How to Create Your Wedding Day-of Timeline

From the moment you wake till 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 bridal 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 + Seated-Dinner Reception:

wedding day timeline
Photo by Gold Hat Photography

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 ceremony site.

2:45 p.m. First look photos with 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 + Brunch Reception:
beach_brunch_wedding, wedding day timeline
Photo by Robert Madrid Photography 

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 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.

Noon 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:

night_wedding_reception, sample wedding day timeline
Photo by Jennifer Sosa 

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 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; food service pauses.

9:55 p.m. Dance floor opens; food service 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.

All the times noted are an approximation of when things should occur — don’t stress yourself out on the day-of if you’re five minutes past schedule!