We have all seen the scenario before of brides and grooms running around unable to enjoy their own wedding, the festivities, or the food because they are simply too busy to do so. Weddings are one of the most memorable days in a bride and groom’s life, but they can also be the most hectic. The good news is that you can ensure that your wedding day runs smoothly and as planned with the proper timeline or schedule.
A wedding day schedule is a perfect for knowing what’s going to happen, how long things are going to last, and who needs to be where. Check out our sample wedding day schedule that will help give you some clarity and organization on your big day.
Questions to Consider
Before you begin making your wedding day schedule, there are a few things that you should ask yourself. This will help clear up what you can and cannot control on the day of your wedding.
- What time can you arrive and go into your reception space? What time do you have to be out of your reception area?
- How many hours is your photographer scheduled for? If you have a videographer, how many hours are they scheduled for?
- What time is the sunset going to happen on the day of your wedding?
- Depending on the number of girls in your bridal shower, how long will hair and makeup take?
- How long do you expect your wedding ceremony to last?
- Are you and your bride/groom doing a first look?
- How many formal family portraits or pictures do you want to take?
- What is the distance between your reception and ceremony locations?
- Are you going to have a long or short cocktail hour?
- Is the wedding party making an entrance into the reception or cocktail party?
- Is there going to be a grace said or prayer before the meal?
- How many people are scheduled to give a toast during the meal?
- Are you and your partner doing a first dance, a parent dance, or both?
- Are you going to have a bouquet and garner toss?
- Do you plan to make an exit during the reception or will dance until the last song finishes?
If you are working with a wedding planner or coordinator, then the both of you can go over this list. If you are planning your wedding alone, answering many of these questions will require you speaking with vendors and other people involved in the wedding. For instance, your caterer will have the best idea of how long it will take to serve all of your guests at your venue. They will determine this based on whether or not you are having a plated dinner, a family style meal, or a buffet. Also, your photographer should be able to advise you on how long portraits will take based on the list you give him. Remember, if you are confused about any timing or schedule, just ask! It is better to know for sure than to assume.
Wedding Day Schedule Sample (8 hour timeline)
Now, let’s take a look at a sample eight-hour wedding day schedule.
1:00 PM: Photographers and / or Videographer arrive.
Of course you are going to want to document the entire process of your big day. While you and your bridal party prepare to get ready, your photographer or videographer should arrive to photograph details of the wedding that you are going to want to remember. These details can be things such as: your dress, shoes, jewelry, and bouquet. You are also going to want to document your preparation process. This will include getting your hair and makeup done, and having fun chatting and relaxing with your bridal party as they get ready as well.
2:00 PM: Bride Gets Dressed
An hour might not seem like a lot, but depending on your schedule you should be finishing getting ready around this time. Of course your photographer does not have to photograph putting the dress on, but before and after pictures will do.
3:00 PM: Groom and Groomsmen Final Preparation
On the groom’s side of things, the men should be finishing up getting dressed as well.
3:00 PM: First Look
This can be an emotional part of the day. Once the location is set up, the groom will be placed in position and the bride will surprise him. Usually this is just a moment between the bride and groom and the photographer or videographer on hand.
3:30 PM: Bride and Groom Portraits
During or after your first look, you will want to take some Bride and Groom portraits as well after your photographer or videographer captures the moments of the first look.
Once you have your r first look and bride and groom portrait session, the rest of the family can join in on the run. During this time, the rest of the wedding party will come in to take formal wedding photos with the bride and the groom. Make sure that everyone in the wedding party is on hand about 30 minutes before 4:00 so that time is not wasted scrambling to get everyone together.
4:30 PM: Preparing for the Ceremony
During this time, the wedding party will usually relax, get a drink, and recompose themselves to get ready for the big ceremony. This is also usually when guests start entering the Wedding venue and situating themselves.
5:00 PM: Ceremony
Get ready to get married!
5:30 PM: Family Photos and Cocktail Hour
Now that everyone is together, you can choose to take some family photos with other members of your family. Depending on how big your family is, there could be a huge line of family members wanting to get their picture taken with the couple.
For the other guests, there is usually a small cocktail hour where refreshments and ordeauvrs are being served. After the family photos are taken, the family can also get in on the cocktails and refreshments before going off to the reception venue.
6:00 PM: Reception File In
Around this time guests should be arriving at their reception spots and should begin filing into the area. There may be a sign-in sheet for guests to leave a note as well.
6:30 PM: Reception Begins
When the reception officially begins, some music may start being played and announcements or introductions of guests may begin.
6:45 PM: Grand Entrance
During this time, the wedding party will likely make their grand entrance, and the first dance will begin.
7:00 PM: Dinner is served
7:30 PM: Speeches and Toasts
7:45 PM: Special Dances
During this time, whatever special dances you have planned for the night can ensue. This may include Father/Daughter, Mother/Son, etc.
8:00 PM: Open Dancing
It is time to rally all your guests to the dance floor!
8:15 PM: Cake Cutting
8:30 PM: Bouquet Toss and Garner Toss
Ensure A Smooth Wedding Day Run
We know you already have enough on your plate as it is, but with this wedding day schedule, you can ensure that all will go smoothly on your big day. Remember that your wedding day schedule is only a guideline. Allow yourself to add and delete any little details that you may need to, as we all know that things change. If you are feeling overwhelmed, consider creating a simple wedding check list as well to get everything you need, including wedding photographers, food caterers, and music under control.