Wedding Day Timeline Tips

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The Blog and the Bride

On your wedding day, we want to make sure you have the BEST TIME…with your new spouse (woo!), your family, and your very closest friends.

How we spend our time matters. On your wedding day, we want to make sure you have the BEST TIME…with your new spouse (woo!), your family, and your very closest friends. In order to make sure your wedding day goes smoothly and you get all the time you want with the ones you love, it’s important to have a really clear timeline and plan for your day!

We give our couples resources specific to working with us that help them with their timelines, but want to share a couple of our top tips with you!

Our Top 3 Timeline Tips (plus a few bonus tips)…

Work Backwards

We always tell our couples to start with the planned ceremony and/or reception time and work backwards when creating their timelines. Make sure to ask your photographer, videographer, planner, etc. how long they recommend planning for specific timeline items.  For example, if a ceremony begins at 5:00pm, we would recommend for the bride to “be in hiding” by 4:30pm, then immediate family portraits would be scheduled for 30 minutes and they’d schedule them for 4:00pm-4:30pm, and then would set times for each timeline item preceding the ceremony from there.  Once they’ve planned backwards, they can return to the ceremony or reception time and schedule the things that follow, i.e. wedding party intros, cake cutting, first dances, sunset portraits, etc.  

Pro Tip: Consulting each vendor regarding the timeline is SO IMPORTANT!  It helps maintain clear expectations and often makes the day run SO smoothly!
Groom in a blue suit smiling at his bride

Travel Time

Make sure to include travel time for each section of the timeline that you’re changing locations!  Even if you don’t literally write, “Drive from portrait location to ceremony location,” make sure to include an appropriate amount of time in the schedule by looking up the travel time online. Don’t assume you know how long it will take!  

Pro Tip:  Consider the time of day you’ll be traveling from location to location and account for traffic! We like to use the Google Maps “arrive by” feature to check traffic norms for the day/time/area. Including specific addresses for each location for both vendors and your family/wedding party is also a must!

Bride and Groom leaving in a ribbon wedding exit

Cushion Time

Our biggest tip for planning your wedding day is to ADD cushion time!  If there’s no extra time in the plan, simple things can put the day behind schedule and cause unnecessary stress. Adding a few minutes of wiggle room to the timeline in different places can help avoid that unnecessary stress.

Pro Tip:  2 things that almost always take more time than people think:  the bride putting on her dress and the groomsmen getting their boutonnieres pinned!
Detail image of a white wedding dress

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Becky Dean

I'm a co-founder and lead photographer at Pen and Lens.

Wedding photography is my heartbeat. I love capturing the interactions between the bride and her tribe as they get ready together, the look on a groom’s face when he FINALLY sees his bride for the first time, and the way a dad wraps his arms around his baby girl on her wedding day. Bride and groom portraits make my heart jump and I cry on almost every wedding day.

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