Creating the Perfect Timeline for Your Adventure Wedding Day


One of the most daunting tasks as you plan your adventurous destination wedding can be crafting a solid timeline for the day, especially if you have never been to the country or location before.  There are tons of reasons and places to make mistakes…  So!  Today would would love to bring some points forward we take into consideration as Adventure Wedding Planners, to educate you on the process… Creating the Perfect Timeline for Your Adventure Wedding Day!  This topic goes hand in hand with last times adventure wedding post of “How to Plan an Adventurous Elopement” so take notes!

Why is having a schedule important to your adventure wedding day?

You and your soon to be will travel far and spend a fair amount of money for your wedding adventure so it is important to have a schedule in mind to maximize your photography time and daylight hours.  Noone wants to miss out or hold any regrets!  This also allows your guests (if bringing) to relax knowing what is coming next.  There is nothing worse to a adventure wedding guest than not being prepared for the days journey.

Adventure Wedding Planner Tip: Remember many mountainous places will have sunrise later and sunset sooner because the sun sits behind the mountains.  You need to calculate this into your wedding day timeline so that you are not surprised.  It’s best to consult with your adventure wedding photographer on this topic (or our team if you’ve hired us!).  Crafting a unique schedule allows the adventure wedding day to run smooth with no pressure because the expectation of how much time at each location is laid out ahead of time.

How much time for hair and makeup?

Our rule of thumb for budgeting time for hair and makeup for your adventure wedding day follows:

The Bride:

  • 90 minutes for Hair
  • 60 minutes for Makeup (including eyelashes)

Other Guests (Bridesmaids or MOB):

  • 60 minutes for Hair
  • 45 minutes for Makeup
Importance of Knowing Drive Times During your Adventurous Wedding:

Planning an adventurous wedding timeline can be tricky mainly because if you have never been to the location you can end up miscalculating drive times.  In some countries like Norway or parts of Patagonia for example, there are ferries you must take across the fjords because there are no bridges.  You need to make sure as you would plan your Patagonia or Norway wedding adventure that you do not always just follow what Google Maps, says but that you consult a wedding planner and or a local to ensure the route makes sense.

When our adventure wedding planning team begins crafting custom schedules to our clients we always try to work it in circles so you are always out seeing and doing versus having to backtrack miles.  It is truly the best utilization of time when you can create a circle schedule which allows you to explore incredible locations while getting incredible adventure wedding photos in the process.

In some cases during Iceland wedding days in summer (June-August) and in Patagonia (December-February) weddings, it’s important to also know the number of miles you will be driving to ensure you will have enough fuel for the adventure (or if you need to pack more).  Mainly because the endless amount of daylight hours can make you forget about things like that.  This is a very real thing to worry about when planning an Iceland wedding day in the highlands in anywhere in South America as fuel opportunities can be few or nonexistent.

How much time to spend at Adventure Wedding Locations?

It is better to waiver the side of having more time than less time at an adventurous wedding location than having less.  As  a team of Adventure wedding planners and photographers, our team likes to have between at least 30-60 minutes at a location with our couples.  This gives the couple at least 15 minutes of candid exploration and to really “savor” and “take in” the magnificent locations and still time to photograph them running around in it.

Note: If the adventurous elopement or wedding location requires more time because there is a hike involved build in an additional 15-30 minutes in addition to the hike time as a buffer.  This will also help if bringing guests and they are slower hikers or stop more often to take photographs, and if your destination wedding photographer see’s a beautifully lit mountain, or an adventurous film team to fly their drone, etc.

Also know that if having both an adventure wedding photography team and film team, you need to ask about how their styles will interact together.  There are some adventure wedding video teams we have worked with which shoot alongside of the adventurous wedding photographer and others who require their own separate time.  Either team may also want the option to fly their drones as well so it’s important to ask those questions before you “set” yourself on a wedding day timeline or schedule.

Different modes of transport during an adventure wedding day:

Out of the hundreds of adventure weddings our team has planned and photographed, there are many of countries which can present some unique challenges in types of transport.  Destination wedding locations like… Anywhere in South America, Norway, Iceland, Greenland, Faroe Islands, Isle of Skye, Antarctica.  The main reason you need to be aware of these locations (and a few more) is that the adventure wedding locations may require a specific type of mode of transport to get to locations that are away from the typical tourist locations.

In example, you may need to take a ferry… Which means you may need to pre-book a ferry spot for your car or ensure you can get to the location early enough to secure a spot on the open ferry that may cross every half hour.  In parts of Patagonia, there were ferries which crossed bodies of water every 30 minutes from 8am-2am whereas, some ferries in Isle of Skye only ran twice a day and had limited space for cars and trucks.  If you are not hiring an adventure wedding planner, make sure you heavily research as you build your day of wedding schedule.  Also know there were some locations in Patagonia, which would limit the amount of fuel you could have each day (leaving us stranded in some places for several days!) so you need to have a Plan A, B, and C always ready.

In Iceland when heading into the highlands via 4×4 or super jeep, you need to leave more time to deal with winter conditions (October-June) or possible breakdowns during summer (if not hiring an experienced Iceland Wedding Planner).   Norway weddings present the same type of challenges in ferries and just in general slow roads near any tourist locations.  As you plan your Norway elopement, you may also may want to have an activity which centers around a boat for fjord sightseeing.  So ensuring you build in enough time to park, walk, and load the sightseeing boat is important.

Staying Comfortable during your Adventure Wedding Schedule:

Having an adventure wedding day also means you need to plan for bathroom breaks and lunch for you and your guests.

So let’s talk bathrooms first… Various countries offer different levels of service so you may get lucky and be able to book a bus with a washroom on board or hire a separate towed porta-potty.  If needing to be more budget minded and depending on your comfort level and number of guests you may want to go au naturale in nature (but please be mindful of that specific countries rules in doing your business in the wild).

If bringing guests also be aware of the time it takes to get 1-10 or more people through a fuel station bathroom of only 2-4 stalls.  Example, if having 40 guests attend your adventure wedding, you will want to budget 30 minutes per bathroom stop.  It’s important to also know ahead of time if the location charges per person (it’s best to pay this for your guests).  During our adventurous weddings in Iceland our team actually has a porta potty as part of our super jeep team.  And the good news… it’s not ugly music festival blue, rather it a classy black porta potty which is fitted to a highland trailer, and cleaned at every stop which makes exploring all day no problem anywhere.

Now onto lunch… Typically adventurous weddings have anywhere between an 8-12 hours of seeing and doing planned so providing lunch for your guests is super duper important.  After all they have made the trek across the world to join you so the very least you can do is provide them 2 meals (lunch and dinner).  So what are your options?

If you have hired an adventure wedding planning company like ours we like to provide a hot meal option so that in case the weather is wicked, a hot lunch can act as a “pick me up” or a “second wind” for any guests losing steam.  There is a lot to be said about having a full belly and an incredible view!  This could mean grilled meats, hot dog bbq, or even hot soup for lunch.  This is usually the most expensive option which ranges around $30-45 USD per person depending on the country and staff available.

Less expensive destination wedding lunch options could be ordering a packed lunch from your wedding host hotel or a local bakery which consists of a sandwich, fruit, pasta, something sweet, and a drink.  Or building your own from the local Costco or grocery stores (this cost could be more like $14-25 USD per person, depending on how elaborate).  Either way you need to provide your guests creature comforts to ensure you are setting them up to be a successful adventure wedding guest!

Adventure Wedding Reception Schedule:

When you begin to plan out timing for your destination wedding reception schedule, it is important to remember the following approximate times:

  • Give your guests at least 60 minutes between the adventure portion and dinner to rest and refresh.
  • Hire a florist or stylist to do the decor  ahead of time (people need their rest and refresh time).
  • Guests Arrive: Give 15-30 minutes to grab a drink / get seated.
  • Plan for 30 minutes per course.
  • Do not do speeches between courses (out of respect for your catering team).
  • First Dances are always best right at the beginning or at the end of food service.

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