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Create the Perfect Wedding Day Timeline

For Brides

October 4, 2022


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A wedding photographer based in Charleston, SC specializing in dreamy and true to life imagery for couples planning their dream wedding. 



Wedding Guide

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How to Create the Perfect Wedding Day Timeline!

The key to a stress-free wedding day is planning ahead. Creating a solid wedding day timeline for you and your bridal party to follow is an essential part of the wedding planning process. A good timeline keeps everyone on track, on time, and it ensures that everyone is where they’re supposed to be throughout the day. Of course, every wedding is different, so the following wedding day timeline is completely customizable. It includes all of the typical events for a wedding ceremony and reception that take place in the same location.

Here is a wedding day timeline example for an 8-hour wedding day: 

Photographer arrives and photographs details 1:00 PM

When your photographer arrives on the scene, have your details ready for their closeup. This includes your dress, suit, shoes, jewelry, invitations, and flowers. That way, if you and your wedding party are still getting ready, your photographer can use the time to capture your details.

stationary design Desert Destination Wedding Inspiration | Create the Perfect Wedding Day Timeline

Hair and makeup completed 1:15 PM

Be sure to plan plenty of time for everyone to get their hair and makeup done without rushing. It’s better to be all dolled up and waiting around than to be stressed and in a hurry. 

Spring Charleston Wedding at The William Aiken House makeup

Wedding party dressed and ready 1:30 PM

Have your wedding party get dressed before you. That way, everyone is ready to go, and you can have a proper dress reveal moment. 

Intimate Folly Beach Wedding

Bride in Gown 1:45 PM

Cue the waterworks! Choose one or two people to help you get into your gown and enjoy your moment in the spotlight. 

First look with dad 2:00 PM

If you’ve chosen to do a first look with your dad, or with the person who is walking you down the aisle, now is the perfect time to do so. It allows you to get the jitters and tears out before your big moment. 

First look + couple portraits 2:15 PM

I know it can be a controversial topic for some couples, but I highly recommend doing a first look with your partner. It allows the two of you to have a private moment together before the ceremony. It’s not likely that you’ll have another moment alone until the end of your wedding day, so enjoy this time together!

If you have questions about having a first look included in the timeline, don’t hesitate to ask your wedding photographer!


Wedding party photos 2:45 PM

I always suggest that couples take their wedding party photos before the ceremony. That way, your venue is empty, and your friends and family will have the chance to enjoy cocktail hour.

Family photos 3:15 PM

This is a good time to take photos with your parents, siblings, and other immediate family members who are a part of the ceremony. 

Couple goes into hiding 3:45 PM 

As your guests start to arrive, it’s best if you and your partner stay out of sight. You don’t want to get stuck greeting your guests before the ceremony begins. 

Photographers take detail photos of ceremony + cocktail hour site 3:50 PM

As you take a few deep breaths before your ceremony starts, your photographer will have the opportunity to take detailed photos of your ceremony space and cocktail hour. 

Ceremony starts 4:30 PM

Go get married!

Ceremony ends 5:00 PM

Congratulations! The hardest part of your day is over. 

Now, because you have an amazing timeline, you have the rest of the day to celebrate together!

bride and groom walking down the aisle Desert Destination Wedding Inspiration

Cocktail Hour 5:00 PM

As your guests and bridal party enjoy cocktail hour, this is a good time to take any remaining or extended family photos as well as any additional photos of the two of you. 

Detail photos of the reception 5:30 PM

This is your photographer’s opportunity to take photos of your reception details and décor before any of your guests take their seats. At this time, you and your new spouse can have a drink and relax before your grand entrance.

Announcement of wedding party & new couple 6:00 PM

This is where the fun begins! I love creative bridal party entrances, and who doesn’t love walking into a room full of people clapping and smiling for you?

First dances 6:05 PM

I always suggest getting your dances out of the way after your grand entrance, but of course this is up to you. 

Welcome speech + prayer 6:10 PM

Guests appreciate when the couple speaks at their wedding. It doesn’t have to be a grand speech; it can just be a simple thank you for coming. 

Dinner 6:15 PM

Time to eat! One of the perks of being the person getting married: you get to eat first!

bride eating fried chicken |This is just an example of how I would create the perfect wedding day timeline!

Toasts, cake cutting, bouquet + garter toss 7:00 PM 

After everyone is full and happy, this is a good time to schedule your longer speeches and toasts followed by your bouquet and garter toss. 

Spring Wedding at Founders Hall | Lindsay and Gabe

Dance! 7:30 PM

Let’s dance!

Send off 9:00 PM

If you’d like to do a sendoff photo, now is the time to do it! This is the last task of the night. You made it! 

planning your wedding send off | This is just an example of how I would create the perfect wedding day timeline!

This is just an example of how I would create the perfect wedding day timeline!

Remember, no wedding day is ever perfect, so if something doesn’t go exactly as planned, don’t stress! Your big day is all about celebrating your new marriage with your loved ones. 

Are you looking for a photographer for your wedding day? Whether you’re in Charleston, SC or a far off destination, I would love to capture your wedding day!

If you have any questions, let’s chat! I love to connect with people. Let me help you create a wedding day you and your guests will never forget.

And if you love dogs, Disney, plants, and all things Charleston, follow along on Instagram!

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Steal This Wedding Day Guide

Planning your wedding can be overwhelming and stressful, but it doesn't have to be! Download my free guide for planning advice!

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