A Tale of Two Wedding Timelines // Part One

A bride’s best friend is a good wedding timeline. Without it you might not leave enough time for some of the most important moments of the day. Ask any event planner or photographer. They live and die by a perfectly planned out day. Now, your planning might be on point but that doesn’t mean that little things won’t arise. Leaving room for ‘just-in-case’ issues is a great idea. Here are two popular wedding day timelines. Hopefully we can alleviate some stress by helping you come up with yours.

Typical Wedding Day Timeline
Your day will always revolve around the ceremony. The beginning of the nuptials will dictate how the rest of the day will unfold – both before and after. Most church weddings will take place at either 1:00 pm or 3:00 pm. From here we can work backwards to the beginning of your day. Hair and makeup for the bride should take about 30 to 45 minutes for each (depending on complexity of style or detail in makeup). Bridesmaids will take a little less time. Most stylists and makeup artists will suggest having the bride go last for hair and makeup so that she is the freshest. But this may be different depending on the schedule you come up with when you talk to your team. You should aim to get into your dress about an hour before the ceremony. This allows for you to not feel rushed or make anyone feel too pressured while lacing up the dress. Next you will double check for last minute details and then head out the door. Make sure you leave room for traveling time to get to the ceremony. Typically we would suggest about 30 minutes. This allows for some ‘just-in-case’ time for things like unplanned road construction or traffic.

A ceremony will take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour or more (depending on if you are having a religious ceremony or a civil one). Next you will have your receiving line and then family photos. These next two events can take up to an hour of time. If you are not having a receiving line or you have a really large family the time frame on this area of the day may be adjusted. Most professional photographers will be happy with whatever time frame you give them for the ‘formal’ portraits of the day (the time with the wedding party and then just the two of you). However, at least two hours in between the end of the ceremony and when you want to be at the reception is greatly appreciated. Make sure you leave a little time to freshen up or have a drink before the reception. Giving yourself some breathing room is nice. The day can have a little bit of a rushed feel at times because of your timeline. Having a few moments to just hang out or take time for just the two of you is nice.

Most cocktail hours will be an hour long, with the meal starting around 6:30 pm. Depending on if you are having a buffet or plated supper,  you can plan on the meal taking about an hour to complete. Buffets will certainly be done within this time frame whereas a plated meal will have the dessert served an hour after the first course. This will have your toasts starting typically around 8:00 pm and the dance taking place at 9:00 pm. Lots of couples have their cake cutting in between and some like to have it right before the serving of the ‘midnight lunch’. This is also about the time that the bouquet and garter toss may happen.

This timeline is only a suggestion and the timing may be moved around and customized to how your day will work best. We have outlined the above information in an example with an hour by hour breakdown.

10:00 am – Bridal hair
11:15 am – Bridal makeup
12:00 pm – Put dress on
12:30 pm – Leave for ceremony
1:00 pm – Ceremony
2:00 pm – Receiving line
2:45 pm – Family photos
3:15 pm to 5:00 pm – Photos with wedding party and just the bride and groom
5:30 pm – Cocktail hour
6:30 pm – Supper
8:00 pm – Toasts
8:30 pm – Cake cutting
9:00 pm – First dance
10:30 pm – Bouquet and garter toss

Planning a later ceremony? We’ve got you covered – stay tuned for part two coming next week!




Photo Credit: Stacie Carr Photography


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