Who would not want the perfect timeline for a wedding ? There are so many hundreds and thousands of blogs and wedding websites who give a timeline. This is my perspective on my experience after over a couple dozen weddings.  A couple things have become clear to me for a perfect timeline. It happens all the time, a bridesmaid, or a wedding planner, will come up to me and say “We are running 30 min behind!”, or something along those lines.   In fact at every single wedding I have ever photographed,  this has been the case. If I had given them my timeline. I would say “okay great! We are on schedule!”

The first of five tips for a perfect wedding timeline is to add 30 minutes to an hour of extra time at the beginning of the day. You may be asking why would you add time with nothing in it? The reason is, and I’m not calling anyone out on this at all, but every single time while the bride is getting her makeup and hair done, the bride is with her bridesmaids and they are having fun.  This time always falls behind and typically is behind 30 minutes. Every single time that has always been the case. I’m not sure why it happens or what causes it, but I do know that at this point in time it is always running behind.

My suggestion in how to implement this is to find out from your make-up artist how long of a time they need for your makeup.  Sometimes, they  will ask you what time you need to be finished.   Just add 30 minutes of time to their stated amount, or, let them know you need to be finished thirty minutes before you really need to.   There is also a secret to this. If you are making your own timeline or making one for a friend, you can’t tell them there is thirty minutes of extra time. Why? Because then they will take advantage of that time and perhaps not move as quick. It’s an unspoken time needed, but a necessary thing in the timeline.  What I end up doing is adding extra time to things in the beginning of the day and shuffle things as it happens, leading up to the ceremony which starts at a given time.

An example may be having your makeup and hair taking 2 hours on your timeline. If this two hour window is what your makeup or hair artist provided, you would simply add on an additional 30 minutes.  Adding more time than you expect you will need, or they expect they will need, will make your day smooth and relaxing versus anxiety and stress from running late.   After all, I want the best for you, and nothing beats that than a calm easy day!  No one wants to be stressed on a day that is to be joyful and fun!

The second tip for a perfect wedding timeline is to make sure you are done an hour before your ceremony.  This is ultimately put in place for a couple of reasons. The first one is travel. You don’t want to be traveling with minutes to spare. Although you can’t start a wedding without a bride, being late will throw off your timeline later (and post ceremony is always the fun part!)  Another reason is if you are getting ready at the same location (highly suggested) and you are doing a first look, you can have the hour to relax with each other and talk to your bridal party and family. If you are not doing a first look, that is totally fine too! You can use the time to calm your nerves, relax, take a breather and take a few extra photos with your bridesmaids, or just hang out and have fun.  (I will dive more into that a first look versus not having one another post, so stay tuned!) These are the moments you will remember. The day honestly goes by so fast it’s important to slow down at times.

The third tip for the perfect wedding timeline is to make time for what you value. It is extremely important that after you set enough time for the beginning of the day that you set time for things that you want the most. If it’s portraits you value, then make sure you make time for portraits. Often times you’ll end up with 10 minutes for them. Although you can get quite a few portraits in that time frame, you won’t get your expectations met as if you had time for about an hour (which is highly suggested so that you get amazing portraits!)  I also suggest you schedule these in the timeline around the magic of golden hour which I will explain more deeply in another blog post coming soon!

The fourth tip for a perfect wedding timeline is do your formal exit right after ceremony and not at the end. This is a good idea if you want an exit with your guests using bubbles or rice or anything really. I’m not saying its wrong to do it at the end but a lot of times guests will leave and you do not want to have 5 guests as you are exiting with sparklers or bubbles! It makes for a better experience and photo opportunity with all your guests there cheering for you. You can easily just circle around or head straight to taking your portraits and or first dance depending on your timeline. I highly suggest making time for what you value.

Naples florida, miami wedding photographer, perfect wedding timeline

The last tip for a perfect wedding timeline is to set a wedding start time and or portraits around golden hour. Now this tip is slightly biased because I’m a wedding photographer but, I’m sure you have seen images that have nice even light and amazing skin tones, beautiful sun flairs and coloring! All the magic happens around golden hour.  Let’s say you plan on a 30 minute ceremony, you’ll want to set your wedding day start time about 1.5 hours to two hours before sunset. Depending on the venue location and where the sun is at, you will have amazing light hitting you for some amazing ceremony photos.   Following that beautiful light, you will have for family portraits which then leads into more portrait time.   (Side note, want tips on the best ways to make family photos go smoother?  Have a family or friend who knows both sides of the family round people up and let them know ahead of time where to meet for the family portraits!  It will save time and stress when it comes time to getting this going!)  When its time for just the Bride and Groom portraits it’s the perfect time for that golden dreamy light!

And because that wasn’t enough info, I’m adding in a bonus tip from my good friend Amber from Ohmyocassions. She is an awesome wedding planner here in Miami who spoils and loves couples just as much as I do. She takes in consideration every detail and what you value the most to ensure the most relaxed and “OH MY Experience!”.

Her main tip is to start planning your timeline from the middle and works backwards towards the bridal prep, then work forward to the end.  “I start at the ceremony time because usually that’s set in stone especially at a venue. So then you work backwards with how many hours are needed for formal portraits, first look, getting ready, and the very first item is hair and makeup arrival. Then I work from ceremony time and go forward and add my times for cocktail, dinner, hora loca, etc until end time.

I hope you enjoyed these tips for a perfect wedding timeline!  Stay tuned for more tips that will help your wedding planning!   You can sign up below to get up dates on new blogs with latest happenings. If you loved this comment below and share with your friends and family who are getting married.


February 9, 2016

For Couples

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5 Secrets for a Perfect Wedding Timeline! | Miami Wedding Photographer

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  1. Dawn Louise McGowan

    February 10th, 2016 at 1:43 pm

    Great wedding timeline tips! It’s so true to leave time for what you value. If you want a sunset picture, you need to schedule that time on the day to do so!

  2. Camille Abbott

    February 17th, 2016 at 10:55 pm

    Great article! The timeline of a wedding is sooo important and not a lot of couples take the time to work through one that will allow them time to breathe. ox

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