Planning Your Wedding Day Timeline ☮ The Barefoot Bride

One thing that has really helped Mark and I to organize our thoughts and to-do's throughout this entire wedding planning process, has been coming up with a thorough timeline for our wedding day (and entire wedding weekend) in the beginning stages of the process. Being able to have a clearcut, visual and tangible layout of how your wedding is going to flow, will really help to clarify things that you might be feeling anxious about. As a photographer, I'm making timelines for my couples almost every single weekend; for me, I like to create a timeline--based on their pre-existing ceremony and reception times--in order to visually show them how the hours of their day get divided in terms of photography. Not only does this really lay out the entirety of the day for them (and myself), but it also allows the day to flow smoothly and remain on track. As a bride, who happens to also be a photographer haha, we planned our own wedding timeline with consideration towards the following items:

  • sunset time on our wedding day as well as when the light would be it's best on our wedding day
  • travel time between photo locations
  • how much time we want to allow for formal photos of the two of us
  • what time we wanted to start our dinner at

Sunset times: I think that it has become fairly common knowledge that the best light for photographs happen in the last couple of hours of the day. When the sun begins it's descent towards the horizon, the light begins to soften up and thus illuminates the subjects being photographed in the best possible way.

Travel time between photo locations: If you've picked out a couple of spots that you're going to want wedding portraits taken, don't forget to account for travel time between said locations. Travel time can really add up (depending on where you're wanting to go/how many places) and if it's not accounted for it can really set you behind schedule.

Time allotted for formal photos: How important are the formal shots of you and your new husband/wife? For Mark and I, these shots are probably the most important of our entire day; these are the photos that we're going to have together to look back on for  years to come. I'd strongly encourage you to check in with your photographer and get their opinion/guidance on this subject. Your photographer has planned multiple timelines, and your channel of communication with them should always be open and encouraged.

What time do you want to start your dinner at/re-join your guests? Do you want to rejoin your guests before dinner, or right as dinner starts? At what time do you want to re-join your family and friends in order to continue on the festivities of the day together?


By using the few key pieces of info that we can collect by simply answering/figuring out your thoughts on the above points, we are able to then build the rest of our day around the above facts. How much time do you need to get ready? What time are you getting into your dress? How long is your ceremony? All of the answers to these questions might seem daunting now when you have to answer them, but I promise that they will certainly put you at ease on the day of your wedding. I want to share with you guys the timeline that Mark and I have made for our day, but first just wanted to mention just a few more tips and pointers when it comes to planning out the day.

Before all else, if you're feeling way too overwhelmed and not even wanting to deal with this, turn to your photographer (OR wedding planner if you have one). You should always  feel comfortable enough to turn to your photographer when you need help or have questions, and you should trust them whole-heartedly. The channel of communication between you and your photographer should be open, comfortable, and honest. They should be able to work alongside of you to create the perfect timeline for you guys, as well as to get the most out of the photography side of things! IF you are already planning your timeline and choosing your ceremony and reception times before you've even booked a photographer, than here are a few more things to consider when planning this on your own:

  1. Allow for more time than you originally anticipate. Much like everything else in our lives, we should always anticipate things falling slightly behind schedule on the day of the wedding. The last thing that you want to feel on your wedding day is stressed and rushed, so stop that from happening long before your big day. Give yourself  some "cushion time" between events, allow an additional 5 minutes on your travels times, take into consideration snack and bathroom breaks.
  2. Don't forget about family formals and receiving lines. If you plan to have a receiving line post-ceremony at your wedding, then make sure and schedule that into your day. Receiving lines always tend to run a bit longer than you would think, so give yourself ample time.
  3. If you're having your wedding in the mountains, don't forget that although the sun might not set until 10pm on your wedding day, that it's going to get darker much quicker/you'll be in shadows a lot sooner than you would be if you were getting married in a field. To be sure of the approximate time that the sun will dip below the mountain tops, go out to your wedding spot and see for yourself exactly when it starts to get shadowy and shaded.
  4. If you're having an outdoor ceremony, try and either ensure that you're in 100% shade or 100% sunshine. The hardest ceremony situations from a photography standpoint are those when the bride is under a gazebo/archway and the groom is is the full sunshine (or vice versa). These situations will cause weird lighting, strange shadows, and are just all around a bit tougher to photograph.

At the end of the day, don't ever forget that your day can be laid out however you want it to be; there are literally no rules that need to be followed when creating your own unique timeline. I hope that this post was able to shed a bit of light on the topic of timeline planning, but as always if you have any questions or curiosities that you'd like answered, just leave them here for me and I'll help you out in whatever way that I can :)