A wedding day timeline can seem like a daunting thing to think about. You might be thinking that there’s so much to do and so many guests to think about and be wondering what you’re meant to do first (traditionally and logistically). You definitely want to make sure that you have a wedding reception order of events and plan it out so that you don’t feel rushed, under pressure, or have to miss out on things you wanted to do because you ran out of time.

Part of our offerings including wedding planning services, and throughout our time of running the Wedding Duo, we’ve put together many timelines based around different ceremony times, different religious ceremonies, first look, no first look, performance style first dances, and so on!

In this post, we’ve broken down a wedding timeline example so that you can see what a typical wedding reception order of events looks like!

A wedding planning book with a wedding timeline example

Wedding Day Timeline 4pm Ceremony

Wedding Timeline: The Details

Day-of wedding timeline with no first look, no travel time required, family formals before the ceremony, and the ceremony taking place at 4pm.

A wedding planner writing a wedding timeline example on a clipboard

2:45 – Bride Puts On Her Dress

So first things first, the morning will be filled with getting ready – maybe hair and makeup, prosecco with bridesmaids/family, and having a nice, filling breakfast! It’s going to be a long day so we always recommend eating a good breakfast! 

At 2:45, we would then suggest the bride gets into her dress with the help of her mom/MOH. This is a great opportunity for your wedding photographer to get photos with the girls and candid shots of you getting ready. You could also do the family photos in this time too.

3:45 – Line Up For The Ceremony

With the ceremony starting in 15 minutes, we want to make sure that everyone is ready, prepped, and on time for the ceremony to start. This will mean getting to the ceremony room/location and waiting until it’s time!

4:00 – Ceremony

Now it’s time for the ceremony! We usually allow around 30 minutes for the ceremony to take place but this can all depend on whether you’re having a religious ceremony, are at a church, or having a civil ceremony.

4:30 – Cocktail Hour

Cocktail hour – time to grab a drink! You’ll have just come out of the ceremony and I’m sure will want to grab something to quench your thirst, so grab a drink and cheers to each other on your new adventure! Now is also the time to have photos with your new spouse and also take a few more pictures with friends and family.

Bridesmaids photos on a wedding timeline example

5:30 – Introductions

After the cocktail hour, guests will normally be invited to sit down for dinner. You and your new spouse will hang back and wait to be introduced as the new Mr & Mrs/Happy Couple/Mr & Mr/Mrs & Mrs!

5:40 – Blessing

If you’re having a blessing as part of your wedding reception, this would be a good time to do it as blessings are usually in the form of a dinner prayer.

5:45 – Dinner

Now it’s time for some food! You’ll be very happy to see the sight of food after your long gap since breakfast (if you didn’t manage to grab a snack during cocktail hour!). We usually allow an hour for dinner, but this depends on your guest count. The more guests, the longer you allow.

6:45 – Cut The Cake

We then go straight into cutting the cake after dinner which is a great opportunity for photos and candid shots of you both too!

A wedding reception setup

7:00 – Toasts

At 7pm we would do toasts and allow around 3-5 minutes per person. If you think it’s likely that one of those people is going to go way over their allotted time, just give your wedding planner a heads up, and they can adjust the timeline accordingly!

7:15 – First Dance & Parent Dances

In his example, we’re doing a first dance between the Bride & Groom, a father/daughter dance, and a mother/son dance. We’ll allow 5 minutes per dance, and then open up the dance floor to the rest of your guests!

7:30 – Open Dance Floor

This time is for dancing, drinking, and having fun. A lot of dancing shots will be taken, and any entertainment you have will be set up, and you don’t have anything you need to do for a little while, so enjoy!

8:30 – Bouquet & Garter Toss Followed By More Dancing

If you’re doing a bouquet and garter toss, this is where we’d fit it in!

9:45 – Private Last Dance

The event staff/your planner will start to usher your guests outside/into another room so that you can enjoy your last dance of the day in private.

10:00 – Grand Exits

Now it’s time to end your day and make a grand exit! You could get everyone outside holding sparklers or creating a human tunnel, or even throwing some dried petals over you both – whatever you have in mind!

Someone getting sparklers ready for a grand exit

There is no wrong or right way to do your wedding day timeline, and each couple will be different, but we hope that this timeline will give you a better idea of how long events throughout the day take. 

If you’re looking for a wedding planner or need any other planning advice, please feel free to reach out to Serena, or check out all of the resources on our blog! 

@weddingduo #answer to @soontobewilkinson #greenscreen Example Timeline!! #weddingduo #weddingplanner #weddingtimeline #imengaged #weddingplanninghelp ♬ original sound – The Wedding Duo

For more helpful DIY wedding tips and inspiration, be sure to visit the blog!

A wedding planning book with a wedding timeline example

Wedding Timeline Example

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