Wedding Timeline Example
The entire feeling of a big day hinges on its ceremony start time. Here's some wedding timeline examples to help you select which is right for you
A classic wedding day timeline involves three major events. The ceremony, cocktail hour and wedding receptio. And from an outside perspective, as a guest, those events seem to simply click into place, one after another. But in actuality, each has been carefully planned and set within a wider itinerary to ensure the entire wedding day flows. From first look and family portraits, to the first dance and best man speech. Every moment has been carefully choreographed to create a smooth-running event.
When putting together a wedding day timeline, it can be pretty confusing. Not knowing when certain events should be scheduled, or how long they should go on for. Plus, even if you've done some research and looked at a wedding timeline example, it may not have the same ceremony start time. A crucial factor in how your ceremony and reception will feel.
To help you become the wedding planner we know you can be, we've put together 6 sample wedding day timelines based around different ceremony times. To keep it simple, we've concentrated solely on the major events in a typical wedding schedule, leaving you free to slot in the smaller moments in whichever order you wish. Once you've found the wedding timeline example that matches your own big day plans, head over to our free Wedding Day Timeline Template! An incredibly easy to use tool that'll help you create the perfect wedding itinerary in minutes.
- How Long Does a Wedding Ceremony Last?
- How Long Should a Wedding Reception Last?
- Wedding Timeline Examples: 6 Sample Wedding Days
- A Morning Wedding | 10am Ceremony
- Midday Wedding | 12pm Ceremony
- Early Afternoon Wedding | 3pm Ceremony
- A Classic Late Afternoon Wedding | 5pm Ceremony
How Long Does a Wedding Ceremony Last?
Just as important as knowing when a ceremony starts, is how long it will last. As a smooth transition from ceremony to cocktail hour will certainly impress your guests, and help them get in the party mood. The actual length of your wedding ceremony will depend on the style you've chosen, or the religion you follow. On average, however, wedding ceremonies last between 20 and 30 minutes. Your officiant will be able to give you an accurate idea of how long yours will be once you've decided on all the elements you want included. You could even strip your ceremony down to a short exchange of vows, and create a snappy 10-minute ceremony. But think hard before you consider taking this route, as you may lose much of what makes a ceremony so special.
How Long Should a Wedding Reception Last?
Wedding receptions typically last between four to five hours, but the length of yours will largely depend on your crowd, and how long you think they'll want to party for. The venue you're holding the reception in will also impact when the last dance will be, as most have strict closing times. If you do want your reception timeline to go on long into the night, be sure to factor that in when looking at venues. Or ensure there is a another late night venue awaiting you and the other night owls following the traditional reception.
Wedding Timeline Examples: 6 Sample Wedding Days
Each of our sample wedding timelines below, assume that you're getting married in the same place as your reception. If that's not the case for you, be sure to adjust timings slightly to allow for travelling between wedding venues.
From a traditional ceremony to a more modern celebration, each example presents a detailed breakdown of events, timings, and transitions. The guide includes various scenarios, such as morning or evening weddings, outdoor or indoor settings, and different cultural traditions.
A Morning Wedding | 10am Ceremony
If you're a couple that loves nothing more than a cozy brunch session on the weekend, why not plan your wedding around one! Holding a ceremony in the morning really changes the dynamic of the entire wedding celebration, and offers the opportunity to wrap up events before many weddings have even started!
For those wanting to marry outdoors, during the summer months, a brunch wedding could be ideal. As you'll be outside, enjoying the weather, during the coolest part of the day. And just because we've recommended saying farewell in the early afternoon, that doesn't mean you need to. You may feel that the majority of guests won't want to party on past 3 or 4pm, but the younger wedding party members could still be up for it. Which means you could curate a wedding day split into two halves, each with their own distinct feel. Any excuse to get another wedding dress!
- 9:00 a.m — Couple Portraits & First Look
- 10:00 a.m — Wedding Ceremony
- 10:30 a.m — Cocktail hour
- 11:30 a.m — Brunch Wedding Reception
- 3:00 p.m — Grand exit
Midday Wedding | 12pm Ceremony
Hosting a lunchtime wedding can mean that guests get a little hungry during the ceremony, and desperate for their cocktail hour appetizers. But weddings at this time do allow the opportunity to have a shorter reception, as afternoon celebrations rarely involve a packed dance floor. Which could be ideal if you want to keep the timeline for your big day snappy, and make your grand entrance while the sun is still high in the sky.
Putting together such a tight wedding reception timeline will require meticulous planning, so be sure to use a wedding timeline template tool, such as ours, to help keep the day on track.
- 12:00 p.m — Ceremony
- 1:00 p.m — Cocktail hour and portraits
- 2:30 p.m — Reception
- 4:00 p.m — Couple's exit
Early Afternoon Wedding | 3pm Ceremony
Getting married in the afternoon means working closely with the setting of the sun, as you'll want outdoor portraits to be taken at the best time for natural light! Getting up super early is always an option if you want portraits to be shot during the morning's golden hour. If not, then you'll likely need to schedule a time during the reception for photo taking.
This timeline is close to a traditional wedding schedule and will favor an older crowd, as the event will likely end early in the evening, and not disrupt meal times too much. The perfect wedding day timeline for grandma!
- 12:00 p.m — Couple Portraits
- 3:00 p.m — Ceremony
- 3:40 p.m — Cocktail hour
- 5:00 p.m — Wedding Reception
- 9:30 p.m — Grand exit
A Classic Late Afternoon Wedding | 5pm Ceremony
If you want a traditional wedding day schedule, this sample certainly offers that. A full day, but one that doesn't start too early, or end too late.
Having an evening wedding will mean you'll need to work closely with your wedding photography team to decide on the best time to shoot outdoors. Which will likely be during cocktail hour. This is, classically, when couples would disappear off to shoot portraits. But if you'd rather catch up with loved ones during this time, be sure to schedule something in for earlier in the day.
- 3:30 p.m — Portraits & First Look (Potentially)
- 5:00 p.m — Ceremony
- 5:30 p.m — Cocktail Hour & Portraits (Potentially)
- 6:30 p.m — Reception
- 11p.m — Couple's Grand Exit
In summing up 6 different wedding timeline examples, it's evident that each sample wedding day timeline offers unique insights and ideas for crafting the perfect wedding day timeline. These examples provide a diverse range of possibilities, catering to various styles and preferences, and serve as an excellent starting point for couples to envision and structure their special day. Whether it's a traditional, contemporary, or unconventional wedding, these samples demonstrate how to balance events and timing, ensuring a seamless flow from start to finish. By exploring these different examples, couples can find inspiration and adapt the ideas to create a timeline that truly reflects their dream wedding, making every moment of their celebration memorable and perfectly timed.
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The online Wedding Planning Assistant provides a wide range of professional tools, including a detailed wedding timeline, meticulously designed to aid you in the coordination and organization of your special celebration.
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