Weekends are for Weddings: The Day-of Schedule

Weekends are for weddings!  If you’re like me, with 9 weddings each year, the weekends are, quite literally, for weddings (attending them, that is).  Also if you’re like me, the weekend is a time to think about planning your own wedding.  Lots of people carve out a certain time each week for  to wedding planning (Wedding Wednesday seems to be very popular).  It ensures the wedding doesn’t take over their whole lives; however, I find that confining wedding planning to a specific time is too pressure-filled and bicker-prone.   I plan my wedding when inspiration strikes.  Weekends, in particular, offer the time to let my mind roam and plan my own wedding in a stress-free environment.  In this series, I’ll take you through some of my major planning steps – hopefully this will help you plan your own wedding!

It’s hard, but try to relax on your wedding day.  Plan enough in advance so you don’t have to think about anything in the hours before the big event.  I found it best to build my schedule backwards.  I knew our ceremony started at 6:30 and a very small group of us needed to be there at 6 for the ketubah signing.  Knowing we get 10 hours with the photographer, I built the timeline backwards from there:

HOT TIP #1: We had a wedding planner who built out a crazy awesome timeline for us.  Being a planner, I had already figured out my ideal timeline and shared with her.  She made tweaks and I left the final version up to her (it is her job, after all), but I found it helpful to send my timeline to her so she could understand some of the things I had prioritized.  For example, after looking at my timeline, she could tell that I didn’t need as much time with the photographer taking photos in the salon but that it was really important to Albert that they capture some shots of the boys getting ready.  After understanding what was important to us, she adjusted the overall timeline to keep everyone happy and running on schedule.


  • 9:00 AM: Girls begin arriving at the salon for hair and makeup
    • I did not pay for my bridesmaids’ hair and makeup.  If I had, it would have been their bridesmaid gift and I figured they would rather get something they could use again.  All my gals are great at their own hair and makeup – I trusted them.  I gave them 3 options and did not care which one they chose as long as they were in the “everything but the dress” stage by noon:
      1. Have their hair and/or makeup done at the salon I was using, at their own expense
      2. Find a salon on their own (I provided a list of local salons I trusted)
      3. Do hair/makeup on their own (They’re actually all very stylish and good with a curling iron so it wouldn’t have bothered me one bit if they had decided to DIY-it.)
    • I was a little surprised that almost everyone wanted to get beautified by a pro (especially considering it was the most expensive option).  I really thought more girls would take advantage of the opportunity to sleep in, but I guess people like the rare chance to get professional beauty services.
    • Originally, I was determined to get ready at my house.  I thought it would be more relaxing and, most importantly, I really wanted photos there.  My house is directly on the water and I thought the marsh and dock would make for a great backdrop during our first look.  However, a couple months before the wedding we realized it would be low tide.  We decided to move everything to the salon, which also saved time and money and put us directly across the street from the ceremony venue.  Instead of pictures at my house, we added an extra downtown location to our little photo shoot and had a family friend take some photos at my house on Thursday evening.  It wasn’t the original plan, but I think it worked out even better – it’s all about being flexible!
    • I made sure to have coffee and pastries available so everyone could get caffeinated and fed before the long day ahead

HOT TIP #2: I strongly suggest having coffee, snacks, and maybe some champs available for the getting ready period.  First of all, people need the energy; secondly, it gets people in a celebratory mood; and thirdly, even if you schedule appointments perfectly, every girl is bound to have downtime where she’s just sitting around and food/drinks will occupy them and give them something to do with their hands.


  • 12:00 PM: Remaining Bridesmaids/Man of Honor/Moms are assembled at the salon
    • My sister in law had her hair and makeup done separately and was generous enough to bring a little lunch for everyone from Joe’s Homemade when she arrived at noon.  It’s a long day so you’ve got to coat your stomach, but you don’t want to eat anything that will feel like a brick in your tummy or give you gas/bad breath.  It also needs to be easy to eat so you can grab a bite, take a picture, grab another bite later – nobody has time to sit down for a full meal.  We had chicken salad sandwiches, turkey sandwiches, salad, and fruit.
  • 1:00 PM: Photographer arrives at the salon to start taking the standard pics, like my dress on a hanger, getting the last bobby pin in my hair, etc.
  • 1:30-2:30 PM: All hair and makeup completed.  Relaxing, getting ready, pictures with bridal party



  • 2:30 PM: Photographer takes pictures of the boys getting ready at the hotel and then out in the square.



  • 3:30 PM: First look and couples portraits
    • Albert and I decided to do a first look and take all of our pictures before the ceremony.  That way, we could party with our guests!



  • 4:30 PM: Pictures with the full wedding party
    • We took pictures at two different downtown locations, transported by a trolley
    • For us, a trolley was necessary because so many people in our wedding party came from out of town and didn’t have cars.  However, it’s a luxury I recommend regardless because it was nice that nobody had to worry about parking, which is particularly important when you’re trying to squeeze in a bunch of pictures.  Also, the trolley itself makes for a pretty cute photo opp.


  • 5:30 PM: Family pictures.
    • There’s no point having non-wedding party family get there super early.  This way, they could go straight to their seats after taking the few pics required of them.
    • This is also the time at which we had the buses pick up the guests at the hotel for transport to the ceremony


  •  6:00 PM: Ketubah signing
    • This is not for all the guests to see, as it is a very intimate moment.  I was happy to have our wedding party there, especially because I knew for many of them (who are not Jewish) it would be a cool experience; however, we tried to keep it as small as possible.  In our case, that still meant 24 people!


  • 6:20 PM: Wedding party line-up


  • 6:30 PM: Ceremony
    • Rather than having any sort of sparkler exit after the reception, we had the guests toss confetti after the ceremony.  (If you’re doing this, check with city laws – it may have to be eco-friendly.  We actually used lavender so we were all good on the biodegradable front.)  It’s still a great photo opp and meant nobody had to stop what they were doing in the middle of a dance party at the reception to line up outside for a dramatic exit.


  • 7:15 PM: Buses/trolley take guests to the Golf Club


  • 7:30 PM: Cocktail hour
    • Albert and I had a few moments in a private room.  Our wedding planner suggested this, and I’m so happy we listened.  It gave us some time to let the moment catch up to us.  Most importantly, it meant we actually got food in our bellies!
  • 8:30 PM: Reception
  • 10:00 PM: I change into my 2nd dress – time to really party!
    • One reason I didn’t want to start the photographer until 1PM was because I wanted to make sure he would still be shooting when I made my costume change.  Changing into a fun, short dress changes the energy of the party and I wanted that captured in the photos.


HOT TIP #3: It’s important to build in buffers.  For example, it shouldn’t take an hour for the first look/couple portraits; however, someone is always running late or loses a cuff link or something.  Padding your timeline is the best way to make sure everything runs smoothly.

Our timeline was pretty much spot on – I’ve never been happier with how an event ran!