A wedding has many activities that make it colorful. From showing up in style to getting your venue perfect, with lively programs, photos, food, etc., there’s plenty to do. You’re only but one person, and even with a planner, things could go south. Hence, it’s important to work with a wedding day timeline for your event.
A wedding day schedule timeline will help you break tasks into bits while working within the right timeframe. By the end of the day, you’d have achieved so much with minimal stress. So to make things easier, we’ve put together a day of wedding timeline schedule to fit your wedding style.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long should your wedding be?
Weddings generally run from 4 to 5 hours, and that’s okay. It’s also fine for a wedding to last shorter than that if it’s intimate. However, weddings beyond six hours aren’t appropriate as the guests need to go back to their bases or retire to rest.
Is it rude to leave a wedding reception early?
Wedding receptions will normally wind down after three hours, and you know when to leave. But, the general etiquette says you must stay until the couple cuts the cake. After that activity, you can take your leave.
Do you open wedding gifts at the reception?
It’s fine to do so if it’s an intimate wedding with your nearest and dearest in attendance. If it’s a big party with an assortment of guests, it will be rude to open your gifts. However, whether a small or big event, keep the cards for later, to open in private.
Wedding Day Timeline Rules
A typical wedding day timeline involves working forward, from the most important to the least important. Check out this priority arrangement of rules
- Thinking about your wedding’s logistics
An important part of your wedding planning schedules is the logistics. Depending on your venues, activities, and their proximities to each other; reliable transportation must be available. Get separate transport for the couple so that they can arrive early at the ceremony, reception, and after-party if the venues differ. Help the guests navigate the city by creating alternative transport for them from all your venues to their hotels.
- Start really early
It is important to start your wedding early enough. This will help your spend more time having fun with your guests. There will also be more time for quality photos in good time with everyone, dances, and other activities. A good way to save some time is by being in bed early enough or cutting down activities at the rehearsal dinner. You can also skip clubbing and nightcaps.
- Remember your photographer and videographer
Photographers and videographers are two of the most essential vendors on your big day. They help catch and preserve beautiful memories. They would normally charge by the hour, so if you want them for a full day, choose a package that suits your wedding duration. Prioritize by doing all photoshoots immediately before the reception. If you don’t want them all through, give them time to show up. Have them work with a list for easier navigation.
- Don’t make guests wait to eat
Keep your photographs, speeches, and dances as brief as possible. Better still, you can move the meal hour up, just after the cutting of the cake and before the dance. This will give you ample time to do other activities knowing that your guests are rejuvenated.
- Sharing your wedding day timeline
The final wedding step is sending out your timeline to everyone involved in pulling your wedding off. Your vendors, maid of honor, and planners should have it two-three weeks before the wedding in case of adjustments. Make the document and simple as possible that everyone can understand.
Universal Wedding Day Timeline
Your wedding day is finally here! Who’s helping you get ready?
The wedding day schedule timeline is a whole event. From your waking up to the last dance, see potential time frames and buffers
- Getting ready
Wake up at least 5 hours before the ceremony because you and your gang will need at least three hours to get ready. Rock your party robes, enjoy some wine and music, and then get ready for the day. Take the make-up, hair, and other factors into consideration.
- Bride gets wedding attire
This will take at least twenty minutes especially if it’s custom-made. Also, put the accessories and shoes into consideration.
- Solo portraits and wedding party photos
Getting the solo portraits and posing with your wedding party will last an hour at least. This is also the time to include parents in your shots while they still look fresh.
- First look and couple of photos
You want to preserve a fresh first look with your beloved before you hit full throttle. It will take a maximum of thirty minutes because you’re already in the mood.
- Arrive at the ceremony place
If you’re getting ready at the ceremony venue, then this time can be put to other use. However, if you’d be coming to the venue, set the timer for thirty minutes together with the guests.
For a huge ceremony with rituals and readings, it will take about an hour. If it’s small and intimate, it would last for fifteen to twenty minutes.
- Family photos
This would take a minimum of one hour. Get these shots immediately after you get to the reception. Give the photographer a list to work with.
- Cocktail Hour
This is a crucial transition between the ceremony and reception. Keep the music on and the bar ready to serve guests as they arrive and mix up. Leaving the guests without music or drinks while they wait feels awkward.
This will take between two to three hours. Introduction and guests getting seated will take about twenty minutes. Speeches will take about fifteen minutes, meal and dance will take about forty minutes each. Cake cutting will take about ten minutes, while other minor activities may pop up.
- Wedding exit
Once the whole fun winds down, the exit will take about ten to twenty minutes depending on how grand. Confetti throwing, dancing, getaway car, smoke bombs may add to this time.
Wedding Weekend Timeline: Rehearsal Dinner, Wedding, and Brunch
The best way to mitigate stress for your big day is by breaking your tasks into bits. From Thursday to Sunday of a traditional wedding, see the timeline schedule sample.
Check-in is by 1 pm. Let the vendors who will set up bring in their work tools. Musicians or DJs, lighting, etc.
- The wedding rehearsal will start at 5 pm.
- The dinner will begin by 7 pm and end by 10 pm.
- The beautician arrives at the venue for hair and makeup by 9 am
- The photographer and videographer arrives venue by 12 pm
- Bride puts on her wedding dress by 12:15 wedding dress
- The couple’s first look and photos until 2:45 pm
- The bridal party and family shots happen by 3 pm
- Movement of couple and wedding party from hotels to venues by 3:30 pm
- The entourage gets to the venue by 4:30 pm
- Ceremony musicians arrive, begin to play, ceremony starts 4:30 pm
- The ceremony ends and cocktails begin by 5:30 pm
- The cocktails end and guests get seated by 7 pm
- Introduction and dances by 7:10 pm
- The first meal is rolled out by 7:40 pm
- Parents give the welcome speech by 8 pm
- The second-course meal is served by 8:15 pm
- Toasts and parents dance by 8:45 pm
- The couple cuts the cake by 9:30 pm
- The last dance lasts till 10:30 pm
- Guests and couple exit by 10:45 pm
- Guests arrive by 11 am
- Brunch is served by 12:30 pm
- Guests leave by 2 pm
Wedding Timeline Tips
For a seamless wedding day, these are some tips that come in handy when creating your day of wedding schedule.
- Deliver your schedule to your vendors, parents, planner, maid of honor, and other services two to three weeks before the day. This gives ample room for adjustments, additions, and corrections.
- Make it as simple as possible for everyone to understand so information isn’t mixed up
- Create miscellaneous time remnants in cases of unforeseen circumstances. For instance, you may encounter traffic on your way to the venue.
- If there are items to be delivered to your venue, incorporate them into your timeline schedule.
- If you’re not working with a planner for your wedding, have reliable emergency contacts to keep things grounded
Also, take our beautiful complete wedding day timeline infographic, which will be helpful during wedding planning:
The wedding day timeline is a necessity for all wedding preparation. It is the perfect way to get through the day without looking harassed. We’ve put together a comprehensive day of the wedding schedule until the weekend to guide you. Let it inspire you to create a schedule that will give you time to enjoy your big day.