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  • Writer's pictureSTP Weddings

Planning Your Wedding Day Timeline

As your wedding day quickly approaches, you will need to start thinking about the logistics of your day, as they are very important to ensure everything runs smoothly. With each wedding we are a part of, we put together a timeline for the wedding day with every little detail. If you aren’t working with a planner, this is something we’d recommend doing on your own, with the help of your photographer and hair & makeup team. Here are a few tips and things to think about when scheduling out your day.

Do you want to do a first look?

Check out our previous article to help you decide if a first look makes sense for you. This is really the anchor for your day though and what will help get your timeline started. If you aren't doing a first look, your ceremony time will be the starting point.

Talk to your Photographer

Start by thinking about, in your ideal situation, where do you want your photos taken? Do you want to do your first look at your venue, followed by photos and the ceremony or would you prefer to head to an off-site location like a park or a beach?

Talk to your photographer (or your wedding planner who will do the leg work for you) to figure out how much time the photographer needs for photos from the first look until the ceremony start time. They will factor in the different stops and locations for photos. From here, a time for first look is established.

You'll also want to find out how much time the photographer wants with you BEFORE the first look. This includes time that you are getting dressed, doing a reveal with your bridesmaids and maybe a first look with your dad. The photographer might also want to snap some shots of you solo in your dress. The biggest question to ask your photographer is WHAT TIME DOES HAIR & MAKEUP NEED TO BE COMPLETE.

If there is one takeaway from this article, please do not come up with the time that hair & makeup needs to be complete on your own. Talk to your wedding planner and photographer as there are a lot of factors that go into this and they will be able to give you the most accurate time.

Talk to your Hair & Makeup Team .

Hair and makeup typically kicks off the wedding day. You’ll need to decide if the stylists are coming to you or if you are going to a salon. Keep in mind that if you are going to the salon, you’ll need to allow extra time for and coordinate transportation of you and your bridesmaids. In our opinion, it is always easier to have hair and makeup done in the same place and ideally somewhere that minimizes travel.

Let your hair and makeup team know what time everything needs to be complete. Talk to them about adding in a buffer for touch ups. We love buffers- add in some extra time as much as possible. You never want to feel rushed. Based on this information and your total number of girls, they will give you a start time for services.

What’s for breakfast and lunch?

This is one of the biggest things that couples forget about planning for… you all need to eat! You and your wedding party have a long day before dinner at the reception so you’ll want to make sure that you have a plan for breakfast and/or lunch built in. Often the groomsmen are able to go out to a leisurely breakfast, but the bridesmaids are typically better off with food getting delivered to the location where they are getting ready. Try to avoid anything that is too messy or that people won't want to eat once their makeup is done.

Don’t forget your flowers!

You will also be working with your florist to make sure they know what time you need your flowers. You will want your flowers to arrive before your photographer does. Often you will have flowers for some family members as well, so remember to think about the coordination of getting those to them and who you will appoint to handle that! Be sure to ask your florist to bring some extra loose flowers for your photographer when they drop off the personal flowers.

Guest Transportation

If you are providing transportation for your guests to and from the reception venue, you will need to communicate the departure times in advance. Work with your planner to figure out what time makes the most sense based on the vehicles you have as well as the number of hotels. We always recommend telling guests an early departure time than the vehicle is actually going to be leaving. An extra 10-15 minutes will help to ensure that everyone is on time.

At Your Venue

Discuss the bridal suite options with your venue and what time you are allowed to access it. Think about where you and your wedding party will hang out if there is any down time before the ceremony or before cocktail hour starts.

When figuring out your reception timeline, you'll work closely with the venue (on the food part) and your DJ or band on the formality part. Often venues have suggestions for when the formalities should be done based on the meal service. We always like to do as much as possible up front so that the dancing isn't broken up.

You will want to think about whether or not you want to include:

  • Introductions (while wedding party or just you and your partner?)

  • First dance

  • Parent dances

  • Speeches

  • Blessing

  • Bouquet toss

  • Garter toss

  • Cake Cutting

Overall, it’s a busy day so you want to make sure that you, your partner, your wedding party, your family and friends know where to be and when to be there. Having a schedule created will help you to keep things on track so that your day can run smoothly!


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