Two brides walking through lavender - wedding day timeline


How do I create my wedding day timeline? This could possibly be the most asked question I’ve received over my career. The confusion of how everything works and how everything comes together. Where to even start???

A good rule of thumb for your wedding day timeline is that an average wedding ceremony will run for approximately 20-30mins. However more religious ceremonies can run for an hour. An average wedding reception will last for approximately 5 hours.

Knowing your ceremony and reception starting times is the best way forward.

Selecting Your Starting Times

When selecting your ceremony and reception times for your wedding day timeline there are two major factors to consider first before creating your entire timeline. If you start here everything will fall into place.


Selecting a time based on the lighting and the time / season of year will naturally result in better quality photos. If you’ve found or booked in a photographer already ask them what time they prefer to shoot for the wedding date you’ve selected. Also keep in mind the type of photographs you and your partner like the look of. Are the photos you are Pinteresting sunrise/sunset shots, evening shots, indoor photography etc.

Golden hour is a term you’ll hear a lot of photographers and wedding industry professionals speak of. Golden hour is one hour before sunset when the lighting is pure magic for photographs. Perfect for your bridal portraits. Another thing to keep in mind.


Think of the weather, is it hot, cold, storm season etc. It’s not ideal for an Australian Summer wedding to be held outside at midday with the Groomsmen all wearing suit jackets. By considering the season and the weather this will also result in you thinking if an outdoors or indoors ceremony and reception would be more suited you what you are looking for.

Bride putting on her heels

How much time should I leave in between the ceremony and the reception?

Generally speaking, if your ceremony is roughly 30 minutes long there is a 2-hour window (on average) between the ceremony and the reception. During this time your group, family and bridal portraits are taken and your guests are enjoying your ‘cocktail hour’ prior to entering the reception.

Now that you’ve selected your preferred timings for your ceremony and reception here is a basic outline of a wedding day timeline.

Bouquet - Wedding day timeline


This timeline is based on an afternoon ceremony as well as both your ceremony and reception located at the same venue. If you’re planning to have two separate locations for your ceremony and reception you will need to factor in travel times and possible traffic during the times you’ve selected.

8:00AM – Hair and makeup begins

12:30PM – Getting ready photographs

2:30PM – Guests start to arrive

3:00PM – Ceremony begins

3:30PM – Group / family photos

3:40PM – Cocktail ‘hour’ begins

4:00PM – Bridal portrait photos

5:00PM – Bridal party freshens up

5:30PM – Guests enter reception

5:40PM – MC Welcome & Housekeeping speech

5:45PM – Bridal entrance

6:00PM – Meals are served

7:00PM – Speeches

7:45PM – Cake Cutting

7:55PM – First Dance

8:00PM – Party Time

8:15PM – Dessert and coffee is served

8:30PM – Bouquet Toss

10:30PM – Sparkler send off

11:00PM – Guests leave / Pack down begins

If you’re having trouble with working out your timeline and logistics, check out my Power Planning Sessions where I can help you come up and finalise your very own wedding day timeline.

Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram for daily tips and free wedding planning advice every Tuesday on my Instagram stories. Follow Olive Rose Weddings and Events here.

Bride and groom kissing