des moines, iowa and beyond

workflow & systems strategist

4 Wedding Timeline Tips

For Brides, Sweet Beginnings

Timelines and logistics can make or break your wonderful celebration! It doesn’t have to be a stressful process to create your event timeline, with or without a wedding planner. I have 4 wedding timeline tips that will help you be prepared early on to make your celebration run as smoothly as possible!

As planners, we all love logistics and being prepared. However, I realize that is not necessarily a strength for some brides and that not everyone is able to have a planner on your vendor team. Whether you have one or not, a timeline for your wedding day is absolutely KEY to keeping the day moving and organized.

I’m a big advocate of brides and grooms being aware of the flow of their day. It’s never too early to start thinking about your wedding timeline. It can be the difference between an enjoyable or stressful day. No one wants to feel like you’re running from one thing to another all day, right?

If you are not able to work with a planner to execute your wedding day, your photographer will help you compile a timeline for the portion of the day that they are present. However, that will not necessarily be all-inclusive for the day. (some photographers are extra amazing and will help with extra details) There are many other moving pieces of your day that someone will need to ensure happen. These include vendor deliveries and pick up, set up and tear down times, transportation logistics and so much more.

There are 4 main things to take into account as you are building your wedding timeline:

  1. Begin thinking of how the day will go early on. Do not wait until the month of your wedding to determine the order of events or wonder if you will have enough time for everything you want to fit in. This applies whether you have a planner or not and can affect many things. Thinking ahead while you’re booking vendors is not only helpful for you but allows your vendors to better serve you, too. Having an idea of your timeline as you bring vendors onto your team helps them know what services to recommend to you, too.
  2. Know your priorities and accommodate them. Similarly to your budget, know what photos and events throughout the day are most important to the two of you. Then, you can build the day around those things. If you don’t tell your time where to go, you’ll get to the end of the day wishing you’d done x,y,z. If you want sunset photos, make sure you take that into account when planning dinner time and dancing. If stopping somewhere between your ceremony and reception matters or your first look, all of those things need to be built-in.
  3. Always account for wiggle room. Life happens and it’s entirely normal to have delays by a few minutes here or there. That said, having a back to back schedule will likely not stay on schedule. There are a lot of things that could shift moments of the day by five to ten minutes. If you do not account for flexibility in your timeline, you will likely end up stressed.
  4. Allow time for untouched photos! You and your team put so much time into designing and executing all the beautiful details of your day. I highly recommend you Build in time for your photographer and videographer to capture your ceremony and reception spaces BEFORE any guests enter. It’s also a great opportunity for you to have a quiet moment away from the celebration to take it all in. I promise you, you will be so grateful you did and your vendor team will thank you!!

For more thoughts on untouched photos, check this out!

I know thinking about #allthethings can feel overwhelming, but don’t worry – I’ve got a FREEBIE for you to use as a starting point and identify your highlighted timeline! There are so many layers and levels of detail that your timelines could cover, but these areas are the key ones to confirm, then your planner and/or vendor team will help you fill in as needed.

Timeline Builder Freebie


Cheers to your wedding celebration running smoothly!


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