• 12/20/2021

How a Wedding Schedule Template Can Streamline Your Big Day

wedding schedule template

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If your wedding date is approaching, you should know that a timeline is of the utmost importance. Your timeline is the lifeline of your getting-ready process, as it tells your wedding party where they need to be and when. A wedding schedule template can help you customize your own timeline, too. As long as you know where the important events go, you can fill in gaps with other features of your special evening.

Even if you don’t have a wedding planner, you should hire an experienced day-of coordinator to make sure everything runs smoothly. Your coordinator can ensure your timeline is followed down to the detail, no matter how many items are on your list.

The All-Inclusive Wedding Schedule Template

This wedding schedule template shouldn’t be followed to the letter — after all, it’s a template that you can mold any way you want to customize your perfect wedding day.

This template takes certain conditions into consideration, such as assuming the ceremony starts at 3:00 PM, hair and makeup services come to you at the venue, the ceremony and reception are at the same venue, and so on. You should tailor it to your day personally and use this template as an example of what your own wedding day timeline can look like.

7:00 AM: Wake Up and Get Ready

Start your wedding day early, even if your ceremony isn’t until late afternoon. It’s going to take a while to round everyone up and complete wedding party preparations. Make sure you eat something. With the whirlwind of the wedding coming, you might not be able to eat lunch or much of your dinner!

8:00 AM: Travel to the Venue

Hopefully, your commute to the venue won’t take longer than an hour, especially if you’re staying in a hotel near the premises, but consider this hour as extra time just in case you want to get a headstart on something or need to wait for wedding party members or vendors to arrive.

9:00 AM: Hair and Makeup

This timeline is more customized toward a bridal entourage, since you want to consider the longest possible time it would take to get ready in order to plan accordingly. On average, a bride takes about 90 minutes to have her hair and makeup done, while each bridesmaid might take about an hour. This number may change depending on whether a bride is doing her own makeup or the intricacy of the hairstyles.

1:00 PM: Get Dressed

Getting dressed might not take half an hour, but you can be sure the wedding party will shed tears when they see their favorite couple in their outfits. For intricate outfits, such as a bridal gown, wedding party members may have to help the bride or groom into their garments.

1:30 PM: First Look

While not everyone does a first look, it’s a popular way to have a private moment alone with your future spouse (and the photographer!) before your wedding day truly begins. Make sure you have someone there to document it and take pictures if your photographer won’t be available.

2:00 PM: Wedding Portraits

If you’re doing a first look, this extra hour of time is perfect to take couple photos ahead of the ceremony. This way, you can be sure any makeup still looks fresh. If you have time, pull in your wedding party for photos involving them. The more photos you can take before the ceremony, the more time you can spend meeting people during cocktail hour.

2:30 PM: Guests Arrive

While you’re busy taking photos, guests may start to arrive. Guests typically arrive 15 minutes before the ceremony, but if your wedding is a bigger one, you should advise guests to arrive 30 minutes early to make sure they have a good seat.

3:00 PM: Ceremony Begins

This is it! The moment you’ve been working toward is finally here. Take a deep breath and march down that aisle.

3:15 PM: Ceremony Definitely Begins

If you have people on your guest list who tend to run late, you may consider putting 3:00 PM on your invitations but actually starting at 3:15 PM to give them ample time to make it to the venue and take their seats.

4:00 PM: Cocktail Hour and Other Photos

Cocktail hour is the perfect time to pull family members together for family portraits. Plus, you can finish up any outstanding wedding party photos or take more photos as a couple during this time, too! Your guests will be busy enjoying socializing amongst themselves and snacking on appetizers.

5:00 PM: Guests Enter Reception

Your guests will enter before you do. How else would your wedding party make a grand entrance?

5:15 PM: Wedding Party Enters Reception

Now, you make your grand entrance for the first time as a married couple! You can make this time as silly or as serious as you want.

5:25 PM: First Dance

After introducing your wedding party, you and your new spouse should melt right into your first dance. Some choose to wait to do this dance until after dinner, so you have a bit of wiggle room.

5:30 PM: Dinner Begins

Take into account the type of dinner you’ll be serving. It may take longer for guests to go through a buffet than to sit down and wait for a plate to be delivered to them. We’ve allotted ample time for enjoying dinner.

6:45 PM: Toasts and Speeches

Consider who you want to make toasts. Typically, the father of the bride, best man, and maid of honor make toasts on the wedding day. Whoever you choose to make a speech, make sure they don’t take longer than five minutes.

7:00 PM: Cake Cutting

You’ll want to make sure to allow enough time for everyone to receive their cake and eat it before going into the next part of the night.

7:30 PM: Family Dances

If you plan to have a father-daughter or mother-son dance, this time would be perfect to have those dances or any others that mean the world to you.

7:45 PM: Dancefloor Opens

At this time, you can open up the dancefloor for other guests to party. Other reception activities can take place during this time, too!

9:00 PM: Reception Ends

The average reception lasts about four hours, so ideally you could get all of your dancing in and have enough time for older or tired guests to enjoy everything wedding-related.

10:00 PM: After-Party Begins

If you choose to have an after-party with your closest loved ones, you can take that outside of the venue and into the local town. Make sure you don’t stay up too late, especially if you have to travel somewhere for your honeymoon!

Customize Your Wedding Schedule Template to Your Big Day

Remember: this template is meant to be customized to fit your special day perfectly. Check with your vendors and your wedding coordinator to see what would work best for you.

For example, you may choose to have no first look, which would affect what time you could start getting ready or how long your cocktail hour might be. Similarly, you may have fun activities during the reception, like the bouquet toss or the shoe game, that should be built in so the DJ and wedding coordinator would know.

One wedding schedule template can’t predict everything you have planned for your big day, so receiving feedback from others while you’re building it is essential. With a perfectly customized wedding day timeline, you’ll have a smooth wedding day that will flow perfectly from one event to the next!

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