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Wedding Day Timeline 5pm Ceremony [Typical Order Of Events]

Booking your ceremony is a key part of wedding planning and a very exciting one at that! If you’re keen to opt for a ceremony that is later in the day, 5pm as a ceremony time tends to work well to capture the beautiful evening sun or twilight hour, just before dusk.

You may be wondering, however, if a 5pm ceremony is too late in the day and what implications this may have on your wedding day timeline.

After all, most wedding timelines that I have found online only cater for a ceremony that is around lunchtime!

I was interested in what my wedding day timeline would look like and whether I should opt for a 5pm ceremony; I conducted some in-depth research, and this is what I found.

Wedding Day Timeline 5pm Ceremony

Having an awareness of your wedding day timeline or schedule is invaluable for all members of the wedding party, and communicating the key events of the day to all those involved is key to the smooth, stress-free running of your wedding day.

Whilst this does take some forward planning, I can assure you that it is totally worth it.

The weddings I have been to where the wedding day timeline was made clear to all parties involved (bridal party, groomsmen, key family/friends, etc.) have ensured that the bride and groom were able to focus on themselves during the run-up to their ceremony, and rightly so!

Whether you are using a wedding planner or coordinator or arranging things yourself, it is so important to arrange and schedule the most important parts of your wedding day.

As well as allowing all of your vendors to have a clear idea of timings, planning your wedding timeline can also allow you to envision exactly what your wedding day will be like.

It is also recommended that once you have an idea of the schedule, committing this to paper can be an excellent way of keeping all relevant parties informed of plans and ensuring that everyone’s expectations are in check for your big day.

Here is a suggested timeline for a wedding day where the ceremony is at 5pm.

Pre-Ceremony Schedule

The pre-ceremony schedule is arguably one of the most important things to get right on your wedding day.

This includes getting everyone ready, taking pre-ceremony photographs, getting everyone to the venue on time, coordinating the arrival of your guests, and ensuring that the bride and groom feel prepared and ready for their big moment.

When planning out your pre-ceremony schedule, it is important to factor in all the minor details of your morning, too, as these can sometimes be forgotten and can then take up valuable time; you don’t want to feel rushed or stressed in the lead up to your wedding!

This is a recommended pre-ceremony schedule for a 5pm ceremony time.

10-12amThe hair and make-up artist arrive to begin getting the bride and bridal party ready.You should liaise with your hair and make-up artist about the key timings of this as how long it will take to get the bride and bridal party ready depends on a number of different factors including: how many bridesmaids you have, whether any additional people are having hair and make up, how long it will take to travel between where the bride is getting ready to the venue to list but a few! Whilst this may seem like a lot of allocated time, bare in mind that hair and make-up can take anywhere between 45 minutes to an hour and a half (even longer sometimes) per person.
1pmLight lunch is served for snacking during the afternoon.A 5pm ceremony time suggests that your wedding breakfast will be served at dinner time – it is important that you have something to eat and drink.
12:30pmFlorist arrives at the venue to set up and arrange flowers. 
2:30pmPhotographer arrives to take photographs of the bride and bridal party having their hair and make-up done.Bare in mind that you don’t actually need the photographer with you for the duration of the getting ready process, you may wish to capture make-up being touched up!
3:15pmBouquets for Bride and Bridesmaids as well as the corsages for the mothers of the bride and groom and buttonhole for the father of the bride delivered to the location where the bride is getting ready.Buttonholes for the Groom, Groomsmen and Ushers should also be sent directly to the ceremony venue.
3:30pmBride and Bridesmaids begin to get dressed.Don’t underestimate how long this can take! Again, you want this to be a nice and relaxed part of your day, it is important to leave ample time for this so you are not rushed.
4pmGroom and Best Man depart for ceremony. 
4:15pmFurther photographs are taken of the bride and bridal party.Use this time to do a first look with your bridal party and the father of the bride, these moments are precious and you will want to capture them forever.
4:20pmGroom and Best Man arrive at the ceremony. Wedding car arrives at the bridal location.It is a good idea to ensure that other groomsmen and members of the groom’s party arrive at around this time too. It is likely that your guests will start arriving so you can greet them.
4:30pmBride and bridesmaids depart and being to make their way to the venue or ceremony location. 

Serving lunch and having snacks available throughout the getting ready period is important to ensure that no-one goes hungry or feels faint.

Whilst food may be the last thing on your mind, you can easily delegate this task to key members of your bridal party, groom’s party or family.

The hair and make-up artist should also schedule the bride into their getting ready timeline, to prioritise her over all other members of the bridal party.

If the venue has accommodation available, it is not uncommon for the bride and bridal party to stay at the venue the night before the wedding and get ready there.

If so, it may have some implications on the wedding day time line, that will need to be considered as less time will be needed for travel between the venues.

Wedding Ceremony Schedule

For a 5pm ceremony, your Wedding Ceremony Schedule may look a little like this:

4:20pmGroom, Best Man and Ushers arrive at the Ceremony venue.During this time, guests should be welcomes, orders of service handed out and people shown to their seats by the ushers.
4:30pmGuests begin to arrive.Arrange for some music to be played in the background to create your desired atmosphere for the lead up to your ceremony.
5:30pmRecessional followed by confetti throw.Traditionally, bridesmaids and groomsmen pair up and follow the bride and groom out of the service. Inform your photographer that you wish to do your confetti throw here as you may wish to capture some photos of this.
5:45pmBride and groom, wedding party and guests depart for the wedding reception venue.If the reception and ceremony are being held at the same place, this is often when canapes are served to guests as they move from one part of the venue to another so setting up for the wedding breakfast can take place. Often, during this time, the bride and groom will go with their photographer for some couple portraits as newlyweds followed by the more formal family shots.

Wedding Reception Schedule

6:15pmDrinks Reception BeginsChampagne and canapes are typically served. Once returned from being with the couple, the photographer will take photos of guests.
7:30pmCandles are lit.The wedding co-ordinator or venue staff should see to this.
7:45pmGuests are called to take their seats for the wedding breakfast.The top table usually enters last and then the bride and groom are introduced and make their entrance!
8pmWedding Breakfast 
9:30pmChampagne served for toasts during speeches. 
10pmSpeechesTypically held by the father of the bride, groom, best man and in this order.
10:30pmEvening Bar Opens 
10:45pmDJ/Band/Wedding Singer Begins 
12amPerhaps some late-night food is served! 
2amGuests depart. 

It is important to note that this is, well, actually any schedule, is simply for organizational purposes and does not need to be strictly adhered to.

Rigid scheduling can make your wedding day feel too structured and not fun.

Instead, use this schedule as a guide and let your day unfold naturally.

Who Manages The Wedding Timeline?

Typically, the role of managing the timeline is undertaken by your wedding planner or coordinator. However, this role can also be given to organized and responsible members of the bridal party or groomsmen.

It is essential that someone takes responsibility for managing the wedding timeline on your wedding day.

And that doesn’t have to mean that one person is solely responsible for the entire timeline; delegating key responsibilities is often how this works best.

For example, bridesmaids – or one key bridesmaid – could be in charge of coordinating the timeline for hair and make-up and ensuring the bridal party is ready on time.

Perhaps one of the Ushers or the Best Man could take the lead on making sure the ceremony timeline runs smoothly.

Typically, your venue and vendors will see that the wedding timeline is adhered to during the reception.

What Time Should Your Guests Arrive For A 5pm Ceremony?

For a 5pm ceremony, guests should be invited to arrive around 30 minutes prior; 4:30 pm is when a guest should start arriving.

That being said, there will always be some guests who arrive early and others who arrive late (eek!), be prepared to greet your guests at the ceremony venue according to your timeline.

What Times Is A 5pm Wedding Likely To End?

A 5pm wedding is likely to end anywhere between midnight and two or three in the morning, depending on your preference and the licensing of your venue.

Whilst the ceremony portion typically only lasts around 30-minutes to one hour, the reception can last anywhere from 6-8 hours.

Weddings tend to go on for as long (or as little time) as the bride and groom want.

If partying until the early hours sounds like the sort of wedding you would like to have, then be sure to opt for a venue where this is possible, as many wedding venues have a cut-off time of midnight.

How Long Before The Ceremony Should The Bride Be Ready?

Generally, it is advised that the bride is ready around 45 minutes before she needs to leave for the venue to allow time for touch-ups and photographs.

Where the bride is getting ready will impact how long before the ceremony she needs to be dressed and ready to travel to the ceremony.

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

This will also ensure they are not rushing or feeling overly pressured or stressed.

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