4 Sample Wedding Weekend Timelines

Your wedding will run much more smoothly if you set a schedule ahead of time. Use these wedding weekend examples to help get you started.
by Simone Hill
Reception
photo by Ashley Goodwin

The most important thing you can do to minimize stress on your wedding weekend? Make a play-by-play schedule ahead of time for the entire weekend to help you and your wedding party know where to be and what to do at all times. Having a master timeline will keep everything in check—from the start time for getting ready to the wedding party introduction at the reception—and can also be helpful when planning out your vendor deliveries and setup and breakdown times. You can even use this timeline to make an itinerary for your guests to put in their welcome bags. We asked top wedding planners to share day-of timelines to give you a jumping-off point for making your own wedding weekend plan. Feel free to adapt for your own timing and priorities. 

A Traditional Wedding Weekend Timeline: Rehearsal Dinner, Wedding and Brunch

A Friday evening rehearsal dinner, a Saturday evening wedding with an early evening start time, and a morning-after Sunday brunch is one of the most popular timelines for a wedding.

Wedding Planner: Xochitl Gonzalez, founder of AaB Creates

Thursday: Check-in and setup

1:00 p.m. Check-in

Friday: Rehearsal dinner

5:00 p.m. Rehearsal begins

7:00 p.m. Rehearsal dinner begins

10:00 p.m. Rehearsal dinner ends

Saturday: Wedding

9:00 a.m Hair and makeup arrive on-site

12:00 p.m. Bride begins hair and makeup

1:00 p.m. Photographer arrives on-site

1:45 p.m. Videographer arrives on-site

2:15 p.m. Bride gets into her wedding dress

2:40 p.m. Bride and groom first look and photos

3:30 p.m. Bridal party and family shots

3:30 p.m. Shuttles from hotels begin

4:30 p.m. Wedding party arrives on-site

4:30 p.m. Ceremony musicians arrive and begin to play

5:00 p.m. Wedding invitation start time/DJ or reception band to arrive on-site

6:00 p.m. Ceremony ends/cocktails begin

7:00 p.m. Cocktails ends and guests are ushered into the reception

7:20 p.m. Introduction and first dance—guests asked to join after 

7:45 p.m. Guests take their seats and first course is served

8:00 p.m. Welcome speech from parents

8:10 p.m. First course cleared and main course set

8:45 p.m. Toasts from maid of honor and best man

9:00 p.m. Parent dances—father/daughter and mother/son dances

10:30 p.m. Cake cutting

10:30 p.m. First shuttle leaves for hotels

11:30 p.m. Second shuttle leaves for hotels

Sunday: Brunch

11:00 a.m. Brunch starts

1:00 p.m. Brunch ends

An Early Afternoon Wedding Weekend Timeline: Rehearsal Dinner, Wedding and Brunch

If your ceremony starts in the early afternoon, you'll need to plan for a fast-paced morning-of timeline. That means getting a few details (like your nails) out of the way the day before or having an early start time. Take a look at the timeline for a wedding that starts at 2:00 p.m. 

Wedding Planner: Heather Allen, Table 6 Productions

Friday: Rehearsal 

10:00 a.m. Mani-pedi/beauty appointments

5:00 p.m. Rehearsal begins

6:00 p.m. Rehearsal ends

5:45 p.m. Shuttle pick-up for rehearsal dinner guests

6:30 p.m. Rehearsal dinner

9:30 p.m. Shuttle drop off at hotel for rehearsal dinner guests

Saturday: Wedding

7:15 a.m. Hair and makeup artists arrive

8:00 a.m. Hair and makeup appointment begin

9:00 a.m. Food and drinks delivered to the bride's room

10:00 a.m. Wedding dress steam and prepped/photographer arrives for getting-ready photos

11:15 a.m. Bridesmaids finished getting ready

11:45 a.m. Bride puts on dress

12:00 p.m. Bride/father first look

12:15 p.m. Bride and bridesmaid portraits

12:30 p.m. Ceremony setup

1:30 p.m. Preceremony music begins

1:15 p.m. Family photos

1:30 p.m. Wedding party departs for ceremony

1:35 p.m. Guests arrive at the ceremony

1:50 p.m. Bride arrives with parents at the ceremony

2:00 p.m. Ceremony begins

3:00 p.m. Ceremony ends

3:10 p.m. Transportation for guests from the ceremony to reception

3:30 p.m. Couple photos at the ceremony location

4:00 p.m. Cocktail hour begins

5:30 p.m. Reception begins

6:00 p.m. Couple introduction and first dance

6:25 p.m. Father of the bride speech

6:30 p.m. Dinner first course served

6:50 p.m. Best man and maid of honor speeches

7:25 p.m. Dinner second course served

7:45 p.m. Parent dances

8:00 p.m. Dancing begins

8:30 p.m. Dessert course served

9:30 p.m. Cake cutting

11:30 p.m. Reception ends

Sunday: Brunch

10:00 a.m. Brunch

A Friday Wedding Timeline: Rehearsal Dinner and Wedding

If you're starting off the weekend with your wedding, you'll need to move up the timeline a day ahead. One important thing to consider when putting together a timeline for your Friday wedding is the start time. You may want the ceremony to begin in the evening so guests have time to get off work or travel in for your wedding day.

Wedding Planner: Heather Allen, Table 6 Productions

Thursday: Rehearsal and rehearsal dinner

3:00 p.m. Wedding rehearsal

6:00 p.m. Rehearsal dinner

Friday: Wedding

10:00 a.m. Setup for hair appointments

10:30 a.m. Hair appointments begin

11:00 a.m. Food delivered to bride's room/lighting setup

12:00 p.m. Makeup appointments begin/chair covers and linens arrive

12:30 p.m. Food delivered to groom's room

1:30 p.m. Bride gets makeup done

2:00 p.m. Ceremony setup begins

2:30 p.m. Photographer arrives to take getting-ready photos

4:15 p.m. Officiant arrives

4:20 p.m. Groomsmen arrive to start ushering guests

4:30 p.m. Guests start to arrive to the ceremony

4:55 p.m. Music begins

5:00 p.m. Ceremony begins

5:25 p.m. Ceremony ends

5:30 p.m. Cocktail hour begins

5:30–5:45 p.m. Couple take photos with wedding party and family

5:45–6:30 p.m. Couple takes photos alone

6:30 p.m. Guests are asked to take their seats in the dining room

6:45 p.m. Bridal party and groom are announced

7:00 p.m. First course of dinner is served

7:20 p.m. Maid of honor toast

7:50 p.m. Best man toast

8:30 p.m. Dancing begins

9:15 p.m. Bride tosses bouquet

12:00 p.m. Reception ends

An Indian Wedding Weekend Timeline: Mehndi Party, Wedding and Brunch

When it comes to planning out this timeline, consider which traditions and events you'll include and how they'll fit into the schedule. Start your wedding on a Thursday or Friday and you'll have more time to fit in traditional Indian events like the mehndi party in addition to American wedding traditions like a welcome party or rehearsal dinner.

Wedding Planner: Xochitl Gonzalez, founder of AaB Creates

Thursday: Check-in and setup

Morning: Distribute gift bags

3:00 p.m. Guests begin to arrive

7:00 p.m. Welcome cocktails

9:00 p.m. Welcome cocktails end

Friday: Mehndi and welcome dinner

4:00 p.m. Mehndi party

6:30 p.m. Welcome dinner

8:30 p.m. Welcome dinner ends

Saturday: Wedding

10:30 a.m. Baraat

11:00 a.m. Anand karaj

12:30 p.m. Buffet lunch

6:30 p.m. Cocktail hour

7:30 p.m.—11:30 p.m. Reception

Sunday: Brunch

9:00 a.m.—11:oo a.m. Brunch

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