How to Plan Your Thursday Wedding Timeline (Plus 5 Helpful Examples for Your Special Day)

thursday wedding timeline

If you and your future Mr. or Mrs. are thinking about hosting a Thursday wedding, you’re not alone. While weekend nuptials are still more prevalent than weekday ceremonies, more and more couples are choosing to marry on a Thursday.

If you’re one of those couples, then you may be wondering how to map out your Thursday wedding timeline. If you’re worried about getting it right, our Thursday wedding timeline guide can help alleviate your concerns. Not only does it walk you through the entire event, but it also helps you plan your pre-ceremony preparations.

So read on to find the timeline that is right for your special day.

Thursday Wedding Timeline Examples for an Evening Ceremony

If most of your guests live where you’re hosting the wedding, planning your ceremony in the evening will help the folks who can’t take an entire day off of work. Here are three timelines to consider for an evening ceremony.

thursday wedding timeline 7pm with first look

7pm Thursday Wedding Timeline With First Look

While 7 p.m. isn’t a common time for a ceremony, this could work in your favor if you have a lot of family and close friends who can’t take time off work. Moving your ceremony to evening gives your guests time to change and get to your venue even if they do have to work until 5 p.m. Keep in mind, evening ceremonies do tend to be formal, so if you want a semi-formal or even dressy casual wedding, make sure your invites are clear about the dress code.

  • 1:30 p.m. — Bride and bridal party arrive for hair and makeup
  • 2 p.m. — Photographer arrives for candid photos of bridal party
  • 3:30 p.m. — Groom and groomsmen get ready
  • 4 p.m. — Photographer gets candid shots of the groom and groomsmen
  • 4:15 p.m. — Bride puts on wedding dress
  • 4:30 p.m. — First look with father (or other family members)
  • 4:30 p.m. — Groom heads to first look location to await his bride
  • 4:40 p.m. — Bride heads to first look location
  • 4:45 p.m. — Bride and groom first look and photos
  • 5:30 p.m. — Wedding party photos
  • 6 p.m. — Family photos
  • 6:30 p.m. — Bride freshens up hair and makeup
  • 6:30 p.m. — Photographer takes pictures of venue and guests arriving
  • 7 p.m. — Ceremony starts
  • 7:30 p.m. — Cocktails (photographer takes candid shots)
  • 8 p.m. — Reception starts, first dinner course is served
  • 8:30 p.m. — Toasts and/or speeches
  • 8:45 p.m. — Second dinner course is served
  • 9:15 p.m. — Cut the cake and serve dessert
  • 9:30 p.m. — First dance
  • 9:35 p.m. — Parent dances
  • 9:45 p.m. — Dance floor opens to guests
  • 11:45 p.m. — Last call for drinks
  • 11:55 p.m. — Bridal couple leaves (special send-off).
  • 12 p.m. — Guests start to leave
  • 1 a.m. — Vendors finish packing up and leave
thursday wedding timeline 6 pm with first look

6pm Thursday Wedding Timeline With First Look

If you like the idea of hosting an evening wedding, 6 p.m. is always a popular choice. While your guests may need to take a few hours off, they’ll be able to work most of the day and still have time to get ready and make the drive to your venue. Weddings at 6 p.m. or later are typically formal, so make sure your wedding invitations clearly state the dress code you’re expecting so all of your guests are prepared.

  • 1 p.m. — Bride and bridal party arrive for hair and makeup
  • 1:30 p.m. — Photographer arrives for candid photos of bridal party
  • 2 p.m. — Groom and groomsmen get ready
  • 3:15 p.m. — Photographer gets candid shots of the groom and groomsmen
  • 3:15 p.m. — Bride puts on wedding dress
  • 3:30 p.m. — First look with father (or other family members)
  • 3:30 p.m. — Groom heads to first look location to await his bride
  • 3:40 p.m. — Bride heads to first look location
  • 3:45 p.m. — Bride and groom first look and photos
  • 4:30 p.m. — Wedding party photos
  • 5 p.m. — Family photos
  • 5:30 p.m. — Bride freshens up hair and makeup
  • 5:30 p.m. — Photographer takes pictures of venue and guests arriving
  • 6 p.m. — Ceremony starts
  • 6:30 p.m. — Receiving line (if you choose to have one)
  • 7 p.m. — Bride bustles dress with help from mother or maid of honor
  • 7 p.m. — Cocktail hour (photographer takes candid shots)
  • 8 p.m. — Reception starts, buffet opens or dinner is served
  • 8:45 p.m. — Toasts and/or speeches
  • 9 p.m. — Cut the cake and serve dessert
  • 9:30 p.m. — First dance
  • 9:35 p.m. — Parent dances
  • 9:45 p.m. — Dance floor opens to guests
  • 11:45 p.m. — Last call for drinks
  • 11:55 p.m. — Bridal couple leave (special send-off).
  • 12 p.m. — Guests start to leave
  • 1 a.m. — Vendors finish packing up and leave
thursday wedding timeline without firstlook 5pm

5pm Thursday Wedding Timeline Without First Look

Not every bride or groom wants to see their intended before the ceremony so, if you’re not planning to do a first look, you’ll need to schedule your ceremony a bit earlier so you can get in your couples and wedding party photos while the light is still good. Choosing a 5 p.m. start for your wedding will give you time to get some pictures beforehand while still having time to shoot more after the ceremony.

  • 12:30 p.m. — Bride and bridal party arrive for hair and makeup
  • 1 p.m. — Photographer arrives for candid photos of bridal party
  • 1:30 p.m. — Groom and groomsmen get ready
  • 2 p.m. — Photographer gets candid shots of the groom and groomsmen
  • 2:30 p.m. — Groom and groomsmen official photos
  • 3 p.m. — Groom and family official photos
  • 3:15 p.m. — Bride puts on wedding dress
  • 3:30 p.m. —First look with family and family photos (groom tucked away to avoid seeing each other)
  • 4 p.m. — Bride and bridal party official photos 
  • 4:30 p.m. — Bride and bridal party freshen up hair and makeup
  • 4:30 p.m. — Photographer takes pictures of venue and guests arriving
  • 5 p.m. — Ceremony starts
  • 5:30 p.m. — Receiving line (if you choose to have one)
  • 6 p.m. — Cocktail hour for guests
  • 6 p.m. — Couple photos
  • 6:30 p.m. — Wedding party and any remaining family photos
  • 7 p.m. — Reception starts, wedding party makes entrance
  • 7 p.m. — Bride bustles dress with mother’s help
  • 7:10 p.m. — Bride and groom make grand entrance
  • 7:15 p.m. — First dinner course is served
  • 7:45 p.m. — Toasts and/or speeches
  • 8 p.m. — Second dinner course is served
  • 8:30 p.m. — Cut the cake and serve dessert
  • 9 p.m. — First dance
  • 9:05 p.m. — Parent dances
  • 9:15 p.m. — Dance floor opens to guests
  • 10:30 p.m. — Last call for drinks
  • 10:45 p.m. — Bridal couple final dance and send-off
  • 11 p.m. — Guests start to leave
  • 12 a.m. — Vendors finish packing up and leave
thursday wedding timelines for an afternoon ceremony

Thursday Wedding Timelines for an Afternoon Ceremony

If most of your guests are coming in from out of town, they’ll probably be arriving on Wednesday night — and that means planning a Thursday afternoon ceremony won’t be an imposition. Here are two timelines to consider for an afternoon ceremony.

thursday wedding timeline 4pm ceremony with first look

Wedding Day Timeline 4pm Ceremony With First Look

Having your ceremony in the late afternoon will work well if you know your guests are arriving in from out of town on Wednesday night or Thursday morning. You should also make sure your local guests can take at least half the day off before setting the time in stone. 

  • 11 a.m. — Bride and bridal party arrive for hair and makeup
  • 12 p.m. — Photographer arrives for candid photos of bridal party
  • 1 p.m. — Groom and groomsmen get ready
  • 1:15 p.m. — Photographer gets candid shots of the groom and groomsmen
  • 1:15 p.m. — Bride puts on wedding dress
  • 1:30 p.m. — First look with father (or other family members)
  • 1:30 p.m. — Groom heads to first look location to await his bride
  • 1:40 p.m. — Bride heads to first look location
  • 1:45 p.m. — Bride and groom first look and photos
  • 2:30 p.m. — Wedding party photos
  • 3 p.m. — Family photos
  • 3:30 p.m. — Bride freshens up hair and makeup
  • 3:30 p.m. — Photographer takes pictures of venue and guests arriving
  • 4 p.m. — Ceremony starts
  • 4:30 p.m. — Receiving line (if you choose to have one)
  • 5 p.m. — Bride bustles dress with help from mother or maid of honor
  • 5 p.m. — Cocktail hour (photographer takes candid shots)
  • 6 p.m. — Reception starts, buffet opens or dinner is served
  • 6:45 p.m. — Toasts and/or speeches
  • 7 p.m. — Cut the cake and serve dessert
  • 7:30 p.m. — First dance
  • 7:35 p.m. — Parent dances
  • 7:45 p.m. — Dance floor opens to guests
  • 9:45 p.m. — Last call for drinks
  • 9:55 p.m. — Bridal couple leave (special send-off)
  • 10 p.m. — Guests start to leave
  • 11 p.m. — Vendors finish packing up and leave
thursday wedding timeline 3pm ceremony without first look

Wedding Day Timeline 3pm Ceremony Without First Look

If you know an afternoon wedding is convenient for your guests, setting your ceremony for 3 p.m. leaves you with lots of time to get all of your pictures in after the ceremony while your family and friends enjoy cocktails.

  • 11 a.m. — Bride and bridal party arrive for hair and makeup
  • 11:30 a.m. — Photographer arrives for candid photos of bridal party
  • 12 p.m. — Groom and groomsmen get ready
  • 12:30 p.m. — Photographer gets candid shots of the groom and groomsmen
  • 1 p.m. — Bride puts on wedding dress
  • 1 p.m. — Groom and groomsmen official photos
  • 1:15 p.m. —First look with father (or other family members)
  • 1:30 p.m. — Bride and family photos (groom tucked away to avoid seeing each other)
  • 1:45 p.m. — Bride and bridal party official photos
  • 2:15 p.m. — Groom and family photos (bride tucked away to avoid seeing each other)
  • 2:30 p.m. — Bride and bridal party freshen up hair and makeup
  • 2:30 p.m. — Photographer takes pictures of venue and guests arriving
  • 3 p.m. — Ceremony starts
  • 3:30 p.m. — Receiving line (if you choose to have one)
  • 4 p.m. — Cocktail hour for guests
  • 4 p.m. — Couple photos
  • 4:30 p.m. — Remaining wedding party and family photos
  • 5 p.m. — Reception starts, wedding party makes entrance
  • 5 p.m. — Bride bustles dress with mother’s help
  • 5:10 p.m. — Bride and groom make grand entrance and first dance
  • 5:15 p.m. — Parent dances
  • 5:20 p.m. — Dance floor opens to guests (this is a good time for any choreographed dance you may have planned with your wedding party)
  • 6 p.m. — First dinner course is served
  • 6:30 p.m. — Toasts and/or speeches
  • 6:45 p.m. — Second dinner course is served
  • 7 p.m. — Cut the cake and serve dessert
  • 7:30 p.m. — Dance floor opens 
  • 9:30 p.m. — Last call for drinks
  • 9:45 p.m. — Bridal couple last dance and send-off
  • 10 p.m. — Guests start to leave
  • 11 p.m. — Vendors finish packing up and leave

Thursday Wedding FAQs

If you’ve never been to a Thursday wedding, you may not know all the ins and outs of hosting an evening ceremony and reception on a weekday. To help you learn all of the tips and tricks for planning a weekday wedding, we’ve answered all of the most commonly asked questions about Thursday nuptials.

Are weekday weddings common?

While Saturday weddings are still the most common, more and more couples are breaking the mold to host their nuptials during the week. In fact, one in five U.S. weddings have taken place on a weekday since 2012.

Is it OK to get married on a Thursday?

While it may not be the norm to get married on a Thursday, it’s not completely unheard of either. Roughly six percent of couples choose this day to marry for a variety of reasons. For some, it’s all about getting their venue and other services at a discount.

For others it’s about getting the venue of their dreams which is booked every weekend for the next two years. It can even be for sentimental reasons like wanting to marry and have their anniversary on a specific date. Whatever your reasons, choosing to get married on a Thursday is perfectly acceptable if it makes you and your future spouse happy.

What does it mean to get married on a Thursday?

Planning your wedding for a Thursday means you can plan a long weekend full of activities for you and your guests. With a Saturday wedding, out-of-town guests have to leave the following day to be back to work on Monday without a chance to socialize or enjoy their accommodations.

With a Thursday wedding, guests are more apt to use the wedding as an excuse to plan a mini-vacation. It gives them time to not only celebrate your wedding but to get together with friends or family they don’t see often. It also gives you a chance as hosts to plan some fun weekend activities like a brunch, a barbecue, a wine tasting or a family-friendly pool party.

Are Thursday weddings cheaper?

In a word? Yes. Thursdays do tend to be cheaper because they are considered non-peak days by wedding professionals. With Saturdays and Sundays being the busiest days of the week for weddings, most wedding vendors are free on weekdays and will offer you a discount to book with them.

On average, booking a venue for a Thursday is 17% cheaper, while photography and flowers are 20% and up to 40% cheaper respectively.

How long should my wedding reception be?

The truth is, there are no set rules on how long your reception should be. Most wedding receptions are about five hours long from start to finish. If, however, you have a lot of speeches planned or have invited a lot of people who like to party, tacking on an extra hour or two may work better for you and your guests. If you do decide to have a longer reception, be prepared to provide a late night snack to your guests and keep the music full of danceable tunes.

What is a first look?

A first look is a set time before the ceremony when a couple sees each other for the first time. Not only does it give you an intimate moment to share before your nuptials, you can also get a lot of your wedding shots taken pre-ceremony so picture-time isn’t so hectic later.

Do weddings start on time?

In a perfect world, yes, your wedding should start on time. That said, most wedding ceremonies do not. Whether a wardrobe issue pops up, or you need to touch up your hair and makeup after your first look photos, don’t stress. As long as the ceremony begins within 15 minutes of the time listed on the invitation, your timeline won’t be impacted too much. Starting a bit later can even be of benefit if you have guests arriving at the last minute.