Sample Wedding Day Timeline and Schedule

A wedding is a planner’s dream, but it is a “just-wing-it” type of person’s nightmare. Regardless of what category you fall into, this post might be helpful for planning the schedule and timeline for your wedding day with a ceremony that begins at 5:00 p.m. We encourage you to customize this timeline to meet your specific needs. An Excel spreadsheet or Word document works nicely and is easy to customize!

Sierra Blachford of Lake Preston, South Dakota, used the below weekend wedding schedule (she writes for the Hitch blog). Sierra loves to read about weddings and cannot wait for her four younger sisters to get married someday!


Sierra said, “I created a weekend schedule to keep me organized. It helped me to have everything – from menus, to what friends were helping bartend at the reception, to photography times – in one complete document. We also had some extra fun events planned prior to the wedding weekend, like picking blueberries and getting pedicures. Everything was all in one place; I just kept this in my purse the whole weekend. I gave a copy to the photographers, wedding planners and my mother.”

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013: Two Days before the Wedding

8:00 a.m.: John and Sierra get marriage certificate after he arrives in Missouri, take along social security cards & driver’s licenses ($46)

8:30 -10:00 a.m.: Pick blueberries at Cindy’s Patch

11:00 a.m.: Sierra, Alex, Lucy, Schyler, Sally, Savannah and Elaine get mani/pedis at Varsity Nails in Columbia

Evening: Lisa & Bruce (John’s sister), Ron (John’s dad), and Monica (John’s step-mother) all arrive

“There were a lot of people and places to be on the day before our wedding,” Sierra said. “Guests were arriving and it was a holiday weekend, so we held our rehearsal at the country club and pool, that way, people with kids could swim all day if they wanted to. I also used this schedule to keep track of what was rented and who was doing what decorating and when! It turned out to be a very fun, low-stress day. I even had time to go swimming before our rehearsal!”

Thursday, July 4th, 2013: Rehearsal

All day : 4-H Center is rented for decorating

All day : Church is rented for decorating

All day : Centralia Pool is open for swimming for out-of-town guests

All day : At some point, Eva will give Darla cut flowers for vases at 4-H Center

9:00 a.m.: John and Sierra’s families will help will set up table and chairs at 4-H center; Elaine, Lisa and Sierra’s sisters begin making wedding favors at 4-H Center or hotel

2:00 p.m.: Elaine and Lisa set up decorations at the country club for the rehearsal dinner

5:30 p.m.: Rehearsal begins at the church

6:00 p.m.: Rehearsal begins

7:00 p.m.: Drive to Centralia from the church (25 mins)

7:00 p.m.: Monica and Jennifer (John’s Sister) leave the rehearsal (if it goes late) to greet guests from South Dakota at the rehearsal dinner

7:30 p.m.: Dinner starts (menu: hamburgers, hot dogs, all the fixings, potato salad, baked beans, potato chips, 3 pecan pies, 3 apple pies and watermelon; dinner’s served buffet-style inside of the dining room; open bar); Justin Angell will cut watermelon outside

9:00 p.m.: Fireworks! Happy 4th of July!

Friday, July 5th, 2013: Morning of the Wedding

“On the day of our wedding, we started pretty early with the hair appointments,” Sierra said. “I thought it would be fun for the groom and his buddies to pick up all the alcohol for the reception, too. Since everyone was from out of town, they needed something fun to do together to pass the time.”

9:00 a.m.: John and groomsmen go to Centralia in a pick-up to get all of the wine, beer, whiskey and champagne; borrow Liz’s cooler for extra ice to mix drinks

9:30 a.m.: Hair appointments begin at Trendy’s for 9 women (Sierra, Savannah, Selestia, Schyler, Alex, Lucy, Sally, Emily and Bekah)

9:30 a.m.: The Brick Bistro brings breakfast to the salon for the wedding party girls

Noon: Done with hair; girls travel to church; Jayci will meet the girls at the church and serve lunch (sausage, cheese, crackers and fruit); Jayci will help the little girls get ready

Before 1:30 p.m.: Eva will bring the flowers to the church

Pictures before the Ceremony

“Like a lot of modern couples, we decided to do most of our pictures before the wedding ceremony. This made things much less stressful for us and our guests,” Sierra said. “The photographers asked us to have a schedule planned out for which photos would be taken when.” 

1:30 p.m.: Photographers arrive and will shoot for 8 hours

1:30 – 2:00 p.m.: Katie (photographer): Formal shots with groom, groomsmen, ushers and Melissa (photographer); photos of girls getting ready

2:00 – 2:15 p.m.: Bride and groom’s first look

2:15 p.m.: Grandma Karolyn (Russ’s mom) and Katrina (flower girl) arrive; Katrina is dressed and ready

2:15 – 2:45 p.m.: Photos of the wedding party

2:45- 3:15 p.m.: Photos of the bride with bridesmaids + flower girl + 2 attendants

3:15 – 4:15 p.m.: Family photos. Lisa (John’s sister) is going to keep family lined up so photos go smoothly and quickly           

4:15 – 5:00 p.m.: Bride and groom/wedding party refresh before ceremony begins

5:30 p.m.: Cake arrives at reception

5:30 p.m.: Band begins setting up at reception

Before the ceremony: Emily and Rebekah pass out programs

5:00 – 5:45 p.m.: Ceremony

After the Ceremony

“We had a large wedding, so we decided to have guests start eating right as they arrived at the reception,” Sierra said. “This allowed us to have the time to have a traditional-style receiving line, even with 300 guests. We were also serving steaks, which caused a slight time delay in the grilling, so having the guests trickle in to eat was helpful for the food prep. Rather than having the wedding party eat first, we actually ate last. This was a bit unconventional, but it worked for us.”

5:45 – 6:30 p.m.: Receiving line in foyer of church; order: Justin Angell, Sierra, John, Elaine, Sally, Russ, Ron and Monica

6:00 – 6:15 p.m.: Teresa will start serving (menu planning for 350: ½ KC strips and ½ ribeyes, rosemary/parmesan potatoes, mixed fresh fruit, Katie’s salad strawberries and feta cheese, green beans, ½ Hawaiian rolls and ½ wheat rolls)

6:30 – 7:15 p.m.: Photos of the bride and groom (either outside of the church or at the reception site); wedding party will pack up bride room and basement and wait to travel with John and Sierra in a caravan to the 4-H center

6:30 – 8:00 p.m.: Mike and Derby bartend

7:15 – 7:25 p.m.: John, Sierra and the wedding party will travel to the reception; Darla will pack up gifts and the guest book in the car.


“The only thing my father wanted at the wedding was a live band,” Sierra said. “Since he was hosting the party, I gladly agreed with his request and we had a great time. It took just a bit more ‘planning’ to coordinate their schedule, but it was very fun!”

7:30 p.m.:

  • Grand entrance: wedding party, best man and matron of honor, bride, groom
  • Cake cutting
  • Toasts from the matron of honor and best man (if people are still in line to eat, we will eat first and then when the line dies down, we’ll finish eating and have cake and toasts)
  • Bride and groom eat
  • Wedding party eats

8:00 p.m.: Wedding dance starts

8:00 – 10:00 p.m.:

  • Mike D. and Ethan bartend
  • Bride and groom’s first dance: “Hey Pretty Girl” by Kip Moore
  • Father/daughter dance: “Dance Baby Dance” by Chris Cagle
  • Mother/son dance: “It Was Your Song” by Garth Brooks

8:15 p.m.: Band starts playing (1st set)

Wedding party dance: “You Look Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton

9:00 p.m.:

  • First 15 min. break for band
  • Bouquet toss
  • Garter removal
  • Garter auction
  • Dollar dance (3 songs)

9:15 p.m.: Band plays (2nd set)

9:30 p.m.: Photographers leave

10:00 p.m.: Band takes a break

10:00 – Midnight: Mike S. and Blaine B. bartend

10:15: Band plays (3rd set)

11:00: Band takes a break

11:15: Band plays (4th and final set)

12:15 a.m. (July 6th): Band contract ends, stop playing

“Looking back, our wedding was the most wonderful, busy and fun day!” Sierra said. “I’m so thankful for the great day and it really was worth all the effort and planning. I treasure looking at all the photos and memories of that special season of planning, showers, parties, and finally, the wedding!”

If you need help with a wedding day timeline, Hitch is happy to help! We also decorate, coordinate, rent some great decor options and help with wedding invitations, save the dates, programs and thank you notes! Contact us today if you need help with any part of your wedding!

Here’s another sample wedding day timeline if you’re interested! It’s from one of the most organized brides Hitch has ever worked with. Feel free to copy, paste, and customize.  

7:30 AM – Women travel to church

8:00 AM – Groom/Groomsmen drop off misc. stuff on checklist @ reception

8:00 AM – Hair Appointment & Make-up Church

9:00 AM – Hot Shave – Groomsman Luverne

10:00 AM  – Flowers arrive Church, Videographer arrives Church, Photographer arrives Church

10: 00 AM – Hitch to Reception Venue for set up

10:30 AM – Flowers are pinned Church, pictures Bride and Mom and sister getting ready & pictures of bridal party getting ready Church

10:45 AM – Dad first look @ church

11:00 AM – Groomsman to Church Church, Photographer takes details pictures

11:15 AM – Guys getting ready for pictures

11:45 AM – Groom first look @ Bride upstairs in Church

12:00-1 PM – Lunch Available Church

12:00-1 PM – Bride and groom photos in pasture

1:00:00 PM  – Bride and Groom pictures inside church Church

1:30:00 PM – Bridal party portraits (Ushers to arrive, Bride with bridesmaids – Group and individual, Groom with groomsmen – Group and individual, Groom with ushers, B&G with entire wedding party – Add ushers)

2:00 PM – Ring bearer & Flower Girl to arrive and photos (Bring pillow and basket)

2:15 PM – Family members begin to arrive, Grandparents, Flowers are pinned, Bride with her parents – add groom — add immediate family, Groom with his parents – add bride — add immediate family, Bride with her Grandparents – add groom, Pre-Ceremony, Groom with his Grandparents – add bride, Full family photos with bride and groom

3:00 PM – Cake to arrive at Reception, DJ to be at Reception

3:30 PM – Last minute preps

3:45 PM – Photos end; wedding party into hiding

3:45 PM – Musicians arrive, Videographer & Photographer sets up

4:00 PM – Music begins approx.’ 30 min. before ceremony, Greeters distribute programs, Ushers begin seating your guests 30 min. before ceremony

4:25 PM -Ushers stop seating guests 5 min. before processional begins

4:30 PM – Ushers to seat late comers in balconyrather than center seats to avoid distractions

4:30 PM – Groom seats Grandparents and mother of bride, Officiant & Groom will take their place, Groom and best man take their place, Bride,Father, Birdal party, Flower Girl Ring Bearer in place

4:35 PM – Processional, Prelude music begins, Attendants proceed down the aisle, Processional music begins, Bride & Father, Ceremony, Recessional music begins

5:15 PM – Receiving ling begins

5:40 PM – B&G in limo, limo portraits – start commute to reception

6:00 PM – Cocktail hour for guests before you arrive, Guests sign guestbook in reception hallway, Hitch directs guests towards seats for reception

6:10 PM – Arrive to reception

6:15 PM – Grand entrance – DJ play list

6:20 PM – Thank yous from Father and Mother of Bride

6:25 PM – Cutting of the cake in front of everyone

6:30 PM – Prayer

6:30 PM – Reception dinner, Break for bustle & bathroom

7:10 PM – Showing of the vows on big screen from videographer – after last person goes through buffet

7:15 PM – Toast Maid of Honor

7:20 PM – Toast Best Man

7:25 PM – B&G first dance

7:30 PM – Father-daughter dance, Mother-son dance

7:40 PM – Dancing

8:00 PM – Photographer & Videographer are done

12:00 AM – Dance ends

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