Detroit & Ann Arbor Michigan Photographer

Wedding Day Timeline Tips

70 / 100
Detroit Athletic Club Wedding 308 1 | Sarah Kossuch Photography
Detroit Athletic Club Wedding 308 1 | Sarah Kossuch Personal

First and foremost YAY! Congratulations on your up coming wedding! It’s not every day we get to plan a wedding, right? So wedding day timeline tips, hints, and helpful advice is incredible valuable when scheduling your timeline. Having photographed over 100 weddings, I have plenty of tips, hints, and tools to help you create a great timeline.

Guidelines to Keep in Mind

The key to any good timeline is to ensure you have plenty of time and don’t feel rushed. If you have plenty of extra time built in the worst thing that can happen is you are running ahead of schedule.  A padded timeline is a great timeline.

Make sure you have a detailed timeline with exact addresses of locations (getting ready, photo locations, ceremony and reception) for vendors, the wedding party and immediate family. (Don’t worry, you’ll have an opportunity to fill all of this out when you receive your wedding day questionnaire!) If you can, distribute timelines specifically for the wedding party, parents, and vendors. If the timeline is too detailed or overwhelming your wedding party may not pay much attention to it.  A master timeline for vendors is always a good idea.

Distribute the timeline early enough so that you can make changes. But, not too early that it is forgotten about before the big day. Bring extra copies to the rehearsal, I’m sure there might be a groomsman who forgot his 😉 .  A week in advance for a detailed timeline is usually a safe bet. Preferably sooner but a solid timeline a week prior is great!

Last, be flexible if something needs to shift based on things out of your control. It’s your wedding – you should enjoy it – leave the details to the pros you have hired!

Where to Begin & Vendor Considerations

Start with the Ceremony

A good rule of thumb is to start 30 minutes prior to the ceremony and work backwards from that time.

You’ll want to ensure photos are complete & everyone arrives at the ceremony location at least 30 minutes before the ceremony begins.

Vendor Considerations

Photography (YAY this is where we come in!)

 Are you planning to see each other ahead of time? If so, this impacts the amount of time (if any) you’ll need post ceremony.

How many hours did you book your photographer overall?

You’ll want to make sure you have your pro there for pre-ceremony photos + the major events at the reception as well

Contact the photographer to get a timeline for the photos prior to and after the ceremony.  Each photographer needs a different amount of time to shoot. Those time frames will vary based on the number in your wedding party, family photos and number of locations.

Hair & Makeup 

Most make-up artists ask for about 30 minutes per person (and sometimes more).

Hair stylists request 30-60 minutes depending on the length + style.

Find out if your selected vendor is going solo that day or if there will be an assistant, in which case you can double up your appointments.

Don’t forget to allow yourself a little down time to eat! Make sure you have something pre-prepared, catered or delivered.  This is a great task for mom, an aunt or even the soon to be mother-in-law.

Does your dress zip, button or is it a corset back?  A button closure or corset back takes considerably more time to get into than a zipper closure.  Practice with your maid of honor, mom or whoever will be assisting you on your wedding day.


Build in extra time for all travel.  This can’t be stressed enough!  You are moving around in a gown, with heels  and flowers. Not mention an entourage.

Add extra time for parking if you are not renting a vehicle for the entire wedding party.  If you will be parking where there are meters, grab a roll of quarters to feed the meters.

Add 10-15 minutes beyond the normal travel time to account for a limo or shuttle.  Loading and unloading the wedding party takes longer than you may think and manuvering the larger vehicle takes extra time.

Post Ceremony 

Are there any additional photos to be taken or do you plan to head straight to the reception?

Will there be a cocktail hour? Will you join your guests at cocktail hour or will you steal a few moments alone?

How long will it take to guests to get seated for dinner?  This is a great question for your venue or caterer.

Do you want to do your first dance right away or wait? Opting for the first dance right away is a nice transition from cocktail hour to dinner.  Guests will already be seated and attention focused on the new couple.

What time will dinner be served?  Ask your caterer how long it typically takes for service and clean-up based on your meal selection and guest count.

Other items to consider – cake cutting, toasts, parents dances, bouquet toss, garter toss.  You may want to incorporate some of these traditions but it’s not necessary to include them all if it’s not your style.

These are just a few tips to get you started.  When in doubt, consult the pros you hired for advice or expertise. If you would like more feed back on whether or not to have a first look to help make the timeline smooth, check out my blog post here.

There’s so much to planning a wedding but this should be a good start for anyone and I truly hope this helps you along the way!


I’M  Sarah

Classic Detroit & Ann Arbor WEDDING & PORTRAIT Photographer 

Sarah Kossuch is a professional photographer based in Michigan, USA, who specializes in wedding and portrait photography. She has been in the photography business for over 13 years, and during that time, she has honed her skills and developed a unique style that is both artistic and authentic.

search the site

featured posts











post categories

Scroll to Top

Grab Your Guide

A lot of moving pieces go into planning a wedding day timeline and I know it can be overwhelming! Grab my free guide to plan the perfect timeline for your day.