Wedding Day: A Bride's Schedule for an Evening Wedding

Your wedding day is the one time you're going to want all your ducks in a row.
Even if you're the most laid-back person in the world, your wedding day is the one time you're going to want all your ducks in a row. To avoid any confusion, panic, or temporary insanity, our minute-by-minute wedding day schedule will guide you calmly through your day -- from the moment you wake up to the moment you head down the aisle. Make changes to fit your needs. Ready? Get set, go!

8:30 a.m.
Up and at 'em -- your big day has arrived. Grab a light, energy-enhancing breakfast: cereal with milk, a small bagel with cream cheese along with juice or milk, or yogurt with low-fat granola are all good choices. You need to have optimal energy. To avoid the shakes, limit your coffee intake to one or two cups.

8:45 a.m.
Check a weather report to confirm what's in store. Call your wedding-day team to make any necessary adjustments.

9:00 a.m.
Take a time-out. Indulge in something meditative, peaceful, and relaxing. Do some yoga exercises or duck out to visit your neighborhood reflexologist. Full-body massage is a great way to prepare for today's activities -- maybe you made arrangements for a masseuse to pop over and are expecting him/her now.

10:15 a.m.
Hit the showers. Actually, there's probably time for a calming soak in the tub. Keep the cell or cordless phone close at hand, just in case.

11:00 a.m.
Head to the changing room/suite you have reserved at the hotel. Some brides (and their maids of honor) sleep at the hotel the night before for peace of mind. Remember to lay out your pre-packed emergency kit, dress steamer, aspirin, good luck charms, favorite CDs, and any other essential items. As for your dress, your mom (or other trusted soul) will be bringing it by later (unless you brought it over the night before).

11:30 a.m.
Your maid of honor should be in tow at this point, either having been with you all morning or having met you in the suite. Once you two are acclimated, change into a robe or button-up shirt -- white for you (if you're wearing a white dress), to achieve the right color scheme for your makeup application. Now is also a good time to confirm all limo/car service pick-up and drop-off times, and any other day-of arrangements. Bust out your contact sheet and divide up the calls.

12:00 noon
Bridesmaids arrive with their dresses and emergency equipment in hand -- extra stockings, hairspray, sewing kits, clear nail polish, bobby pins, dental floss, and tissues.

12:30 p.m.
Hair and makeup stylists arrive. Maid of honor is first on the get-ready list. You can focus on visiting with the girls, packing for your honeymoon, knitting, or some other quiet activity.

1:30 p.m.
Time for the other maids to take their turns. Mom arrives with your dress, safe and sound, and your sisters (if not in wedding party). They will have had their hair and makeup done already -- if not, they're next in line.

2:15 p.m.
Groom's mom and sisters (if not in wedding party) arrive. They will have been made up off-site.
Even though you meticulously made a list beforehand and brought all your gear with you, check to see that you really have everything you need (garter, perfume, something old, new, borrowed, blue). If you need to, there's still time to send someone out on an errand or two.

2:30 p.m.
Lunchtime -- make it simple but nourishing. (Suggestion: room service = zero stress.) Good choices: turkey sandwiches or a simply prepared pasta salad (low in fat, high in carbohydrates) to keep your energy and focus. Foods to avoid: snacky salty stuff, caffeine, and booze.

3:15 p.m.
The next two hours belong to you. Be a princess and submit yourself to the ministrations of your makeup artist and hair stylist. At the end of the session, your face will be flawless, and your veil/headpiece will be firmly in place. Note: If you feel you'll need more prep time, build it into your schedule. To be super sure, ask your beauty pros beforehand for an estimate of time they'll need.
Two of your bridesmaids attend to your dress. One takes care of any additional steaming and pressing; the other inspects for loose threads and wrinkling areas.

4:00 p.m.
Bouquets arrive and are distributed before photos. Photographer's assistant arrives at hotel suite to set up for pre-wedding photos.

5:00 p.m.
Photographer arrives for shots of bride and bridesmaids primping and getting dressed, looking in the mirror, and other cool candids. You are the focal point, but moms and bridesmaids should be dressed and ready for camera action.
Visit the ladies' room one last time. Begin dressing. Start with hosiery and undergarments, then move to slip and/or petticoat. Wearing a garter? Slide it on now.

5:20 p.m.
Time to slip into your wedding gown. Let your attendants button, fuss, smooth, pat, and gush. Step into your shoes. Jewelry is next, gloves go last. Savor how gorgeous you look and feel.

5:45 p.m.
Dad (or other escort) arrives in limo at hotel. You, your mom, and maid of honor depart for the ceremony.

6:00 p.m.
Bridesmaids, sisters, and groom's mom depart for ceremony in limos/town cars.

6:10 p.m.
Meet with your officiant in designated room at the ceremony location and sign the civil marriage license (as well as the ketubah, if you're having a Jewish wedding). Your maid of honor signs as your witness.

6:20 p.m.
Hang out with your maids, Mom, Dad, and your wedding coordinator. Get psyched.
Meanwhile, the prelude begins. Your guests are being seated.

6:30 p.m.
Ushers/groomsmen begin seating important family members such as grandparents, aunts, and uncles.
Officiant walks down the aisle and takes his/her place.
Groom and best man follow (if you're having a Jewish wedding, the groom is escorted down the aisle by his parents during the processional, and the best man walks with the groomsmen).
If there is an aisle runner, two groomsmen roll it out.

6:35 p.m.
Procession music starts.
Wedding party attendants take their places (in the order you have pre-determined).

6:40 p.m.
Attendants proceed down the aisle.
Your dad and mom assume their positions on either side of you. (This is the typical arrangement at Jewish weddings, but any bride can have as many escorts as she wants.)

6:48 p.m.
You, Dad, and Mom head down the aisle. Lock eyes with your sweetie, standing just a few footsteps away. Savor the moment, and breathe. It's show time...


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