How to Make Your Wedding Day Timeline the Easy Way

How to make your wedding timeline the easy way!

Whether you are super organized, a spontaneous person, or an odd mixture of both, having a timeline for your wedding day is a smart idea! Even though you and your beau may want to not feel confined to a schedule, you do have multiple people you are relying on to contribute to parts of your day. Without a plan, there is no vision. You may find that you have expectations that weren’t met because of a lack of communication. 

So that’s all a timeline is, communication. Communicating what you want for your wedding day, so that friends, family, and vendors can contribute to giving you the wedding you always imagined. If you truly want to enjoy your day and find it stress free, you’ll at least want a basic outline!

So here’s how to do that the quick and easy way!

Step One: SUNSET

Note the time of sunset on your wedding day! This is huge if you want a sunset ceremony or to schedule photos at sunset, or even if you want fireworks or a sparkler exit, which is kinda not the same in broad daylight! You may notice a few options regarding sunset time if you search it, but that soft golden glow happens about 20-30 minutes before the sun’s disk touches the horizon, aka civil sunset. Twilight is when the sun’s disc is completely hidden from sight and things get dark fast.


There’s no wedding if you don’t get married, so choose a ceremony time. To choose your ceremony time, you may want to consider how close or far away it is from dinner time if you plan on only having a cocktail hour in-between. Or as in step one, you may want to choose to have your ceremony at sunset. 

Ceremonies generally last 30 minutes, maybe longer depending on the type of ceremony and size of the processional. Also note that your guests will likely start arriving about 30 minutes before the ceremony, so if you don’t want to be seen before your grand entrance, you may want to arrive at the church or venue before that.


It’s a long day for everyone involved. With pre-wedding jitters, lots of couples just snack before the ceremony. So afterward you may find yourself famished! So after the ceremony, the next important thing is food! What time do you want to eat? Choose a dinner time and reception start time you feel will suit you best!

Everyone wants their guests to enjoy their wedding as well! So another consideration, if you have a lot of your grandparents generation in attendance or young families that need to pick up their children from sitters, is that 10pm is late for them, so having your main program wrapped up by 10 or shortly after will keep people from leaving in the middle of speeches and ensure they don’t have to miss any of the main events. You will be free to dance the rest of the night away, I promise!


Whether you want a traditional schedule or to indulge in a non-traditional day, you merely have to choose what order you want the events to happen. Then you can work backwards from your ceremony time and forwards from your reception time to create a wedding day outline. 


Don’t forgot to include travel time in-between locations. I always encourage my couples to pick a duration for commuting that foresees construction, bad weather, and every light red enroute. There’s nothing worse than feeling late to your wedding ceremony and being stuck in traffic. You also need to consider the amount of people you’re moving. If your bridal party is 7 a side, you need to move that many more people to different locations in different vehicles, which adds up timewise. If you have a large party, a bus or limo is highly recommended or sticking with just one photo location for the full group.

Buffers can be a life saver. It can be tempting to say it only takes 5 minutes to get into the dress, but scheduling 30 minutes will allow for unseen things that typically happen. For example, something’s snagging on the dress to fix or you can’t get it bustled properly. Your mom or bridesmaids may have unexpected gifts for you, or you for them. A delay in hair and makeup by 20 minutes leaves only have 10 minutes to get in the dress. Keep the mindset that more time is better than the stress of being behind.


For those of you that are overachievers, here’s a bonus step! A Plan B timeline. Sometimes bad weather happens. In Manitoba, we are blessed with an abundance of clear sunny days. But in the event of rain or snow, you may have to change some plans around as far as locations and perhaps travel time. If you make a rain plan in advance, you will save yourself the stress of making it on the spot the morning of your wedding and then attempting to communicate it to everyone. I promise you, you will be so tired of people asking you, what’s next? Put a paper in their hands and alleviate that extra stress.

Here is a link to some sample Wedding Day Timelines from The Knot!!

I walk through timeline creation with all my couples all the time. Here’s the draft page we review that you might find helpful!

Download the Timeline Creation Guide!

Planning a wedding or event is a lot of work. 

When I got married, one of my big regrets was not having a planner. I didn’t think I could afford one and perceived them as a luxury. Now in the industry and as a certified planner myself, I want to change that thinking. You can hire a planner as a consultant to ask their advice on specific topics. It’s localized information and faster/more effective than reading 50 blog posts on the subject. You can hire a planner for the month of your wedding, called Day Of Coordination. And, of course, you can hire a full planning experience that we drool over in the movies!

Enjoy the fiancé chapter of your lives as much as your wedding day; they both pass by so swiftly!

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