If you are about to get married and are hoping to have an ideal wedding day timeline, then you need to plan things in advance. Without proper planning, there is no way you can have a good wedding day timeline. Make sure the plan is chalked out in a detailed manner and has every important event mentioned in it. Most wedding ceremonies last between 30 minutes and an hour. Wedding receptions are much longer and span across 4-5 hours. So, what is a good wedding day timeline?
A good wedding day timeline is one that has a proper structure of the main events scheduled to take place during the day. It should help you remember the time by which you are required to be ready and arrive at the ceremony. It should also have some basic details like the time at which the wedding breakfast would be served or the speeches would be delivered.
How to create a perfect timeline for my wedding day?
One of the most important things to remember while creating a wedding day timeline is that it should not be too tight or rigid. Weddings are supposed to be flexible and so should be your timeline. For example, if you have set aside an hour for breakfast, leave a break of 10 minutes after that. Padding the timeline with some extra minutes proves to be very helpful and I can assure you that based on my experience. Within the wedding timeline, prepare a timeline for the vendors and the time they will take to set everything up. Some of the events that might seem trivial, like photo sessions, must be included too.
How to create a timeline for wedding day and make no mistake?
Your wedding timeline depends on the kind of things or events you have planned for your wedding. Before you start putting together a timeline, be very sure about all the events that will be organized on your wedding day. If you have hired a wedding planner, sit with them and make a proper schedule with them to discuss when an event should take place.
Since you are making the timeline yourself, you should be aware of every event or function that has been planned. From the wedding ceremony to the cocktail hour, everything should be mentioned in the timeline. Missing out on the smallest detail would end up ruining your timeline.
An example of a perfect wedding day timeline
Below is an example of the wedding day timeline. Of course, such a list can be freely modified, e.g. wedding reception can end at 2:00 am
- 10:00 am: Arrival of the hair and makeup artists and them helping the bride getting ready
- 11:00 am: Different vendors reach the venue to set-up everything
- 12:00 pm: Bride puts final touches to her hair and makeup
- 1:00 pm: Photographer comes and starts shooting candid pictures of the bride and groom
- 2:00 pm: Bride gets dressed
- 2:30 pm: Bridal portraits
- 3:00 pm: First look photo session
- 3:30 pm: Members of the wedding party arrive at the wedding venue
- 4:00 pm: The couple makes photos with their families and the wedding party
- 4:30 pm: Guests start arriving at the venue
- 5:00 pm: The wedding ceremony starts
- 6:00 pm: The wedding ceremony comes to an end and the cocktail hour starts
- 6:30 pm: The couple takes part in a sunset session (depends on the season: www.timeanddate.com)
- 7:00 pm: Cocktail hour comes to an end and guests enter the reception area
- 7:15 pm: The newly married couple is introduced to the guests and the first dance takes place
- 7:25 pm: Guests are invited to join the couple on the dance floor
- 7:45 pm: Guests get back from the dance floor and first course/starters are served
- 8:00 pm: Welcome toast is raised
- 8:15 pm: Main course is served to the guests
- 8:45 pm: A toast each is raised by the maid of honor and the best man
- 9:00 pm: The bride dances with her father and the groom jives with his mother
- 9:15 pm: The guests are requested to join the couple and their parents on the dance floor
- 10:00 pm: Cake cutting ceremony takes place
- 11:50 pm: The last song of the evening plays in the background
- 12:00 pm: Guests leave
What time should hair and makeup start on the wedding day?
Hair and makeup should start 4-5 hours before the wedding ceremony. If the wedding ceremony is scheduled to start at 3 pm, the hair and makeup process should start by 10 am. The bride is expected to take 60-90 minutes to get her hair and makeup done. The mother of the bride and the bridesmaid usually take 30-45 minutes to get ready.
What time do most wedding ceremonies start and end?
Most weddings ceremonies start around 3-3:30 pm and get over by 4:30 – 5 pm. The shortest wedding ceremonies last for 30 minutes and longer weddings could span anywhere from 60-90 minutes. However, there is no fixed rule regarding the timing of wedding ceremonies. My cousin had an early morning wedding that lasted around 40 minutes. Last year, a friend of mine got married late in the evening as some of the events in the morning got delayed by several hours. (Recommended article: “How Long is the Average Wedding Ceremony“)
How much time should we have between wedding ceremony and reception?
A break spanning across 60-90 minutes is considered to be normal between a wedding ceremony and a reception. It is important to give the newly married couple and the guests some breathing space before you move from one event to another. Last year, my friend booked just one venue for both his wedding ceremony and reception. That not only saved money but also helped in saving time that would have otherwise been spent on traveling from one location to another.
How long is a typical wedding cocktail hour?
A typical wedding cocktail hour lasts for almost an hour. However, a lot of couples these days prefer keeping the duration of the wedding cocktail hour short. A couple of months ago, I attended a wedding cocktail hour that lasted for around 30 minutes. There are several reasons why the length of these events has gone down. If the cocktail hour is organized in an outdoor location and the weather is extremely humid or cold, one wouldn’t want the guests to be there for a very long time.
Some couples prefer extending their wedding cocktail hour as they feel this is the time during which the guests feel the most relaxed and get to socialize properly. (Recommended article: “What is Cocktail Hour During a Wedding?“)
Is cocktail hour included in reception time?
Yes, cocktail hour is included in the reception time. Cocktail hour is referred to as the hour or the event that takes place between the wedding ceremony and dinner. As the name suggests, guests enjoy the variety of cocktails laid out for them before proceeding to have dinner. A friend of mine came from a family of teetotalers. Since alcohol was prohibited during his wedding, he didn’t include a cocktail hour during the reception.
What is a typical wedding reception schedule?
A wedding reception is an event that holds several mini-events within it. Most wedding receptions that I have attended have been quite similar to each other and fairly elaborate. They start with a cocktail hour that usually lasts for an hour. After that, the wedding coordinator checks whether everybody is seated and goes on to introduce the newly married couple to the guests.
The father of the bride welcomes the guests, delivers a speech to them expressing his gratitude to them for gracing the event with their presence. After this, dinner is served to the guests. Dinner can either be served directly to the guests’ table or they could walk to the food counters to fill their plates with food. Once the guests are done with having their dinner, the bride and the groom address everyone and thank the guests for being a part of this special event in their lives. The reception concludes with a cake cutting ceremony and the ‘last dance’. (Recommended article: “Everything You Need to Know About Wedding Speeches“)
What time do wedding evening receptions start?
In the invitation card, guests are requested to come by 7:30 pm but mostly, the reception starts between 8-8:30 pm. Unlike the main wedding ceremony, the atmosphere at a wedding reception is quite relaxed and therefore, guests are not in a rush to arrive. My sister’s wedding ceremony was held at our family home and the reception was organized at a hotel. For that reason, it took a while for the guests to go back to their home, freshen up and come to the hotel.
What time do most wedding receptions end?
Usually, 10 pm is when a wedding reception ends. If the wedding ceremony and the reception are organized at the same venue, there is a good possibility of the reception ending sooner. If the two functions take place at different locations, then a good amount of time would be spent by the bride, groom, families and the guests in traveling from one venue to another. That could result in the reception going on for a longer period.
Is 11am too early for a wedding ceremony?
Though most weddings start between 3:30 – 5pm, it is not uncommon to have a wedding at 11 o’clock in the morning. When a wedding ceremony is scheduled to start at 5 pm, the couple gets the entire morning and the afternoon to get ready. So when you plan to start a wedding ceremony at 11 am, the couple would have to start getting ready from the early hours of the morning or the night before.
Is a 6-hour wedding too long?
6-hour wedding is not too long. Considering the fact that a wedding reception, on average, takes 4-5 hours long to conclude, setting aside 6 hours for the entire wedding is quite reasonable. Also, the length of a wedding must be discussed and decided by the couple and their families. Weddings could be as short as 3 hours long and could take even 15 hours to conclude. The number of hours taken to complete a wedding is directly proportional to the way you have planned a wedding. An intimate wedding with a handful of family members in attendance is bound to take much lesser time than a lavish wedding comprising of several high-profile events.
Is 4 hours long enough for a wedding reception?
4 hours is good enough for a well-planned wedding reception. On average, most wedding receptions last between 4-6 hours. When my brother got married last year, we included the wedding reception as a part of the entire wedding timeline and that helped tremendously in streamlining things. We wrapped up the reception in less than 4 hours and believe me, there was enough time for everybody to have dinner, try out the cocktails and dance to their heart’s content.
Is 5 hours enough for a wedding?
This completely depends on how elaborate you want your wedding to be. If you are organizing your wedding yourself, you would be the best person to decide whether 5 hours would be enough or you need more time. If you plan everything in advance and prepare a timeline for your wedding, it will help you arrive at the number of hours you need for your wedding. Most people set aside 4 hours for the reception. Whether you can pack in the rest of the events, including the wedding ceremony, in the remaining hour is something you need to figure out.
Is a 6 o’clock wedding too late?
6 pm is not too late for a wedding ceremony. However, you must have the dinner ready for the guests who might have come from far-off places and feel hungry during this hour. The ones who come from another town might have skipped lunch and some could be expecting to have an early dinner. Therefore, if you are about to have a wedding ceremony at 6 pm, it would be advisable to have the food and refreshments ready.
How late is too late for a wedding ceremony?
The timing of the wedding ceremony depends on your personal preference. Most wedding ceremonies start between 3 to 5 pm. You can choose to start your wedding very late in the evening but remember that there will be other events and ceremonies that will follow the wedding. If your wedding ceremony begins at 9 pm, it will be midnight by the time the reception ceremony begins. This might cause a lot of inconvenience to the guests.
How late is too late for a wedding reception?
Most wedding receptions start between 7:30 – 8:30 pm. This is considered to be the most ideal time for receptions to begin by most couples. The guests can arrive by 8 pm and then, after meeting the couple, can proceed to have dinner. If the reception starts very late, say by 10 pm, it would be too late for the guests to have dinner. If some guests have driven to the venue from nearby towns, it would also be inconvenient for them to get back home late in the night.
What is the normal duration of a wedding ceremony?
Most wedding ceremonies last anywhere between 30-60 minutes. The time taken to finish a wedding ceremony depends on the kind of wedding that has been planned by the couple. Also, the nature of the wedding plays a role in determining its length. For instance, a religious wedding might take longer than a secular wedding. Recently, my friend had a traditional Christian wedding that took close to 40 minutes to conclude.
How late is too late for a wedding dinner?
The wedding dinner should be served between 8 – 8:30 pm. If you start serving the dinner by 10 pm, it would be considered to be impolite. After a long day of witnessing different ceremonies, the guests shouldn’t be made to wait too long for dinner. If you feel the wedding ceremony or the other events of the day took too long, you can cancel the cocktail hour to conserve time or serve cocktails and dinner together.
Header photo © Glenn Carstens-Peters / Unplash