This is a sample timeline that is the parred down breakdown of the most common (but no where near, not even close, all the optional) traditions that you see at a pretty typical western, portland based, wedding.

a simple timeline might look something like this

Pre Ceremony/Ceremony

  • 10:00 Start hair and makeup (do confer with your makeup and hair people to get an idea of how much time you need for this. then bake in an extra 15 minutes for safety)
  • 11:00 Groom and Groomsmen get dressed
  • 11:30 Hair and makeup finished
  • 12:00 Photos getting into dress/wedding dress detail shots
  • 12:30 first look
  • 1:00 Family & Wedding Party photos
  • 2:00 tuck wedding party away for the ceremony
  • 2:30 Begin seating guests
  • 3:00 Ceremony begins
  • 3:30 Ceremony ends


  • 3:45 Cocktail hour
  • 3:50 Sign Marriage license (if your introverted, this is a good time to take a moment to yourselves before joining the guests at the reception)
  • 4:45 Grand entrance
  • 5:00 Dinner (make sure couple is the first to have food on a plate, be it plated dinners, or first through the buffet line)
  • 6:00 Toasts/Speeches
  • 6:30 First dance & Father/Daughter Dance/mother son dance
  • 6:45 Cake Cutting
  • 6:50 All Dance
  • 7:30 Sunset photos (romantic photos of couple)
  • 8:00 More dancing, and general merriment
  • 8:30 Bouquet & Garter toss (and/or shoe game)
  • 10:45 Couple send off out front doors – sparklers
  • 11:00 Bring the party to a close and pack up to go home.
  • 11:30 Out of venue

Timelines can of course include a lot more details, filling in the blanks adding notes on who is walking down the isle, who is being part of the grand entrance, you might choose to do a father daughter first look, or any number of other traditions not on this sample, etc. but once you have this general structure in place its easier to decide where to place those other events.

I highly recommend baking in just an extra 15 minutes here and there, as weddings often run a little bit slower then you anticipate, there are a lot of people and a lot of moving parts, so putting in a little bit of buffer space just helps you relax on your wedding day and enjoy it.