The perfect wedding day timeline

The secret to a successful and easy-flowing wedding is not military precision, but allowing enough time for everything to flow nicely throughout the day.

As a first-timer planning a wedding, it can be hard to figure out how much time you need to allocate for each portion of the day.

Remember that you have valuable resources in your suppliers, who have been through many weddings before and can give you their advice or even help you to plan the part of your wedding which they will be a part of.

The trick is to find your happy medium, where you will have enough time to prepare and get what you need done without overestimating and having vendors arriving later than what you might need.

Here are a couple wedding day timeline suggestions to consider:

morning wedding day timeline

See Kate and Tom’s gorgeous #RealWedding here.

Morning wedding day timeline

For a mid-morning wedding, around 10am, there is no doubt you will be in for an early start. But the plus-side of a morning ceremony is that you won’t have to wait for hours to get stuck into getting ready!


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What transport will you be using to arrive at your ceremony?


Remember, the bride and bridesmaid prep times are given here as estimates and you should calculate yours depending on the size of your bridal party.

It takes a deceivingly long time for hair and makeup. Allow one hour for your hair and 30 minutes for each bridesmaid.

When it comes to makeup, allow up to an hour for yourself and 45 minutes per bridesmaid.

A sample timeline:

  • 7am— Begin hair and makeup.
  • 8.30am — Have your ceremony suppliers arrive to start setting up the venue.
  • 9am — If you have decided to have a first look, this is a good time to do it as it will allow ample time for any pre-wedding photos you may also like to have of the two of you and/or the family.
  • 9.30am — Guests will begin to arrive at the venue.
  • 10am— The time you may choose to write on your invitation as the official ceremony start time.
  • 10.15am — Allow yourself an extra 15 minutes to officially begin the ceremony, so the bride can either choose to be fashionably late or to allow for any unforeseen traffic or hold-ups in preparation times.
  • 10.45am — The ceremony finishes and the photographer might jump in to get a group shot with all of your guests.
  • 11am – If you didn’t have a first look, you will need some time to get those all-important shots for the photo album.
  • 12pm – The reception kicks off.
  • 12.30pm – Any toasts or speeches you might wish to incorporate into your reception.
  • 1pm – Time to cut the cake or bring out dessert.
  • 1.30pm – First dance followed by free party time.
  • 3pm – Couple head off
  • 3.15pm – Guests leave
  • 4pm – Vendors finish their pack-down and leave.

Afternoon wedding day timeline

There has been a huge shift in popularity to afternoon weddings in the last few years, with couples preferring more time to chill out before launching into preparations on their big day.

It also means you can party into the night!

Keeping the bridal party preparation time tips from the morning timeline in mind, here is a sample afternoon timeline to consider for a 4pm ceremony:

  • 10am— Begin hair and makeup.
  • 12pm – 2pm — Most vendors arrive for setup.
  • 2pm— If you have decided to have a first look, this is a good time to do it as it will allow ample time for any pre-wedding photos you may also like to have of the two of you and/or the family.
  • 3.30pm— Guests begin to arrive.
  • 4pm— The time you may choose to write on your invitation as the official ceremony start time.
  • 4.15pm— Allow yourself an extra 15 minutes to officially begin the ceremony, so the bride can either choose to be fashionably late or to allow for any unforeseen traffic or hold-ups in preparation times.
  • 4.45pm — Ceremony finishes and the photographer might jump in to get a group shot with all of your guests.
  • 5pm – If you didn’t have a first look, you will need some time to get those all-important shots for the photo album.
  • 6pm – Reception starts.
  • 6.30pm — Toasts and/or speeches.
  • 7pm – Cut the cake and serve dessert.
  • 7.30pm—First dance.
  • 7.35pm—General dancing time starts with your DJ or live musicians.
  • 9.45pm — Last call for drinks.
  • 9.55pm — Reception wraps up and the couple will leave if they are having a special send-off.
  • 10pm — Guests leave.
  • 11pm – Vendors finish their pack-down and leave.

Remember, there are many times of the day you can choose to hold your wedding.

An early afternoon ceremony can be a great balance between a morning and afternoon ceremony, while an evening ceremony can be held to take advantage of stunning sunsets and create a true party atmosphere.

 See more real wedding inspiration here. 

 

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