Your wedding day is not the day to jump into a cloud of spontaneity and let it all unravel with an impromptu event. What is the key to a flawless wedding day? The answer is always a well organized and well planned wedding timeline. Let’s break down a traditional wedding day and create a template for a wedding timeline.
Think about all of the events that you want to occur in a list format, from ceremony to the wedding exit. Notate spaces in between for preparation and travel. The more detailed the better. While you begin a wedding timeline with a basic outline, it should always become a detailed itinerary. Your timeline will be broken down into blocks of time: prior to arrival at the venue, getting ready at the venue, the ceremony, cocktail hour and reception. All last minute errands should be accomplished before your wedding day, but you will need to allow time for hair, makeup, dressing and travel to the venue. Always plan to arrive at your venue two hours prior to the event start time, if the venue allows. Let’s plan a wedding timeline for a wedding that begins at 6:00 pm.
11:00 am on the Wedding Timeline
Before you arrive at the venue, you will have a few things to do and a few things you should do. Hopefully, you will have enjoyed a good night of sleep and are prepared for the day. You should always organize your dress and accessories the day before. Have all of your tasks and errands accomplished before your wedding day. This is not a day to wake up to stress and scrambling to get everything together. That will only lead to misplacing and forgetting things.
Plan ahead and prepare so you can begin your timeline with a nice breakfast. You will probably be nervous, but you should eat and enjoy the morning. Avoid social media and distractions. Connect with your wedding party to make sure they are on the timeline and following the plan. You should have a designated meeting location to gather and prepare. Some brides rent a house for the night before to have the wedding party together the next morning for a brunch and a small toasting. Avoid drinking too early and too much. Allow time for showers, and getting ready. Make contact with your hair and makeup artist, your photographer and your transportation. Remember, you will be working on a timeline and must arrive at the venue by 4:00 pm.
It’s 3:00 pm -Get the Stretch!
Depending on the size of your wedding party, you might plan to arrive in a limo or a party bus. Some couples adhere to old tradition that prevents the bride and groom from seeing each other prior to the wedding. If you want to step away from tradition, you could choose to ride together with the entire wedding party in one bus. Regardless of the arrangement, allow for enough travel time to arrive at the venue by 4:00 pm. Depending on the distance between your meeting location and the venue, you might need a little more time for travel.
4:00 pm Arrival at the Venue
This 4:00pm arrival is based upon a wedding venue that allows for arrival two hours prior to your event and has a bridal and groom’s suite on-site. Arriving at the venue a couple hours in advance will give you a window of time to meet inside of your designated suite with your hair and makeup artist. If you choose to have your photographer and videographer follow your entire day for a full documentary of your wedding day, you will probably arrive with your camera crew. If your photography is commencing at the venue, the photographer should meet you upon arrival to capture your photography as you planned. You should take several pictures with your wedding party. While you are getting ready inside of the suite, your entire vendor team will be setting up in the venue. It is recommended to have a wedding coordinator that will oversee the following:
The DJ or band setting up in the reception area and doing sound and lighting checks
The arrival of the officiant
The arrival of catering through the proper entrance and management of the temperature of the food
The arrival and seating of guests in the ceremony space
The wedding procession in the appropriate order
6:00 pm on the Wedding Timeline
This is it! This is the time the ceremony is set to begin. The procession will kick off the long awaited moment. Depending on the rituals you add to your ceremony, this main event will last about 30 minutes to an hour. Some couples have special readings and prayers. Some add a handfasting ceremony, a sand ceremony or a unity candle ceremony. You could choose to add other important events that would increase the duration of the ceremony. For the sake of this wedding timeline, we are going to imagine a 30 minute ceremony.
6:30 pm on the Wedding Timeline
This is the moment on the wedding timeline that you dreamed about. This is where you will be announced as husband and wife and make your exit beneath a confetti blast, rose petals or a saber arch. If you are planning your ceremony and reception at the same venue, you will make your exit down the aisle with applause and be whisked away with your photographer for an hour of wedding photography and private toasting with your new spouse. This time period is called the cocktail hour. During cocktail hour, your guests will mix and mingle with drinks and appetizers while they await your entrance and introduction at the reception.
7:30 pm is the Big Introduction
This is the place on the wedding timeline where you will make your grand entrance into the ballroom. Some couples choose to immediately take center stage and dance their first dance on cloud effects. Some couples choose to save the dance for later. You will need to fill in this block of time with all of the events you imagine, such as toasting, speeches, cutting the cake and the bouquet toss. Get creative and plan every event to the very end. When the clock strikes midnight, you get to make that unforgettable getaway with your true love, just the way you dreamed it up from fantasy. If you are not hosting your ceremony and reception at the same venue, you will need to add travel time between the cocktail hour and the introduction at the reception hall.
The Reception on the Wedding Timeline
7:30 pm -Guests are invited to dine in the ballroom
7:45 pm -Grand entrance and first dance
8:00 pm – Welcome toasts from the parents of the bride or the hosts (father of the bride delivers the first speech)
8:15pm -Dinner is served
8:45 pm -Bridal party makes a toast (maid of honor and best man speeches)
9:00 pm -Father and daughter dance and the parents dance
9:10 pm -Everyone joins the floor to dance
9:45 pm -Cake cutting ceremony
10:05 pm -Bouquet Toss and Garter Toss
10:25 pm -Everyone joins the floor to dance until the end
11:50 pm -Last song
11:55 pm -Grand exit
Notes About the Wedding Timeline
Consider whether you will be having your ceremony and reception at the same venue or different locations. If you will be hosting the events at separate locations, you will need to include blocks of time on your wedding timeline for transportation between places. Choosing a venue with a ceremony space and a reception ballroom provides an advantage when you do not need to factor in additional travel time between locations. Once you have a basic idea about how much available time you have, you can start planning your wedding timeline at the venue.
Plan for photography moments. A good photographer will capture moments prior to and throughout your wedding day to retell the story of all of your magical moments; however, you will need to plan blocks of time for photography to occur on your wedding timeline. Important photograph sessions usually include the couple and their wedding party, together and separately. It is important to add a couple different photography opportunities to your wedding timeline.
Crystal Ballroom at Veranda
Bring your wedding timeline to Crystal Ballroom at Veranda and create your magical moments in a ballroom designed just for you. Crystal Ballroom at Veranda is an all-inclusive wedding venue with an in-house design team, planners, vendor connections and a day of event coordinator package to make your dream wedding come true just the way you planned it. Walk the red carpet to the fairy tale that awaits you at Crystal Ballroom.