There’s never enough time in a day, but there isn’t any day that this rings more true than on your wedding day. Without a schedule, it’s easy to feel rushed, miss important activities or lose the ability to do certain photos. You want to make sure your wedding day is scheduled out so that your day runs smoothly and is stress-free.
It’s important to plan ahead. If you have a well broken down timeline it’ll help you and your vendors to stay organized and on-time when your big day arrives. No matter how you end up scheduling your big day, there will always be things that come up, but with a schedule you’ll be prepared to tackle them and integrate them into your day. It’s daunting to create a wedding day schedule, and that’s where we come in!
Use your ceremony start time to begin your timeline. List all of your events that need to happen before your ceremony as well as after the ceremony and write down approximately how long each event will take.
Plan to start getting ready early. There’s no reason to not get ready earlier in the day. It can take approximately 90 minutes or more for a bride to get her hair and makeup done, let alone all of the other bridesmaids, so plan to start earlier instead of later!
Make sure you include “buffer” time in your schedule. You’re bound to forget minor activities for your wedding day and that’s okay. Make sure you leave extra time for activities like eating breakfast, signing your marriage license and for traffic if you’re driving to and from different locations.
Hire your second shooter to just shoot your ceremony and getting ready. When it comes to photos, it can get expensive quickly if you have two photographers for the entirety of your big day. Ask your second shooter to show up for getting ready shots (they can be with the groom and his guys) and stay through the ceremony. When it comes to the reception, having just one photographer should be enough to cover the evening – and you’ll end up saving money in the process.
Dinner should be served sooner than later. It’s custom to serve dinner a half hour to forty-five minutes after your reception starts. You don’t want to make your guests wait to eat, so be sure you plan for dinner in the midst of dances, toasts, etc.
Get your schedule to all of your vendors. All of your vendors should get a copy of your wedding day schedule well before your big day. You may also want to give the schedule to your maid of honor, mom and any other important members of your wedding party. If a member of the bridal party has the schedule, you’ll have an extra person to make sure everything runs on time. Your event manager or wedding planner should be the main contact for your wedding day schedule on the day of to make sure everything goes off without a hitch!
If you do not have a wedding planner, your DJ should be leading you through most of the reception activities. It is important that they be involved in the timeline planning of the reception since they will be guiding you through the dances and announcements.
9:00AM – The bride, bridesmaids and moms start to get ready at location of choice. Hair and makeup should show up at this time and get set-up.
12:00PM – The groom and groomsmen meet up and begin getting ready. Both the bride and groom should plan to eat lunch before the wedding so they are not starving before dinner.
2:00PM – Your photographer and second shooter should arrive. They should be getting shots of the bridal party getting ready and detail shots of the ring, dress, bouquet and other items.
2:15PM – Your bridesmaids and moms should be ready, this way they can be in the photos of you getting dressed and can look their best as they tend to you!
2:30PM – The bride gets dressed with help from mom or bridesmaids.
2:45PM – Your photographer should be shooting the bride’s solo portraits and your second shooter should be shooting the groom’s solo portraits.
3:15PM- 3:45PM – The photographers should be shooting the bridesmaids photos and groomsmen photos with the bride and groom.
4:00PM – Ceremony starts (Listed on invitation).
4:15PM – Buffer for ceremony to start.
4:15PM – 4:45PM – Ceremony.
4:45PM – 5:45PM – Cocktail Hour happens. The bride and groom’s photos and family portraits with the bride and groom should be happening. Entire wedding party photos should be shot as well.
5:45PM – 6:00PM – Your guests move into the reception area and get situated at their tables.
6:00PM – 6:10PM – Bridal party entrances & first dance happen.
6:10 – 6:20PM – The mother/son and father/daughter dances happen.
6:30PM – Dinner is served. Toasts can happen during dinner or right before dinner is served from the wedding’s hosts or the bride or groom’s parents.
6:30PM – 7:15PM – Dinner.
7:15PM – 7:30PM – Toasts by maid/matron of honor and best man.
7:30PM – 8:00PM – The garter and bouquet toss.
8:00PM – 8:15PM – The bride and groom cut the cake. Cake is served to guests after.
8:15PM – Dancing starts! It is custom for the DJ to announce that the dance floor is now open to the wedding guests.
8:15PM – 10:00PM – Dancing and reception.
9:30PM – DJ announces last call for drinks.
10:00PM – Final goodbyes by the bride and groom before you exit!
Hopefully this timeline gives you a starting point for your own wedding. You can always change it up if you choose to do a first look, dollar dance or add in other activities that aren’t listed. When planning your schedule, you can always talk with your vendors to see when they expect to have certain items set-up or when they’d like to arrive. You should also enlist one of your bridesmaids or maid of honor to help you plan the day so they’re fully in the know.
Regardless of your wedding staying on schedule or not, it’s going to be a great day! Once you have the schedule laid out, you’re bound to feel more relaxed and ready to get married. Don’t forget to print out several copies for the day of and email it to your vendors and the key members of your wedding party. Above all, relax and enjoy your wedding day!