Wedding Day Timeline Ideas You’ll Love

Bride and groom dance at the vineyards. Photo by Katelyn Bradley Photography

Heather Featherston

August 23, 2022

You just got engaged, and this is such an exciting time! You probably can’t wait to start planning your wedding day and may imagine it reflecting you as a couple. Your style might be funny and quirky, conventional, perhaps a little bit country, or maybe more rock and roll. Whatever your style, you can customize some of the traditional aspects of your wedding and even add some fun new activities with these wedding day timeline ideas!
 

Your Wedding Timeline

A wedding timeline is an essential part of your wedding planning. In addition, the wedding timeline is the key to successful communication between the venue, vendors, and the wedding party.
 
Your wedding coordinator can help you create a clear plan to help each vendor know where they will be positioned and what time their services will be needed. Or, you could use one of the wedding timeline templates available online. Whichever route you take, we’ve got plenty of wedding day timeline ideas on the activities to include, from romantic and traditional to quirky and fun!
 


 
Bride taps groom on his shoulder for the first look. Photo by Rebekah Townley

Before Your Ceremony

First Look: The first look normally takes place just before the ceremony. I recommend working with your photographer and videographer to determine the best location for your first look. They will ensure they capture that intimate moment when you see each other for the first time on your special day.
 
This moment is very special and can be unique to you and your fiancé. For example, some couples choose to read a personal letter to each other or exchange gifts. Others decide to play a prank on their partner. Whatever you choose, it will be meaningful to you two.
 
First Look for Bride with Mother and Father: As with a first look for the couple, a first look before the ceremony for the mother and father of the bride can be very special. There will probably be some happy tears, so have those tissues ready.
 
A bride and groom participate in a traditional unity ceremony called handfasting. Photo by Darling Photography

At Your Wedding Ceremony

Unity Ceremony: There are countless traditional unity ceremony ideas, such as lighting a unity candle, pouring two jars of sand into one, and tying a unity knot, to name a few.
 
Some unity ceremonies are based on culture, such as handfasting that comes from the Irish and Scottish; washing each other’s feet, which has Christian roots; or a lasso ceremony (“el lazo”), which is traditional in Mexican, Filipino, and Spanish cultures. Other unity ceremonies are quirky and modern, such as releasing a wish lantern, creating an anniversary capsule, or blending paint.
 
Incorporate one of these traditional ideas or create your own unity ceremony.
 
Newly married couple make a grand entrance into their reception. Photo by Ashton Imagery

At Your Reception

Grand Entrance: You can really let your personalities shine through and set the mood for your reception through a grand entrance. For an outdoor wedding, you could create a door with blossoms that you walk through together. Or, you might dance your way into the reception and have your guests serenade you as you enter. Take into account your venue, and then let your imagination run wild!
 
First Dance: The first dance is a beautiful tradition. Make sure you choose that first song with love so you feel comfortable dancing in front of your guests. You may want to add your own flair, such as a special dance routine, or have a slideshow of you two playing in the background.
 
But what if you are uncomfortable with the idea of a first dance? Some alternatives include asking your guests to join you on the dance floor and opting for a toast instead. Again, this is your wedding, so do what is comfortable for you.
 
A happy bride tosses her bouquet to single friends. Photo by Athena Kalindi PhotographyBouquet Toss: Many couples choose to have the traditional bouquet toss: all the single ladies line up, and the bride throws her bouquet. This can be quite fun, but there are also unique alternatives.
 
Some brides choose to have an old European traditional ribbon pull, where the bouquet has false ribbons. All the single women pull a ribbon until someone pulls the true one and gets the bouquet. Others decide to do a “hot potato” version of the bouquet toss: a song is played, and the bouquet is passed around and stopped when the music stops. Do what feels fun to you!
 
Garter Toss: The traditional garter toss is fun but if you are uncomfortable with it, consider throwing the boutonniere instead or maybe a football.
 
Anniversary Dance: If you prefer to skip the bouquet and garter toss, an anniversary dance is a lovely alternative. Your DJ will invite all married couples to join you on the dance floor for a special dance.
 
After a little while, he will ask those married only a year to sit down, then those who have been married less than five years to sit down, and so on. In the end, the last couple standing receive the bouquet.
 
A bride and groom play the shoe game. photo by Katelyn Bradley PhotographyShoe Game: The shoe game is a popular reception activity that generally leaves your guests in stitches. For this activity, sit back-to-back and take off your shoes. Exchange one shoe, and then have your best man or maid of honor start asking you pre-arranged questions such as who made the first move. Then, you each raise the shoe of who you believe did.
 
Honeymoon Money Dance: The honeymoon money dance is a popular tradition in many countries. This dance involves the guests paying to dance with the bride and groom. A honeymoon money dance consists of putting money in a jar, or it may even look like pinning bills on the couple.
 
Cake Cutting: Traditionally, the only decision to be made regarding cake cutting was whether to smash some in your partner’s face or not. Cake smashing can be funny or not, depending on how you feel about it.
 
There are other ways to make this part of the ceremony memorable. For example, pick out a special song and take time here for a speech. Or perhaps you choose a completely different route with no cake cutting involved: you could serve cupcakes or hire an ice cream truck.
 
The maid of honor making a toast. Photo by A Moment of Joy Photography Toasts: Wedding toasts can be sentimental, funny, or sweet, and hopefully, they’re appropriate. Giving a toast can be a lot of fun for some but can be stressful for others. Your best friend may be your Maid of Honor, but she may also be terrified of speaking in public.
 
Don’t force anyone to give a toast. Have those conversations before your special day. Maybe your sister gives the toast instead of your Maid of Honor. Also, make sure you discuss what kind of toasts those giving them will present. You may have some fun inside stories, but you may not want those shared with your grandparents!
 
Final Dance: Your final dance is both exciting and a little bittersweet. It signals the time for your beautiful wedding to be over and your journey into your new life as a married couple to begin.
 
Take the time to choose the perfect song. This goes back to your style. Will it be sentimental, fun and lively, or romantic and sweet? Do you want a traditional dance or a pre-rehearsed surprise dance routine? Whatever you choose, make it uniquely you.
 
Send Off: Your send-off can be combined with the last dance or be an event on its own. Typically, wedding guests throw rice, streamers, rose petals, or bird seed. Or, you could have them hold glow sticks or LED lights.
 
You might dance your way out or take this time to give hugs to all who came to celebrate your special wedding day with you. On the other hand, you may want to go a little crazier and have guests blow bubbles or spray champagne showers. Take the time to plan your send-off.
 
Whether you choose a traditional wedding ceremony and reception or a non-traditional route, remember this is your day. So let your personalities shine through. There are no rules so let your imagination run wild.

Wedding day timeline ideas Pinterest pin
Heather Featherston
Written by Heather Featherston

Heather, an Event Manager for the Rough & Ready Vineyards, oversees the day-to-day operations. She takes satisfaction in seeing everyone happy and is always grateful for the opportunity to make this happen. Heather enjoys meeting with brides-to-be in order to gather the details needed to ensure their wedding day is perfect! “Every wedding and reception at the Rough & Ready Vineyards is so beautiful,” she says. “I love being able to see people enjoy the amazing venue we have created here!”

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