Your perfect wedding day timeline begins the moment your guests arrive at your ceremony and ends when the party stops. All the fun festivities that take place in between the start and end will need to be slotted in with precision. This comprehensive guide will help you to work out how much time each event should take and how to arrange your events so they flow seamlessly.
Read right till the end to view a typical Summer civil wedding timeline which you can copy and paste or simply use as inspiration for your own Big Day!
Featured image credit: Eric Molimard Photography
There are some wedding day events and activities that are unmovable. Start with those, and then fill in the blanks. A few items that are pretty much set in stone will be the time you can take sunset photos, when your venue will serve dinner, and the ceremony starting time. Depending on your venue contract, your end time may also be set in stone.
Ceremony: 30 minutes – 1 hour
Talk to your celebrant or solemniser about how long your wedding ceremony will be. This will be determined by the type of ceremony you hope to have.
Sunset photos: 20 minutes
Speak with your photographer about where you can slot this into the wedding day timeline. This website is a great place to work out the time the sun will set according to your wedding date and location.
Dinner: 1 – 1.5 hours
There are a number of factors to consider here. How long will it take your venue to serve dinner (ask them!)? Are you having plated meals or a buffet? How many guests are you having? How many courses are there? Will you have any entertainment or speeches throughout dinner?
Consider which photo ops are important to you and then prioritise them! Here are some examples of some of the photo ops you may want to slot into your wedding day timeline:
Things like jewellery, stationery, wedding shoes, for example. Speak with your photographer about how long these will take.
Getting ready photos
Speak with your photographer about the type of photos you would like, or what they would recommend. Depending on your requests, this could take around 30-40 minutes, and factor in an extra 20 if you’ve got one photographer and you’d like photos of your Other Half getting ready too.
Wedding party photos
Aside from the photos of everybody getting ready, you may want to have some lovely photos of all of you dressed and ready to go (prior to the ceremony). It sounds like something that would take no more than 2 minutes, but your photographer will be able to tell you exactly how much time to allocate.
It’s not for everyone, but lots of couples choose to take the time to see each other before the ceremony and to have the photographer document this special moment. We recommend not doing this just for the photos, even though they will be awesome!
This is possibly the one and only time you will have both of your entire families at the same place, so make the most of it! We recommend getting these photos taken soon after the ceremony, before everybody has scattered. If you’ve got a list of who you’d like in each photo (Couple + Mam + Aunt, for example) and a family representative who knows everyone on the list, you’ll save yourself the hassle of having to herd family members.
Wedding party photos (round two)
These are different to the first batch, because you’ve got both sides of the wedding party! Chat with your photographer about how much time to save for this. These photos will typically be taken while guests enjoy the first part of cocktail hour, so these two items on your wedding day timeline will overlap.
You know those beautiful Instagram-worthy couple portraits you’ve been swooning over? This is what we’re talking about! The timing of this will be particularly important if you are wanting to include some gorgeous sunset photos.
This is the time you’ll have photos of your work friends dancing terribly! You’ll want to relax and enjoy your wedding reception, without thinking of posing for photos. Allow your photographer to do what they do best. Included in your reception will be things like a cake-cutting, speeches and a first dance.
Last dance / formal exit
This is the moment when you and your Other Half are tired and ready to head to the hotel for the night. It’ll be the final item on your wedding day timeline. The last dance and formal exit won’t take any longer than 5 minutes each, but we recommend setting aside 20 minutes to gather guests, hand out sparklers (if that’s what you’re doing) and get everybody in place.
Fill in the gaps
You’ve now got the key events and photo ops planned in, and now it’s time to fill in the gaps with everything else. Here is a list of some common wedding traditions that you might want to add to your timeline:
You may have other activities, games or entertainment you’d like to factor in, so now is the time to do just that.
Take a peek at an example of a typical Summer civil wedding timeline. Feel free to save the images and use these as inspiration for your own Big Day: