Wedding Timeline Tips

A well designed timeline is key to giving your wedding guests a great experience. Schedule things in the wrong order and you could have delays that throw off your day, cranky guests waiting to eat, or an empty dance floor. 

And believe us. Nobody wants a hangry guest.

But worry not! We’ve seen what works and what doesn’t. Between your planner, your photographer, and our team at 48 Fields, we can help you get it right. With a carefully crafted wedding timeline, you’ll be able to enjoy your day stress-free!

bride and groom reception barn - 48 Fields Wedding Barn | Leesburg VA


Your planner will be your wedding timeline master, but be sure to get input from your photographer. An experienced photographer can tell you how long they need for each part of the day. For instance, allow at least 30 minutes before you start getting ready for your photographer to take detail shots. Formal photos can take up to 90 minutes, especially if you have a large family or bridal party, or if there are kids or pets involved.

We also recommend scheduling time for your photographer to capture all the details of your reception space before your guests get there. And if the timing works, tag along! It’s so special for you to see your vision brought to life, and photos of couples alone in their reception space are some of our favorites!

wedding timeline first look - 48 Fields Wedding Barn | Leesburg VA


While some couples choose not to see each other until they walk down the aisle, many opt for what we call a “first look,” where they see each other before the ceremony. This gives you and your partner precious time together before you walk down the aisle. And as a bonus, it makes it possible for you to take most of your portraits before the ceremony so your guests don’t have to wait for you to take photos after. It also makes it much more likely that you’ll actually get to eat the food you chose for your cocktail hour!

If you do decide to take photos before the ceremony, be sure to wrap them up with at least 30 minutes to spare before the ceremony so you can get tucked away before your guests arrive.

bride walking down aisle - 48 Fields Wedding Barn | Leesburg VA


Large groups of people move slowly, even if they are just going upstairs. Leave more time than you think you will need for everyone to move from place to place. This includes starting your ceremony a few minutes late to avoid guests arriving while you’re walking down the aisle.

Consider what else might cause delays. Be sure to leave buffer time throughout your day for things like bustling your dress before the reception or organizing guests for your grand exit.

wedding table salad - 48 Fields Wedding Barn | Leesburg VA


Fed guests are happy guests. You may be distracted by your bliss, but your guests will notice if they have to sit through long speeches before dinner. Keep everyone happy by holding speeches and other reception activities until during or after dinner. We recommend allowing an hour in your wedding timeline for everyone to eat.

bride and groom portraits golden hour - 48 Fields Wedding Barn | Leesburg VA


Consider what time the sun will set on your wedding day and set aside time for golden hour portraits. The hour before sunset, known as the golden hour, offers some of the most beautiful light of the day for photography. It’s the perfect opportunity to sneak away from your reception for some gorgeous photos with your new spouse!

wedding guests dancing - 48 Fields Wedding Barn | Leesburg VA


Consult your DJ for advice on your reception timeline. A seasoned DJ will know the best way to keep spirits up and the dance floor full!

This may seem like a lot to consider, but your careful planning is sure to pay off. With the help of our vendor team, we will make sure your day goes off without a hitch!

48 Fields Farm is a Leesburg VA barn wedding venue for celebrations of all sizes.
Our countryside barn and vast fields are peacefully set in the heart of Northern Virginia wine country.

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