How to Create a Wedding Day Timeline - JessicaMerithew

How to Create a Wedding Day Timeline

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When you search ‘Wedding Day Timeline’ in Google you will get over 4.5 million results, and rightly so. Your entire wedding weekend revolves around this single timeline. Sound scary? It's not! Though it is important to not only get it done, you'll want to get it done early in the planning process. Yes, it can be a time consuming task, and a somewhat stressful one, but it doesn't have to be! Let me share the biggest tip I have for you right away- Ask your photographer for help! Especially in a location like Asheville, NC where there are many residential transplants and destination weddings, we see dozens of unique weddings and unique wedding timelines each year! So regardless of how you envision your day and whether you want a 2pm ceremony or a 5pm ceremony, we’ve likely seen a similar vision and created a timeline for it. More information on this is to come…

Check out the tips and sample timelines I have below to help you complete this item on your task list! These samples can easily be adjusted to fit a very large wedding with 20+ people in the wedding party, or a 4 attendee elopement!


Ask your photographer!

As I mentioned above, photographers witness dozens of weddings each year, and work from many different styles of timelines. We know how long pieces of your day will typically take, and if photography is high on your wedding day priority list, you will want your photographer to set the photo timeline anyhow! Plus, with all of the weddings we’ve seen, we are happy to make recommendations based on your vision. Do you want to do a private first look or have your groom see you for the first time as you walk down the aisle? Do you want to do all, some, or none of your wedding party photos before the ceremony? Do you want to schedule your reception grand entrance and walk straight in to your first dance? Then do toasts and cut the cake before dinner? No, too fast? How about your reception grand entrance and sit for dinner? Then as soon as you’re finished with dinner and while the guests are still eating you do your first dance and parent dances? We could then open the dance floor and schedule your remaining reception events spread through the evening?


Think about your ideal reception vision and how it flows.

Do you complete all of your reception events in the beginning so that you can open the dance floor for a full night of dancing and partying? Do you take it slow and spread out the events to keep bringing your guests attention back to why you’re all here- to celebrate you and your new spouse?


Consult with your planner and/or other vendors for their specific portions of the day.

We photographers see a lot, but your planner sees even more. Photographers are likely one of the first vendors to arrive on your wedding day and one of the last to leave. This is outside of your planner arriving earlier and staying later (way to go planners!) Your DJ is your event MC. He or she will have seen dozens of very specific reception timelines. Ask for their expertise in creating your reception timeline based on your reception vision. Your hair and makeup artists are your personal preparation support. They will know how long hair and makeup prep will last for your group size. Your officiant will know exactly how long your ceremony will last based on your ceremony choices. Use all as a resource!


Sample Wedding Day Timelines and Templates

First Look Timeline with Lots of Reception Dancing

12pm- Bride and bridesmaids arrive at venue
12:15pm- Hair stylists and makeup artists arrive
12:30pm-2:15pm- Bride and bridesmaids hair and makeup
2:15pm- Bridesmaids put on dresses and complete final touch ups
2:15pm- Groom and groomsmen arrive at venue
2:30pm- Bride puts on wedding dress and completes final touch ups
2:30pm- Groom and groomsmen put on tuxedos and boutonnieres
3pm- Bride and Groom first look
3:15pm- Wedding party photos
4pm- Formal family photos
4:30pm- Bridal party returns to preparation space. Guests begin to arrive.
5pm- Ceremony
5:30pm- Bride and Groom photos
6:15pm- Reception grand entrance
6:20pm- First dance
6:25pm- Father/Daugther and Mother/Son dances
6:35pm- Toasts
6:45pm- Cut cake
6:50pm- Dinner
7:10pm- Bride and Groom greet guests at tables while guests finish dinner
7:30pm- Bouquet toss and garter toss
7:40pm- Open dance floor
10:30pm- Final sendoff


Split Wedding Party Photos Timeline with Off and On Reception Events

12:30pm- Bride and bridesmaids arrive at venue
12:45pm- Hair stylists and makeup artists arrive
1pm-2:45pm- Bride and bridesmaids hair and makeup
2:45pm- Bridesmaids put on dresses and complete final touch ups
2:45pm- Groom and groomsmen arrive at venue
3pm- Bride puts on wedding dress and completes final touch ups
3pm- Groom and groomsmen put on tuxedos and boutonnieres
3:30pm- Bride with bridesmaids photos
4pm- Bride with groomsmen photos
4:10pm- Groom with groomsmen photos
4:20pm- Groom with bridesmaids photos
4:30pm- Bridal party returns to preparation space. Guests begin to arrive
5pm- Ceremony
5:30pm- Formal family photos
6pm- Remaining wedding party photos
6:30pm- Bride and Groom photos
7pm- Reception grand entrance
7:05pm- First dance
7:10pm- Toasts
7:20pm- Dinner
7:40pm- Bride and Groom greet guests at tables while guests finish dinner
8pm- Father/Daughter and Mother/Son dances
8:10pm- Cut cake
8:15pm- Open dance floor
8:45pm- Bouquet toss and garter toss
8:55pm- Open dancing
10:30pm- Final sendoff


All Photos After Timeline with Spread Out Reception Events

1:30pm- Bride and bridesmaids arrive at venue
1:45pm- Hair stylists and makeup artists arrive
2pm-3:45pm- Bride and bridesmaids hair and makeup
3:45pm- Bridesmaids put on dresses and complete final touch ups
3:45pm- Groom and groomsmen arrive at venue
4pm- Bride puts on wedding dress and completes final touch ups
4pm- Groom and groomsmen put on tuxedos and boutonnieres
4:30pm- Guests begin to arrive
5pm- Ceremony
5:30pm- Formal family photos
6pm- Wedding party photos
6:40pm- Bride and Groom photos
7:15pm- Reception grand entrance
7:20pm- Dinner
7:55pm- Toasts
8pm- First Dance
8:05pm- Open dance floor
8:30pm- Cut cake
8:35pm- Open dancing
9pm- Father/Daughter and Mother/Son dances
9:10pm- Open dancing
9:40pm- Bouquet toss and garter toss
9:50pm- Open dancing
10:30pm- Final sendoff


Jessica is an award winning Asheville, NC based wedding photographer. For more information about her services and booking, visit her website, www.jessicamerithew.com.

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