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The Secret to a Perfect Wedding Timeline

The wedding timeline is the topic for today. It’s pretty simple to put it together once you’ve done it 50-60 times. However, when you do it for the first time you’re not quite sure what goes after what. But no worries, I am here to help you. Also, below you will find a sample day-of timeline that you can use for your event. Let's go!

perfect wedding timeline

1. Traditional Order of Events

No matter how creative you want to get try to stick to the main events in a traditional order.

  • Get Ready

  • Get Married

  • Get a Drink

  • Get a Bite

  • Get Down

Get Ready will consist of hair & makeup preparations, or maybe you want to get a massage, some breakfast with your girls, champagne and chocolate for party lovers. Get Married is obviously for the wedding ceremony. Get a drink is for the cocktail hour. Get a Bite is for Dinner, and Get Down is for the actual party. This is where you will be cutting the cake, dancing your feet off, doing the tosses, and playing games.

perfect wedding timeline
Photography by 5 Star Production,

2. Ceremony

Start by selecting the time of your wedding ceremony. I always check the sunset time on the wedding day first and then we go from there. If you want a sunset ceremony, that’s the time you’ll be getting married. Consider discussing it with your photo and video team because after the ceremony is over and the sun goes down, all your pictures will be dark. I am sure your photographer will have the best equipment to take beautiful pictures but if you want lots of daylight photos, schedule your ceremony at least 1 hour before sunset.

perfect wedding timeline
Photography by Wedion Photography

3. Getting Ready

Determine by what time you and your girls or you guys need to be ready. Tell your stylist and then schedule the time of service. If you are going to the venue right after your hair and makeup or you're having pre-ceremony photos, allow yourself at least 1 hour buffer time for the unexpected. Let’s say, your ceremony is at 4pm, make sure everyone is ready and onsite having nothing to do no later than 3pm. This will give you an idea what time you need to depart and what time your preparations should be done.

perfect wedding timeline
Photography by Images by Edi,

4. Reception

perfect wedding timeline
Photography by James Rubio,

Grand Entrance and First Dance

If you plan to do a Grand Entrance I recommend transitioning straight to the First Dance. I think it looks very awkward when the couple walks into a huge round of applause only to be seated at a table. If you want to push the First Dance to later, give a short speech to thank the guests for coming. It only makes sense because after the Grand Entrance everyone is expecting something to happen.

perfect wedding timeline
Photography by Images by Edi,

Toasts and Speeches

Do schedule and assign toasts and speeches. Let the DJ/MC know the time and the names. You don’t want to catch anyone off guard. It's best to schedule the toasts closer to the end of the dinner. The DJ will feel the room and make sure the person is ready for the toast. Ask the speakers to time their speech to no longer than 2-3 minutes.

Longevity Dances

Father/Daughter & Mother/Son dances. Keep them short. And please please please do not combine them with your first dance. Unless you plan something fun, your guests will start yawning. It's very special for you, we get it. But just like you don't watch 7-minute YouTube videos, no matter how entertaining they are, no one will keep their attention watching three slow dances in a row.

perfect wedding timeline
Photography by Ivan and Diana Photography,

Cake Cutting Ceremony and Tosses

Cake Cutting. I recommend doing the Cake Cutting Ceremony about 45 minutes after dinner. This will add to the list of day-of activities and your guests will more likely to eat cake after a little break. The biggest problem with cake is usually leftovers. After a little break, your guests will more likely to eat that cake.

Do something fun right after the cake cutting. Most of the time, we do the tosses right after. It's a good time while you have all your guests attention. It feels very awkward when all the guests surround you to watch you cut and eat the cake and then they have to go back to their seats.

5. Keep it Short

Lastly, don’t schedule a very long event. Even if you think your friends will party all night, many guests will leave after about 2.5-3 hours after the dinner is over. Especially, if you don’t keep them entertained, fed and drunk. The wedding is all about you but don’t make people stay longer than they want to. Instead, plan for an after party. Those who want to keep partying will join you there.

That’s it for today. Here is the sample day-of wedding timeline that you can use for your event.

Getting Ready (Hair & Makeup, Photo Session) Pre-Ceremony Photos with Bridal Party First Look Photo Session Arrival to the Venue Guest Seating Ceremony Starts -Bridal Party -Ring Bearer -Flower Girl -Bride & Her Escort Ceremony Ends Cocktail Hour/Post-Ceremony Photos with Immediate Family and Bridal Party Grand Entrance First Dance Dinner Toasts Father/Daughter & Mother/Son Dances Open Dance Floor Cake Cutting Ceremony Bouquet/Garter Tosses Open Dance Floor Grand Exit

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