Wedding Day Timeline
Hello beautiful people! It has been a busy couple of weeks for the JW team and you may have noticed we didn't get to blog last week. I am sure you were all on pins and needles waiting to see what we would share next, so here you go...
Every wedding is unique, but most follow a basic timeline of events. Below is a general timeline you can use to organize your BIG day!
The Day Before
1. Prepare all vendor gratuity or final payments (if applicable) in labeled envelopes for your planner to hand out. You won't have to worry about tipping at the end of the night and your vendors will greatly appreciate it!
2. Do not forget to relax and enjoy yourself! Schedule manicures & pedicures for you and the bridal party or ask your maid of honor to schedule it for you.
3. Have a wedding rehearsal. Your planner/coordinator will run this for you and it only takes about 1 hour to line up your party, practice the processional and recessional, and run through the order of ceremony events. Be sure you do not fully rehearse your vows though. You want to keep some mystery for the next day!
4. Enjoy your wedding rehearsal dinner with friends and family!
The BIG day
The timeline below is based on a wedding ceremony that starts at 4 PM and the ceremony & reception are at the same venue. If you have two locations allow extra travel time for guests.
9:00 AM Bridal Party Hair & Makeup
12:00 PM Getting Ready Photos
1:00 PM First Look Photos
Most couples like to get all photos taken care of before the ceremony, which means they must do a first look photo. If you want to do a first look photo with your party, father, or mother be sure to do that before the first look with your soon to be spouse. After the first look photos the photographer will spend some time taking pictures of just the couple.
1:45 PM Wedding Party Photos
3:00 PM Family Photos
Photographers are wizards with a camera and can often get all immediate and extended family photos in 30 minutes, but if you have a large family or want to focus more time on family photos be sure to allow for 45 minutes in your timeline.
3:30 PM Wedding Party in Hiding and Doors Open for Guests
Guests will arrive as early as 45 min before the ceremony, but normally the rush is between 30 and 15 minutes prior to the start time. If you do not want guests to see you before you walk down the aisle it is important to have the wedding party in their perspective rooms before you start prelude music and open the doors.
4:00 PM Ceremony Start
4:45 PM Couple Send off or Receiving Line
The receiving line can include just the couple; the couple and both sides of immediate family; the couple, family, and wedding party.
5:00 PM Cocktail Hour
6:15 PM Grand March/Grand Entrance
A Grand March is the announcing of the full wedding party as they make their way to the head table. A Grand Entrance is the couple being announced only. The wedding party would already have taken their seats with the guests.
6:25 PM Welcome/Blessing
It's nice to have someone welcome all of the guests to the reception. This is often times the father of the bride, a parent in general, or the couple themselves. This not a toast. It is a simple thank you for coming and enjoy the night kind of a thing. If you choose to have a pastor or someone give a blessing that comes after the welcome before dinner is served.
6:30 PM Dinner Served
7:15 PM Speeches Start
The order of speeches is up to you. Most often they go in an order similar to this: father/parent of the bride, father/parent of the groom, maid of honor/best man, ends with the couple.
7:45 PM Cake Cutting & Special Dances
After speeches cut your cake and then make your way to the dance floor. Many people ask me about the first dance. Is it the first dance as husband and wife? The first dance of the evening? The first thing that happens when they walk in the room? The answer is all of the above! The first dance can take on many meanings. Some couples like to do their grand march and jump right into the first dance. Others like to dance after dinner and speeches. That is entirely up to you! Many couples will do their first dance followed by the father-daughter dance and the mother-son dance. A trend I have noticed lately is combining the father-daughter and mother-son dance into a combined parents dance. That might be a great option for you if your parent is not big on the whole dancing while everyone watches thing. Do not feel like you have to dance all the way through a song. Give your DJ a point in the music you want them to fade out and they can easily make that transition for you.
8:00 PM Open dance floor!
The rest of the night is all about having fun. If you want to do a garter toss, bouquet toss, anniversary dance, etc those will all happen once the dance floor is open to all guests. Your DJ will space those out throughout the night.
10:30 PM Late Night Snack
If you plan to provide a late night snack for guests it's usually best a couple of hours after people have started burning off dinner while dancing. Pizza, sliders, and munchie foods are common late night snacks. Check with your catering company to see if you can bring in your own or what they will provide for you.
11:45 PM Last Call at the Bar
It is nice to have the DJ make an announcement about 15 minutes before this happens, so guests don't get upset if they try to get a drink at the end of the night.
11:55 Last Song of the Night
12:00 PM Couple Send Off and End of the Night
You can plan a perfect timeline of events, but things happen. It's ok if you get to the speeches 15 minutes later than originally planned. A good planner or coordinator can go with the flow! They will make sure that everything on your timeline happens even if it's not to the minute. We make sure that the first dance happens before the photographer needs to leave, that speeches won't start until the mother of the bride returns from the bathroom, etc. The timeline is a basic outline of the events, but don't stress about it too much :)
Happy Planning! Until Next time...XO, Tamara