The Wedding Day Timeline

Last week we chatted about getting organized in planning for the big day. Honestly it was perfect timing as this week Brandon, and I had our detailed timeline meeting with our coordinator! We chose a month of coordinator which means 30 days prior to the wedding date they will take over all vendor communication. However, prior to that they will help with any suggestions needed and give access to their online planning software, which we also reviewed last week. As we are approaching two months out, it was time to have that hour and a half long conversation about how Brandon and I wanted the entire day to flow. 

Wedding day timelines take a lot of work! I had no idea there were so many intricate details that needed to be discussed. I always thought we would just follow a generic timeline: ceremony, cocktail hour, reception, and send off. There’s so much more that goes on and I was most surprised at how many ways there are to make your timeline unique to YOU. Here is a generic wedding day timeline and notes of my suggestions for making it special and one to remember. 

9:00 a.m. Hair & Make-Up begins

Once you have a headcount of how many people will be needing hair and makeup, you’ll want to ask how much time the artists need. It is also helpful to communicate what time you need to be ready to leave by so that they can adjust the start time accordingly. 

12:30 p.m. Photographer coverage begins

The photographer’s arrival time depends on how many hours they are contracted. Most packages include 8 hours.   

1:30 – 2:00 p.m. Bridal parties depart for venue 

This time obviously depends on if the bride and bridal party are already onsite or not. 

2:15 p.m. Wedding party gets dressed 

2:40 p.m. Couple first look and photos

Another option that could be considered is doing a first look with the father of the bride. We decided not to do a first look, so we were able to shift our time to arrive at the venue later. 

3:30 p.m. Officiant Arrives 

4:00 – 4:30 p.m. Ceremony 

This time is completely dependent on what kind of ceremony you want to have. Religious ceremonies may require more time. 

4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Cocktail hour 

5:30 – 5:45 pm Call to Reception / guests seated

5:45 p.m. Introductions and first dance

6:00 p.m. Dinner service commences

6:15 – 6:50 pm Sunset Portraits

Sunset portraits were a priority for Brandon and I so we have requested that our caterers pre-plate our food so we can quickly eat. The one thing I did not want to happen is our guests waiting around and there be any awkward time with us being away which is why we chose to do portraits during dinner. 

7:15 p.m. Toasts begin 

7:30 p.m. Specialty dances

This usually is when the father & daughter and mother & son take place, but you could get creative and do something fun and unique. 

7:40 p.m. Cake cutting 

7:45 p.m. Garter toss, bouquet toss, or a substitute 

We decided to omit the garter and bouquet toss and instead we will be doing an anniversary dance. The couple together the longest will be the last on the dance floor and they will then offer their advice to the newlyweds! 

7:45 p.m. Open dancing! 

9:00 p.m. Late night snack

This is completely optional, but we figured our guests might be hungry after burning all those calories dancing. I had always envisioned serving my favorite, Taco Bell, as a late-night snack and we are making it happen! 

9:55 p.m. Last dance and send off 

10:00 p.m. End of evening or continue the celebrations with an afterparty! 

It’s helpful to come into the timeline meeting with an understanding of your photographer’s timeline as this could impact the structure for the day and some slots may need to be moved around. At the end of the day, prioritize the things that matter to you and your significant other. There were so many wedding activities that I thought we had to do because I had seen them at so many weddings (i.e., bouquet/garter toss), but it’s completely up to you on what goes!




Published by

Mikell Zanotto

Wedding Enthusiast & Bride to Be

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