How To Create The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline

February 9, 2023


Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! I bet now things are in full swing for you both and it’s time to knuckle down and actually figure out what is happening and when!

It can seem a little daunting having all of these things going on on one day, and you’ve got to figure out how much time you have to actually fit it all in. But don’t worry, with a little bit of foresight and planning, everything will run perfectly smoothly!

So let’s get started!! 

Creating a timeline for your special day can help ensure things go as smoothly as possible. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  1. Start by making a list of all the events that need to be included in the timeline, such as the ceremony start time, reception start time, cake cutting, first dance, etc.
  2. Factor in travel time between the ceremony and reception sites and allocate enough time for taking photos. (Only if you’re having the ceremony venue separate from the reception venue). 
  3. Allow a few minutes of “breathing room” between events in case something runs a bit behind schedule.
  4. Consider adding a few extra events to make the day more memorable, such as a special toast or an activity for your guests.
  5. Ask for help from your wedding planner or a trusted family member to make sure the timeline is realistic and achievable.
  6. Once the timeline is finalised, be sure to share it with your vendors.

One thing that I have seen run over time at weddings is the Bridal Prep (and sometimes the Groom Prep as guys seem to think they can get ready in 5 minutes!)

When it comes to the morning of the wedding, remember it’s better to be early than late. If you’re having a registrar for your ceremony, they’re not going to wait around if you’re running late. So keep an eye on that clock! Now ladies, you’ll want to think about what you’re having done the morning of the wedding. Hair and Make Up is an obvious, but how complicated is it? Are we doing fancy up do’s, Hollywood curls, glam make up? Because if so, these looks take time. In my honest experience, I’d say allocate roughly an hour per person getting ready. This is both hair, make up and getting in the dresses. Remember, the bride still has to get into the dress which could take up to 20 minutes if it’s a corset! 

Another big time chunk on a wedding day is the speeches. Now some I’ve seen, 10 minutes tops, the whole lot of them! It was incredible! But at the other end of the scale, I did a wedding once and it took over 90 minutes for the speeches to end! Yes, 90 MINUTES!! I thought they were never going to end! This put a MASSIVE delay on the timeline for the day and it ran over when the evening guests were coming, which pushed back the first dance and cake cut, which pushed back the DJ and reception, which then pushed back the evening portraits and buffet. See how one late thing can have a massive knock on effect? I’m not saying that you have to keep to military timing, so give yourself a bit of breathing space between events of the day, just incase your dad decides to ramble on that little bit longer than expected! 

Below I’ve written up a draft timeline. Now, don’t copy this word for word, as at the end of the day every wedding is different. You might not be doing speeches, or it may only be the Bride and Maid of Honour getting ready, so less prep time. Use this timeline as a guide as to how your day may run, and work your plans into it how you see fit. 

Wedding Timeline

Start of bridal prep – 8am

Groom arriving at venue – 11am

Groom meets with registrar – 12.30pm

Bride meets with registrar – 12.45pm

Ceremony – 1pm

Reception drinks – 1.30pm



Guests called in for meal – 3pm

Speeches – 4.30pm


Evening reception – 7pm

Evening guests arrive – 7.30pm

Cake cut – 8pm

First dance – 8.10pm


Evening food – 9pm

End of wedding/ lights out! – 12am 

Remember, communicate with your venue and your wedding vendors. Ask how long set up will take them on the day, or how long the sit down meal takes. Ask your photographer how long they’ll need for photos. Once everyone is in the know, the plan can take place with a lot more ease! 

I hope this has helped! If there are any couples out there who have any advice that they’d like to give to planning couples that they think might help, drop it in the comments below.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


ABOUT helen

At home nearest good company. Ever-focused on the experiences my job brings me. 

I know that this will sound so clichè to say, but I really do love my job. I live for it!! They say you should do things that make you happy, and honestly, knowing that the photos I capture can bring others such joy, that makes me complete.
If you're still here, continue reading to see how much we have in common!




© helen jane photography 2023