From start to finish, your wedding day will be jam-packed with excitement. The secret to a stress-free wedding day? A foolproof wedding day timeline.

A well-planned wedding day timeline ensures your big day flows at the right pace and all of your guests feel happy, well-fed and entertained throughout the event.

Unsure where to start with planning? Find inspiration for how your big day might unfold with our six different sample wedding day timelines.

Planning Your Wedding Day Timeline

The best wedding day timelines have in-built flexibility and include a contingency plan. When designing your timeline, make sure to talk to your venue and suppliers to find out how much time they will need to set up. Often, things will run over and take longer than expected, so don’t worry if your timings don’t go exactly to plan.

Here’s an outline of how long you can roughly expect each stage of the day to take:

Getting ready and photography – Allow 1-2 hours
Civil ceremony – Allow 20-30 minutes
Church ceremony – Allow 40 to 90 minutes
Group photography – Allow 30-40 minutes
Couple photography – Allow 30-60 minutes
Cocktail hour/reception drinks – Allow 60 to 90 minutes
Wedding breakfast – Allow 2 hours
Speeches – Allow 30-60 minutes
Room turnaround – Allow 45 minutes to 1 hour
Cutting the cake – Allow 10 minutes
First dance – Allow 5 minutes

Once you’ve finalised your wedding day timeline, remember to share it with your wedding vendors and VIPs such as family members and your wedding party on the week of your wedding. On the day of your wedding, your event manager will make sure things run smoothly. You can also enlist a family or wedding party member to enforce the schedule.

Wedding Day Timeline Ideas

Morning Wedding Timeline

Morning weddings with brunch receptions are becoming a popular way for couples to affirm their love for each other in an intimate, unique way. Who doesn’t love brunch food? With a morning wedding, you’ll get to enjoy fantastic brunch food and gorgeous natural lighting for all of your photographs.

6 am – Breakfast
7 am – Hair and makeup
8:30 am – Vendors arrive / Setup starts
9 am – First look and couple’s portraits
9:30 am – Family pictures
9:30 am – Guests arrive / Pre-ceremony music starts
10 am – Time written on the invitation
10:15 am – Ceremony start time
10:45 am – Ceremony ends / Cocktail hour starts / Group photographs are taken with all guests
11 am – Photography for the bride and groom
12 pm – Brunch reception starts
12:30 pm – Toasts and speeches
1 pm – First dance and partying
1:30 pm – Cake cutting / Dessert
3 pm – Couple departs
3:15 pm – Guests depart / Vendors pack up
4 pm – Vendors leave the venue

Wedding Day Timeline 1 pm Ceremony

An early afternoon ceremony offers the perfect happy medium between a morning and an afternoon ceremony. With this timeline, you avoid the need to get up super early but can still end the night relatively early. This is also a very kid-friendly wedding timeline, which may be important to you if there are lots of small people in your life.

8 am – Breakfast
9 am – Hair and makeup
9:30 am – Vendors arrive / Setup starts
10:30 am – ‘Getting ready’ photography
11 am – First look and couple’s portraits
11:45 am – Family pictures
12:30 am – Guests arrive / Pre-ceremony music starts
1 pm – Time written on the invitation
1:15 pm – Ceremony start time
1:40 pm – Ceremony ends / Cocktail hour starts / Group photographs are taken with all guests
2:30 pm – Lunch reception starts
3:00 pm – Toasts and speeches
3:30 pm – First dance and partying
5:00 pm – Cake cutting / Dessert
6:15 pm – Couple departs
6:30 pm – Guests depart / Vendors pack up
7:30 pm – Vendors leave the venue

Wedding Day Timeline 4 pm Ceremony

Many couples love afternoon weddings because it gives you more time to chill out before launching into the big day. If you love the idea of partying with your loved ones late into the night, this is the perfect timeline for you.

9 am – Breakfast
10 am – Hair and makeup
12 pm – Vendors arrive / Setup
2 pm – First look and couple’s portraits / Family photos
3:30 pm – Guests arrive / Pre-ceremony music starts
4 pm – Time written on the invitation
4:15 pm – Ceremony start time
4:45 pm – Ceremony ends / Cocktail hour starts / Group photographs are taken with all guests
6:00 pm – Dinner reception starts
6:30 pm – Toasts and speeches
7:00 pm – Cake cutting / Dessert
7:30 pm – First dance and partying
9:55 pm – Couple departs
10:00 pm – Guests depart / Vendors pack up
11 pm – Vendors leave the venue

Wedding Day Timeline 5 pm Ceremony

An evening ceremony with a dinner or cocktail party style reception takes advantage of a stunning sunset and creates a true party atmosphere. Imagine continuous rounds of glorious food or an epic dinner feast, followed by lots of partying and dancing.

1 pm – Hair and makeup
3 pm – Vendors arrive / Setup
3:30 pm – First look and couple’s portraits / Family photos
4:30 pm – Guests arrive / Pre-ceremony music starts
5 pm – Time written on the invitation
5:15 pm – Ceremony start time
5:30 pm – Ceremony ends / Cocktail hour starts / Group photographs are taken with all guests
6:45 pm – Cocktail or dinner reception starts
7:15 pm – Toasts and speeches
7:30 pm – First dance and partying
8:00 pm – Cake cutting / Dessert
9:00 pm – Couple departs
9:00 pm – Guests depart / Vendors pack up
10 pm – Vendors leave the venue

Wedding Day Timeline 6 pm Ceremony

If you’re keen to celebrate past midnight, a wedding that happens later in the evening is a perfect choice. This is the ideal wedding timeline for night owls who love to party.

1 pm – Hair and makeup / Getting ready photography
4:30 pm – Vendors arrive / Setup
4:30 pm – First look and couple’s portraits / Family photos
6:00 pm – Guests arrive / Pre-ceremony music starts
6:30 pm – Time written on the invitation
6:45 pm – Ceremony start time
7:00pm – Ceremony ends / Cocktail hour starts / Group photographs are taken with all guests
8:00pm – Dinner reception starts
9:30pm – Cake cutting / Dessert / Toasts and speeches
9:45 pm – First dance and partying
11:45 pm – Couple departs / Guests depart / Vendors pack up
12:45 pm – Vendors leave the venue

Final Thoughts: Planning Your Wedding Day Timeline

Trust us, your wedding day will be overflowing with special moments. It’s important to soak in the experience as much as possible. The day will speed by, so remember to take time out on the day to savour each moment with your partner.

Crafting the perfect pace for your wedding day — and making sure all the intricate details fall together — takes artful planning. Our team of talented event planners lend their expertise so you can focus on full-heartedly sharing your day with the people you love. Contact our events team today to find out how we can help you plan your dream wedding day.