I had an 11am wedding and an afternoon reception. My timeline went something like this:
5:30am – wake up
6:00am – makeup artist arrives and begins my hair and makeup
7:30am – wake up call for BMs to get dressed and ready (they did their own hair and makeup)
8:00am – I’m done and they start working on mom’s hair and makeup. I start to get dressed in my gear. Downstairs, our friends are running a continental breakfast that we’re providing to guests (coffee, muffins, etc since people might get hungry before the ceremony). Groom is eating breakfast with guests and mingling a bit before getting dressed.
9:15am – Bridal party and groom get shuttled over to the church for photos. I leave with my parents separately.
9:30am – First look photos, bridal party photos and family portraits happen before ceremony.
10:30am – First guests begin arriving. I hide in the bathroom with the BMs and Groom hung out with pastor and Groomsmen in the back of the church hidden from the guests. Our parents start greeting people.
11:00am – Church doors are closed
11:10am – Ceremony begins
11:45am – Ceremony ends, group photos of all the guests begins
12:00pm – Guests get shuttled to reception for cocktail hour (passed appetizers, beer, wine, champagne and mimosas. Light music plays in the background). We’ve decorated reception space with lots of family photos to look at. Meanwhile we take a few more family and friend pictures, and bride/groom portraits, back at the church.
12:45pm – Bride and groom arrive and make entrance.
1:00pm – Cocktail hour ends, lunch service begins.
1:30pm – While people are finishing up meals, toasts begin.
2:00pm – We cut the cake, I reveal my surprise for the groom (I had his favorite ice cream flown in from Michigan). Cake and ice cream are served. I go to change into my short reception dress.
2:30pm – Music begins playing for dancing. (I had a friend play music off his laptop which we hooked up to the restaurant’s sound system. We created the playlist on a shared Google doc over a few weeks and then he downloaded all the songs off his Rhapsody account).
3:30pm – People are still dancing and mingling and having a good time, but we’re toning down the music to become gradually mellower (i.e. more songs that require singing along, as opposed to fierce dancing). We announce that shuttles will start leaving at 4PM.
4:00pm – We play the last song – September, by Earth Wind and Fire, and announce that the shuttles are beginning their service back to the hotel. Most of our older guests leave at that point. Our families and friends are still sticking around to talk. We hand out centerpieces for people to take and say bye to everyone in the lobby
4:30pm – Most of the guests have left and we’re just packing up a bunch of decorations and loading them into our car. DH and I drive back to the hotel to drop off a few things and say goodbye to our parents. Then we drive off to our honeymoon, exhausted but happy!
Later on, we found out that our friends who just met each other at the wedding decide to go out afterwards for dinner together and had a great time. We thought that was the best!
ETA: Our schedule was a little bit compacted because I had my photographer for 6 hours (she left at about 3:30pm) and I had my videographer for 4 hours, or until about 2:30pm. I figured I didn’t need the extra hours of dancing photos (we still got a ton) and the video was just for our grandparents who couldn’t make it, so it wasn’t a big deal to get the ENTIRE day.