Do you need a wedding timeline for 4pm ceremony? 5pm? 6pm? We have a sample to use and edit to your own needs, along with FAQ about a wedding day timeline. Read on and subscribe now for the latest wedding tips to your inbox!
A wedding day timeline is an essential part of planning your perfect day. A wedding timeline for the day-of will give you a general guide to the timing of things, from when to start getting ready to what time the flowers should arrive. This of this as a wedding timeline checklist: add or remove things to suit your own unique plans.
In this blog post, we’ll show you how to make a wedding timeline for 4pm ceremony time (as one template) so you can edit it to your own individual needs. Along with this sample timeline, you’ll learn a few pointers for what to write down before you make yours, how to display a wedding timeline at your reception, and what kind of print-outs are available for your wedding party attendants.
Let’s get started!
If you are ready to make a wedding timeline, there are some necessary tips to keep in mind so yours goes off without a hitch.
1. Estimate the length of your ceremony first.
As a rule of thumb, most religious ceremonies last around one hour in length. Non-religious ceremonies typically last 15-20 minutes in length. Furthermore, if you have fewer readings or songs, shorter vows, or want a very short ceremony, your ceremony timeline might fall within a 15 to 20-minute span.
2. Plan an estimate of your reception.
While most receptions last five to six hours in length, yours may be shorter or longer. How long did you reserve the venue? Mark this number down.
3. Figure out how much time it will take for guests to travel from the ceremony to the reception.
Many couples overlook this fact! If there is travel time, estimate it approximately using Google maps or similar for drive time and allow extra for the time of day, traffic, etc.
4. Write down when you want to take photos.
Do you want to take your wedding photos BEFORE the ceremony with a First Look? Or do you want to take photos after the ceremony? How extensively do you want your wedding photo session to be, and how long do you plan to take photos? You’ll work this amount of time out with your photographer. Write this number down and figure out whether most wedding photos will take place before or after the wedding ceremony.
Tip: If you want a wedding timeline with first look, you only need to add about 15 minutes max for it! It’s quite quick to capture.
5. For destination weddings, plan out a multi-day timeline.
It is helpful to have a multi-day timeline if your wedding is held throughout a weekend, perhaps with a welcome dinner, ceremony and reception, and followed by a farewell brunch. You can get an accurate headcount for multiple events by using these multi-event wedding RSVP cards.
Wedding Timeline for 4pm Ceremony
This is a sample wedding day timeline with 4pm ceremony start time. This is just an example; your timeline may vary depending on many things, from the start time of your ceremony to whether you do photos longer or shorter than other couples. Feel free to adjust yours as needed and use this as a sample guide. Yours may (and most likely will) differ.
This wedding timeline also assumes the photographer arrives at the ceremony to take photos of the bride and bridesmaids, groom and groomsmen, but without a First Look.
9am: Brides and Bridesmaids Meet in Hotel Suite to Get Ready
This one hour is reserved for the bride and bridesmaids, moms, and any other VIP guests to arrive at the hotel suite (or home, wherever you plan to get ready) to sip on orange juice, water, coffee, eat a nice breakfast (fresh fruit, frittatas, donuts, whatever!) and enjoy some time together.
If you did not give bridesmaids their gifts at the rehearsal dinner, now is the time to do it!
11am: Hair and Makeup Stylist(s) Arrive
The bride, bridesmaids, moms, flower girls, etc. get hair and makeup done now. Dresses have time to be steamed; everyone gets dressed and ready for the ceremony. At some point, a small lunch should be served before everyone heads to the ceremony.
Meanwhile, the groomsmen should meet around 11am to start getting ready. The boys may opt to do something like lunch and play pool, golf, or just hang out together. The men should start getting ready no later than 1pm.
1pm: Vendors Arrive; Florist Arrives to Distrubute Flowers
The flowers arrive! This gives everyone time to receive their bouquets, corsages, and boutonnieres.
1:30pm: Photographer Arrives
Plan to have the photographer arrive around this time, at least 30 minutes before the bride is ready with hair and makeup, and has her gown on. The photographer can snap some photos at this time of accessories (shoes, invitation, rings, bridesmaids getting ready, the bridal suite, etc.)
3:30pm: Guests Begin to Arrive at Ceremony; Wedding Party Arrives
This gives plenty of time for everyone to arrive and be on time. If your hotel is close in proximity to the ceremony, you needn’t leave so early.
Note: Your prelude music should begin now, too. It will set the tone and feel of your ceremony space.
3:45pm: Ceremony Line-Up
Everyone gets ready to line up for the procession.
4pm: Ceremony Begins
This may or may not happen on time, and that’s OK! Most ceremonies begin five to ten minutes after the actual time listed on your invitation.
If your guests are lagging behind, don’t allow the ceremony to begin until most guests arrive.
Post-Ceremony Wedding Timeline
The next portion will need to be edited depending on the length of your ceremony. For this example, we’re estimating a 30 minute ceremony and allowing 15 minute travel time to the reception venue.
4:45pm: Cocktail Hour
During this time, guests will enjoy an hour-long soiree with cocktails and appetizers; meanwhile, you and your new spouse (congrats!) will take photos with the wedding party, with each other, and with your families.
You needn’t miss the entire cocktail hour, though! If you want fewer photos, indicate this with your photographer to figure out a timeline that works with you both and ensures you get the photos you want, while also joining in on cocktail hour with your guests OR spend time with your spouse or wedding party before the festivities begin.
Then, guests head to the dining area and find their seats with your escort cards or seating chart near the entrance.
5:45pm: Reception Entrance and Cake Cutting
The DJ will announce your entrance into the reception at this time. Then, you’ll move right to the cake cutting for photos to be captured immediately.
6pm: Welcome Toast
The Father of the Bride is the first to give a short toast. Other parents may give a toast, too. P.S. The bridal party toasts do not take place yet. (Read: Who Gives Speeches at a Wedding?)
6:10pm: Dinner Begins
Time to eat!
While dinner is being served, now is the time for wedding party toasts to happen. The Best Man will do a toast first, followed by the Maid of Honor. This is usually no longer than 5 minutes each. Keep it short and sweet!
Dinner music will continue now through the duration of your enjoyable meal.
7:25pm: The First Dance and Parent Dances
Once dinner is complete, take the First Dance opportunity with your spouse. The DJ will announce this, which will lead to the parent dances next (Father/Daughter, Mother/Son, or however you plan to do it).
7:40pm: Anniversary Dance
Invite couples to dance based on years married. How does this work? It’s easy! The DJ will invite all married couples to now join you on the dance floor. After a few minutes of dancing, the DJ will announce for couples married less than 2 or 5 years to leave the dance floor. The other couples remain. They will then announce 10 years or less to leave the dance floor. This continues until the longest-married couple(s) are left dancing with the newlyweds until the song ends. What a lovely tradition!
7:50pm: Bouquet Toss and Garter Toss (Optional)
If you’re planning to do the bouquet toss or garter toss, this is the time to do it!
8pm: Dancing Begins
The dance floor is now open for everyone to dance the night away!
10:45pm: Last Song
The DJ will announce it’s time for the last song to play ahead of your sparkler exit.
10:50pm: Sparkler Exit
If you’re doing a wedding sparkler exit, this is a great time to have it planned. Read: How to Do a Sparkler Grand Exit
11pm: Reception Ends
Time for a fun getaway car photo! Say goodbye to guests and have a spectacular exit from the reception venue.
There you go! An easy answer to how to make your wedding timeline.
Now, let’s discuss some frequently asked questions.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Wedding Day Timeline
Here are some FAQs about the wedding timeline.
How long does the bridal party take to get ready?
Allow at least 2 hours.
This number may increase if you have a very large wedding party.
How long does it take the bride to get into her dress?
From hosiery to undergarments, the zipper, and the garter, the shoes — wow, there’s a lot to it! But typically, getting dressed will take approximately 15 minutes on the wedding day timeline.
How many minutes does a bridal portrait session (or groom session) take?
You will need 30 minutes for a bridal portrait; 30 minutes for a groom session.
How long does a First Look take to photograph?
Typically, your First Look (if you choose to do one) will take approximately 15 minutes.
How long do wedding photos really take?
Wedding portraits with your wedding party, parents on both sides, flower girl, ring bearer, will take approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour.
How much time does it take for family photos?
Allow at least one full hour for large family photos; allow 30 minutes for smaller groups.
How long is cocktail hour?
Just as its name suggests, you should plan for an hour-long cocktail time.
How long does dinner last at a wedding reception?
Allow at least one hour and fifteen minutes for a reception dinner on your wedding day timeline.
How long do wedding party speeches take?
Estimate no longer than 5 minutes of a speech for each person to make. For a traditional wedding, a Maid of Honor and Best Man will each do a 5-minute speech, totaling only 10 minutes on the wedding timeline.
Wedding Timeline Sign
Once yours is set, get it printed on a wedding timeline sign like this:
Or to pass out an official wedding day timeline for your bridal party attendants, print it out on an editable template like this:
You should also put your wedding day timeline on your wedding website.
Head to this page to get a wedding timeline sign to use for your day, once it’s set!
P.S. Get a FREE wedding checklist printable here!
This is a sponsored post.