionals will tell you to double that (or more) per girl, depending on the complexity of the hair and makeup looks.

Your photographer will have some ideas about how much time is needed for family portraits, romantic photos, and wedding party photos. To that, add a little buffer so you don’t have to rush during photos. Anticipate spending 15-30 minutes on romantic portraits, 15-30 for family photos, and 15-20 for wedding party photos for starters…and all of that depends on how many people will be at your wedding, whether you’ll be doing a first look, and how many family photos arrangements you want.

Your catering company will have a pretty hard line for serving dinner. Your ceremony time and ‘dinner is served’ time make great anchor points for planning everything else.

Must Have Wedding Day Timeline Inclusions

This is a list of things that you definitely want to include in your timeline.

  • The time the groom + groomsmen MUST be back at the hotel to start showers and getting ready

  • The time that the bride + bridesmaids MUST be finished with hair and makeup.

  • Time for gathering people, getting into cars, and dealing with traffic.

  • 10 minutes for the bride to relax after putting on the dress. This is a great time to reflect, pray, and give the jitters a moment to settle.

  • 15-30 minutes before the ceremony for the bride + groom to be tucked away from guests.

  • 10 minutes after the ceremony for the bride and groom to spend alone and take in the day and moment together (a great place to put this is right before the Grand Entrance).

Image of my gorgeous couple with me (their wedding planner) at their reception by  Elliot Marsh Photography

Image of my gorgeous couple with me (their wedding planner) at their reception by Elliot Marsh Photography

Leave a comment below with your wedding day timeline tips so other couples can learn from what you know, as well!

If you are looking for a wedding planner (who will actually handle all of the nitty gritty details of your timeline, too) to help you with your beautiful wedding day, let’s chat. I’m in Colorado but love to travel!

Wedding Vendors featured in this post:

Elliot Marsh Photography
The Manor House

Wanda Bonner