Photo by Kai Villanueva
As a wedding planner, I’m enthused by logistics (as suspected, usually much more than my clients) so it’s not surprising that I look forward to jumping right into the day-of timeline as soon as we begin the wedding planning process; I choose to do this as a first step even when we don’t have all of the vendors in place yet because it helps us know excatly what’s needed, for how long and where we will need them when the time comes to book and hire.
Although there are many ways that you can do your own personal timeline, over the years I have found that this format flows the best and allows enough time for everything–Nothing feels rushed, my couples still get the opportunity to mingle with their guests and of course, there’s always plenty of time for dancing!
The Ultimate Wedding Day Timeline
2:oo Photographer Arrives, Photos Begin
Your photographer will arrive and (usually) begin with the detail shots that include your full invitation suite, dress, shoes and rings so be sure to have all of those items, including anything else of importance, with you wherever you’re getting ready at.
2:3o pm Bride Gets Dressed
Ready to freeze time and get photos of you stepping into your gown for the last time before you’re married? This is where all of those emotional moments of zipping up the gown, spritzing on your final spray of perfume, placing the garter and fastening your shoes will take place. Getting ready somewhere other than the venue that your ceremony is taking place at? No worries, just consider which location will have the prettier atmosphere for photos and plan the travel time accordingly.
2:45 – 3:15 pm Bridal Portraits & Bridal Party Photos
4:45 pm Makeup & Hair Touch-ups
5:oo pm Ceremony Begins
Ceremonies typically run approximately 20-30 minutes but can last up to an hour.
5:3o pm Cocktail Hour
6:2o pm Guest Are Invited to Dinner
6:35 pm Grand Entrance, Followed By The First Dance
6:4o pm Welcome Toast/Blessing
The welcome toast and/or blessing is usually given by parents of either couple or it can be given by the Officiant (mostly done if they are a family member/friend) or someone else close to the couple who generally won’t be giving a toast later in the night.
6:5o pm Dinner is Served
7:45 pm Toasts
Generally given by the Best Man and Maid of Honor but the Father of the Bride may also round out the toasts with his own speech and then invite his daughter to a dance at the end of the toast to kick off the Parent Dances to follow.
8:oo pm Parent Dances
Father/Daughter dance first and then Mother and Son dance to follow.
8:1o pm Dance Floor Opens
8:45 pm Cake Cutting
Make sure your cake table has a cake cutting set, two plates, two forks and a few napkins in case things get messy. If you choose to do the bouquet and garter toss, make sure that your planner/coordinator has placed the toss bouquet on the table for easy access as you’ll want to follow up the cake with those two events while the caterers get your cake cut and either set out or served to your guests.
9:oo pm Dance Floor Remains Open For The Rest of The Night
9:5o pm Last Call
Typically bars will stop serving approximately 30 minutes before the end of the night, so make sure your guests are aware that this will be the last opportunity they’ll have to grab a drink!
1o:2o pm Last Song of the Night
1o:25 pm Guests Line Up For Your Grand Exit
If you’re using sparklers, make sure that they are easily accessible for guests to grab as they exit the venue or make sure that your planner/coordinator hands them out to guests as upon your guests’ departure.
1o:3o pm Grand Farewell of the Bride & Groom
You danced, you drank, memories were made and all of the planning came together flawlessly!
Nothing tops the last few moments before your Grand Farewell, so before jetting away with your husband to reminisce on all of planning that SO totally paid off, take one last look around… absorb this final moment as you run through the warm glow of the sparklers, being sure to make one final kiss in front of your cheering guests and then gleefully drive away, straight into your happily ever after!