Here’s how to make a good wedding day timeline for guests and attendants! We’ll show you how it is done with an example wedding day itinerary. Subscribe for exclusive content to your inbox and get a FREE checklist!
What is a good wedding day itinerary? How early should you plan hair/makeup to also sip mimosas with your bridesmaids and, ya know, find time to relax? :)
And also, when should the ceremony begin, when is a good time for dinner, and what time should the wedding dances begin?
Oh, so many questions! But don’t worry, we’re here to help you through it.
There are questions that will come to mind when you’re planning your wedding day timeline in your head or on paper. And having a good wedding day itinerary will keep everything moving along on schedule and give you a firmer grasp on the day, feeling more organized with a plan in place.
Of course, some things may get off schedule at times and that is OK. Just nudge back onto your schedule and you’ll be back on track.
Today we’re showing you how to make a wedding day timeline for guests and your wedding party. You can make your own wedding itinerary as simple as possible by typing it onto a word document on your computer and email it to your vendors and wedding party attendants.
Or, you can edit a wedding party timeline like this electronic / digital version you can edit and send digitally. It is a lot easier than printing it out and making sure everyone receives a copy. :) It is by PaperPassionsDesigns.
You do not need to email the itinerary to guests directly; instead, copy and paste yours onto your wedding website and your guests can access it any time. If there is a large gap in time between your wedding ceremony and reception, you can include places to visit around town or places to grab a drink or snack. List these resources on your wedding website (guests will appreciate it!)
PRO TIP: If you don’t have a website, you can get a free one here!
You can also have an order of events sign made with your wedding itinerary on it, displayed at the entryway of your wedding venue. This lovely acrylic wedding sign is by GrowthRichLettering.
Or you can have your wedding day timeline printed onto your ceremony program, one of my favorite ideas; it keeps guests on-track for the ceremony order of events and the rest of the evening. These examples are by PaperPassionDesigns.
In lieu of printed programs, include your wedding timeline on one of these program alternatives.
We’re including a sample wedding timeline template below to use as you wish. You may need to edit particular segments that do not apply, add in others that do and discuss this timeline with your vendors. For instance, you may be booking your photographer for longer than the ceremony and reception; or your venue may plan on serving dinner at 6:30 instead of 5 pm. Discuss the timelines for each vendor and then create one itinerary.
Here are some DOs and DONTs to follow for your wedding day timeline. Below it, you’ll find a wedding timeline example to use and places to shop pretty timelines or itineraries online. Enjoy!
Wedding Itinerary Dos and Donts
1. DON’T send a wedding itinerary to everyone.
You only need to send the wedding party itinerary to your bridal party members and your photographer (if they will be photographing the before-the-ceremony portion). Guests do not need the entire list of what time you’re getting ready and where the groomsmen will be hanging out. :)
You should plan to make two wedding day timelines: one for your wedding party and vendors, the other for wedding guests.
The wedding timeline for wedding party attendants and vendors should include everything on the day of the wedding.
The wedding timeline for guests should only include the ceremony start time and everything following it.
2. DO keep it simple.
Keep it simple, silly! We’ve seen some pretty incredibly thorough (read: overcomplicated) wedding planning timelines from brides and it comes across as overwhelming, not fun. Even if you have ten thousand things you’d like to do on the morning of the wedding, you’ll likely feel stressed out by seeing everything you want to do and realize there isn’t enough time to stay on time.
Instead, keep it very simple and basic. The more simple your wedding timeline is, the easier it is to stay on track
3. DO give yourself extra time.
What is more stressful than a bride without a plan?
A bride WITH a plan, who keeps shouting at everyone to stay on track. ;)
Keep in mind the main goal of your wedding day timeline: to get everyone where they need to be on time.
4. DON’T freak out if you miss a step.
Oh, snap: you did the bridesmaid gift exchange earlier than planned? No sweat. Your First Look or portraits took longer? No problem. Just shake it off.
5. DO start as early as possible.
The best way to make the most of your wedding day? Get up early! Start getting your hair styled and makeup applied as soon as possible; enjoy time to relax in your bridal suite before things get busy. You can always spend extra time relaxing, but you definitely don’t want to feel rushed on your big day.
An early start to your wedding day timeline is the easiest way to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
Here is our example wedding timeline with a ceremony start time of 3 pm and dinner start time of 6:00.
Use this how you need and keep it simple!
Wedding Timeline Example
9:00 AM Bridesmaids arrive for hair and makeup at the bridal suite; lunch; getting dressed
Groomsmen arrive for lunch and getting ready at the groom’s suite
12:30 PM Photographer Arrives: Getting Ready Photos, Bridal Gown, Putting on Veil, Etc.
2:00 PM First Look Photos
2:30 PM Bridal Party Photos; Groomsmen Photos
3:00 PM Wedding Ceremony
Family Photos Following the Ceremony
4:30 PM Cocktail Hour at the Reception
5:30 PM Grand Entrance as Newlyweds; Bridal Party Announced
6:00 PM Dinner is Served
7:00 PM Cake Cutting and Toasts
8:00 PM First Dance, Father and Daughter Dance, Mother and Son Dance, Etc.
8:30 PM Dancing Begins For All
10:00 PM Sparkler Send-Off
If your wedding ceremony begins later, edit the time accordingly. If your ceremony is earlier, move everything up a bit (even if that means getting ready beginning at 8 am).
If you are including a bouquet toss or garter toss, your DJ will work it into the dancing portion. Your DJ is an important part of your reception and will keep everything moving on schedule, along with ensuring guests grab what is needed for a sparkler send-off (if you’re doing one). If you haven’t chosen a DJ yet, keep that in mind when you do! They really do “run the show” for most of the evening.
And, of course, throughout the day — don’t forget to eat! :) So many couples are busy running around that they forget to eat something.
We hope this wedding day timeline example gives you inspiration for your own. Your unique order of events will vary according to the traditions you’re planning to include — or skip. Review it before it is “published” / sent to your wedding attendants and if any last-minute adjustments are needed, be sure to send a revised edition a few days prior to the wedding.
Have any questions? Just ask in the comment box below!