You’ve been thinking, dreaming, and stressing about your wedding day since that engagement ring slid onto your finger, so it’s not only a good idea to have everything planned, but to also have a realistic idea of how your day will go from start to finish.
We’re not going to sugar coat it, so here’s a mostly accurate timeline for your special day. For a helping hand before your wedding, your best bet is a bridal diary – that way you can have everything in one place and use it for reminders (with a busy brain, you could forget even the most obvious of things).
5am – Wake Up
“It should be illegal to wake up this early.”
Your bridesmaids have slept over, maybe one of them had too much champagne; either way you’re up and ready to go thanks to the mixture of nervousness and excitement bubbling inside of you.
6am – Hair And Makeup
“I asked for Blake Lively, not 2001 Pamela Anderson.”
“So, I want big and luscious waves, but without the hairspray.”
You’ll need a solid hour for your hair to work out any snags (it may just be the nerves, but does your hair never look the same as when you had your trial?). After that, you’ll need around 45 minutes to get your makeup perfect. Make sure you’re clear with your MUA about what you want as you’ll be rocking your look all day. But you can rest assured that they know what they’re doing.
If there are over four of you getting your hair and makeup done, ensure that your stylists bring an assistant with them to save on time (and reduce your stress).
8am – The Hunger Kicks In
*mentally figures out how to eat the sandwich without ruining lipstick*
“Put down the manoush, Mary. You’re going to get za’atar in your teeth.”
It’s your wedding day but you’re still going to be the one left with a rumbling stomach. While you and your bridesmaids may be happily sipping on champagne, it’s super important to make sure you get some food in you. Sandwiches, pastries, and all sorts of finger foods work best as they’re quick, easy, and the least likely to ruin your makeup.
9am – On Goes The Dress
“Squeeze, squeeze, squeeze.”
Steer clear of the food for this one. You’ll likely need all the help you can get when carefully putting The Dress, so gather your bridesmaids, mother, or whoever you need to help you tie, zip, fasten, and slip into your gown. When it comes time to putting on your veil, it’s a good idea to ask your hairstylist to do this, as they’ll be able to secure it correctly without ruining your hair.
10am – The Photographer Goes Snap Happy
“Please don’t let that one make the final cut.”
“This is not a natural pose.”
While you’re getting ready, your photographer is likely to be buzzing around and snapping photos of you getting ready. Fear not though; your photographer will be getting the later half of your beauty routine so you’ll only look your best at 6am. Depending on the style of photography you’ve chosen, this could mean you’ve either got the easy job of just looking natural or you have to pose in every corner of the room and beside every family photo hanging on the wall.
11am-12:30pm – It’s A Full House
“Thank you, thank you, I don’t know you, thank you.”
Depending on how big your guest list – and family – is, you may find your house completely swamped with people from 11am onward, so be prepared. For ethnic weddings, including Lebanese, Greek, Serbian, Macedonian, and others, there is bound to be plenty of dancing, loud music, and drums, so it’s a good idea to warn your neighbours before the party starts. Don’t be surprised if your mum’s cousin’s aunty and a bunch of other vague faces are in the crowd, and make sure to plan your schedule so you’re not taken by surprise when the clock strikes 11.
1pm – Shuffling Yourself Into The Car
“Watch the train!”
“I feel like a cosy marshmallow.”
We’re not going to lie – this part is a little tricky. If you’ve chosen a rather large dress, getting into your wedding car might be a bit of a chore so get your bridesmaids, dad, or whoever you choose to have in your car to help you out. be careful with how you place your dress as sitting down might cause the dress to crease (just a little). If you have a truly dedicated member of your bridal squad, they may just have a portable steamer ready for you at the ceremony venue (look, this is rare but it could happen!).
2pm – Ceremony Time
“Do. Not. Trip.”
You’ve practised this walk a bunch of times and you’ve got this. Just focus on meeting your partner at the end of the aisle and you’ll completely forget about possibly faceplanting. You’ll be overwhelmed with emotion, so expect possible tears and hope that your MUA remembered to use waterproof mascara on you. Your ceremony will likely last between 30 minutes and 1 hour, depending on your faith or choice of readings. After that, you’ll be officially married!
3pm – Immediate Ceremony Photos
“The photo line just keeps getting longer and longer.”
“Can everyone just look at the camera at the same time??”
You’ve said your “I Do’s”, you’ve walked down the aisle to cheers from your family and friends, and now you’re waiting for everyone to get their photos in, both professional and on dad’s old Nokia. Be prepared to be standing outside for a little while as the photographer tries their best to get everyone in one photo.
3:30pm-5:30pm – Getting Your Professional Photos
“Wow, it’s hot.”
“Everyone’s staring and I don’t know if I love it or hate it.”
Now that the ceremony is over, you’ll be off gallivanting around your city, taking photos with your new husband or wife. Be prepared to have a million eyes on you. Also make sure that you’ve planned everything out, as depending on which season you’ve chosen, you may either be sweating from heat or shaking from the cold. Your emergency bridal kit will also come in handy here, as you may need to touch up before the reception.
6pm – The Grand Entrance
The formalities are out of there way and now it’s time to let your hair down (not literally, unless your hairstylist is by your side. There are way too many bobby pins to deal with). If you’re having a large cultural wedding, a grand entrance with drummers, pyrotechnics, and the works will set the tone, so expect your photographer to capture some great images.
7pm – Get That Entree In Your Belly
“I honestly can’t tell if I’m starving or full at this point.”
You’ve probably barely eaten this whole day, which is a major NO. After you’ve enjoyed dancing around to the music with your guests, head straight to your table and eat. Entrees range from antipasto roulade, individual seafood platters, pastas, and more, so once you’ve enjoyed your meal, feel free to start mingling.
8pm – Speeches, Speeches, and More Speeches
“Here come the tears.”
You’ve held it together thus far, but the speeches will probably tip you over. Have a tissue ready.
8:30pm – First Dance
“I bet no one chose this Ed Sheeran song.”
No hate to Ed, we love him. This moment is all about you and your husband and wife, so enjoy it.
9pm – Cake Time
“Just try and smoosh that icing on my face. I dare you.”
Cake cutting time! This is the part everyone’s looking forward to – whether it’s because they’re dessert afficionados like we are or they’re waiting for their chance to leave. Don’t take offence if your reception room suddenly looks a bit emptier after the cake is handed out – people may have work the next day or could really just be dead tired. Either way, they wouldn’t have bothered coming to your wedding if they didn’t want to.
9:30pm-11:30pm – Dancing Queen
“Someone get him off the stage.”
“Oooooohhhh I wanna dance with somebody.”
You’ve gotten the important stuff out of the way, so now you’re free to just dance the night away, 80s megamix and all. Prepare to have your drunk cousin/brother/uncle take to the stage for an impromptu karaoke session or DJ mix.
“Get me out of this dress … so I can sleep.”
Look, it’s really great if you’re still full of energy when you get to the hotel room but let’s be honest – you’re both tired, so go to sleep. Your honeymoon hasn’t started just yet.