bride and groom holding hands

Brides: The Ultimate Guide to Building a Wedding Day Timeline

For Brides


October 11, 2022

The Timeline

From my experience, the timeline is the #1 cause of stress on wedding day, and it absolutely does not have to be! If you intentionally plan your timeline, you’ll be able to be more present, and be able to focus on the one thing you’re there to do: get married to the love of your life!

Here, I’ve compiled some valuable timeline creation tips that have tremendously eased stress off of my couples (and me!). These steps, when followed intentionally, can help you create the most seamless and most stress free wedding timeline!

1. Consider Sunset Time

When the sun sets, it sets QUICKLY! The interval of time leading up to sunset (typically 45 minutes) is the time with the best lighting of the day for photos. Ideally, this is where we take time for bride and groom portraits! Sunset time varies throughout the year. Look up on google “what time does the sun set on [your wedding date]”. Google will populate sunset times for your exact date in years past. The tip here:

Have your ceremony start time 2.5 hours BEFORE the sun sets

Starting your ceremony 2.5 hours before the sun sets allows for the typical order of events at a wedding to happen, with plenty of time given to each part during the most action filled part of wedding day. This leads me into the next step:

2. Allow for Buffer Time

Nobody likes to feel rushed, especially on a wedding day! While some events throughout a wedding day may not take very much time, plan it as if they do. Family photos should take around 15 minutes, but those 15 minutes can turn to 30 if Uncle Joe is nowhere to be found, or if grandma wants photos with all the cousin pairings. What I like to tell my brides here:

give each event more time than it should take

This is how much time I ask my brides to leave for a few events through the day (starting from the ceremony):

  • Ceremony (30-45 minutes)
  • Family photos (30 minutes)
  • Full Wedding Party Photos (30 minutes)
  • Bride + Groom Sunset Portraits (45 – 60 minutes)

Allowing this much time for each event of the day will automatically create buffer time for everyone involved just to be present! The biggest thing I hear from brides is that their wedding went by way too fast. And I agree. With buffer time, you get to squeeze in those precious moments talking to your guests without fear that you’ll only get 20 minutes to take sunset pictures.

3. Enter your Reception Before Taking Bride and Groom Pictures

This one may seem untraditional, but let me tell you: doing exactly this has given my brides so much relief. And this is why:

Let’s say you enter your reception after all the photos are done. After the ceremony, guests are prepared to wait a while for all the photos that follow a wedding ceremony. Cocktail hour keeps them happy – for a time. By the time we’re into bride and groom photos (a time you do NOT want to skimp on), not only are guests hungry for dinner, but so are you! You either choose to shorten your golden hour portraits to talk to guests and eat… or you push through them to get all the photos in (the ones that end up on the wall and get shown to your grandchildren).

If you choose the latter, you enter into your reception late, eat dinner late, and suddenly have 30 minutes to talk to guests, cut a cake, dance, and leave. When you get in the getaway car, you realize your wedding lasted 5 seconds, and its now over. Sound like a nightmare?

This is what happened to me. My biggest regret of my wedding day was not having enough time to soak in each and every part of the day after we said “I do”. Everything was so rushed, and we left feeling exhausted.

how entering a reception before bride and groom pictures changes everything

When you enter into your reception, you get to knock out anything and everything if you so wish! This could mean the special dances, dinner being served, and more! This small change in the timeline has saved so many brides, letting them soak in each part of the day without feeling rushed.

Below, I’ve created sample timelines for different months throughout the year! Don’t see your month? No worries! The months skipped over have very similar sunset times (and therefore timeline arrangement) as the months surrounding 🙂


Take a deep breath. Remember that this is your wedding day. While all this planning insight may seem like so much to process, please don’t let it run your wedding. At the end of the day, you’ll be married, you’ll get to party with all your loved ones, and you’ll drive off as Mr. and Mrs. That’s all that matters.

This beefy guide has saved my couples’ days time and time again. Each day was full and all the time they had extra was intentionally spent with their loved ones. Instead of wishing they had that time with grandma, they sigh in relief when they get to hug each of their extended cousins. Let this guide help you to have more time to cherish each other <3

Want to talk more about planning? Well, I am a total nerd when it comes to planning a wedding 😉 Let’s chat today!! Connect with me HERE!

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angelina loreta

weddings & lifestyle

Houston Wedding Photographer

angelina loreta is a houston wedding photographer who captures wedding days in a way that is nostalgic and full of personality. Book angelina today for documentary style wedding photos!