How to Design Your Own Wedding Day Itinerary

November 30, 2021  •  Leave a Comment


How to have a Smooth Wedding Day Series

How to Design Your Own Wedding Day Itinerary


You already know “Why You Need a Wedding Day Itinerary” and you are here because you need a little guidance on designing your own. I applauded you for not only seeking guidance, but for standing up and saying this is something I must have, not something that is negotiable.

As with any itinerary or schedule, you need to understand how the day will play out. Truth is, this actually might seem daunting since you have probably never been married before, or you didn’t think about a schedule for a wedding in the past. It’s absolutely okay and you don’t need to fret one bit. Creating this schedule is easy if you know some of the basic key points of a wedding day.


The typical scenario

What usually happens is a wonderfully blissful bride (or groom) sits down to meet with one of the top vendors for their wedding. Usually this is the photographer or reception hall. And what unexpectedly happens is the vendors says, “How long are you looking to have your wedding?” or “How long will you be needing a photographer?”.

Let’s be honest here, you probably have no idea how to answer that. Yes; you may have seen or been part of a wedding before, but you didn’t know all the fine details that were involved with that wedding, and you probably want slightly different aspects. So, you just assume the minimum or the maximum just to give an answer. The downfall wont arise until later, when you're stuck with not enough time, or over paying for things you didn’t actually need. Again, you have a lot of gears turning to make you wedding day happen smoothly, and if you don’t have a wedding planner, then this all lies on your shoulders.


You’re not like other brides (or grooms)

You clearly know that whether you have made all your deposits, are just recently engaged (YEA!), or are finalizing all the wedding details, you need this wedding schedule and you need it now. Let me tell you exactly what you can do.

First if you haven’t already signed up for my “How to have a Smooth Wedding Day Series”, follow the link now so that you can get a printable blank wedding day schedule and follow along with me. This will make it so much easier than starting with a blank document. Promise.


The absolute set in stone times

There are probably a few times that you know exactly when something will happen: 

  • The Ceremony
  • Dinner

 So your first task is to fill those in and basically work backwards, or sporadic if you already have other vendors coming at specific times. I’m going to assume that you will decide when the vendors arrival. Now, work backwards to know when bridal party needs to arrive, when you need to have hair and makeup done and so on.

If you are at the point of not knowing how long you need a vendor for, this is where the itinerary will be the most helpful.

Automatically and for the sake of ease of mind, lets assume the following:

  • Ceremony is at 4:30pm,
  • Dinner served at 6:30pm.
  • Ceremony will last 30-50minuets,
  • Giving you open time from 5:30-6:30pm to capture photos
  • Guests will enjoy hour d’ourves or drinks at this time too.

These photos would typically consist of immediate family & bridal party photo, plus time for just you and your new spouse to get some one-on-one photos that will hang on your wall, especially if you didn’t have a first look/reveal.

Your schedule should look something like this:

4:30 P

Start Ceremony

5:00 p

5:15 p  - Cocktail Hour - family photos -  Bridal Party Photos

5:30 p

5:45 p  -  Bride & Groom only photos

6:00 p

6:10p  -  Grand entrance & Blessings

6:30 p

Dinner Served

Quite simple is it not!

By the way a little special tip about photographs, assume that for every group or individual shot you want, it will take approximately 5 minuets for the photographer to check and compose the people, jewelry, and light for the photograph.


But I still need to know when to do my hair.

No worries we are getting there. Like I said, it’s better to work backwards, and no one knows how to do this like a professional wedding photographer! (especially one that has done her fair share of weddings.)

BIG TIP! when it comes time for the ceremony, it is very crucial that the bride is hidden at least 30minuets before the wedding. Guests will typically start arriving 45 minutes before the ceremony actually begins. Now add that into your schedule:

4:00 P

Hide Bride

The next step is to ask yourself a question. How important are the maids and grooms men photos to you? Obviously, every image will be important to you but if enjoying another momosa and relaxing is better for you, than I recommend you add relax time. Otherwise, capture all the maids with some sass against a brick wall, or all the groomsmen enjoying a toast to the man of the hour.

These images will need at least 15minuets on their own for each group, so that is another 30minuets.

**Remember that the more photos you capture before the ceremony, the less time guests will have to wait.**

3:30 P

Bridesmaids & Groomsmen photos

4:00 p

Hide Bride


Now to ask you questions

The next few questions I have can be listed all at once and I can give you an idea if you were to tell me as your photographer that you want them all.

  • Do you want photos of just the bride and just the groom?
  • Are you doing a first look with the Groom?
  • Are you doing a first look with dad?
  • Do you want photos of you getting into your dress?
  • Do you want photos of the groomsmen’s details?
  • Do you want photos of you without any makeup on, or with your hair all crazy and frizzy?


Your answers will ultimately determine what time you need to have the bridal party arrive and be dressed, as well as when you, or the Bride, need to have your hair and makeup started by. Remember that in case your hair doesn’t agree, or you break out in a stress rash, you may need a little extra time for hair and makeup.

10:00 a

Start Bridal Hair  -  Maids & Mom’s Start Hair

10:30 a

Latest to start bridal Hair

11:00 A


11:30 A

Latest to start Bride Makeup!

12:00 p


12:30 P

Photog Arrives: Photos of Wedding Details – (flowers, ring, reception, dress)

1:00 p

Bride’s Final touch up – mascara & lipstick  -  Photo brides details

1:30 p

Maids & mom’s in Dresses - Groomsmen Dressed & detail photos

2:00 p

Get Bride in Dress - Bridal Details (veil & jewelry)

2:30 p

Bridal Portrait – Groom Portrait

3:00 p

First look with Dad – First Look with Groom


As you probably observed, everything starts moving very quickly after the bride gets into the dress. It’s one photographic moment after another, only if you want it that way. If you have a well experienced photographer, they may appear out of breath, but their brain is running fully speed and they will be able to get this accomplished for you.


Did you notice the bold 12:30 P?

if you noticed the 12:30 is in bold, good for you. That is when the photographer should start photographing. Essentially a professional who cares about your day and your memories will arrive a hour early so they are ready to photograph on time.


What about the reception?

This is simple, and usually your high end wedding planner, or DJ should be able to direct you on how they can work the best for you and your venue requirements. Be warned, while venue coordinators have their duties and their purposes, they do not always work well with other professional because they may be set in their ways. Stay calm and be firm. You are paying them.

The big question for you here is:

Do you want people to leave immediately or do you want them to hang around to party?

That answer will tell you when you should “cut the cake”. Want them to stick around; wait to cut the cake till the end of the festivities. Want them to leave early; then cut the cake immediately after dinner. I like recommending cutting the cake last.

6:30 pm

Dinner served – Photos of Guests

7:00 pm

 7:15 Speeches & Toasts

7:30 pm

first dance  -  Parents Dances  -  Dollar Dance

8:00 pm

garter toss  -  bouquet toss  -  Cut the Cake

8:30 pm

Dancing for all  -  Photographer leaves

9:00 pm


9:30 pm


10:00 pm

DJ Leaves

10:30 pm

Must Be out of Venue

11:00 pm














You Survived!

Now you have the power and control over your own wedding day. If anything should go awry or someone is running late, you now know where you can change or fit things in to make sure that your day is as special as you want it to be.

P.S. if you are worried about the photographer leaving as soon as everyone is getting on the dance floor; don’t be. As I explain to everyone of my uneasy brides, take a photo of someone doing the electric slide, the cha-cha slide, or the Cuban shuffle, and it all looks the same. So a few minuets of everyone cutting a rug, is the perfect way to end the collection of photographic memories.


I want to have zero worries on my wedding day

Your wedding day can never be too smooth. If you are anything like my recent bride, you are probably one of those people that want to make sure you have your hand in everything because it is your wedding and you are probably paying for it, but you probably want to sit back and relax and let someone else do the thinking and scurrying for you.

There are two things that you can do to be able to have a Wedding that is smoother than butter in the summer.

You can ask a friend not in the bridal party to help you out, OR the work smarter not harder choice is to hire a wedding planner. Surprisingly enough they are well worth the budget. And just so you know, a venue coordinator is not the same. Occasionally, but not always. They can be harder to work with simply because of job restraints.

In our next post we will dive into how a wedding planner is one of the best tools that you can utilize for your wedding day. Surprisingly no one really ever thinks about how they actually can save you both time and money; but they do.



Get your answer of: Do I really need a wedding planner?

By seeing 9 Reasons You Need A Wedding Planner

(Especially to make your wedding day smooth.)



Or Sign up to receive the entire "How to Have a Smooth Wedding Day Series" and a BONUS blank wedding itinerary form Here and Now.

If you read this but aren't sure if you really need a wedding day schedule, follow me here and see exactly "Why You Need a Wedding Day Itinerary".

- - - - - - - - - -   ~  - - - - - - - - - -

If you are serious about the quality of your wedding photographs, send me your questions, or date. I only accept 30 weddings each year.

What makes me a different kind of wedding photographer? Let me share the intimate details of how losing my job in the middle of planning my wedding, defined me as a photographer. Focused on not just stunning images, but the experience of a lifetime for you.

You know 30 weddings a year is not many. But, that is because I give more than digital downloads. I deliver an unforgettable experience. Pick the perfect wedding photography package and experience from one of my specially designed packages. 



Crystal Horton Photography

1729 Red Clover Dr., Lebanon, Ohio 45036 


[email protected]

Captivating Wedding Photography in Dayton, Cincinnati, and Ohio Tristate



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