How to plan your wedding day schedule

You have ordered the cake, decorated the venue and got everyone where they need to be ready for your big day – but what about the wedding day itself? You need a wedding day schedule!

There can be so many different elements to coordinate and it is easy for time to get away from you when such a huge milestone is about to happen.

The experts you have been working with, from your celebrant to the photographer, caterer and venue coordinator, may have given you some tips along the way, but we have pulled together a definitive wedding day schedule so you can be confident you are allowing enough time for each element of your ceremony and reception.

We have worked out times for 2pm wedding featuring a bride and two bridesmaids, so if you have more in your bridal party, you will need to allow more preparation time, or even ask your hair and makeup stylists to bring an assistant (or two…) so everyone can get ready in a timely manner.

7am: Rise and Shine

wedding day schedule

Splendid Photo and Video

It’s best to employ the “early to bed, early to rise” strategy here.

This will give you time to wake up with a healthy breakfast and a shower to freshen up before the flurry of activity that is about to begin.

8am: The Arrivals

This is when the bridesmaids, makeup artists and hair stylists will make their way to your home if you have mobile services, or if you are meeting at a salon, it’s time for you to get a wriggle on out the door to meet everyone.

As a guide, it usually takes the bride one hour each in hair and make-up, while you should allow 45 minutes for each bridesmaid for makeup and 30 minutes each for hair.

If you have a flowergirl, allow half an hour for both hair and makeup.

8.30am: Beauty and the Bridesmaids

wedding day schedule

Your make up artist will usually automatically go for the bridesmaids first, so you will be the freshest for the ceremony. Get them organised and into the beauty chair!

9.30am: Hair time

Hopefully, the hair stylist can finish up the bride’s look within an hour and get started on the Bridesmaids’ ‘dos.

10am: Bridal Beauty

The bridesmaid makeup should almost be done now, so it’s the bride’s turn to get beautified.

11am: Arrival of the documenters

If you have a photographer and/or videographer, you should get them to arrive in time to capture the final touches of the hair and makeup on camera. They can also start shooting your bridal gown and accessories before you put them on.

12pm: Lunch

Even though your stomach might be aflutter, sustenance is key to help you get through this day. Make sure you organise a light lunch and some water for yourself and also your bridesmaids so there is no fainting!

12.30pm: White and bright

You can finally get into that gorgeous gown! Experts suggest putting your veil on after the dress to avoid getting it caught. Have the hairdresser show you how to put it in if they have to duck away, or better yet, ask them to stay a little longer (lunch could be a good way to entice) to do it for you.

The photographer and/or videographer will get some shots of the girls ‘dressing you’ and you can take some pre-ceremony photos with your bridal party and close family who might be helping you to get ready.

1pm: The boys

Your future spouse and their party should arrive at the venue an hour and a half before the ceremony. This will give them time to help with final set-up, greet guests as they arrive and then take up their positions to await your arrival.

1.15pm: Limo

If you have a fair way to travel, you might want to leave now. Make sure you give yourself an extra 15-20 minutes if travel time in case you encounter any unexpected traffic on the way.

If you are getting ready at the ceremony venue – you can have extra time for photos or just to chill out.

2pm: Show time

Now is the moment you have been planning for! Even if you do not want to be walking down the aisle at the stroke of 2pm (or whatever time you choose), you can be ready by then and take another five – 10 minutes to prepare for the most exciting walk of your life.
There is nothing wrong with being fashionably late. In fact, it’s almost expected, so if you need the time – take it.
The ideal ceremony usually takes around 30 minutes, but it can be longer if you are having a traditional church service with sermons.

Receiving line

For a ceremony with up to 100 guests, this will take between 12 and 15 minutes and with 150 guests, set aside 20 minutes. If you have even more than 150 guests, consider skipping this altogether and visit guests at their tables during the reception instead.
After the ceremony, things can change up wildly depending on what you had envisaged and planned for your day. So, from here on out, these are suggested time frames, but of course it is wide open to interpretation.

Smile for the camera

Prepare a list of all of the family groups, friend groups and other compositions that you want to get. This will make it easier for the photographer and their assistant to pull the right people together in a timely manner.
Usually these photos will be taken before you and your new spouse and the bridal party duck out for some more intimate shots.
You may wish to travel to another location for these photos, but bear in mind that your guests will be waiting your return for the party to begin, so try not to keep them in limbo for hours on end.

The reception

The traditional order of events includes:
  1. First dance
  2. Father/daughter and Mother/son dance
  3. Welcome toast
  4. First course
  5. Maid of honor and best man toasts
  6. Main course
  7. Newlyweds toast if they wish to give one
  8. Dancing
  9. Cake cutting
  10. Bouquet and garter toss
  11. Farewell


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