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Wedding Day Timeline 3pm Ceremony [Typical Order Of Events]

If you are currently planning your wedding, then you may be contemplating the timeline of events for your day. But what about a 3 pm ceremony? Is this too late in the day or can this work?

I decided to spend some time researching what a typical wedding with a ceremony that starts at this time would look like.

I will be sharing with you an example of what it would look like here today.

Wedding Day Timeline 3pm Ceremony

Whether you decide to hire a wedding planner, are arranging things yourself, or have the support of a wedding coordinator, you’ll find it helpful to plan and be aware of your wedding day schedule.

The agreed timeline will give all members, such as the wedding party, suppliers, staff, and guests exactly when they need to be prepared and be ready.

More importantly, the schedule helps you to better envision how your day is going to go and how it will all come together.

Seeing your schedule on paper is a great tool for helping everyone who gets to take a look; keeping everyone’s expectations firmly in check.

Let us now take a closer look at an example and typical wedding day schedule for a ceremony that starts at 3 pm.

Pre-Ceremony Schedule

Pre-ceremony is all about getting ready, getting some early photographs taken, and transportation to the venue. Timings here are crucial but may differ depending on how much travel is required.

It’s important to factor in all the minor details and little things that can take up time; you do not want to be running late!

10 a.m.Hair and make-up artist
arrives at the brides
parents house
This could also be accommodation
on the site of the wedding.
Typically the bridesmaids,
the maid of honor
and mother of the bride
are in attendance.
10:45 a.m.Light breakfast is delivered
for snacking throughout
the morning.
11:30 a.m.Florist arrives at the venue to
set our flowers.
12:30 p.m.Photographer arrives and
takes getting ready images
of the hair and makeup
being done.
1:15 p.m.Flowers bouquets and
buttonhole for father of
the groom delivered to
the place where the bride is
getting ready.
Buttonholes are also sent
directly to the venue for the
groomsmen, ushers, best man
and father
of the groom.
1:30 p.m.Bride and bridesmaids
get dressed.
2 p.m.Groom and best man depart
for ceremony.
2:15 p.m.Further photos were taken
of the bride in her wedding dress.
2:20 p.m.Groom and best man arrive
at the ceremony.
Wedding car arrives at
the bridal location.
2:30 p.m.Bride and bridesmaids
depart for the ceremony or
make their way to the venue.

Regardless of where the attendants decide to get ready, a hotel or someone’s home, it’s a good idea for them to have something to eat.

Otherwise, they will be hungry waiting a long time until the wedding breakfast is served.

Equally, the bride should have her hair and make-up done last to ensure she waits the least amount of time before the ceremony.

Sometimes, the bride may decide to stay at a hotel or the venue the night before the wedding.

This is where she will get ready and will have an impact on the schedule set out above.

Wedding Ceremony Schedule

2:20 p.m.Groom, best man and
ushers arrive
at the ceremony.
Ushers to hand out orders
of service and escort
guests to their seats.
2:30 p.m.Guests begin to arriveMusic playing in the
3 p.m.Ceremony
3:30 p.m.Recessional, followed by
Bridesmaids and ushers pair
up and walk together.
3:45 p.m.Bride and groom, wedding
party and guests depart for
the wedding venue.
If the ceremony is held at the
same place as the venue, it may
either mean moving to a different
part of the venue, or heading
to a bar area while the room is
changed for the reception.

Wedding Reception Schedule

4:15 p.m.Drinks reception starts.Champagne is typically served.
4:30 p.m.Canapes served, guests enter
the gardens of the venue.
Photographer will take
pictures during this time.
5:30 p.m.Candles lit on tables.Usually by the wedding
5:45 p.m.Guests called to the tables.The top table usually enters
6 p.m.Wedding breakfast.
7:45 p.m.Champagne served for the
8 p.m.Speeches announced.Typically held by the father of
the bride, groom, best man and
in this order.
8:15pm.Teas/Coffees served in the reception
Venue staff turn the room around
for the evening.
8:30 p.m.Evening bar opens.
Evening guests arrive
Welcomed with a glass
of wine.
8:45 p.m.Cutting of the cake followed by
the first dance.
9:00 p.m.DJ/Band/Wedding singer begins.
10:30 p.m.Evening Food served.
11:45 p.m.DJ/Band/Wedding singers
final set,
12:00 p.m.Last dance
12:15 p.m.Guests begin to depart

Remember that this, or any other schedule is not meant to be treated as gospel or followed to the letter!

That just wouldn’t work and would not be fun.

Instead, use it as a guide and let the day unfold naturally.

Who Manages The Wedding Timeline?

On the wedding day, somebody/ a group of people will need to be responsible for coordinating and ensuring that the events take place on the schedule, at the set times.

This is usually undertaken by your wedding planner in advance, or from a wedding coordinator with which your venue may provide or you may decide to hire for your special day.

Otherwise, various members of the bridal party should be asked to take on certain responsibilities.

For example, you can look to ask your maid of honor to help plan and facilitate the arrival of the make-up artist, hairdresser, and photographer.

During the ceremony itself, you can look to delegate tasks to somebody else, such as the ushers who can liaise with suppliers.

At the reception, your wedding planner or the venue coordinator will look to run the schedule for you.

What Time Should Your Guests Arrive For A 3pm Ceremony?

It is generally advised that your guests arrive 30 minutes before the start of your wedding ceremony, so 2:30 p.m. would be a good time.

This should give them plenty of time to find or be escorted to the seats, ahead of the ceremony which will soon commence.

What Times Is A 3pm Wedding Likely To End?

A 3 pm wedding is likely to end around midnight (12 p.m.), if it is to follow the traditional schedule and sequence of events.

The wedding ceremony typically lasts for 1 hour, whereas the reception typically lasts for between 6-8 hours.

That being said, some weddings may go on for longer depending on the venue and the agreements made with the newlyweds during the planning process.

Some wedding celebrations go on to the early hours of the morning at an off-site after party, but whether this happens, you are invited, or if it is considered as part of the wedding is open to interpretation.

How Long Before The Ceremony Should The Bride Be Ready?

How long before the ceremony the bride needs to be ready will depend mostly on where they are getting reading and where the venue is.

Does the bride need to be transported to the ceremony or are they getting ready at the venue?

Either way, it is generally advised that the bride is to be ready at least 45 minutes before they need to depart for the venue.

This will give them sufficient time to check how they look (their hair and makeup), have photos taken, and ensure they are not rushing or feeling overly pressured or stressed.

For the most part, brides will need around 1-2 hours in total to get ready; including hair, makeup-up, and getting into the dress.

Consider that this should be done over time, in a relaxed environment.

Of this time, it usually takes 30-45 minutes from the time a bride is in their dress to when they are ready to depart. This gives sufficient time for a few photos.


Hopefully, this wedding day timeline of a typical 3 pm ceremony will give you some guidance and some things to think about in the planning of your special day.

Remember, this is just a guide and you will unlikely want to, or be able to follow it, entirely.

Nevertheless, it is important to have a schedule, be timely, and ensure that everyone is aware of their responsibilities ahead of time so that your day goes as planned.

Whether this is through the use of a wedding planner, coordinator, or neither, is a decision that you as a couple will need to make.

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