Jennifer MacDonald


How to organise your wedding timeline.

My Journal

Want to organise the perfect timeline for your wedding? Want to be stress free? well read on for how I like to organise my wedding timelines.

So you’ve landed on this post and you’re thinking Jennifer please help! Well I can help you organise your wedding timeline in a flash! Weddings can be stressful, it’s a delicate dance of people, places and getting from A to B. When you first start off planning a wedding, it can seem scary and overwhelming! I remember when I fist started planning my wedding I thought ‘Holy moly I’ve no idea where to start’! I was lucky enough that the venue I booked came with an event planner, and my mother was a wizard at excel spreadsheets. Between the two of them I had a powerhouse of organisation that kept me on my toes. 

 A well organised wedding timeline, is helpful for not just you, but all your vendors, it’s useful to send it to all the staff working with you on the day so that they are all on the same page (this can be a lifesaver!)

The more planned your day is the less room there is for mistakes and chaos, you will feel calm and your day will run smoothly. On your day the only thing you will have to worry about is relaxing, dancing and enjoying a glass of something bubbly.

So how do you organise your wedding timeline… Well below is how I layout my schedule for the day and highlighted are points that I’m shooting and points where I can take a beat.

Break your day into these categories for your wedding timeline.

. Groom photos

. Bride photos

. Guests arrive at ceremony Groom to be there

. Bride arrive at ceremony

. Ceremony

. Group/family photos

. Bridal party photos

. Bride/Groom photos

. Bride and groom to get to reception 10 -15 mins before guests to have a moment

. Guests arrive a reception

. Bride and Groom entrance

(The the next series doesn’t need to happen in this order but these are the key points of the reception)

. First Dance

. Cutting Cake

. Speeches

. Father/daughter dance

. Mother and son dance

. Sunset portraits (if daylight hours allow)

. Food

. Dancing

. Carriages

  • Please note I use the term Bride and Groom just to describe person 1 and 2, I fully support LGBTI+ unions

A few notes on some of the photo opportunity moments

Getting Ready wedding photos

mother and daughter getting ready before wedding
bride sitting in a bath tub in her wedding dress laughing

Brides House

This part I always say allow more time than you need. Hair and make up generally can take 30mins to an hour per person. I always suggest to use a separate hair and makeup artist. The more skilled the makeup artist the faster they are. If you are not a morning person then you may not want to have an early wedding. I have known hair and makeup artists to start as early as 4am!! Ouch! So you may want to consider how many bridal party members need to have their hair and makeup done and how many hours it will take. If you want photos of you getting your hair and makeup done you should co-ordinate with your makeup artist to go last. 

Groom House

groom and best man in a black and white image helping each other do cufflinks, mat and sarah used my tips on how to plan a wedding timeline
black and white image of groom and best man helping the best man do his cufflinks.

I normally goto the grooms house first to capture then getting ready. I normally suggest to get ready but don’t do cufflinks, tie/bowtie. It’s nice to get mum or dad to help do these things, it creates some beautiful photographs. Always calculate this a little longer than you need so that you can relax and be stress free.

Wedding Ceremony photography

bride and groom in a black and white image standing under a shower of rose petals during first kiss of ceremony
groom and groom standing at the wedding alter holding hands, they are relaxed as I helped them organise the perfect wedding timeline.

You need to take into consideration time of year for your ceremony.

Spring wedding (melbourne, VIC) – Daylight is 7-6pm sunset around 7:30pm

Summer Wedding (Melbourne) – There more light but you need to consider the heat if it’s an outdoor wedding the hottest point of the day is between 12 and 3 pm and temps can get unto 41 degrees in summer

Autumn (Melbourne) – Starting to loose light but tends to be 8am to 5 pm with sunset around 6

Winter (Melbourne)- least amount of light 9am to 4pm and you need to deal with cooler temps and higher amount of Rain.

This isn’t to stop you from having your wedding whenever you want, you just need to plan it around a few factors.

For a Summer wedding I recommend starting a bit later (especially for outdoor weddings) this gives you the best lighting options and no one will be squinting at the sun and you won’t be uncomfortable in the heat.

For a winter wedding I reccomend starting earlier in the day this way you will get more light for wedding photos. Indoor venues are more popular for winter weddings and sometimes picking a venue that will look good in photos means you don’t need to worry about the weather.

Bridal party wedding photos, Portraits and family photos.

Bride and groom posing for wedding photos in the australian rainforrest. They hired a wedding planner to organise their wedding timeline
Bridal party having fun and laughing during photo shoot. They hired a wedding planner to organise their wedding timeline

I like to plan 10-15 mins for a group shot post ceremony

15-30 mins for family group photos

30 mins for bridal party photos 

45 mins couple photos

Please also take into consideration that if you multiple locations you want to visit you will need to add more time for travelling and allowing for traffic. Please also look up if there are any city events that could add to traffic being diverted.

For outdoor photos- later in the day is better the light is softer. If it’s indoor please inform your photographer if the venue is dark as they will need to prep for additional lighting rigs.

Wedding Reception party photos

Bride and Groom sitting at wedding reception having fun enjoying a cocktail. They were able to have 5 minutes alone after planning it into their wedding timeline
Bride and groom cutting cake at the perfect moment as they had their wedding timeline down to a t!

I like to get my couple to the venue and have 10 minutes to themselves before seeing al their guests. This is a good point to take a deep breath and go wooooooo we’re married. Also to apply any lip touch ups and add a swoosh or hairspray and straighten up the tie etc… No one has ever regretted this time and have found it invaluable.

I love capturing dance floor photos and reception shots. This is where everyone lets their hair down and you capture the other side of the wedding atmosphere. Please please please let your photographer know if you are planning any special exit so they don’t leave early!

Final Notes on wedding timeline organisation.

bride and groom standing in park cuddling and laughing. Their wedding was stress free after having a good wedding timeline organised

Sometimes things won’t go as planned and that’s ok! That’s why you hired the best vendors who can improvise and sometimes those improvised moments can be the funniest and make the best story. So don’t stress! We can fix things! All you need to worry about is slipping champagne! So I hope this little post can help you organise your wedding timeline.

Please comment below if you have any amazing tips.

Jennifer MacDonald at Liminal Wonderland profile picture
Jennifer MacDonald of Liminal Wonderland Wedding Photography

About the Author:

Jennifer MacDonald at Liminal Wonderland loves anything sci-fi and a guilty pleasure of Gilmore girls re run, has a love of baking and gin, and spends her free time hanging out with her husband and toddler that keeps her active. Jennifer is a wedding photographer based in Melbourne, Vic specialising in capturing artistic portraits paired with unique storytelling moments to produce natural, emotional wedding photography for fearless lovers. Jennifer also travels globally to photograph couples wherever they may be.

Want to read more check out some of my other helpful blog posts or send me a message, can’t wait to chat!

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