The Cheers Babe Blog

Wedding Timeline Mistakes To Avoid

So you’re planning a wedding and it’s time to start the official wedding timeline. But where do you start? Creating a wedding timeline may seem intimidating at first, but as long as we budget enough time for each piece of your day, we’ll be golden.

Most of the time, the first draft of your timeline will be created by your wedding planner, so this might not even be on your radar. After the planner begins the first draft of the timeline, they will send it out to your major vendors (like your photographer – moi!) to make any adjustments based on how they work best. Even if your wedding planner will be the one handling the timeline creation, it’s helpful to have a few non-negotiables on the timing of the day so that your photos can look their best.

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Personally, I find that choosing the right ceremony time is the first crucial step to create a wedding timeline. One of the biggest mistakes I see couples make is scheduling the ceremony too late in the day and sending out their invitations before they are able to change it! If your ceremony is too late in the day, you may run out of daylight for all of the photos you need to capture after the ceremony. 

A great rule of thumb for choosing a ceremony time is to schedule it about 2 hours before the official sunset time. To find the official sunset time for your wedding day, simply google “sunset time + city name, state + date”. This means if the sunset happens at 7:00pm on your wedding day, you can schedule to have the ceremony around 5pm. 

Since your next step might be sending out invitations soon, I recommend leaving some buffer time for any late guest arrivals. If you’re having a 5pm ceremony, your invites should say that the ceremony begins at 4:30pm. We all have a few friends or family members that are notoriously late to things and you don’t want anyone to miss this big moment!


Another wedding timeline mistake I see a lot is hair and makeup running behind or not being completed early enough. Since hair & makeup is usually the first thing you do on wedding day, this mistake can start you off on the wrong foot and can impact the rest of your day. The last thing we want is to have you feeling stressed and behind schedule all day! We don’t want to rush, we want to allow you to savor every moment on wedding day, babes!

There are a few ways to avoid this problem. The first is to be sure you do a hair & makeup trial with your beauty artist before your wedding day. That way, you can be confident that you are going to look just like you’ve imagined and no hair or makeup needs to be redone or changed at the last minute and in a rush. 

The next mistake I see people make is simply starting hair & makeup too late in the morning. Professional makeup and hair takes a lot longer than when you do your own everyday makeup, so your artist can help you budget the correct amount of time based on how many services they are providing to you and your crew. 
Let’s get into the nitty gritty of how to time your wedding hair & makeup: You may think you just need to save a few minutes to get dressed before you begin photos and as long as your hair and makeup is done by then, you’ll be good. Wrong, grasshopper! It’s always safest to reserve about 30 minutes to get dressed on wedding day. More often than not, wedding clothes are a little more fussy than our everyday ~lewks~, so build in a buffer for things like fashion tape, cutting off tags and a beautiful solo portrait. Build in an additional 15 minutes if you’d like to take a robe or pj’s photo with your wedding party crew!! Lastly, build in another 15-30 minutes for touch-ups on the whole crew’s hair & makeup. All these tips combined, means you should have your hair & makeup finished at least one hour before it’s time to start either the first look or the wedding party photos!


Most couples make the decision of whether to do a first look based solely on emotions and hopes. That’s not necessarily wrong, but I want you to know how much a first look (or lack thereof) will impact the way you experience your wedding day.

Quickly, if you don’t know what a first look is, it’s exactly what it sounds like: the first time you and your partner see each other on your wedding day. Traditionally, the first time you see each other is walking down the aisle, however modern weddings have found a helpful hack called the first look to give you a moment to see each other before the ceremony. It’s usually done in a quiet, secluded area of your venue so the two of you can have a special, private moment together.

Obviously, this is an emotional decision, I don’t deny that! Your wedding day should feel exactly the way you want it to and I never argue when my couples choose the traditional route. All I’m saying is that I want you to have all the information before making your decision.

Thinking about it from a photos perspective can show you what a big difference a first look can make. If you choose not to see each other before the ceremony, you have a big list of photos to complete after the ceremony. From wedding party photos to family photos to sunset photos of the two of you, this can easily add up to 90 min or even 2 hours of photos after the ceremony. How is that going to work when most post-ceremony cocktail hours are just an hour!? Not only will you arrive later to your reception, it’s a marathon of photos, so you may enter the reception feeling kind of exhausted.

On the flip side, if you choose to do a first look, we can accomplish a lot of those photos before the ceremony even begins! Since you’ve already seen each other, we can snap all of your wedding party photos … and believe me, your friends will be thrilled that they actually get to join cocktail hour after the ceremony instead of taking photos! On top of those photos, you can even do all of your immediate family photos. Just remember to wrap all of the pre-ceremony photos about 30 minutes to stay out of sight as your guests arrive. After the ceremony, the only photos you’ll need to complete are a few extended family photos (if you want those) and sunset photos of the two of you. No more marathon photo session and BONUS: you might even get to join the tail end of cocktail hour. Cheers to that!


If you would like more timeline help, download my sample wedding timeline below! For other planning resources click here.

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