Here you are, the day you’ve been waiting for your whole life… or maybe just six to eight months. What should you expect, and how is the day actually going to go? Don’t worry, we’ll help you deal.

Before we go any further, it’s of the utmost importance that the itinerary keeps everything in order. As a guideline, if you run behind or even end up being ahead of schedule, it’s OK! Maybe you’ll extend cocktail hour because guests are having fun. Perhaps the kitchen is running behind. Your guests may finish dinner early, so you move up the first dance. Trust us, it’s no big deal. Your guests won’t even notice!

Weekly Planner and Stylus

This itinerary guide is ideal for those who hired a wedding planner at least for the day. As the bride or groom, you want to have as little to worry about as possible. If you’re a savvy and creative individual who’s responsible for setting up decorations, centerpieces, and wedding favors yourself, try to do everything the afternoon before. On the day of, expect everything to take 30 minutes longer than you planned.

Questions to Ask

  • What is being brought to the wedding?
  • How is it getting there?
  • Who is setting it up?
  • How long is it projected to take?
  • What is leaving with you from the wedding?

The Day Before Checklist

The great thing about this itinerary is you can apply it to your wedding day no matter what time you have the ceremony scheduled. It is a guide to the amount of time each preparation will take.

Confirm Your Vendors

Band or DJ: Make sure that you contact any band or DJ before the wedding to confirm everything is ready to go. The horror of not having any music at your wedding is something you shouldn’t have to deal with. Never assume that vendors will come just because they’re scheduled and paid. Check, double check, and triple check that they have everything they need and the space to set up necessary for their equipment.

Photographer & Videographer: Any professionals you’ve hired should arrive around one hour before the bride is ready to go. The latter portion of hair and makeup styling, when the bride is closer to being finished, makes for more flattering photos. The photographer and videographer are hugely important people on your vendor list. This is one of the most well-planned and special days of your life, so you want to capture all of the tender moments. They’ll also capture any fun you’re having with your closest friends and family, so invest in quality professionals and keep them in the loop with each part of the day’s plans.

Photo Booth Guests with Props
image credit:

Photo Booth: As with your other vendors, set a time for you to work with the company to make sure the set up and breakdown happens seamlessly. Though it is not required, provide your day of timeline and floor plan so the attendant can review these things ahead of time and have them on hand, as needed.

Things to consider when scheduling your photo booth:

  • Will the set up be happening during other important parts of the reception?
  • Are the guests able to see the photo booth area being set up?
  • Do you need the booth to start in one location (for cocktail hour, for example) and move to another location for the reception?

The goal is to have minimal intrusiveness, to not disturb your guests’ experience in the slightest.

Transportation: It’s best to book your reservation right around the same time you decide on a venue and set the day. To avoid any disappointment, it’s best to book whatever transportation you’ve chosen in person. This way you can look it over and make sure it’s in good condition. When the day comes, pad all your expected travel time to avoid being set back because of traffic. Most importantly, make a playlist for the ride! Keep the tunes going and spirits high for the entire day of celebration.

Florist: If you hired a florist, they have a long day ahead of them. They will typically be setting up while you’re getting ready to make sure everything’s in order and deliver the wedding party flowers just before the ceremony.

The Day Of Timeline

Getting Ready

First things first, grab a mimosa and take a deep breath. After you’ve had a drink and screamed in bed with your bridesmaids about how amazing life is, get out of bed, put on your silk robe and get ready to be pampered.

Bride and Bridesmaid Get Ready for the Big Day
image credit:

Hair/Makeup: There’s not much to do for this the day before the wedding, besides getting beauty rest and avoiding any new products that could cause a breakout.

When the hairstylist arrives, have her start on the bridesmaids first. This gives the bride time to relax, make any last minute calls to check-in with any vendors or family members, and wait for the photographer to arrive so there can be photos of the getting-ready process.

The Bride should give herself an hour for hair, to make it exactly how she wants. Bridesmaids hair and makeup should take around 30 minutes.

A Time Map Overview

  • 3-6 Hours – Hair and makeup / Getting ready depending on how many bridesmaids and groomsmen are in the wedding party
  • 2 Hours – for vendors to set up the ceremony
  • 45 minutes – for guests to arrive, pre-ceremony music plays
  • 15-30 minutes – for the ceremony to take place
  • 15-30 minutes – for guests to move to cocktail hour
  • 1 hour and 45 minutes – for dinner and speeches
  • 2-3 hours – for dancing
  • 1-2 hours – for the breakdown

Unexpected Wedding Day Costs

Once you have the times set and the day mapped out, don’t forget to budget for the day’s wedding costs. Most couples spend the night before their wedding in separate hotel suites. If you’re booking a suite for you and your bridesmaids to get ready be sure to keep it for 2 nights so you can check-out at your leisure without feeling rushed, and to keep all their belongings in one place.

Meals on the wedding day are another detail easily overlooked. Don’t starve yourself and end up with a room full of hungry humans before you walk down the aisle. While it’s not your responsibility to foot the bill for these type of favors, if you’re worried about spending too much, use a rewards card. This ensures you’re getting a discount while earning cashback and doing something kind for you closest friends and family.

Gratuities: The general rule when it comes to tipping your vendors is if your vendor is also a business owner, a tip is not required, though it is a very welcomed bonus. Some vendors may have already added their gratuities in the contract so be sure to double check. Keep in mind the servers, valets, coat check attendants, officiants and glam squad are all workers you’ll be receiving a day of service from. They make your big day a seamless and enjoyable event, so tipping is the best way to show your appreciation.

Rings Sit on Bouquet for Close Up

It’s important to stop throughout the day to take in this exciting moment in your life. With the right vendors, your day should go off seamlessly, and with the right people around you there’s no limit to the amount of fun you could have. Use these guidelines to shape your wedding day how you envisioned it would always be.