Wedding Timeline Assistance Guide

How Do you want your wedding day to flow?

Part 2

Give yourselves the time you need

Below are some outlines of a few different wedding day itineraries but these may not fit you as a couple. Industry standards don’t need to define your wedding day, it’s YOUR day. Take these outlines with a grain of salt, but do know your photographer and videographer need time with you to capture what you’d like on your day. Plan what works best for you and who you are as a couple. Enjoy it with the people you are surrounding yourselves with as you celebrate your big day.

Wedding timeline examples:

Saturday Wedding

9:00 a.m Hair and makeup arrive on-site

12:00 p.m. Bride begins hair and makeup

1:00 p.m. Photographer and videographer arrive on-site

2:15 p.m. Bride gets into her wedding dress (Photos and video)

2:40 p.m. Bride and groom first look and photos

3:30 p.m. Bridal party and family shots

3:30 p.m. Shuttles from prep location begin

4:30 p.m. Wedding party arrives on-site

4:30 p.m. Ceremony musicians arrive and begin to play

5:00 p.m. Wedding invitation start time/DJ or reception band to arrive on-site

6:00 p.m. Ceremony ends/cocktails begin (This is 1 hour for photos and video of bridal party, family, etc.)

7:00 p.m. Cocktails ends and guests are ushered into the reception

7:20 p.m. Introduction and first dance—guests asked to join after 

7:45 p.m. Guests take their seats and first course is served

8:00 p.m. Welcome speech from parents

8:10 p.m. First course cleared and main course set

8:45 p.m. Toasts from maid of honor and best man

9:00 p.m. Parent dances—father/daughter and mother/son dances

10:30 p.m. Cake cutting

10:30 p.m. First shuttle leaves for hotels

11:30 p.m. Second shuttle leaves for hotels

Saturday Wedding 2

7:15 a.m. Hair and makeup artists arrive

8:00 a.m. Hair and makeup appointment begin

9:00 a.m. Food and drinks delivered to the bride's room

10:00 a.m. Wedding dress steam and prepped/photographer arrives for getting-ready photos

11:15 a.m. Bridesmaids finished getting ready

11:45 a.m. Bride puts on dress (photos)

12:00 p.m. Bride/father first look (photos)

12:15 p.m. Bride and bridesmaid portraits

12:30 p.m. Ceremony setup

1:30 p.m. Pre-ceremony music begins

1:15 p.m. Family photos

1:30 p.m. Wedding party departs for ceremony

1:35 p.m. Guests arrive at the ceremony

1:50 p.m. Bride arrives with parents at the ceremony

2:00 p.m. Ceremony begins

3:00 p.m. Ceremony ends

3:10 p.m. Transportation for guests from the ceremony to reception

3:30 p.m. Couple photos at the ceremony location

4:00 p.m. Cocktail hour begins

5:30 p.m. Reception begins

6:00 p.m. Couple introduction and first dance

6:25 p.m. Father of the bride speech

6:30 p.m. Dinner first course served

6:50 p.m. Best man and maid of honor speeches

7:25 p.m. Dinner second course served

7:45 p.m. Parent dances

8:00 p.m. Dancing begins

8:30 p.m. Dessert course served

9:30 p.m. Cake cutting

11:30 p.m. Reception ends (Grand Exit)

Friday: Wedding

10:00 a.m. Setup for hair appointments

10:30 a.m. Hair appointments begin

11:00 a.m. Food delivered to bride's room/lighting setup

12:00 p.m. Makeup appointments begin/chair covers and linens arrive

12:30 p.m. Food delivered to groom's room

1:30 p.m. Bride gets makeup done

2:00 p.m. Ceremony setup begins

2:30 p.m. Photographer arrives to take getting-ready photos

4:15 p.m. Officiant arrives

4:20 p.m. Groomsmen arrive to start ushering guests

4:30 p.m. Guests start to arrive to the ceremony

4:55 p.m. Music begins

5:00 p.m. Ceremony begins

5:25 p.m. Ceremony ends

5:30 p.m. Cocktail hour begins

5:30–6 p.m. Couple take photos with wedding party and family

6–6:30 p.m. Couple takes photos alone

6:30 p.m. Guests are asked to take their seats in the dining room

6:45 p.m. Bridal party and groom are announced

7:00 p.m. First course of dinner is served

7:20 p.m. Maid of honor toast

7:50 p.m. Best man toast

8:30 p.m. Dancing begins

9:15 p.m. Bride tosses bouquet

12:00 p.m. Reception ends

The Reception

After the ceremony, the photographer will finish their time with the bride and groom for portraits, making their way back to the reception hall. During this time serve appetizers to your guests at the reception hall. At this point some couples decide to have an entrance announcing the bridal party and the newly married couple.

From the entrance some couples opt for dinner while other couples decide to move on to the first dances. If appetizers are served it buys you more time for scheduling in other activities. The first dances are fairly quick and you already have the attention of the room so it’s a perfect segue to the next activity.

Before things get started and dinner is served a speech is made by the father of the bride and/or you welcoming everyone and thanking them for being there. If you’re religious a prayer comes after the speech before dinner.

Remember food is a distraction and it will always take more time than you think. People aren’t going to eat as fast as you put on your timeline but you can make sure to set the time for tables to get up and go grab a plate. Make sure the time for dinner flows well with the events of your reception. 

A lot of couples move from dinner into toasts, grabbing the attention of the room so once the toasts are finished you can move on to the cake cutting with all eyes still on you.

More and more couples seem to opt out of traditional events but you do you. Some examples of those events are the garter and bouquet toss, the shoe game, anniversary dance, etc. DJs will help in announcing and keeping flow to your evening. A DJ can make things great or kinda awkward if they’re not experienced. No matter what vendor you work with make sure it’s someone you mesh well with and understands what you want.

Then dance the night away!

Tip: Having a nice blend of music options can help get some of the more shy people up and dancing and getting the older generation of parents and grandparents to join in as well. Know the crowd you’re hosting.

Wedding Exit/send off ideas

If you just plan to party all night and don’t have your photographer that long you can do fake send off with you and your bridal party or even with all of your guests. Make sure you choose the exit that matches you as a couple and your personality. It can be a cool way to express yourselves and the start of your life together.

  • Sparklers
  • Confetti
  • Eucalyptus leaves (Eco-friendly)
  • Bubbles
  • Jingle bell wands
  • Smoke bombs
  • Glow sticks 
  • Paper lanterns
  • Classic car
  • Motorcycle and side car
  • Paper planes
  • Trolley
  • Boat
  • Hot air ballon