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13 Tips to Maximize Your Wedding Day Timeline (+ 2 sample timelines!)

Your timeline is one of the most important aspects of your wedding day! Without a solid schedule, your day will be chaotic... and you haven't spent all of this time planning only to end up with a topsy-turvy, out of control wedding day did you?!


A concrete timeline will make your life so much easier when everything is running smoothly and you can spend your day enjoying the fact that you just got married and are surrounded by all of your favorite people!


Here are 13 tips to really make the most of your timeline and ensure that nothing knocks you off course (or if it does, you're well prepared).

wedding day timeline tips from Buffalo photographer

Getting Ready

This section will go over the standard times you should allot for each step of the getting ready process

1. Detail shots : 30 minutes. Make sure to have all of your details ready in one spot for when your photographer arrives to ensure this moves along quickly!

  • Dress

  • Veil / hair pieces

  • Shoes

  • Rings (all 3)

  • Garter

  • Bouquet

  • Jewelry

  • Invitation suite

  • Borrowed and blue

  • Cultural items

2. Hair & Make-Up : you should confer with your hairstylist and make up artist for these times as they will vary from person to person depending on what you are having done, how your stylist works, how many people are in your wedding party, etc. Make sure to buffer in some extra time in case this part of the day gets behind schedule.


3. Getting into your dress : 20-30 minutes to get into your dress, put on your veil, jewelry and shoes & add any last minute touches.


I suggest scheduling a time to put your dress on. This gives everyone a set time they need to be ready by, rather than just ‘before the ceremony’ and ensures you have time to take some bridal portraits and photos with your family and friends.


PRO TIP: make sure whoever is helping you into your dress (mom, maid of honor, etc) is dressed before they help you into your gown!


4. Photo time! : 20 minutes for bridal portraits, photos with mom, grandma, bride squad, etc


Wedding Party and Bride/Groom Portraits

Now that you're dressed to the nines, it's time to consider when you'll take your formal photos! These are the photos with your full bridal party and of the two of you alone

5. Consider a First Look! A first look is when you and your honey other see each other for the first time on your wedding day prior to your ceremony. Often this is a private moment witnessed only by your photographer so they can capture your reactions and all of the happy feels the exact moment you see each other for the first time.


A huge bonus to the first look is that, now that you’ve seen each other before your ceremony, you can take all of your wedding party and bridal portraits before your ceremony - meaning you can relax and enjoy your cocktail hour afterwards!!


bride groom wedding first look at delaware park buffalo ny


6. If you'd like to take the traditional route and would rather see each other for the first time walking down the aisle, you can still get some of those formal photos out of the way before the ceremony.


Consider taking your bride/bride tribe and groom/groom gang photos during this time (at separate locations, so you don’t see each other of course). You can also take some family photos such as bride with parents, siblings, generational photos, etc.


If you decide to skip the first look, generally you'll be taking all of your family, wedding party and portraits of the two of you between your ceremony and reception. Be sure to allot at least an hour and a half for these (not including any travel time), especially since this is the part of the day that's notorious for getting delayed.





Family Photos!

7. Your wedding day will be busy and you’ll be thinking about a million different things, so instead of trying to remember every photo break down of your families you’d like on the spot, provide your photographer with a list of family photos you’d like prior to your big day!


8. Prep your family for photos as well. Let grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and that brother in law who really enjoys the open bar know where they have to be and when. Time can be wasted quickly when someone has to go find wandering Aunt Susie for family photos.


9. Ask a friend or two to be your photo helpers. Pick loud and friendly people and provide them with your photo list. They can help your photographer by gathering the next group down the list while another group photo is happening.


A few more tips....

10. Skip the receiving line! Especially if you’re trying to squeeze all of your photos in between your ceremony and reception. Greet and thank your guests at their dinner tables later in the evening.


11. Buffer in 10-15 minutes between each step in your timeline. And I mean everywhere. I can't emphasize this enough - if you take one thing away from this list, this should be it!!! See the sample timelines below.


12. Don’t forget to add in travel time as well (plus 10-15 min buffer to account for traffic).


13. Get creative with your photos - they don’t all have to be taken during one time. Have your photographer take sunset or night shots of the two of you later in the evening. Trust me, you'll love being able to escape from the chaos and enjoy a little alone time during your reception, even if it's just for 10 minutes!


fireworks at klocs grove buffalo ny wedding photographer

The sample timelines below are an example of a wedding where the preparations, ceremony, photos and reception are all at the same venue. Don't forget to include travel time if you are going to be in multiple locations throughout the day!