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A Wedding Day Timeline for All Brides

For a smooth wedding day, the key is to plan ahead! Breaking down each portion of your day will allow you to give each part of your wedding the attention it deserves. In this blog, you’ll find a sample wedding day timeline for the possibilities of what your day will look like: a morning ceremony, afternoon ceremony, or if your ceremony & reception are in two different locations.

If you’re looking for some more help in wedding planning, check out my FREE guide in how to plan your wedding here!

A quick glance at about how much time each portion of your day should have:

GETTING READY | 2-4 HOURS

FIRST LOOKS | 15-30 MINUTES

CEREMONY | 15-30 MINUTES

COCKTAIL HOUR | 1 HOUR

FAMILY/WEDDING PARTY FORMALS | 30 MINUTES – 1 HOUR

RECEPTION | 4-5 HOURS

Sample timeline for a morning wedding:

6:00AM: Hair and makeup artists arrive – getting ready

6:30AM: Bridesmaids begun hair & makeup

7:30AM: Bride begins hair and makeup – Photographer arrivals, begins shooting getting-ready photos

8:30AM: Bride gets into her wedding dress

9:00AM: Wedding party and family photos start

9:30AM: Guests begin to arrive

10:00AM: Ceremony starts

10:15AM: Ceremony ends

10:30AM: Family/Wedding party formals begin, couple’s portraits to follow

11:30AM: Couple’s introduction to reception

11:35AM: Dances – first dance, father-daughter, mother-son, etc

11:50AM: Brunch reception begins

12:30PM: Any toasts/speeches

All guests invited onto the dance floor

1:45PM: Cake cutting

3:25PM: Last song

3:30PM: Guests depart

WeddingFirst Kiss

Sample timeline for an afternoon wedding:

10:00AM: Bride & bridal party arrive to getting ready site / breakfast & mimosas

11:00AM: Vendors arrive for setup – bridesmaids begin their hair & makeup

12:00PM: Bride begins hair & makeup

1:00PM: Photographer arrivals – begins shooting getting ready photos

2:15PM: Bride getting into dress

2:40PM: First look and couple’s portraits (if applicable, if you’re not doing a first look then portraits will be done after your ceremony! Some like to do a first look with parents, siblings, bridesmaids etc.)

3:15PM: Wedding party and family photos with the couple

NOTE: if you are not doing a first look, these time slots can be moved to AFTER your ceremony. Still reserve the same amount of time (wedding party/family formals take about 45 minutes – 1 hour depending on the size of your groups. If your cocktail hour is 1 hour, that is perfect!).

4:00PM: Bride & groom back to suites to breathe before ceremony / photographer off to shoot ceremony & reception decor/details

4:30PM: Guests begin to arrive

5:00PM: Ceremony

5:30PM: Cocktail hour begins

NOTE: if you are doing a first look and this timeline applies to you, during this hour the couple can step away for some alone time, a bite to eat, & then head into their cocktail hour to mingle. If you are NOT doing a first look, this would be the time to do your wedding party/family formals.

6:30PM: Cocktail hour ends / guests are invited into the reception

6:45PM: Newlyweds’ introduction and first dance

6:50PM: Dinner has begun to be served

7:30PM: Welcome toast

7:35PM: Any speeches

8:00PM: Parent dances (father-daughter dance and mother-son dance)

8:10PM: All guests invited onto the dance floor

9:00PM: Cake cutting

10:55PM: Last song

11:00PM: Wedding exit (if applicable) & guests depart

TIP: your photographer can pull you during golden hour to get some more portraits of the two of you with the sunset!

Wedding Cake Cutting

Sample timeline for the ceremony & reception at different venues:

8:00AM: Bride & bridal party arrive to getting ready site / breakfast & mimosas

9:00AM: Bride begins hair and makeup

10:00AM: Photographer arrivals; begins getting-ready photos

NOTE: if you have two photographers, the second shooter will be with the groom & his groomsmen during this time

11:00AM: Bride getting into dress

NOTE: If your ceremony venue is 15 minutes from where you’re getting ready, allow a half hour. Always give yourself more time in the event there is traffic or any hold up in getting you there!

11:45AM: All wedding party members arrive at ceremony venue

12:00PM: Couple’s first look and portraits

12:30PM: Wedding party/family formals

1:00PM: Bride & groom off to suites to breathe before the ceremony

1:30PM: Guests begin to arrive

2:00PM: Ceremony

2:30PM: Guests & wedding party travel to reception venue

3:00PM: Cocktail hour begins

NOTE: if you are doing a first look and this timeline applies to you, during this hour the couple can step away for some alone time, a bite to eat, & then head into their cocktail hour to mingle. If you are NOT doing a first look, this would be the time to do your wedding party/family formals.

4:00PM: Cocktail hour ends / guests are invited into the reception

4:15PM: Newlyweds’ introduction and first dance

4:30PM: Dinner has begun to be served

5:00PM: Welcome toast

5:05PM Any speeches

5:20PM: Parent dances (mother-son & father-daughter)

5:30PM All guests invited onto the dance floor

6:30PM Cake cutting / dessert is served

9:55PM Last song

10:00PM: Wedding exit (if applicable) & guests depart

Wedding Reception Photography

If you found this helpful, check out all the other tips in wedding planning on our blog!

magic

SHEREE TAYLOR RABINOVICH

Charlotte Wedding Photography
Serving Charlotte, NC & all across the USA

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