A Complete Breakdown of the Wedding-Day Timeline

When it comes to having a smooth wedding day with no major stressors, the secret is in your ability to schedule enough preparation time. Below is a breakdown of your wedding day timeline to give you a realistic idea of what to expect.

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1. Wedding Preparation:

  • Bride’s Hair & Makeup: Two hours. This also includes time it might take to make any last minute changes or fixes.
  • Bridesmaids’ Hair & Makeup: 1 hour and 15 minutes per person. Your hairstylist can start on the bridesmaids first and work on the bride’s hair and makeup last. This will allow the photographer to capture any last-minute wedding preparation shots while the bride looks fresh. On the other hand, the bride should have her makeup done first so she can have time to relax and enjoy the day. If you have more than 4 bridesmaids, request that your stylist bring an assistant to save time. For makeup, request an assistant if you have more than two bridesmaids.
  • Photographer’s Arrival: One hour before the bride is ready. The last hour of wedding preparation allows the photographer to capture the most flattering photos of the bride and bridal party in their finished looks as well as wedding details and the often emotional moments between the bride and her relatives just before the wedding.
  • If You’re Traveling to a Salon: Double the travel time you expect, as it is better to have too much time than none at all.
  • Put on your Veil:  After putting on the dress, ask your hairstylist to help make sure your veil is secure.
  • Pre-ceremony Photos: You’ll want to capture photos with family and wedding attendants at 2-3 minutes per shot, and more if the groups are very large. Consider factoring in some cushion to allow for unexpected delays.
  • First Look: 15-30 minutes for the bride and groom to see each other (optional).

2. Ceremony

  • Groom and Groomsmen’s Arrival: An hour and a half before the ceremony.
  • Bride and Bridesmaids arrive: An hour before the ceremony. However, if the bride won’t be taking photos at the venue prior to the ceremony, then she can arrive moments before walking down the aisle and wait in the wedding vehicle until it’s time (this way, no one will see her in her dress before she walks down the aisle).
  • Ceremony: 30 minutes is an adequate amount of time to have a meaningful program with music .
  • Receiving Line: 12-15 minutes for a ceremony with 100 guests or less, and 20 minutes with 150 guests. If you’re expecting more than 150 guests, consider skipping the receiving line and visiting guests at their tables during the reception dinner.
  • Maximum Gap Between Ceremony and Reception: One hour. Any more than that, suggest places for your guests to visit between the ceremony and cocktail hour.

3. Post-Ceremony Photos

  • Family and Bridal Party Photos: 2-3 minutes per shot. Save photos of very large groups (friends, co-workers, classmates) for the reception when your DJ or band leader can make an announcement to gather everyone.
  • First Look: If you didn’t have a chance before the ceremony for a first look, allow 30 minutes post-ceremony for photos of you and your groom. Even if you had a first look, you should still allow 15-20 minutes post-ceremony for just the two of you to spend time together.
  • Save Yourself Some Time: Be prepared, and create a list of all the shots and locations for the shots that you want. If your photographer is not familiar with the location, ask if he or she would scout it out before the wedding day.

4. Reception

  • Ideal Length: Six hours, including an hour for cocktails, two hours for dinner, and three hours for dancing.
  • First Dance: The most common timing is immediately after the bride and groom enter the reception, but  you can also have your first dance following dinner or after dessert.
  • Father/Daughter Dance: Immediately following the first dance.
  • Mother/Son Dance: Immediately following the father/daughter dance.
  • Welcome Toast: Given by the father of the bride or by the bride and groom.
  • First course served
  • Toasts: Start with the maid of honor, followed by the best man.
  • Second course served
  • Toasts: The bride and groom can give a toast here, if desired.
  • Invite Guests to Dance: Open up the dance floor so guests can party!
  • Cake Cutting: Two hours before the reception ends. The cake will then be passed on trays or set on a table for guests. Some couples opt to cut the cake earlier in the night after the introductions or the toast.
  • Bouquet and Garter Tosses: Right after the cake cutting, or about two hours before the end of the reception.
  • Late-Night Snacks: A popular trend, many couples serve mini snacks to refuel guests.
  • Farewell: If you’re doing a sparkler farewell, have guests line up about 10 minutes before you plan to exit.

1313 PhotographyPhotography: 1313 Photography

ricky restiano and westchester floralPhotography: Ricky Restiano | Floral Design: Westchester Floral