How to create your wedding timeline (and three timeline examples)
by Karly Anderson

Photo by  White Willow Paper  via Etsy

Photo by White Willow Paper via Etsy

From the moment you wake up until the last drip of champagne is sipped, your wedding day is guaranteed to be filled with activities, events and of course, excitement!

Since nerves are bound to set in at some point and you can’t be everywhere at once (nor should you be – you’re the bride!), it’s important to have a timeline outlined and in-place to help ensure that the day runs smoothly. Be sure to share the timeline with your bridal party, all your vendors and any other parties that you deem necessary, such as your parents. Having multiple parties aware of the timeline will help keep you calm and everybody and all events on schedule.

Depending on the time of day that your wedding is taking place, the timeline can differ for each one. Luckily for you, I’ve outlined three example wedding timelines for a morning, afternoon and evening wedding to help get you started!

MORNING CEREMONY & BRUNCH RECEPTION

6:00 a.m. Wake up, shower and wash up, and eat breakfast.

6:30 a.m. Bride and bridesmaids start hair and makeup. Allot at least two hours for this process; it could be more or less depending on the size of your bridal party and how complicated of hair and makeup you want done. Groom and groomsmen shower and get dressed during this time. Photographer(s) arrives at bride’s location for the last 30 minutes to an hour.

8:30 a.m.Bridesmaids are dressed, and bride gets into her gown. All bridal party members travel to the ceremony site.

8:45 a.m. Bride and groom do first-look photos.

9:10 to 10 a.m. Photographer(s) capture more photos of the bride and groom and bridal party and family portraits. Guests begin to arrive for the ceremony and take their seats. Bridal party gets into place.

10:15 to 11:00 a.m. Ceremony takes place. Afterward, guests head to the reception location.

11:15 to Noon. The newlyweds arrive at the reception. Brunch service begins, toasts are made, and traditional first dances take place before the dance floor is open to all guests.

1:00 to 1:45 p.m. Time to party! Guests enjoy dancing and dessert. Bride and groom can make a thank-you speech during this time and toss the bouquet/garter, if applicable.

1:45 p.m. Play the last song for the last dance, and say goodbye to guests.

LATE AFTERNOON WEDDING WITH SEATED-DINNER RECEPTION7:00 a.m. Wake up, shower and wash up, and eat breakfast.

8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Bride and bridesmaids start hair and makeup. Adjust the allotted time to more or less depending on the size of your bridal party and how complicated of hair and makeup you want done. Groom and groomsmen shower and get dressed during this time. Photographer(s) arrives at bride’s location for the last 30 minutes to an hour.

12:15 to 1:00 p.m. Eat a small lunch. Complete any final hair and makeup touchups. Bridesmaids are dressed and ready, and bride gets into her dress.

1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Photographer(s) take bridal portraits and any requested photos with bride and bridesmaids, maid of honor, family members, etc. All bridal party members travel to the ceremony site.

2:45 to 4:15 p.m. First look between the bride and groom takes place. Photographer(s) shoots couples portraits and photos with the bridal party and extended family members. Guests begin to arrive for ceremony and take their seats. Bridal party takes their places for the ceremony.

4:30 to 5:00 p.m. Ceremony takes place.

5:15 to 6:00 p.m. Cocktail hour is held, and guests take their seats in the reception area.

6:15 to 7:15 p.m. Bridal party introductions and entrances occur. Dinner is served, toasts are made, and traditional first dances take place before the dance floor is open to all guests.

7:15 to 9:45 p.m. Time to party! Guests enjoy dancing, dessert and late-night snacks (if applicable), and the bouquet and garter toss.

9:45 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Play the last song for the last dance, and say goodbye to guests.

10:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Break down and clean up.

Photo by  Jones Street Press  via Etsy

Photo by Jones Street Press via Etsy

EVENING WEDDING & COCKTAIL PARTY9 a.m. Wake up, shower and wash up, and eat breakfast. You have the luxury of enjoying your morning!

1 to 4:30 p.m. Bride and bridesmaids start hair and makeup. Adjust the allotted time to more or less depending on the size of your bridal party and how complicated of hair and makeup you want done. Groom and groomsmen shower and get dressed during this time.

4:45 to 5:30 p.m. Eat dinner. Photographer(s) arrive, and bride and bridesmaids receive final hair and makeup touchups.

5:45 to 6:45 p.m. Bridesmaids are dressed and ready, and bride gets into her gown. Photographer(s) shoot bridal portraits and any other requested photos with the maid of honor, bridesmaids, family members, etc. All bridal party members travel to the ceremony site.

7:00 to 8:00 p.m. Bride and groom do their first look. Photographer takes couples portraits and photos with the bridal party and extended family. Guests arrive during this time and take their seats. Bridal party takes their places for the ceremony. 8:15 to 8:45 p.m. Ceremony takes place. Guests move from the ceremony to the reception.

9:00 to 9:45 p.m. Hors d’oeuvres are passed, and buffet-style food stations open. The newlyweds arrive and greet guests. Toasts are made, and traditional first dances occur before the dance floor is open to all guests.

9:45 to 11:45 p.m. Time to party! Guests enjoy dancing, dessert and late-night snacks (if applicable), and the bouquet and garter toss. The newlyweds can make a thank-you speech during this time.

11:45 to Midnight. Play the last song for the last dance, and say goodbye to guests. Break down and clean up.

Photo by  Wedding Signs With Love  via Etsy

Photo by Wedding Signs With Love via Etsy

Hopefully this helps give you a rough idea how each style of wedding can be broken down throughout the hectic day. Keep in mind that these are rough estimations of how much time should be allotted for hair and makeup, photos and the actual ceremony to take place; don’t hesitate to adjust the times to fit your personal wedding needs, and don’t stress if you’re running a few minutes overtime on one of the activities!

If you’re still overwhelmed at the thought of creating your own timeline, the Internet has you covered. Bridal Guide offers a comprehensive, premade wedding day timeline that can be adjusted to accommodate any type of wedding.

karlyandersonbio
karlyandersonbio

Karly Anderson is a born and raised Midwest girl currently residing outside Milwaukee, Wis. Her blog, Miss in the Midwest, chronicles her take on beauty, life and style in the Heartland. Catch up with Karly on InstagramFacebook and TwitterFind Karly's creative musings here.