Your wedding day should be the most special day of your life—so don’t get bogged down by the planning, details, and timeline of the day. Put your maid of honor or wedding planner in charge of this ultimate wedding day timeline to watch your day unfold gracefully and on time!
– Bride’s hair and makeup. (2 hours)
Leave time for one hour of hair and approximately 45-60 minutes for makeup. While many suggest doing the bride last, we recommend having the bride go first! You don’t want to rush the bride at the end. With the proper application, the makeup and hair should last.
– Bridesmaids’ hair and makeup. (Varies on # of bridesmaids)
45 minutes for makeup, 45 minutes per hair per person. If you have a large wedding party, ask your artists to bring an assistant or two. Double this time if you’re getting ready at a salon as opposed at home or at the venue.
– Photographer arrives. Bridal hair tweaks. (30 minutes)
Have the photographer arrive 1-2 hours before hair and makeup ends. This way, your photographer can snap getting-ready pictures. Plus, if the bride is getting her hair tweaked, she will already look stunning for her “getting-ready” shots!
Also take pictures of the gown, shoes, bridesmaid’s dresses, and any other special girl-time shots.
– Dressing time. (15 minutes)
Bride puts on her dress and veil. Ask the hair stylist to help secure the veil in place.
– Take pre-ceremony photos. (20-40 minutes)
Take photos of the bride with her family and party. Take pictures with the groom and his party and family. Each shot should take 2-3 minutes depending on the size of the group.
– First look (15-30 minutes)
If the couple is planning a first look, now is the time to take pictures and exchange pre-wedding gifts.
– Groom and groomsmen arrive (1.5 hours before ceremony)
– Bride and bridesmaids arrive (1 hour before ceremony)
The bridal party should arrive after the groom party but before guests start showing up. You don’t want anyone peeking!
– Doors open. Guests begin to arrive.
– Ceremony (20-30 minutes)
– Receiving line (15-20 minutes)
This is when the bride and groom stand outside of the ceremony hall to say hello and thank you to everyone who came to their wedding. If you have more than 150 guests, though, this could take awhile. Instead, visit guests at their dinner table at the reception.
– Break (20-60 minutes)
Although the couple isn’t breaking, leave time for guests to mingle and get over to the reception hall. This should be no longer than 1 hour, though. Any longer, and people will want somewhere (like a hotel room or reception hall) to spend their time.
– Photo time (30-60 minutes)
During this “break,” it’s time to take family photos and bridal party shots. Estimate approximately 2-3 minutes per shot. Keep everyone focused and organized to get in as many pictures as possible.
If you didn’t have a first look, take 15-20 minutes just for the couple to take pictures alone. This is your first time taking pictures as a married couple!
Save photos of large groups for the reception. It can be a challenge to gather everyone together. Instead, ask the DJ or bandleader to make an announcement during the reception, and you can gather large groups together on the dance floor.
– Cocktail hour (1 hour)
Even if photos are going on, cocktail hour should start to keep your guests busy.
– Reception (5 hours)
The reception usually lasts about 5 hours—maybe more if your family and friends love to celebrate! 2 hours is allotted for eating, and 3 hours for dancing.
Below is the typical order of events. Change it up as much as you need to match your style!
- Party’s procession into reception hall.
- Couple’s first dance.
- Father/daughter dance.
- Mother/son dance.
- Welcome toast.
- First course (salad and appetizer) served.
- Light dancing.
- Second course (main course) served.
- Guests invited to dancing.
- Cake cutting and dessert.
- Bouquet and garter tosses.
- Personalized events.
- Late-night snacks.
- Farewell/honeymoon send off.
Keep in mind that the size of your bridal party and wedding will vary the length of time needed for getting ready, photos, and even dining.
Hand over your wedding’s schedule to a maid of honor or trusted friend, and let them handle the details of the day, so you can enjoy every moment without worry!