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5 Tips For A Successful Wedding Day Timeline

Jan 26, 2018

To date I have professionally photographed 136 weddings. I’ve also been both a bridesmaid and a bride so I’ve certainly had my fair share of wedding day experience. I use this experience to help my clients, as all of my brides receive a customized timeline for their photography coverage with me.

There are many little details that a new bride may not think of when planning our her day, so I’ve created this list to highlight the top 5 things that I’ve seen to be helpful when writing your own wedding day timeline.

1. Be sure to leave enough time for hair and makeup.
Especially if you have a large bridal party! I’ve seen weddings get delayed because bridesmaids didn’t like their hair or makeup and had to have it redone. Maybe a bridesmaid is running late or gets lost on the way to the venue. Or you have 8 bridesmaids and underestimated the amount of time the stylist needs. You just never know what can happen and it’s always smart to add in a buffer of extra time for this portion of the day. Take this time to relax with your girls, have something light to eat and enjoy a mimosa!

2. Consider having a first look.
If photos are a priority for you then I highly recommend considering a first look on your wedding day. A first look is a wonderful new tradition that gives the bride and groom a few private moments to see each other before the ceremony. It is photographed from a distance, giving you some space as you see each other for the first time. It makes for some beautiful and emotional photographs. Afterwards you’ll have the opportunity to take some portrait images together (my favorite part of the day!) as well as take care of some of your bridal party and/or formal family photos, leaving you more time after the ceremony for romantic portraits or enjoying some of your cocktail hour.

3. Remember to add in travel time.
One of my favorite things about Grand Strand weddings is that so many of the venues are an all-in-one location. You can get your hair & makeup done, get dressed and have your ceremony, cocktail hour and reception all in one place! If you’re not having your wedding at an all-in-one venue then it’s especially important to remember to add travel time to your timeline, as well as take tourist traffic into account if you’re having a wedding in peak season or on a holiday weekend. It’s best to buffer in a little bit more time than you think you’ll need just to be safe.

4. Communication is everything!
Stay in touch with your vendors in the weeks before the wedding. If you have a wedding planner make sure that they know of any specific requests or ideas that you have. Have a conversation with them about the timeline that they create for you. If you don’t have a wedding planner, take the time to create a timeline for yourself. Make sure you’ve communicated to your DJ all of the special events you’d like to take place, and what that timeline should look like… first dance, cake cutting, garter & bouquet toss, etc. Make sure your photographer knows about any special events that are taking place so that they are prepared to capture them.

Here is a sample timeline that I create for my brides. This particular timeline is based on 8 hours of photography coverage with a First Look:

2:00           Photographers arrive, details & getting ready photos of bride
2:30           Bride puts her dress on (20 minutes)
2:50           First Look & Romantic Portraits (20 minutes)
3:15           Bridal Party & Family Portraits (30 minutes)
3:45           Detail photos of ceremony & reception spaces
4:30           Ceremony
4:50           Ceremony ends
5:00           Any Additional Family Portraits (10 minutes)
5:10           Bride & Groom Portraits (20 minutes)
5:30           Portraits completed, bride gets bustled
6:00           Reception begins, Bride & Groom first dance
10:00         Reception ends, sparkler sendoff

If you or a wedding planner are creating your timeline you’ll likely have more details like what time the flowers will arrive, etc. Your DJ may even have his own timeline for the reception that includes approximate times for special dances and cake cutting.

Here are a few wedding planning and timeline tools that may be helpful for you:
Creating A Wedding Day Timeline From Southern Weddings
Wedding Planning Spreadsheets from A Practical Wedding
Planning Tools 101 from Offbeat Bride
Wedding Timeline Templates on Pinterest

5. Hire A Coordinator & Trust Your Vendors.
If you’ve hired a team of professionals then I can’t stress how important it is to sit back, relax and let them do what they do best. Hiring an experienced wedding coordinator is a great way to set aside some of the wedding day stress.

“As a planner, it is my job to understand my clients needs and wants and make it come to life seamlessly. When you sign a contract it means to me that you fully trust me with your dream day and I will do everything in my power to make you comfortable. It is our profession and we are experienced in our careers, so by allowing us to handle and manage the day, you can relax! We know the in’s & out’s of your wedding day, as we have been planning it for months, if not years, and can quickly recognize a change/problem and tend to it. One of the most important roles as wedding planner is making decisions quickly. Our brains our wired to come up with a resolution and act on it immediately, without anyone every noticing or knowing a difference. A wedding has many moving parts so by properly staffing in each area with our experienced staff, we ensure that all areas are well taken care of!” – Santana, owner & coordinator at Events By Santana


If you’re looking for the perfect wedding planner for your wedding (which I highly recommend for large or destination weddings) please take a moment and check out my vendors list! There are some amazing wedding planners on this list that offer both full planning and day of coverage to help make your wedding go as smoothly as possible: www.crystalleephotography.com/myrtle-beach-wedding-vendors.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this article, and best wishes to you for an absolutely fabulous wedding!! 🙂

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