Summer Wedding Timeline: 3 Key Things to Consider When Planning Your Big Day

summer wedding timeline

Summer is a great time to get married. The allure of the warm evening breeze, blooming flowers, and longer days makes it a popular season to tie the knot. 

But with sunsets as late as 8 p.m. and sultry afternoon temperatures, it can get tricky to craft a perfect timeline for your summer wedding. There are many things to be considered. 

If you’re unsure how to start planning the sequence of events for your special day, you’ve come to the right place. Whether you envision a big tropical-themed celebration or a casual affair in your backyard, our guide, including timeline templates and tips, will help you plan your summer wedding. 

summer wedding timeline what to consider when crafting your summer wedding timeline

What to Consider When Crafting Your Summer Wedding Timeline

A timeline will keep you stress-free on your big day. It will ensure your vendors are punctual, your guests are comfortable, and you have enough time for photos. 

Every couple’s version of a perfect timeline will vary depending on your location, preferred ceremony time, and vision for your wedding. 

To create your personalized summer wedding timeline, it is important to consider a few key questions. 

What Time is Sunset? 

It’s a good idea to check the precise time of sunset at your location. 

Are you dreaming of saying “I do” with a golden-hued sunset backdrop or imagining your first dance as the sun descends behind you? Your preference toward what you want to be doing during sunset will determine how you craft your summer wedding timeline.

summer wedding timeline for a sunset ceremony in the summer

Timeline for a sunset ceremony in the summer 

Let’s say the sun will set at 8 p.m. Our timeline template will help you plan your day and take advantage of the golden hour so that you can have a sunset ceremony. 

The post-ceremony celebrations and dinner will begin a little later, but your sunset nuptials will make it worthwhile. You can also consider serving some pre-ceremony refreshments at the entrance of your venue for guests to help themselves. This will keep everyone content until dinner time. 

After checking the precise sunset time at your location, adjust this timeline framework to create your perfect version.

  • 3 p.m. — Bride and bridal party arrive for hair and make-up
  • 4 p.m. — Photographer arrives for candid photos of the bridal party
  • 4 p.m. — Groom and groomsmen get ready
  • 5:15 p.m. — Photographer gets candid shots of the groom and groomsmen
  • 5:15 p.m. — Bride puts on the wedding dress
  • 5:15 p.m. — Bridal bouquet delivery 
  • 5:30 p.m. — First look with the bride’s father (or other family members)
  • 5:30 p.m. — Groom heads to first look location to await his bride
  • 5:40 p.m. — The bride heads to the first look location
  • 5:45 p.m. — Bride and groom first look and photos
  • 6:30 p.m. — Wedding party photos
  • 7 p.m. — Family photos
  • 7:30 p.m. — Bride touches up hair and make-up
  • 7:30 p.m. — Photographer takes pictures of venue and guests arriving
  • 7:30 p.m. — Hors d’oeuvres and beverages to be served to guests as they wait for the ceremony to start 
  • 8 p.m. — Sunset ceremony begins
  • 8:30 p.m. — Hugs and congratulations after the ceremony (formal reception line, if you choose to have one).
  • 9 p.m. — Bride touches up and bustles dress with help from her mother or the maid of honor
  • 9 p.m. — Reception begins, and guests find their seats 
  • 9:05 p.m. — Couple makes a grand entrance 
  • 9:10 p.m. — Dinner is served / buffet opens
  • 9:40 p.m. — Toasts and/or speeches
  • 10 p.m. — Cake cutting and serve dessert
  • 10:30 p.m. — First dance
  • 10:35 p.m. — Parent dances
  • 10:40 p.m. — The dance floor opens to guests
  • 12:30 p.m. — Last call for drinks
  • 12:45 p.m. — Bridal couple leave (the send-off)
  • 1 a.m. — Guests begin to leave
  • 2 a.m. — Vendors finish packing up and leave
summer wedding timeline temperature

What is the Temperature?

Summer weddings can be sweltering, especially if you’re hosting most of the events outdoors and under the sun. 

Check the temperature at your location beforehand and decide the best time for your ceremony. If you’re hosting your wedding outdoors, you don’t want guests sweating under the rays of the harsh summer sun. Instead, choose a time when it’s slightly cooler. You can consider starting the ceremony later at 7 p.m. or 8 p.m. to avoid the mid-afternoon heat. 

But if a later start is not an option, you can also host an indoor ceremony with an outdoor cocktail hour and reception to avoid being under the hot summer sun. 

summer wedding timeline for a indoor ceremony followed by an outdoor reception

Timeline for a indoor ceremony followed by an outdoor reception

Check out this summer wedding timeline template to help you plan your indoor wedding followed by an outdoor reception in different locations. We will assume sunset is at 8 p.m. but make sure to check your precise sunset time for your location. 

Pro-tip: Try to ensure the reception venue is no more than 20-30 minutes away. The travel time should be as short as possible to keep it convenient for you and your guests. 

  • 1 p.m. — Bride and bridal party arrive for hair and make-up
  • 1:30 p.m. — Photographer arrives for candid photos of the bridal party
  • 2 p.m. — Groom and groomsmen get ready
  • 2:30 p.m. — Photographer gets candid shots of the groom and groomsmen
  • 3 p.m. — Bride puts on the wedding dress
  • 3 p.m. — Bouquet delivered to the bride 
  • 3 p.m. — Groom and groomsmen take photos
  • 3:15 p.m. —First look with father (or other family members)
  • 3:30 p.m. — Bride and bridal party official photos (bride and groom to avoid seeing each other)
  • 3:45 p.m. — Bride and family photos
  • 4:15 p.m. — Groom and family photos (bride and groom to avoid seeing each other)
  • 4:30 p.m. — Bride and bridal party freshen up hair and make-up
  • 4:30 p.m. — Photographer takes pictures of venue and guests arriving
  • 5 p.m. — Ceremony begins
  • 5:30 p.m. — Hugs and congratulations after the ceremony (formal reception line, if you choose to have one).
  • 6 p.m. — Guests leave for the reception venue 
  • 6:30 p.m. — Wedding party and family photos
  • 7 p.m. — Couple takes golden hour photos 
  • 7 p.m. — Sunset cocktail hour begins at the reception venue. Hor d’oeuvres served 
  • 7:25 p.m. — Bride bustles dress with help from maid of honor
  • 7:30 p.m. — Couple and wedding party leave for the reception venue 
  • 8:00 p.m. — Guests find their seats, and reception begins as the sun sets
  • 8:05 p.m. — The wedding party makes an entrance 
  • 8:10 p.m. — Couple makes a grand entrance
  • 8:15 p.m. — Dinner is served 
  • 9 p.m. — Toasts and/or speeches
  • 9:15 p.m. — Cut the cake and serve dessert
  • 9:30 p.m. — First dance
  • 9:35 p.m. — Parent dances
  • 9:40 p.m. — The dance floor opens to guests
  • 11:45 p.m. — Last call for drinks
  • 12:00 a.m. — Bridal couple leave (special send-off).
  • 12:30 a.m. — Guests start to leave
  • 1:30 a.m. — Vendors finish packing up and leave
summer wedding timeline venues designated cut off time

What is the Venue’s Designated Cut-Off Time? 

Every venue will have different rules. It’s essential to be mindful of their regulations and note their event cut-off time. You can use your venue’s designated end time and work backward to create a timeline 

Pro-tip: Check the location’s cut-off time before finalizing it as your wedding venue

summer wedding timeline for a summer wedding with a 10pm end time

Timeline for a Summer Wedding with a 10 pm End Time 

If your venue has an early end time, don’t worry. There are ways to work your timeline around it and still have a festive celebration complete with dining and dancing. 

This timeline template, with a 10 p.m. end time, allows you to create a sundowner vibe. Serve lots of refreshing cocktails and cooling foods to contribute to the summer wedding feel. 

Check out this timeline for a wedding ceremony, followed by a sundowner reception in the summer. 

  • 1 p.m. — Bride and bridal party arrive for hair and make-up 
  • 1:30 p.m. — The photographer arrives for candid photos of the bridal party
  • 2 p.m. — Groom and groomsmen get ready
  • 2:30 p.m. — The photographer gets candid shots of the groom and groomsmen
  • 3 p.m. — Bride puts on the wedding dress
  • 3 p.m. — Bridal bouquet delivery 
  • 3 p.m. — Groom and groomsmen take photos
  • 3:15 p.m. — First look with father (or other family members)
  • 3:30 p.m. — Bride and bridal party official photos (bride and groom to avoid seeing each other)
  • 3:45 p.m. — Bride and family photos
  • 4:15 p.m. — Groom and family photos (bride and groom to avoid seeing each other)
  • 4:30 p.m. — Bride and bridal party freshen up hair and make-up
  • 4:30 p.m. — Photographer takes pictures of venue and guests arriving
  • 5 p.m. — Ceremony begins
  • 5:30 p.m. — Hugs and congratulations after the ceremony (formal reception line, if you choose to have one).
  • 6 p.m. — Cocktail hour for guests
  • 6:00 p.m. — Wedding party and family photos 
  • 6:30 p.m. — Couple photos 
  • 6:30 p.m. — Reception starts, wedding party makes an entrance
  • 6:30 p.m. — Bride touches up and bustles dress with help from mother or maid of honor
  • 6:35 p.m. — Couple makes a grand entrance
  • 6:45 p.m. — Dinner is served 
  • 7:15 p.m. — Toasts and/or speeches
  • 7:30 p.m. — Cut the cake and serve dessert
  • 7:45 p.m. — First dance as the sun begins to set 
  • 7:50 p.m. — Parent dances
  • 8 p.m. — The dance floor opens 
  • 8 p.m. — More couple photos during golden hour (optional) 
  • 9:30 p.m. — Last call for drinks
  • 9:45 p.m. — Bridal couple leave (the send-off).
  • 10 p.m. — Guests start to leave
  • 11 p.m. — Vendors finish packing up and leave
summer wedding timeline additional advice

Additional Advice

If you’re hosting an outdoor wedding, be prepared if you suspect it’ll be extra hot. Here are some additional tips to help beat the heat. 

  • Confirm that your venue has enough shaded areas for guests to relax. If not, consider renting a tent to protect against the hot sun. 
  • Hand fans, parasols, and sunscreen are valuable things that can cool your guests down. You can have them set up in baskets at the entrance of your venue.
  • Serve plenty of cooling foods and beverages. Coconut water, ice cream, and fresh summer salads will help your guests stay cool.