How to Make a Wedding Day Timeline

As you get closer and closer to your wedding day, it's important to have a very detailed timeline mapped out so that you can know the day's logistics and ensure nothing will be forgotten. If you hire a wedding planner (I suggest Tina at A Style Collective), they will walk you through this process. If you don't have a wedding planner, then you will need to plan out the day yourself. Never fear! I am here to help! Here's a step by step outline of how to plan out your wedding day. Evelyn & Melvin (14)

Step 1: What time does the wedding start?

This is as good enough place to start as any - when will the guests be in their seats and your groom waiting for you at the end of the aisle?

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Step 2: How long is your ceremony?

Are you going to have any scripture read, songs sung, or a candle lighting ceremony? Are you going to have a mass/sermon included? Plan out a very detailed timeline of the ceremony - and make sure your officiant, readers, and performers are all aware of the timeline.

Evelyn & Melvin (21)

Step 3: What time will your reception begin?

You will most likely be busy with family portraits right after the ceremony, but your guests will not be. What time will the reception start for them? Will there be a cocktail hour or will guests already be eating before you and your honey arrive?

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Step 4: How long is your reception?

The easiest way to plan this is by going by your contract and finding out how long you have the facility for. Don't forget to factor in set-up and clean up time as well.

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Step 5: Plan out the reception.

Are you having a garter and bouquet toss? First dance? Cake cutting? Money dance? When planning, you can either squish everything together at once in the beginning to get it over with that way you can just relax and have fun OR you can space your events out throughout the evening.

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Step 6: Now go back and fill in the rest.

  • How long will it take you to get ready? Your spouse-to-be? Set hair all hair appointments and make-up appointments accordingly.
  • Who is going to be where and when? The groom will most likely not need as much time as the bride to get ready on their wedding day - so it's pretty standard that the bride will get to a location hours before a groom will.
  • Travel time. Are you getting ready at the ceremony location or are you 30 minutes away? This will all need to be factored in. Also included in this is if your ceremony and reception locations are not in the same spot. You will need to think about travel time between venues as well.
  • We discussed earlier about knowing how long you will have a reception space. You will need to know this for the various vendors' setting up as well. DJ's require a significant amount of time to set up, and florists usually require even more. Make sure they have enough time to do so. Know what time each vendor is going to get there.
  • Do you want to take family photos before or after the ceremony? Add time accordingly.
  • Clean up. Is the event facility providing clean up or are you responsible? If you are responsible, you may want to subtract 30 minutes from the end of your reception to allow for clearing tables and taking all of the wedding details out.

Here is a sample timeline:

12:00pm - Bride hair appointment at salon (Location name and address)

12:00pm - Bridesmaids arrive at hotel to get ready.

2:00pm - Wedding planner arrives at reception venue to begin setting up

2:00pm - Linens arrive to reception site

2:15pm - Bride arrives at hotel (Location name and address) and begins make-up

3:00pm - Photographer arrives to bride's hotel room for getting ready photos

3:00pm - Florist arrives at reception location

4:00pm - DJ begins setting up at reception location

4:00 - Cake arrives at reception location

4:15 - Everyone leaves hotel and heads to ceremony venue (Location name and address)

4:30pm - Wedding planner brings all wedding party flowers to ceremony site

4:30pm - Caterer arrives at reception location

4:45pm - Officiant arrives at ceremony venue

5:00pm - Ceremony Starts

5:30pm - Ceremony ends (will include unity candle and 1 scripture reader {person's name})

5:35pm - 6:00pm - Formal portraits (on altar in front of cathedral)

5:35 - Guests head to reception venue (Location name and address)

5:35pm - Cocktail hour: drinks are served and hor'devours are served

6:20pm - Bride & groom arrive at reception location and DJ announces wedding party

6:25pm - Bride and groom first dance (song choice for DJ)

6:30pm - Dinner is served (plated or buffett)

7:00pm - Father/daughter dance (song choice) & Mother/son dance (song choice)

7:30pm - Cake cutting (song choice for DJ)

8:00pm - Bouquet Toss (song choice for DJ)/ Garter Toss (song choice for DJ)

9:00pm - Bride & Groom exit (with sparklers)

Good luck with your wedding planning!