Create a timeline for your wedding in Italy

Wedding in Certaldo Alto

Once you find a venue for a wedding in Italy and the date is confirmed at some point you will need to create a timeline, schedule or order of events for the wedding day or days. Here I am only going to refer to the wedding day because that it usually the more complex day with more moving parts to manage and organise. Anyway, these ideas are easily applicable to the other days too.

I believe that the photography of your wedding is extremely important. Actually, I think it is the most important part of your day so I often base my schedules around what will work well for the photography. You will spend a lot of money on the entire event so it is paramount that the photographic coverage is top notch. After all, other than your memories the photos are going to be the only thing that you have left after your wedding.

Of course, there is no “one size fits all” solution when trying to create a timeline for your day. However, I am going to base my example on one of the more common scenarios.

So, let’s make a few assumptions to create our hypothesis.

You are having a destination wedding in Italy and we hope that it is going to be a sunny day. In many cases, you will also be eating outside. You want a symbolic blessing ceremony outdoors in a garden with lovely views. Let’s assume that you want to have a wedding in the afternoon, then have cocktails and aperitifs followed by dinner. If it is warm enough to have a reception outdoors then you will probably want to enjoy the sunset before dining under the stars. If you are dining indoors and it is not raining then you will probably want to spend the aperitifs and cocktails outside and then head inside when it is getting dark.

So, the first thing you are going to want to do is to find out what time the sun will set on your wedding day. You can check the sunset time on Google very quickly by making a quick search or visiting timeanddate.com.

So you make a search like ”sunset time Florence Italy 07 August 20XX”, and the answer is 8.30pm.

Now we have the time that the sun will set we can fill in the other times around this.

Love in the fields

20.30 / 8.30pm – Sunset

You are having a destination wedding so none of your guests are going to be in a rush to go home or get away. After all, you are not having a tedious repetitive wedding. Your wedding is unique, exciting, you have your friends and family there to celebrate your union with the person you love, you’re officially becoming a team and you are organising a lovely day to celebrate this fact. You have given your guests an excuse to take a vacation and on one or more days you are going to have a party. Your wedding is going to be very enjoyable and so why on earth would you want to rush it. I go to weddings sometimes where the cocktails last only an hour and then everyone sits down to eat. Why the hurry, let people take their time and enjoy themselves.

So, here is what I propose:

After your wedding, you are going to exit the ceremony and maybe people will throw petals or rice and then you are going to go straight to the aperitifs/cocktails. You are now married and I am sure you would like a drink, whether it be alcoholic or just water to hydrate, you will need it. Everyone follows you and the celebrations start. Now you are married your family, friends and guests will all want to congratulate you and I am sure they would also like some food and drink.

You are getting married in Italy. You are having a destination wedding in a country that is world famous for its gastronomic delights. For many people, the food and wine in Italy are the best in the world. Therefore, how about I leave you for 60 minutes to socialize and spend time with everyone?

You can enjoy their company, chat, laugh, sample all the lovely food, have a drink, relax and above all savour that part of the day, and why not seeing as you are paying for it. Whilst you do this I will take photos of the area, that location, the guests, and yourselves talking and having a great time. This is all candid, spontaneous photography so you won’t have to think about the photographer at all.

Next, I would like to take your family/group photos. We will have discussed this in advance so we will know how long we need to take them all, but on average it takes about 15 mins. Assume that you have a list of 10-12 group shots to capture between parents, siblings, bridal party and so on. I like to allocate about 60-90 seconds for each group hence we need 15 mins.

Lake Como wedding

Once the group photos are complete I suggest that we go and take your photos. We leave everyone enjoying the food and drink and each other’s company. By this time it is getting closer to sunset so they are also enjoying that, everyone enjoys watching a lovely sunset!

I also enjoy taking your photos at sunset, the light is softer and more romantic, if it is a very hot day the temperature is surely a little cooler now, and I am sure you are feeling relaxed and super happy as you are now married and everyone is having a wonderful time. This is the best time of day for your wedding photos.

I am going to assume that we will go for 45 mins for your photos. Sure we can adjust this and do more or less based on your preferences. I can take lots of great photos of you in one location without going anywhere but what takes time is actually changing locations and the scenery around you as we have to move, you are wearing a wedding dress so you may not be able to move as quickly as you normally would. 45 mins is a nice amount of time to get a good selection of shots in a few locations.

So we have 60 mins socializing, 15 mins of groups and 45 mins for your photos, in total: 2 hours.

So calculating everything backward so far we have:

20.30 – Sunset
18.30 – Start the cocktails (lasts 2 hours)
18.00 – Ceremony (lasts approx 25 mins)

We can flip this around now so that it makes sense:

18.00 – Ceremony (lasts approx 25 mins)

If you are having a church wedding or a longer ceremony you just need to adjust these times to allow for a longer ceremony and also allocate any time required to go to the church or move around if your event takes places in different locations.


18.00 – Start the cocktails (lasts 2 hours)

For me, 2 hours is a good amount of time to work with photographically speaking. Sure if you have a very small wedding you could get away with 90 mins but I still don’t see the point in rushing. Your wedding day passes by in a flash so let’s not make it go even quicker!

If you want to take things even easier you could allow 2 hours 30 minutes hours for the aperitifs. I see quite a few couples doing this in the summer as in May, June and July the days are very long and there is light until very late. This will give you an extra 30 minutes to allocate to what you want, you can spend more time drinking and talking or more with the photos or however you prefer.

20.30 – Sunset / Dinner starts

The vineyards of Vignamaggio

Villa Vignamaggio wedding

Whilst I am taking your photos at sunset you can have your wedding planner or an usher start to ask the guests to make their way to the reception area about 10 mins before the agreed dinner time. It can take a while for a group of people to move from one place to another and some may need to gather their belongings or go to the bathroom; if you have a seating plan they will also need to look at this and find their seat. Depending on how many guests you have you may wish to adjust the time needed for them to transition from the aperitifs to the dinner reception.

By doing this once we finish with the sunset photos we can walk to the reception area and you can make an official entrance into dinner. You could even have an announcement and everyone can be upstanding for the new Mr and Mrs…

If you require 5 mins to freshen up your makeup before dinner we can get you back to 5 mins before dinner to allow for this.

Borgo Santo Pietro wedding

Dinner and Reception Schedule

You also need to allocate time for speeches and decide if they will be at the beginning, in between each course or at the end. I prefer to have them at the beginning, I also think it is nicer for those that have to speak as at least once they have spoken they can then relax. It also makes life easier for the caterers as once the speeches are finished they can then start the dinner service without interruptions.

Remember that before the speeches can start everyone needs to be served some prosecco or similar so that they have a glass charged and ready for any toasts. If you have one hundred guests it can take 10mins to serve a glass of prosecco to everyone.

Calculate about 30 mins per course. This is on average the time it will take to serve a plate of food to everyone, give them chance to eat it, and then clear the plates away. Based upon the menu you chose you will know how many courses you have and there how long it will take for dinner.

18.00 – Ceremony (lasts approx 25 mins)
18.25 – Exit the ceremony (petal/rice throwing)
18.30 – Start the cocktails (lasts 2 hours)
19.30 – Family/Group photos
19.45 – Couple Photo session
20.20 – Guests are invited to dinner
20.30 – Bride and Groom enter dinner
20.35 – Speeches, Dinner follow
22.45 – Cake cutting
22.50 – First dance/dances
23.00 – Party follows.

So we have a timeline for your wedding and all the events that will follow afterward but what about before the ceremony.

Il Borro Wedding

Il Borro Wedding

You will need to allocate time to have hair and make up for yourself and for the bridesmaids and anyone else. Just ask your stylist how long they require per person and if you have many people requiring styling then they will need a team. These times are fairly easy to understand and estimate.

If you are having a first look before your wedding then you will need to also allow time for this part but you can do that with your photographer.

Timeline for your wedding in Italy

14.45 – Bridal Hair and makeup
16.45 – Hair and makeup finished
17.00 – Bride and groom are getting ready.
17.50 – Guests are seated
18.00 – Ceremony (lasts approx 25 mins)
18.25 – Exit the ceremony (petal/rice throwing)
18.30 – Start the cocktails (lasts 2 hours)
19.30 – Family/Group photos
19.45 – Couple Photo session
20.20 – Guests are invited to dinner
20.30 – Bride and Groom enter dinner
20.35 – Speeches, Dinner follow
22.45 – Cake cutting
22.50 – First dance/dances
23.00 – Party follows.

So there it is, a simple way to create a timeline for your wedding day. Now you have some ideas I am sure it will be much easier for you to create a timeline based on your own preferences and desires. I like to plan and make schedules around the photography and I like to work with clients that give importance to the photos, of course, your event may prioritize some other aspect of the day and therefore the times may vary accordingly.

Avatar for Jules Bower

Jules Bower

Italian and destination wedding photographer Jules Bower photographs weddings in Italy, Europe and worldwide. His unique approach and expertise arrive from not only an obsession with photography but also because he owned one of the first and most successful wedding planning agencies in Italy.

Leave a comment:

  

“Beauty exists everywhere. It’s my job to find it.”