Your special day is almost here! The vendors have been hired, the music has been chosen, and you’re almost done gathering all of your decorations. Don’t forget one of the final steps: creating your wedding day timeline. Having a written schedule is essential for eliminating confusion and making sure the bridal party and photographers are in the right places at the right times. The ceremony time has been set long in advance, so it’s up to you to schedule the day’s events around it. Here are a few tips to help you create the perfect wedding day timeline:

Wedding party gets ready: 2-3 hours. For afternoon weddings, getting ready can start as early as you’d like it to. 2 hours is typically enough time, but for larger wedding parties, or if everyone is getting their hair done, you’ll need more time.

Photographers arrive/bride gets dressed: 15-20 minutes. Your hair and makeup should be done by the time the photographers arrive to photograph you zipping up your dress and getting your jewelry and shoes on. This won’t take long, so 15 minutes should be enough time.

Solo photos and wedding party photos: 30 minutes. If you’re doing a first look, plan on setting aside at least 30 minutes. The first look photos should only take about 15 minutes, but if you’d like to take wedding party photos before the ceremony, plan on adding in an extra 15 minutes or so. The length of time will depend on the amount of people in your party and how many photos the photographer plans on taking.

Travel to the ceremony location: 20 minutes. Even if the venue is only a 5-minute drive, give yourself plenty of extra time to factor in any mishaps: traffic, a flat tire, etc.

Wedding ceremony: 30 minutes-1 hour. Some ceremonies will take longer than others, and you’ll know how much time it’ll take in advance. It’s not a bad idea to add an extra 10 minutes onto the schedule so that you won’t be running late if things go slightly longer than expected.

Family photos: 45 minutes-1 hour. This is another chunk of time that will vary depending on the size of your family, but getting everybody together and in different group combinations will take quite a while.

Cocktail hour: 1 hour. While you and your family are taking photos, other guests will be meandering to the reception for drinks and appetizers. Make sure all vendors, like the DJ and bartenders, are ready to entertain guests right away.

Grand entrance & dinner: 45 minutes-1 hour. After you and the wedding party have entered and taken your seats, relax and enjoy your meal.

Speeches & first dances: 25-30 minutes. After the maid of honor and best man have given their speeches, it’s time for the first dance, along with parent dances.

After this, the rest of the night is up to you! If you’re doing a cake cutting and serving dessert to tables right after dinner, add on an extra 15 minutes before the speeches. Many couples also set aside 20 minutes for some sunset photos or photos away from the reception. If you’re offering a shuttle from the reception to the hotel, notify guests in advance of the times that the shuttle will be leaving.  

Stillwater Event Center will help make your wedding day worry-free. Contact us to host your wedding ceremony or reception!