For most of the wedding organizers creating a wedding timeline helps them to control everything that is going on. And boy, a wedding day can be quite a mess if you don’t know how much time you have for certain things.
You know those weddings where things are magically organized, everything is flawless, and people know where to stand? The reason is the timeline. Someone behind the scene is arranging the thighs to be flawless for all the guests and the happy couple.
So, is your wedding day coming soon? Let’s see how you can create a timeline, what to include, and how to create different timelines for different seasons and occasions.
What is a Wedding Day Timeline?
A wedding timeline shows individual events before, during, and after the reception and how long they should last. For instance, how much time you have for a hairstyle and makeup, then how long should reception last, and then when you should leave the party for your honeymoon.
It is practically a guideline for both you and your guests. You don’t need to follow it strictly. If your guests are enjoying a cocktail hour, you surely won’t cut it off, unless they will be late for the ceremony, which is important, right?
Wedding Day Timeline Guide (Examples)
Use these examples as a guideline for your own wedding. You can simply change the time, shorten, or prolong some events.
1 p.m. Photographer Arrives
You should arrange for your photographer to arrive a bit earlier. He or she should be there 30 minutes before the bride is ready. During the time of preparations, the photographer can catch details – the gorgeous lace wedding dress, couple’s rings, invitations, decor, etc.
1:15 p.m. Bridesmaids Ready, Bride’s Hair and Makeup Done
The bridesmaids as well as the mother of the bride should be ready before the bride. They should be done with everything while the bride’s makeup and hair are in progress. Photographers can record moments while everyone is getting ready.
1:30 p.m. Bride Gets Dressed
Those moments of zipping the bride’s dress and bridesmaid helping her are priceless. They should definitely be captured on camera.
1:45 – 2:30 p.m. Bride Portraits, Bridesmaids Photoshoot with Bride
The photographer should capture the bride first, her portrait, and then make a photoshoot with her bridesmaids. These photos should be funny, witty, interesting, so they can stay forever in your memory. Get props such as champagne, flutes, confetti.
2:30 – 3:10 p.m. First Look and Couple’s Portraits
If a couple opts for a first look, they should have that time for themselves, as well as for portraits. Think about that window of time you need to do a little photoshoot.
3:10 – 4:30 p.m. Wedding Start, Family Photos, Begining of the Ceremony
During this time your family should be all dresses up, meeting with other guests in the lobby of the venue. The photographer should take photos of everything that is going on, family portraits, and moments while guests are arriving.
Plan your wedding to start 15 minutes later than the invitation time. During that time, all the guests will arrive and no seat will stay empty because of a traffic jam.
4:45 – 5:15 p.m. Ceremony
This time can vary since ceremonies can be from 20 minutes to an hour long.
5:15 – 6:15 – Cocktail Hour and Family Photos
During this time window, some couples run to make post-ceremony photos, while others stay to be photographed with their family and friends.
6:15 – 6:45 – Guests Invited to Dinner, First Dance, and Toasts
Guests should enter the dinner venue. You can combine both entrance and first dance. Some couples opt for one song, some like to set a dance set of a few songs in a row.
Welcome toasts are usually offered by parents and newlyweds. You should set some time for that since in some traditions couples need to toast with every guest. The father of the bride should speak first, then other guests and family members if arranged.
6:45 – 8:45 p.m. Dinner Time
During this time, you can organize parents’ dances, more toasts, and most importantly you need to cut the cake with your partner.
8:45 p.m. Dance Time!
Dance time with all your guests is so nice and relaxing. Almost everything is over, you don’t need to worry about anything, so prepare your dance shoes and enjoy in good music, drinks, and dance.
10:30 The End
Arrange a spectacular exit with confetti and sparkles. You can say the last goodbye to your guests with some special song. Then grab your loved one by the hand and leave the party.
Think About Your Wedding Unique Things
When you begin to create your timeline, think about the unique things about your wedding. Is there anything that requires more time? Do you have any special wishes? Some brides want more time for their makeup and hair, while others want enormous firework at the end of the night. All these things should be precisely shown on your timeline. Otherwise, you can get pretty lost with time.
Sample Wedding Day Timeline (Different Occasions and Seasons)
Here is a simple wedding timeline for an afternoon wedding. It starts at 10 a.m. with preparations and finishes at 10 p.m. This kind of timeline is common and can be used for spring and summer weddings.
10:00 a.m. Hair and makeup
12:00–2:00 p.m. Vendors arrive for setup
2:00 p.m. Wedding party and family photos start
3:30 p.m. Room ready for guests, Pre-ceremony music starts
4:00 p.m. Invite time
4:15 p.m. Ceremony starts
4:35 p.m. Ceremony ends
4:40 p.m. Cocktail hour starts
5:45 p.m. Move guests into dinner
6:00 p.m. Buffet opens, Dinner served
6:20 p.m. All guests have food
6:30 p.m. Toasts
7:30 p.m. First dance
7:35 p.m. General dancing music starts
8:00 p.m. Second set of pre-sunset portraits
8:26 p.m. Sunset
8:30 p.m. Dessert
9:45 p.m. Last call
9:55 p.m. Music off
10:00 p.m. Guests depart
11:00 p.m. All staff departs