Your Wedding Timeline (& WHY It’s So Important)

A wedding day with an effortless flow is every bride’s dream. Your wedding timeline is essential to having a relaxed day for all those involved. Especially you as the bride and her groom! If you are feeling overwhelmed and have no idea where to start; do not fret. In today’s post, you can learn the ins and outs of how to create the perfect wedding timeline.

Why to have a Timeline (and stick to it)

To start, your guests will thank you. Every wedding has so many moving parts; creating a timeline helps everyone involved know what to expect. Next, there are others who are dependent on a dependable timeline. Mothers whose baby needs a nap. Grandparents who can only sit for 20 minutes on a hard wooden bench in the church. The portrait session location reservation you booked in advance.

While it would be incredible if wedding days could just happen on the fly, they don’t. And interestingly enough, in order for all involved (especially you as bride and groom) to enjoy a relaxed wedding day, every part of it needs to be planned to within 10 minute intervals, while having room for things to go awry. Seems backward, but 7 years of capturing weddings has proven it to be true!

Let’s Plan your Timeline

The easiest way to start planning your wedding day timeline is to start with the TWO NON-NEGOTIABLES:

  1. Ceremony Length
  2. Sunset Time

Let us explain. Each culture/society usually has a specific type/style of ceremony. Some are just civil, and they tend to be shorter. Some ceremonies are faith-based, often involving a church. These may be a bit longer. Our wedding was in a church and the total length of time we spent there was almost 2 hours. That’s not very common in this day and age, understandably, but it has made us very understanding towards clients with specific ceremony types that may last longer (or shorter). You usually only need to look as far as your own family’s wedding days to know what your wedding ceremony will be like.

As for sunset, while it would be amazing to plan the sunset around your wedding day, it is the other way around. It is usually our goal as wedding photographers to spend a little bit of time photographing the bride and groom in the best lighting of the day. An hour before sunset is common for that, and this usually is best to be planned during dessert time. It may have seemed insignificant to any wedding that you’ve attended personally. However, is still a very important aspect to keep in mind when putting together your timeline.

We use THIS WEBSITE to determine when to capture this part of your wedding day based on location and date.

If you have these two items figured out, grab yourself a large sheet of paper, and jot those down. Now, you can add all the other items that are commonly find on a wedding timeline; from hair and makeup times to first look (if you’re having one… more on that shortly!) and so on. A few questions you’ll want to consider are these:

  1. Do I want to/am I able to have the photographer capture the family portraits before the ceremony, or will that be done afterwards?
  2. Am I planning any downtime to spend with the wedding party after the ceremony?
  3. Where will portrait time take place?
  4. Does the travel time from each location (if you’re having more than one) impact what we all want to accomplish in the entire day?

We’re sure you can come up with more of your own questions. Our advice is to have them all answered before you really start locking in your timeline.

To have a First Look, or not to… that is the question

While this blog post is not about first looks, we are going to touch on it shortly. A “first look” is when a bride and groom see each other ahead of the ceremony at a designated area approved of by photographers. As we believe this moment should be as private as possible, this is usually only attended by the two of us; no bridal party members or family. First looks allow the couple to touch base and get rid of any remaining nerves before it all becomes official. First looks are not cookie cutter, you can plan yours in a way that is meaningful to you! As bride and groom almost 14 years ago, we did not have a first look, and that is something we will always regret in some way.

Last but not least, a few things to remember as you’re working on your timeline: timelines are never set in stone. Things may always change. We’ve had clients draw us up two different timelines for two different weather possibilities, and it is always an honour to take that stress away from our brides (and grooms). We believe that it is best to have your tentative timeline in place before you have your invitations printed. If, shortly before your wedding day you find out that you’re unable to have the schedule you need with the start time of your ceremony, it would add unnecessary stress that we believe is completely preventable.


Get Married with a First Look… – This timeline has lots of great advantages. As clients of any photographer, you will end up with a greater variety of bride and groom images. It also creates a more relaxed family portrait time. Seeing each other before the big reveal can help with those pesky nerves. Oh, and it even allows you to better work around unexpected inclement weather or other issues that may pop up later in the day!

Your friends (the wedding party members, especially) will thank you that they get to go straight to relaxing after the ceremony. They will appreciate you taking the pressure off of them once the ceremony is complete. Here comes the smooth sailing. And as for the biggest bonus to this timeline: the bride and groom have a total of 130 minutes of portrait time! That’s more than 2 hours!!!

Your wedding timeline a first look
Download a copy of the FIRST LOOK TIMELINE HERE.

… or see each other First at the Ceremony – This timeline, absent of a first look, also has its advantages. First of these is a more relaxed morning of getting ready for all those involved. You can add to that a greater variety of bridal party portraits. While this is a really cool benefit, we feel the need to remind you that the wedding day is not about spending time with your bridal party. No matter how much you love them, this day is about the TWO OF YOU!

Seeing each other first at the ceremony can be an incredibly special moment for the bride and groom. You may go for this option if you want to cherish that moment. This would allow all those who attend to see the big reveal. Be prepared for some tears, maybe even from your photographers!

The total time that your photographer would spend on bride and groom portraits would add up to 90 minutes. It’s still enough time to capture many gorgeous images, provided that everything else on your timeline goes according to plan.

Your we4dding timline first look and a cup of coffee

Regardless of which option resonates with you more, we highly recommend implementing a wedding timeline for a day of smooth sailing.

Your best chance at following your Timeline

While this blog post is quite long, we hope it is helpful. We hope you will come back to it again and again for more clarity and understanding how to make your wedding day flow smoothly. Whether you’re our client or not, we believe every bride and groom deserve a truly enjoyable and stress-free wedding day.

Your best advantage on a wedding day would be to hire a day-of coordinator. If this is in the budget, there are many incredible coordinators all over Canada. We’re sure you can find one to fit your needs. For some, this happens to not be in the budget, and that’s okay. Your best bet would be to find a family friend to help you stay on schedule. When you read this, you may already have someone in mind. If not, here are a few attributes to look for in a volunteer wedding day coordinator:

  • Well organized
  • Not afraid to stand up and be vocal (and maybe even a little crazy)
  • Has some experience leading groups/activities (possibly having a job managing a group of people)

And while we tagged it a “volunteer” position, you should realize that this position comes with some sacrifices and has a lot of responsibility attached. This means you should absolutely thank them publicly and privately (a gift, maybe?) to show them some appreciation.


While all these tips may seem common sense to some, overwhelming to others, we need you to believe in yourself. We know that with the right amount of confidence, attention to detail, and desire for an amazing day, you can absolutely do this! We’re cheering you on!!!

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