bride and groom enjoying first kiss as the sun sets across a field behind them in the gorgeous hunter valley

Wedding Day Timeline Suggestions

Wedding Day Timeline

So you’re getting married, and the reality that you now have to plan a wedding has dawned on you. The excitement temporarily takes a back seat. Fear sets in…I’m joking! But the reality has set in and you now need to start thinking about how to plan and coordinate a wedding day timeline, without ever having done one before. 

PRO TIP: If you decide to elope, you don’t really need to worry about timelines, as well as a bunch of other benefits. If you want more information on why eloping is becoming so popular, check out eloping vs weddings by clicking here

A solid wedding day timeline is going to be the best helping hand you will ever get. So here are my two most common wedding day timelines for you to pinch and use!

Bride and groom enjoy gorgeous lighting for their pine forest photos after following wedding day timeline

The Early Sunset Wedding Day Timeline

This is what I would consider the ideal timeline for an early sunset. Here on the East coast of Australia, that would see the sun set approximately 5.30pm. So I will build this timeline around that time. This is also built on the assumption of a cocktail style food service. If you are having a sit down, you will need to slightly change times to fit in the food service. But working off this timeline, your venue coordinator will be able to set you up easily. Feel free to change things a little bit here and there, but in my experience this timeline works perfectly for the flow of the day as well as ensuring the best photography.

Getting Ready – 1pm – 2.45pm

Pre-ceremony Portraits – 2.45 – 3pm

Ceremony – 3pm – 3.30pm

Family Portraits/Canapes/Mingling – 3.30 – 4.30pm

Bridal Party Portraits – 4.30pm – 5pm

Wedding Portraits – 5pm – 5.45pm

Reception Entry – 6pm

Speeches/Cake Cut – 6pm – 6.30pm

First Dance – 6.30pm – 6.40pm

Food – People start to eat around 6.45/7pm

Dancefloor – 7.30pm – Whenever you get kicked out!

The perfect wedding day timeline allows bride and groom to have stunning sunset photos in front of mountains

The Late Sunset Wedding Day Timeline

This wedding day timeline works off a summer wedding, so let’s say the sun sets at 7.30pm on the East Coast of Australia. This is more common as most people tend to get married between the months of September – April. This timeline also works on the assumption of a cocktail style of food. If you are not going this route, speak to your venue coordinator, they can easily work with this timeline! This will look a little different, as regardless of season, venues will usually require a reception to commence at 6pm, so this requires a bit of changing, so stick with me.

Getting Ready – 2pm – 3.45pm

Pre-ceremony Portraits – 3.45 – 4pm

Ceremony – 4pm – 4.30pm

Family Portraits/Canapes/Mingling – 4.30 – 5.30pm

Bridal Party Portraits – 5.30pm – 6pm

Reception Entry – 6pm

Speeches/Cake Cut – 6pm – 6.30pm

First Dance – 6.30pm – 6.35pm

Food – People start to eat around 6.40

Wedding Portraits – 7pm – 7.45pm

Dancefloor – 7.30pm – Whenever you get kicked out!

wedding day timeline bride and groom enjoying first kiss as the sun sets across a field behind them in the gorgeous hunter valley

Headaches to Avoid

Things that can disrupt your wedding day timeline generally tend to include the timing of food. Get this information as soon as you can off your venue. If you are eloping for example and are in charge of the timing, go with the timing above.

Another of the most common headaches is slow family/friends. What I mean by this is when your one mate who you knew would be a nuisance, runs to the bar right as you’re about to start wedding party portraits. Getting in their ear early and letting them know the timeline usually helps to set an expectation. They can run to the bar in 30 minutes!

Going off the timelines above pretty much ensures you will have a smooth, easy flowing day, and you will get the absolute best of the lighting for your wedding photos! However, let’s be honest…this might not work for you, and that’s ok! My job is to ensure I work with whatever timeline I get given. This is just an ideal situation, to give you inspiration for your own wedding day timeline.

If you want help organising one, or to discuss wedding photography, get in touch with me now for a chat! 

What is a good time for a wedding to start?

As you can see above, it depends primarily on the timing of the sun setting. In winter in Australia the average ceremony starts at 3-3.30pm with the sun setting at 5pm. In summer though, the ceremony might start at 4-4.30pm with the sun setting at 7-7.30pm.

How do I create a timeline for my wedding day?

Easiest way to do this is to speak to your photographer. They are the only vendors who do weddings right from the start to the end, so they have the best idea of timelines, what works, and what doesn’t. Plus, they are going to ensure you have the absolute best lighting for your photos.

What time do wedding dinners usually start?

In Australia they tend to allow guests into the reception at around 6pm, regardless of ceremony time. So if you are having a 3pm ceremony, you will need to think of something for your guests to do for the 2 hour gap between ceremony and reception. Speak to your venue and other vendors to come up with a plan that will keep your guests entertained.

How long is a wedding ceremony?

If you’re having a non-denominational ceremony, they can be as short as 10 minutes, but on average would be between 20-30 minutes. If you are having a religious ceremony they can vary a lot. A religious Christian ceremony might be 45 minutes, whereas a Greek Orthodox ceremony could be in excess of an hour.

What is the least popular month to get married?

In Australia, the most popular months are the Summer and Spring months, which are quite hot and have more volatile weather. Majority of people do not want to get married in Winter, but as a wedding vendor will tell you, winter weddings are amazing. The weather is more predictable and you won’t have guests passing out on 45 degree days.

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