Planning The ULTIMATE Wedding Timeline


Your wedding day is going to consist of a lot of events and a lot of things to do and you’re going to want to make sure to keep everybody happy and not over-do it with the allotted time. In all honesty, the last thing you need to think about it, “Man, this is taking forever.” You need to live in every moment and make sure that everything gets done in a timely manner. Here’s a breakdown of the appropriate time lengths for every part of your big day!

Photo by Jasmine Star 

Getting Ready

First thing’s first, how many bridesmaids do you have? If you have more than 4, you might want to get started early as well as getting more than one stylist. For ceremonies starting in the early afternoon, say 1 or 2, it’s safe to start as early as 9 am to avoid any rushing and ensuring you all look your best. Especially you! In a more specific breakdown, allow the bride 1 hour, and each bridesmaid 30 minutes. If you’re having makeup done, allow the bride 45-60 minutes, and each bridesmaid 45 minutes as well.

TIP: Have the bridesmaids start to get ready first so the bride looks fresh and can get the last of the “getting ready” photos for when the photographer arrives. The photographer should arrive one hour before the bride is completely ready to get all the necessary shots. Also, remember travel time!

For the men, have them all arrive an hour and a half before the ceremony to make sure everyone is there and dressed the way they should be. Bride and bridesmaids should arrive one hour early for the same reasons, and to avoid being seen by the men.

First Looks

If you decide to have a first look, give yourself 15-30 minutes to take in all the emotion, spend some time together, and get some amazing shots! This will also give you time to fix your makeup before the ceremony in cases of tears!


The ceremony should ideally last 30 minutes to allow for meaningful readings, music, or for any other unique moments without taking too long.

Receiving Line

For a ceremony with 100 guests or less, this will take 12-15 minutes. With 150 guests, allow 20 minutes. If you’re expecting more than 150 guests, consider skipping the receiving line and visiting guests at their tables during dinner instead.


The key number here is 2-3 minutes per shot of the family, bridal party, large family photos, etc. If you didn’t have a first look or pre-ceremony photos, allow yourself 30 extra minutes to get in all the photos.

TIP: The best thing to do is to be prepared. Write up a list of shots you want taken with family members (by name if you can) and assign someone to stand up and read out the names of each member to come up and get their photo taken. It avoids confusion and gets the photos done a lot quicker!

You should allow one hour between your ceremony and reception. If you plan to exceed that timeframe, you should consider having a cocktail hour for your guests who might not know what to do or where to go in the mean time.


The ideal length for the reception is six hours. This will allow an hour for cocktails, two hours for dinner, and three hours for dancing. Let’s not forget the first dances, cake cutting, toasts, and tosses!

Best of luck putting together your wedding day timeline!

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