A well-planned wedding day timeline ensures the day is smooth and pleasurable, flowing naturally from one function to the next. Here’s how to plan your wedding day in a foolproof way
Planning is the key to a simple successful timeline for the wedding day. When the big day finally comes, you can keep everyone and everything on schedule if you create an organized and complete timeline for the wedding day.
A carefully organized timeline for your wedding day will reduce anxiety and ensure clarity for all involved parties, including your photographer, makeup team, and bridesmaids. We’ve put together some planning advice and helpful templates to help you nail your wedding day timeline to avoid any scheduling errors.
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Tips for nailing your wedding day timeline:
Start as early as possible. It is important that you begin early! Starting a little earlier than you may have planned will offer you more time to relax and enjoy yourself because it will already be a long day. You’ll have more time during the day to take pictures and enjoy some alone time with your spouse.
Consider the logistics. Each couple can easily customize the schedules for every moment on your wedding day timeline, but the samples below are the perfect place to start. Are the ceremony and reception taking place somewhere different? Which time of day—afternoon or day—will your wedding be? Do you want to take a first look? The logistics involved will all impact your schedule.
Don’t keep guests waiting. Keep in mind that you don’t want to keep your guests waiting around for a long duration of time while planning your wedding day timeline. Plan entertainment for visitors to keep them busy between the ceremony and reception, and keep speeches short and sweet.
Share your schedule with suppliers. A copy of your timetable should be shared with your venue, the bridal party, and all of your suppliers at least one month before the wedding, once you’ve finalized it and are satisfied with the timetable. This will guarantee that everything goes smoothly on the big day and help to get everyone on the same page.
Remember your photographer and videographer. To ensure they know where to be and when to be there, your wedding photographer and videographer will need a complete timetable of your wedding day. Finally, the time frame of your event will impact the cost of your photography and videography, so if you want to avoid paying for full-day coverage, we suggest choosing this decision as soon as possible. How to create the perfect timing for your wedding day timeline.
How to allocate time to each wedding activity
Make sure you are aware of how long each task normally takes on a wedding day before you create a set timeline. We’ve split down how much of time is allotted to each event, from early preparation to the grand exit, to make things easier for you. Remember that these time slots are merely suggestions and can be adjusted to suit your own timetable.
Getting ready — 2 to 3 hours. The pre-wedding beauty routine, which includes hair, makeup, dressing, and the crucial getting-ready photos, should take two to three hours. Make sure to allow extra time for this step if your wedding party is larger than average since most makeup and hair artists need 30 minutes for each bridesmaid’s hair and makeup.
Pre-ceremony photos — 1 to 1.5 hours.
Traveling to the ceremony. Set out at least an hour after getting ready to take both group and single wedding party photos as well as solo portraits. We advise providing an extra half an hour for the first look if you plan to have one with your spouse before the wedding.
Ceremony — 30 minutes to 1 hour. Depending on where you’re getting ready and how far away the venue is, this stage will be different. This time period won’t be needed if you plan to get ready at the ceremony site; but, if you’re traveling there, make sure that you allow in extra time for any traffic jams.
Family portraits/cocktail hour — 1 hour. Another period of time that changes based on the couple is the ceremony. While religious ceremonies frequently last more than an hour, nonreligious ceremonies might last as little as twenty minutes.
Wedding party entrance and welcome toasts — 15 minutes. After everyone has taken a seat at the reception, give the couple and bridal party about fifteen minutes to make their big entry, and lead to in the welcoming speech.
Wedding party and family speeches — 30 minutes. Set aside around thirty minutes for words between the entree and main food courses. We would advise allowing the parents of the couple, the maid of honor, and the best man to give speeches, and asking them to limit their toasts to a maximum of five minutes each.
First dance — 10 minutes. Following the clearing of the main course, go to the dance floor for your first dance, which will start the night! If you’re doing parent dances, we suggest providing dessert between the first dance bracket and the dance.
Parent dances — 10 minutes. If you decide to perform the parent dances, you’ll need to set away at least 10 minutes for them, even though they are short and lovely. They are a lovely, emotional part of the wedding ceremony.
Reception exit — 20 minutes. Play your wedding exit music as you step outdoors for your grand exit as the festivities come to an end. To cap off your wedding day on a memorable note, ask your MC or organizers to get together your guests outside the venue for an amazing farewell. We love this set of wedding departing pictures with fireworks, sparklers, and even rockets!
Sample wedding day timeline
We’ve created an example plan for a wedding day with the ceremony starting at 5 p.m. based on the time blocks mentioned above. Make your own timeline using the sample below, but don’t forget to modify it as needed because each wedding day will be a little bit different!
- 9 am — Start hair and makeup
- 12 pm — Put on your wedding dress
- 11 am — Groom and groomsmen gather to get ready
- 12.30 pm — First look photos (if you’re doing them!)
- 1 pm – Couple’s portraits
- 1.30 pm — Wedding party photos and family photos
- 2 pm — Allow for travel time to the ceremony and any last-minute photos
- 3.30 pm— Guests begin to arrive for the ceremony
- 4 pm— Ceremony begins
- 4.45 pm — Ceremony finishes, and the photographer might jump in to get a group shot with all of your guests
- 5 pm — Guests enjoy cocktail hour.
- 6 pm — the wedding party entrance, cake cutting, and welcome toast
- 6.15 pm — Serve entrée
- 6.45 pm — Wedding party and family speeches
- 7.15 pm — Serve the main course
- 8 pm — First dance, followed by dance bracket
- 8.45 pm — Serve dessert
- 9.15 pm — Parent dances, followed by dance bracket
- 10.15 pm — Bouquet toss (if you’re doing one!)
- 10.30 pm — Last call for drinks
- 10.45 pm — Reception wraps up, and guests head outside for your send-off
- 11 pm — Guests leave