The optimal and thought-out wedding day schedule can do miracles to your wedding celebration. There always will be those who like to criticize everything, but most of your guests will appreciate it if you organize the wedding well. It is very useful to know how long each wedding activity takes, when it is better to do this or that, how to make the wedding flowing instead of slow and boring. Sure, wedding planners can consult you and help organize everything but it is rather expensive. For those who want to build the wedding day timetable on your own, we’re publishing this article with lots of nice tips and tricks.
The best way to start planning your wedding day schedule is to take the time your ceremony begins and build the events up and down from this point. And now, let’s look at all the activities and try to organize them into a timetable.
Usually, the wedding day activities last for about 6 hours. If you plan on having a longer wedding ceremony, be ready to have extra expenses.
When you’re making an arrangement with vendors, makeup and hair artists, photographers and so on, talk with them about the time they need to do their job. In most cases, they will tell you the optimal time period from their experience, so you would be able to plan everything easier.
Hair and makeup
It is much faster and comfier when you only need to think about your bridal hairstyle and makeup. But a lot of brides hire a hair & makeup artist for a bunch of women – bride, mother of the bride, bridesmaids, sisters of the bride, etc. So, the time needed for that amount of work is much longer. Usually, the professional hair and makeup preparation begins about 5-7 hours before the main ceremony starts. But, of course, you need to consult with the artist to know the exact time frame.
It is now trendy in Europe and America to have the first look wedding photos before the ceremony. They can be of the bride alone, her with bridesmaids and closest family, the groom alone and with his groomsmen and family members, or even the couple together (because not all of the couples meet at the aisle). In any case, it is extra time before the ceremony to take these photos. And wedding planners advise to give it 2 hours so that everybody has enough time.
Then, you should dedicate some time to your wedding photos after the ceremony and signing the official marriage license. There will be more photos than for the first look pictures, so you’ll need more time. These will be the photos of the couple, family wedding photos, group photos, and plenty of other combinations. Your wedding photographer will tell you how much time roughly it takes. But usually, if you’ve already had your first look photos and bridal party photos before the ceremony, this part will take only about 20-30 minutes.
When to put on wedding dress?
If you don’t have your first look wedding photos, you can postpone the dressing up a bit. To do everything in time, put the wedding gown on about 1-1.5 hours before the ceremony. This way, you’ll have enough time for all the lacing, zippers, hooks, or a corset, a veil, jewels, and all the rest. Also, you’ll have time for any emergencies that can possibly pop up.
But work with your schedule individually because if you need to drive to the wedding venue, be ready earlier. If you’re dressing up already at the venue (a lot of them have bride rooms and groom rooms), then you don’t need that extra time.
When to come to the wedding venue?
Those brides who want to make a surprise with their dress while walking down the aisle must come to the venue at least 30 minutes before the ceremony. Some guests like to come a bit earlier than scheduled, so to outrun them, get to the place half an hour earlier.
Wedding ceremony start
Try to begin the official ceremony as on time as possible, don’t wait for every one of your guests to come. Often, some of them are late and you can’t make 100 people wait for 1 person. Of course, if, for some reason, many guests are late or the closest family members miss the scheduled start time, you can wait for them.
Wedding ceremony length
It depends on the type of ceremony, country, local traditions or family traditions, and many other factors. But usually, it lasts for 15 minutes – 1.5 hours. Make sure that your guests don’t get bored waiting for it to end. Also, the length of this event should be worth coming there. It is good when those who are late can reach at least some part of the ceremony instead of coming in 20 minutes late and seeing that everything is over already. So, give your wedding guests enough time to awww! and cry and enjoy looking at your dress and feel the atmosphere of the event.
Wedding reception details
About 15 minutes before the dinner starts, invite your guests into the reception space so that they have enough time to find their seats and make themselves comfortable.
To add the atmosphere of festivity and cheerfulness to the wedding dinner, make a grand entrance. It can be just the bride and groom coming in, while the guests meet them with some kind of noise (in some cultures, it is traditional to sing cheerful songs, shout, or make various specific sounds to show your respect to the couple). Or it can be the whole bridal party that enters. The grand entrance sets the tone of the party altogether.
The wedding dinner itself can last from 45 minutes to 1.5 hours. It depends on the number of guests and the type of reception. If you like to plan everything to the minute, just consult with your vendors about the perfect wedding dinner length.
About 10-15 minutes after the last plate has been served, you can start the toasts. Ask your speakers to talk no longer than 2-3 minutes (and keep in mind 5 minutes for the toast). And also, don’t have too many official toasts. Usually, 5 is good enough because it can be boring to wait for every speaker to say their toast speech. Make sure that your wedding guests have enough space and freedom to eat and drink when they want to, otherwise, they can get bored and uncomfortable.
After these 45-90 minutes of dinner, usually, the wedding dances happen – the newlyweds’ first dance, father-daughter, mother-son, sister-brother and other variations of wedding dances. Give them about 5 minutes. And then, open dancing begins, where most of the guests come to the dance floor. Also, give them some time just to dance and relax, before you plan any other activities.
Wedding party activities
The most popular among them are cake cutting and bouquet and garter tossing. Each of them typically takes no more than 5 minutes, so it is more practical to stick them together. If you’re taking your guests from the dance floor, offer them a few activities one after another, and then let them continue dancing. Don’t interrupt the fun for a 5-minute activity every now and then because they lose the vibe.
Have your grand exit
It is nice to have this activity as well. Of course, a lot of couples like to just quietly disappear in the middle of the dancing and partying and let their guests have fun for a few more hours. But when you have your grand exit, you give your guests another chance to congrat you, you can thank them for coming, and have the last several minutes of everyone’s undivided attention. And it’s kind of romantic to leave the ball like a princess.
All these tips and time frames we gave you are just groundwork for your individual wedding day timeline. Don’t be afraid to change something or everything if you feel like you should. This wedding schedule is the base, which you can use to make it easier for you to plan the event. If you still need help with building the wedding day timeline, consult with a wedding planner – it’s their job to plan the best possible wedding for you.