How To Create Your Wedding Day-of Timeline

From the moment you wake until the last sip of champagne, your wedding day will be jam-packed with excitement, primping, and nerves. Keep calm on the big day by drafting a foolproof wedding timeline and then share it with your wedding party, wedding coordinator, and photographer. Want a little help getting started? Take a look at three sample day-of wedding timelines below and adjust to suit your schedule!

Late Afternoon Wedding and Seated-Dinner Reception

Photo by Nevels Media on Unsplash
Photo by Nevels Media on Unsplash
  • 7 a.m. Wake up; eat breakfast.
  • 8:00 a.m. to 12 p.m. Nearlyweds and wedding party shower and cycle through hair, skin, and makeup.
  • 12:15 p.m. Eat a quick lunch; photographers arrive during the last hour when the nearlyweds are getting ready and start to capture any preliminary shots.
  • 12:45 p.m. Hair, skin, and makeup touch-ups.
  • 1:00 p.m. Wedding party are dressed and ready; nearlyweds gets into their attire.
  • 1:30 p.m. Photographers shoot portraits with nearlyweds, wedding party, family, and any others.
  • 2:30 p.m. Everyone travels to the ceremony site.
  • 2:45 p.m. First look photos with the couple.
  • 3:10 p.m. Photographer shoots couples individual portraits, wedding party portraits, and family portraits.
  • 4:30 p.m. Ceremony begins.
  • 5:15 p.m. Cocktail hour begins.
  • 6:00 p.m. Guests move from the cocktail hour to the reception area.
  • 6:15 p.m. The wedding party is introduced, and then the newlyweds make their entrance and either have their first dance or take a seat.
  • 6:25 p.m. Dinner service begins.
  • 6:35 p.m. While guests are eating, speakers make short toasts.
  • 7:00 p.m. Wedding parents, wedding party, and other pre-determined dances take place.
  • 7:15 p.m. Dance floor opens for guests.
  • 8:00 p.m. Cut the cake (or open the dessert bar).
  • 8:15 p.m. Guests are served dessert.
  • 8:20 p.m. Newlyweds make a short thank-you speech while guests enjoy dessert.
  • 8:45 p.m. Toss the bouquet (if you're doing that) or just get back to dancing!
  • 9:30 p.m. Announce last call.
  • 9:55 p.m. The last dance.
  • 11:00 p.m. Break down and clean up.

Morning Ceremony and Brunch Reception

Photo by Keenan Barber on Unsplash
Photo by Keenan Barber on Unsplash
  • 6 a.m. Wake up; eat breakfast.
  • 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. Nearlyweds and wedding party shower and cycle through hair, skin, and makeup. (More hairstylists/makeup artists may be necessary if you have or want complicated looks. Consider keeping looks simple and/or DIYing where possible). Photographers arrive during the last hour when the nearlyweds are getting ready and start to capture any preliminary shots.
  • 8:30 a.m. Wedding party is dressed and ready; nearlyweds are ready. Everyone heads to the ceremony site.
  • 8:45 a.m. Couple does first look photos and portraits.
  • 9:10 a.m. Photographers shoot couple, wedding party, and family portraits.
  • 10:15 a.m. Ceremony begins. 11:00 a.m. Guests move from the ceremony to the reception location and mingle, play games, etc.
  • 11:15 a.m. The newlyweds make their entrance and either have their first dance or take a seat.
  • 11:20 a.m. Brunch service begins
  • 11:35 a.m. While guests are eating, speakers make short toasts.
  • 11:50 a.m. Wedding parents, wedding party, and other pre-determined dances take place.
  • 12:00 p.m. Dance floor opens.
  • 12:45 p.m. Cut the cake (or open the dessert bar).
  • 1:00 p.m. Guests sit for dessert.
  • 1:05 p.m. Newlyweds make a short thank-you speech while guests enjoy dessert.
  • 1:10 p.m. Toss the bouquet (if you're doing that) or just get back to dancing!
  • 1:55 p.m. Last dance.

Late-Night Cocktail Party

Photo by Carlo Buttinoni on Unsplash
Photo by Carlo Buttinoni on Unsplash
  • 9 a.m. Wake up; eat breakfast; enjoy your morning.
  • 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Nearlyweds and wedding party shower and cycle through hair, skin, and makeup.
  • 4:45 p.m. Eat dinner.
  • 5:30 p.m. Photographers arrive; hair and makeup touchups.
  • 5:45 p.m. Wedding party is dressed and ready; nearlyweds are finishing up.
  • 6:15 p.m. Photographers shoot portraits with nearlyweds individually, wedding party, parents, and any others.
  • 6:45 p.m. Everyone travels to the ceremony site.
  • 7:00 p.m. First look photos.
  • 7:20 p.m. Photographer shoots couples portraits, wedding party portraits, and family portraits.
  • 8:15 p.m. Ceremony begins.
  • 9:00 p.m. Guests move from the ceremony to the reception area.
  • 9:05 p.m. Hors d'oeuvres are passed; food stations open.
  • 9:15 p.m. The newlyweds are introduced and start greeting guests.
  • 9:35 p.m. While guests are eating, speakers make short toasts.
  • 9:45 p.m. First dance, parents, wedding party, and other pre-determined dances take place; foodservice pauses.
  • 9:55 p.m. Dance floor opens; foodservice continues.
  • 10:20 p.m. Cut the cake (or open the dessert bar); newlyweds make a thank-you speech.
  • 11:30 p.m.  Last call is announced.
  • 11:55 p.m. Last dance.
Keep in mind that all the times noted are an approximation of when things should occur—don't stress yourself out on the day if you're five minutes past schedule!