Planning a wedding day timeline is essential if we want everything to go perfectly. The key is to create as detailed a timeline as possible with each of the activities and notify the wedding attendants (such as the maid of honor) to help you keep everything on schedule, with as little stress as possible.
Leave some slack in the planning for activities that may not have a fixed time frame such as the end time of the ceremony and the start of the cocktail hour.
It's not about being a slave to time, but about planning as much as possible so that everything has its place on this important day.
We have designed a sample wedding timeline which you can use as a template to create your own wedding day timeline.
This timeline was designed based on the classic scenarios: The ceremony time is at 4:00 pm and both the reception and ceremony will be held at separate locations.
Be sure to make the necessary adjustments according to the peculiarities of your ceremony.
We start early, very, very early with the bride's hair and makeup. Keep in mind that this type of professional hair and makeup takes between 40 and 60 minutes, and then we add the bridal party's hair and makeup. For a wedding that starts at 4pm, a good preparation time is around 9am.
Trust us, it's never early enough to start the big day and even less so if you have a pre-ceremony photo shoot (which is the usual).
All moments are memorable, so you may want to have the videographer arrive half an hour before the bride's dressing begins, to get special shots as she gets ready for the big hour.
The entire bridal party has about an hour to get dressed and help the bride and groom get fully dressed. This is a good time to take some pictures, so hopefully the main attendants (moms and bridesmaids) are already ready, this way they will look great in the background as they dress the bride.
Many modern weddings have a customary "first look" with the bride and groom ready to take beautiful portraits before the ceremony, which actually lasts only a few minutes.
If this is not your case, which is the most traditional, the photographer can use this time to take pictures of the rings, the bride in some previously prepared scenery and strategic places.
Once everyone is ready it's time to take beautiful portraits with the bridal party, parents of the bride and groom, bridesmaids and other VIP members of the ceremony.
Be sure to make room for any family combinations you would like to photograph.
15 to 45 minutes before (a little longer if you fear traffic will be a problem) the bridal party, including the groom, as well as special participants should arrive at the ceremony site to take care of any outstanding details that are not in place and get everything completely ready.
You can put the time on the invitation between 10 and 15 minutes earlier to ensure that everyone is there for the on-time start of the ceremony, be sure not to put too much time in advance because it can be annoying for the more punctual guests.
A great help is to have someone in charge of positioning the guests in their corresponding rows to expedite everything.
The start of the ceremony will depend on the personal conception of each couple. Many people find it appropriate to have a cocktail reception beforehand to ensure the attendance of all guests and to create a pleasant atmosphere before the formal ceremony. Be sure to make the adjustment in your schedule.
The end time of the ceremony is again tentative because it depends on many variables such as whether it is a religious type activity or not. Generally, the estimated time of the ceremony varies between 30 and 60 minutes.
Once the ceremony is over, it's time for the cocktail party, transferring the guests to the reception venue and a well-deserved time for the newlyweds to recharge their batteries, get comfortable, eat something, take some extra pictures and get ready for their big night.
Formally begin the reception, position guests in their places, if necessary, while preparations begin for dinner and any details that may be pending, prior to the grand entrance.
Shortly after the reception begins, the protocol of the entrance with honors to the venue begins. The entrance can vary according to the tastes of each couple, but usually lasts about 5 to 10 minutes.
Moving from the grand entrance to the couple's first dance to "their song" is ideal. For this, you can prepare a short selection of songs, a full-length song, or shorten the time to just a 2-5 minute performance.
After the dancing is over, guests are called to their tables to begin dinner preparations, opening with some appetizers. Ideally, guests should not be kept waiting to eat. No one is receptive if they are hungry.
Usually the father of the bride or groom opens the dinner with a short (less than 5 minutes) welcome toast, followed by the mother and other close family members, leading into the meal and family sharing.
Without further ado, the meal is served and enjoyed surrounded by family and friends.
After dinner, it's time for the emotional toast of the groomsmen and bridesmaids, specifically after eating to create a formal structure, which gives a prelude to the celebration. Set a time limit for each participant (usually 5 minutes or less would be perfect).
Immediately after dinner is a perfect time to start a formal dance with the parents and immediate family, you can also include a space for the bridal party and finally the rest of the guests.
Once the last formal dance is over, which almost always ends with the whole family on the dance floor and some lively music, you can take a few minutes to toss the bouquet and garter.
Again dancing and celebrating your big day, making sure to share with all the guests to create memorable memories.
As the evening draws to a close, it's a good time to give a final word of thanks from the bride and groom, before (or after) a final dance-off that ends with the cutting of the cake.
Some wedding planners prefer to leave the cake cutting in conjunction with the bouquet toss, which is a good option. It depends on your taste.
It's time to create a grand exit, in consultation with your wedding consultants, with an effusive farewell to your guests and family. There are many ways to make this moment symbolic and grand, enjoy it.
On your departure, remember this moment with all your might and walk out hand in hand with your new partner to find your own version of happily ever after.