Wedding Timeline Ideas (from an Untraditional Wedding Planner!)
Updated: Jan 27
Hey there, nearlywed.
The wedding timeline makes a *big* impact on your day. Whether you're dreaming of a romantic sunset handfasting ceremony, a leisurely morning with your future spouse having breakfast in the hotel room, or making sure you get all the group festivities done early in the night so you have plenty of one-on-one time- the timeline is how you make it happen. In this post we're going to break down the traditional wedding timeline and a few ways to make these magic moments happen.
When I help couples plan their weddings, I love to push the expectations aside and start with what they really want. For most of my couples - that's not a traditional timeline with a morning ceremony and lengthy gap before the reception. Today, I want to share with you what a traditional wedding timeline looks like, and what we can do instead.
In case we haven’t met yet, I’m Keilah (pronounced Kayla) and if you are looking for a Kansas City wedding planner who says no to the typical wedding BS and says yes to you getting married exactly the way you want, I’m your person. I got my start with drag shows and theatre stage management and now I plan kick ass weddings for off beat couples that are thoughtful and intentional - something that’s too often missed in the wedding industry! You can learn more about my services here, or jump straight to the good stuff by contacting me here.
The “Traditional” Wedding Timeline
You can probably already tell that I’m not a fan of traditional, but in case YOU are, I wanted to layout what a traditional wedding timeline looks like. After all, when I say don’t plan your wedding for anyone else, I’m including me 😉.
With a traditional wedding timeline, you’ll start to get ready at about 8am (if not earlier) for your wedding ceremony at 11am-12pm. After your wedding ceremony, there is often a 1-3 hour gap during the cocktail hour so you and your wedding party can take wedding photos. You may have time to attend your cocktail hour, but most couples don’t so that they can have a “grand entrance” at the start of the ceremony. Then, your reception lasts as long as the wedding venue you’ve chosen will let you stay - filled with dinner, lots of speeches, and all too often - overpriced drinks.
A Sunset Wedding (most popular this year!)
Do you love those dreamy sunset wedding photos as much as I do? Great lighting is not the only reason to consider a sunset wedding timeline (although it's definitely a benefit). This style of timeline surged in popularity as 2020 filled with micro weddings (although I like to say I loved micro weddings before they were necessary - I think they should have always been the first choice!).
With this timeline, you start getting ready a little later in the day, and the entire timeline feels a lot more relaxed. With a sunset wedding, couples will usually have a first look before their wedding ceremony and get all of the wedding photos they want - including those with the wedding party and family - out of the way so that by the time the ceremony rolls around, you can be completely present. After the ceremony, the couple with their guests often head straight to cocktail hour so there are no awkward gaps. I love this timeline because you spend most of your day WITH the person you are marrying.
A Brunch Wedding
Last but not least, I want to bring you the brunch wedding timeline! These definitely are not the only wedding timeline options, the options are really endless, but the whole point of this post was to show you that thinking outside of the box is encouraged. The sky is truly the limit for you and that's why I am so passionate about what I do as a wedding planner.
If drinking and dancing aren’t a high priority for you, why not consider a brunch wedding? With this timeline, your wedding ceremony takes place earlier in the day and often flows straight into the brunch (no cocktail hour required). This timeline allows you to focus on what you might be most looking forward to (whether it’s the ceremony or the reception speeches) without the pricey bill that an open bar and four-course dinner can bring!
Make your own rules (but book your wedding vendors early!)
Listen, as you can probably tell, I’m completely okay with you breaking all the rules. But here’s one last piece of advice: book the wedding vendors you really want, as early as possible. Or, if you are planning a last-minute micro wedding or elopement, be flexible with the dates. Weekday weddings are rising in popularity for this exact reason! When we work together, I encourage my couples to really consider what’s most important to them and lean into that. You can throw away the rest if you want to. Being intentional in your wedding planning journey is always priority one.
Booking your Kansas City Wedding Planner
If you are reading this and thinking - YES, I’m ready to break some rules - you are my people. I’m incredibly passionate about the work I do (as if you couldn’t tell) and would love to hear more about your love story. Contact me here and we can skip the typical wedding BS and jump into what matters most to you right now. Seriously. If you’ve never planned a wedding (and are absolutely sick of Google-ing), it’s time to give yourself the gift of hiring someone to take the stressful parts off your plate. Learn more about working with me here.