From the moment you wake till the last sip of champagne has been drunk, your wedding day will be jam-packed with excitement, primping, and nerves. Keep calm on the big day by drafting a foolproof wedding day timeline and then share it with your bridal party, wedding coordinator, and photographer. Want a little help getting started?

Wedding Day Timeline

Take a look at three sample day-of timelines below and adjust to suit your schedule!

Late Afternoon Wedding + Seated-Dinner Reception

7 a.m. Wake up; eat breakfast.

8:00 a.m. to 12 p.m. Bride and bridesmaids cycle through hair and makeup; groom and groomsmen shower, shave, get ready. Photographers arrive during the last hour when the bride is finishing up her hair.

12:15 p.m. Eat a quick lunch; photographers shoot gown, bridesmaid dresses, other details.

12:45 p.m. Hair and makeup touch-ups.

1:00 p.m. Bridesmaids are dressed and ready; bride gets into her gown; bridesmaids dress.

1:30 p.m. Photographers shoot portraits with bride, bridesmaids, MoB, and any others.

2:30 p.m. Bride, bridesmaids, groom, and groomsmen travel to ceremony site.

2:45 p.m. First look photos with couple.

3:10 p.m. Photographer shoots couples portraits, bridal party portraits, and family portraits.

4:30 p.m. Ceremony begins.

5:15 p.m. Cocktail hour begins.

6:00 p.m. Guests move from the cocktail hour to the reception area.

6:15 p.m. The bridal party is introduced and then the newlyweds make their entrance and either have their first dance or take a seat.

6:25 p.m. Dinner service begins.

6:35 p.m. While guests are eating, speakers make short toasts.

7:00 p.m. Mother-son, father-daughter, and other pre-determined dances take place.

7:15 p.m. Dance floor opens for guests.

8:00 p.m. Cut the cake (or open the dessert bar).

8:15 p.m. Guests are served dessert.

8:20 p.m. Newlyweds make a short thank-you speech while guests enjoy dessert.

8:45 p.m. Toss the bouquet or just get back to dancing!

9:30 p.m. Announce last call.

9:55 p.m. The last dance.

11:00 p.m. Break down and clean up.

Morning Ceremony + Brunch Reception

6 a.m. Wake up; eat breakfast.

6:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. Bride and bridesmaids cycle through hair and makeup. (More hairstylists/makeup artists may be necessary if you have many bridesmaids or want complicated looks. Consider having just one or two bridesmaids, keeping hairstyles simple, and DIYing makeup where possible). Groom and groomsmen shower, shave, dress. Photographers arrive during the last hour when the bride is getting ready; shoot gown, other details during this process.

8:30 a.m. Bridesmaids are dressed and ready; bride gets into her gown. Bride, bridesmaids, groom, and groomsmen head to ceremony site.

8:45 a.m. Couple does first look photos and portraits.

9:10 a.m. Photographers shoot couple, bridal party, and family portraits.

10:15 a.m. Ceremony begins.

11:00 a.m. Guests move from the ceremony to the reception location and mingle, play games, etc.

11:15 a.m. The newlyweds make their entrance and either have their first dance or take a seat.

11:20 a.m. Brunch service begins

11:35 a.m. While guests are eating, speakers make short toasts.

11:50 a.m. Mother-son, father-daughter and other pre-determined dances take place.

Noon Dance floor opens.

12:45 p.m. Cut the cake (or open the dessert bar).

1:00 p.m. Guests sit for dessert.

1:05 p.m. Newlyweds make a short thank-you speech while guests enjoy dessert.

1:10 p.m. Toss the bouquet or just get back to dancing!

1:55 p.m. Last dance.

Late-Night Cocktail Party

9 a.m. Wake up; eat breakfast; enjoy your morning.

1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Bride and bridesmaids cycle through hair and makeup; groom and groomsmen shower, shave, get ready.

4:45 p.m. Eat dinner.

5:30 p.m. Photographers arrive; hair and makeup touchups.

5:45 p.m. Bridesmaids dressed and ready; bride gets into gown; bridesmaids dress.

6:15 p.m. Photographers shoot portraits with bride, bridesmaids, MoB, and any others.

6:45 p.m. Bride, bridesmaids, groom, and groomsmen travel to ceremony site.

7:00 p.m. First look photos.

7:20 p.m. Photographer shoots couples portraits, bridal party portraits, and family portraits.

8:15 p.m. Ceremony begins.

9:00 p.m. Guests move from the ceremony to the reception area.

9:05 p.m. Hors d’oeuvres are passed; food stations open.

9:15 p.m. The newlyweds are introduced and start greeting guests.

9:35 p.m. While guests are eating, speakers make short toasts.

9:45 p.m. First dance, mother-son, father-daughter, and other pre-determined dances take place; food service pauses.

9:55 p.m. Dance floor opens; food service continues.

10:20 p.m. Cut the cake (or open the dessert bar); newlyweds make a thank-you speech.

11:30 p.m.  Last call is announced.

11:55 p.m. Last dance.

All the times noted are an approximation of when things should occur — don’t stress yourself out on the day-of if you’re five minutes past schedule on your hair or makeup!

 

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