groom dipping the bride during the first dance

Sample Wedding Timeline

When I had my own wedding, I thought things would just go smoothly and everyone would know where to be and when. Boy was I wrong! I didn’t know how helpful a timeline would be until I became a wedding photographer. Now, I live and breath by the timeline. Not only does it help you plan your day, but it lets your vendors know where they need to be and when. You wouldn’t want your photographer up on a hill getting a wide shot of your reception right when you are about to cut the cake. And you wouldn’t want your DJ to grab an extra light right when he is supposed to be announcing your grand entrance. Timelines are essential to have a stress-free wedding and will keep your vendors from having to ask you endless questions on your busy wedding day.

A few things to keep in mind when making your timeline…

Talk to the vendors

Your wedding vendors have done this before…a lot. They know the flow of weddings and what events need to happen at what time. Use their knowledge and take their advice when making a timeline. If you have a coordinator, she will chat with you about what you are looking for at your wedding and come up with a timeline that works. She will confirm the timeline with the vendors and make any adjustments as needed. Coordinators are great for relieving the stress of a wedding. I highly recommend getting one.

If you don’t have a coordinator, the DJ and photographer are probably the most important people to consult with about the timeline. The photographer will need to know what time you will be getting ready, arriving at the venue, serving dinner, etc. The DJ will need to know every event that will take place during the reception such as dinner, toasts, special dances, cake cutting, etc., so he can announce it to your guests. The DJ and the photographer will work closely together both before and during your wedding.

bridesmaids under an oak tree at Villa Loriana

Know the venue

Every venue will have different rules for you to follow, so be sure to consult with them about their requirements. Some venues will require a coordinator, others will provide one and others will have no coordinator requirements at all. Most venues have a 10:00pm closing time due to city and county noise ordinances. Some will allow for sparkler exits and others don’t want to risk a fire. The same is true of candles, so be sure to check with them.

Your sunset photos will be some of the most beautiful ones of the entire day. It’s a good idea to scout the venue before your wedding and plan where to take those sunset photos. If the property is large, you may need to set aside 30-45 minutes for sunset photos to allow you to travel to the perfect location. The venue coordinator or owner will be able to direct you to that perfect spot…it’s their favorite spot too!

bride and groom looking at each other while standing under an oak tree

More is better

The more information you put on your timeline, the better. If you know how many people will be giving toasts, add that number to the “toasts” line of the timeline so your photographer and DJ will know what to expect. If there are people in your family who don’t get along, let your photographer know. They can be sure to avoid having those people stand next to each other. Be sure to tell your photographer about any special family heirlooms that you are including so they can photograph them and give them the attention it deserves.

You’ll also be incredibly busy and unavailable on your wedding day. Be sure to include the best contact person for different times of the day. You will likely not be able to answer your phone. It’s a good idea to appoint someone who CAN answer their phone. If the DJ or caterer has trouble finding the venue, you’ll want to be sure someone can guide them. If the DJ can’t find power for the equipment, you’ll want to be sure he has the number for the venue so he doesn’t have to ask you about it.

Basically, the more prepared your vendors can be for the unexpected, the happier everyone will be. I’ve included a sample timeline for you download below.

groom sitting on the edge of a fountain at Allegretto Vineyard Resort with his groomsmen

Have FUN

This is ALL about your wedding day! Have fun and enjoy it. This is going to be the BEST day of your life.

Here is a free, downloadable sample timeline.

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