Everyone’s wedding looks a little different depending on what you’ve prioritized and what time of day you plan on saying “I do,” but the sample timeline below should be helpful in thinking through the schedule for an evening ceremony and reception.
Jaime of Coordinate This advises couples to “stay true to what you want” when putting together a day-of-schedule. “We all have visions of what we want our big day to be like, and as a wedding planner I believe it’s important to stay true to that.” For example, she says that many couples feel forced to schedule a first look when they’d rather wait to see each other while walking down the aisle. Communicate with your wedding planner and your photographer about your hopes and preferences for the day, so that your wedding day schedule reflects the wedding you want to have.
“We believe it’s the coordinator’s and photographer’s job to work together to make a plan to give the couple what they envisioned and not settle for less,” she says.
Sample Day-Of Schedule
9:00 AM – Hair & Makeup begins for bridesmaids, followed by bride.
9:00 AM – Wedding designer / rental company begins set up at reception location
11:00 AM – Groom and Groomsmen meet to begin preparing
12:00 PM – Lunch hour
1:00 PM – Flowers delivered to bridal suite, groom suite, and ceremony and reception site
2:00 PM – Getting ready photos of bride and bridesmaids (bridal suite) and groom and groomsmen (groom suite)
3:00 PM – First look photos (if applicable)
3:30 PM – Ceremony music starts. Guests begin to arrive. Ushers pass out programs.
4:00 PM – Wedding party all on location
4:30-5:30 PM – Ceremony
5:30-6:30 PM – Cocktail Hour / Family and Wedding Party photos
6:30 PM – Grand entrance of bride and groom and wedding party
6:45 PM – Dinner
7:30 PM – Toasts
8:00 PM – First dance, Mother-Son and Father-Daughter Dances
8:30 PM – Cake Cutting
9:00 PM – Bouquet Toss
9:45 PM – Last Dance
10:00 PM – Bride and Groom Send-Off
There’s always a chance that not everything will go according to schedule, but the important thing is that you and everyone else involved has a basic idea as to how the day will be structured. If you have a wedding planner, she’ll keep things running smoothly while the two of you focus on enjoying yourselves.
IMPORTANT PEOPLE CONTACT LIST
Make a list of all wedding party members and their contact information, as well as all vendors and their contact information. Share this list with your wedding party, parents, venue manager, and anyone else who might need to contact you or your vendors leading up to and through your wedding.
Designate point persons to field calls from vendors, and note if someone is especially well equipped to handle certain tasks. For instance, you could make a note that says, “call in case of schedule issues” next to your Maid of Honor so that neither you nor your fiance will have to take the call. That will allow the two of you to enjoy the minutes leading up to your wedding without worrying about any last minute hiccups or questions that might come up. The last thing that you want is your cell blowing up while you walk down the aisle.
READINGS AND TOASTS
As you’re putting together your day-of schedule and your important people contact list, reach out to the people who you’d like to assign special roles to (such as toasts or readings) and confirm their participation.