Wedding Planning Guide

Wedding Day Timeline

wedding day timeline

Photo: Paige Jones

When it comes to your wedding day, timing is everything. And to ensure your big day runs smoothly, it’s important to create a detailed wedding day timeline—doing so will help you stay organized, stress-free, and on time (because even running a few minutes late can throw the whole day off-track). Once you’ve drafted your wedding day timeline, share it with your wedding-party members, wedding coordinator/planner, photographer, caterer, florist, and other vendors so everyone’s on the same page.

Use the sample wedding day timeline below as a guide to create your own. Note that our version assumes both the ceremony and reception are being held at the same venue, which means guests won’t need to travel to a separate location for the reception. Thus, cocktail hour kicks off right after the ceremony’s conclusion, followed by dinner, toasts, dancing, and cake. However, if you’re having your wedding reception at a separate location, be sure to build in travel time for guests to make their way to the post-ceremony party.

Sample Wedding-Day Timeline

9:00 a.m. Hair and makeup arrive / getting ready

11:00 a.m. Vendors arrive for setup

12:00 p.m. Bride begins hair and makeup

1:00 p.m. Photographer arrives on-site

1:45 p.m. Videographer arrives on-site

2:15 p.m. Bride puts on her wedding dress

2:40 p.m. Bride and groom first look and portraits

3:30 p.m. Wedding party and family photos

4:30 p.m. Wedding party arrives on-site

4:30 p.m. Ceremony musicians arrive and begin to play

5:00 p.m. Wedding invitation start time/DJ or reception band to arrive on-site

6:00 p.m. Ceremony ends/cocktail hour begins

7:00 p.m. Cocktail hour ends/guests are ushered into the reception

7:20 p.m. Introduction and first dance—guests asked to join after

7:45 p.m. Guests take their seats and first course is served

8:00 p.m. Welcome speech from parents

8:10 p.m. First course cleared and main course set

8:45 p.m. Toasts from maid of honor and best man

9:00 p.m. Parent dances—father/daughter and mother/son dances

9:10 p.m. All guests invited onto the dance floor

10:00 p.m. Cake cutting/dessert is served

10:55 p.m. Last song

11:00 p.m. Guests depart

Midnight Breakdown complete