You were swept up in a beautiful proposal by the man of your dreams and, no surprises, you’ve said yes! In a overjoyed haze you’ve told your family, friends, masseuse and everyone in your neighbourhood that you’re getting married.

It’s been three weeks now and the initial excitement is starting to ware off as the reality of planning your wedding starts to sink in. With so many different things to organise and consider, it’s a time when full blown panic can arise, complete with sweaty palms, goosebumps and nightmares. To avoid any last minute breakdowns on the day we’re going to give you tips on how to create the complete wedding day timeline, which will become your bible throughout your wedding planning process. With an effective timeline your wedding day will run smoothly, vendours will be organised and you’ll be able to enjoy your special day without a care in the world.

First things first: Start building your timeline early in your planning, rather than waiting until the very end. It will make you feel on top of the planning process and will allow you to spot timing mishaps early on, giving you time to make adjustments with vendours (or possibly your budget), as well as notify family members and your wedding party when they’ll need to be ready and on location. As soon as you have any detail that will need to be in your day’s timeline, add it so it’s not forgotten or overlooked.

As you begin building your timeline, start with your ceremony time and work backwards. Talk to your make-up artist and hair stylists and get a time-frame for how long this will take. Coordinate with your photographer about how long you’d like your photos to run for prior to the ceremony and stick to this time on the day. Allow for at least half-an-hour to an hour between finishing your photos and the start of your ceremony, so you can take a breather before you walk down the aisle. Also consider your travel time to the ceremony venue, allowing added time for traffic. Once you have this information you can decide on an appropriate time to wake up on the morning.

wedding-hair-and-make-up wedding-ceremony

Once your morning and the ceremony have been considered, you can begin planning the reception. Always plan for group photos after the ceremony. You’ve just gotten married, so naturally everyone will want a photo with you. Allow at least 30 minutes for this and try not to run overtime. If people are still queuing up for pictures with you after the half hour, kindly suggest to get your photo taken with them at the reception.

Do guests need to travel between your ceremony location and the reception venue? If so, get an idea of how long this will take and consider you might need to provide guests with some directions. Once you’ve reached the venue add in the major events, including the entrance, cutting of the cake, any cultural traditions you wish to include and speeches. Considering all this early on in the planning process with ensure nothing and no one is overlooked and you can get a good understanding of how long you might like your vendours to stay. Nothing would be worse than the videographer missing your perfectly choreographed first dance complete with confetti and fireworks.


Finally, and we can’t stress this enough, always allow for buffer times. No matter how well you plan, the world always has something in store, whether that be a terrible traffic jam or in-laws stuck at the airport. If the wedding ceremony is anticipated to run for 20 minutes, round it up to 30. If Google maps says that transportation from one location to the other will take 12 minutes, round that up to 15 minutes and not down to 10. You’d be surprised to know how long it can take for everyone to get in and out of vehicles as well as travel time on foot if you are at a large venue. Do this and you’ll be prepared for anything.

Sample Timeline

*This sample timeline will give you a good idea about what yours could look like, however is unlikely to fit your day perfectly.

9:00am – Hair and Makeup (depending on how many people are being serviced)

1:00-2pm – Wedding photographer arrives to take pre-ceremony shots of groom and groomsmen

2:30-4pm – Wedding photographer arrives to take pre-ceremony shots of bride and bridesmaids

3:00–5:00pm – Vendors arrive at reception venue for setup – two hours before ceremony (depends on the amount of decor being installed)

4:15pm – Groom and groomesmen arrive at venue

4:30pm – Guests arrive for wedding/Pre-ceremony music starts

4:50pm – Bride and bridesmaids arrive at venue and line-up to walk down the aisle

5:00pm – Ceremony start

5:30pm – Ceremony ends

5:30-6:00 – Photos with family and friends

6:00pm – Pre dinner drinks and canapes commence for guests. Bride and groom begin photographs with photographer

6:30pm – Guests seated for dinner

6:40pm – Introduction of bridal party, cake cutting and toast

7:00pm – Entree served

7:30pm – Bridal waltz and first dance bracket (bride and groom meet and greet guests)

8:10pm – Main course served

8:30pm – 2nd dance bracket

 9:20pm – Dessert served

9:30pm – Speeches

10:00pm – 3rd dance bracket

11:00pm – bouquet toss/garter

11:15pm – Car arrives/farewell circle/bride and groom exit

11:30pm – Function concludes

Remember to leave some wiggle room with the schedule, allow lots of time for photographs and be on top of your vendours’ arrival times at your venue. A full-proof wedding day timeline will help ensure there are no tears, no stress and no sweaty palms, so you can make the most of your special day.