Planning Your New Year’s Eve Wedding: NYE Wedding Ideas & Ideal Timeline

Thinking of planning your nuptials on New Year’s Eve? Here’s everything you need to know and the best NYE Wedding Ideas!

You’ve decided to celebrate your ceremony on December 31st and you’re looking for the inside scoop on how to plan a New Year’s Eve wedding. No problem! There are tons of reasons why a New Year’s Eve wedding is truly so much fun. One of the biggest to note? With the holiday season in full swing, there’s already a reason to party–so you can expect the excitement to be even bigger leading up to your wedding day!

And for more practical purposes, it’s a convenient date to get married, too – you’re more likely to catch those who are home for the holidays and most of your guests will already have the day (and the next day) off work! But there are plenty of other things you may not have thought about when planning to tie the knot, so let me give you a few NYE Wedding Ideas to take into consideration.

Creating A New Year’s Eve Wedding Timeline That Works

First and foremost, your wedding day will be starting LATE. You won’t be able to copy + paste use one of those standard wedding day timelines for your big day. You’ll need to plan out a New Year’s Eve wedding timeline from scratch that fits your schedule perfectly.

What does this look like? The average wedding reception lasts about five hours, so starting your ceremony around 6:30 p.m. is going to be the sweet spot. If your ceremony will last longer than an hour, I’d definitely recommend starting slightly earlier. A short cocktail hour can lead into dinner, which you’ll want to get out of the way as soon as possible so guests can move onto drinks and dancing.

If you’re hoping for a glimpse of wedding portraits with that golden hour glow, you’ll also be needing to consider adding an early first look to your New Year’s Eve wedding timeline. (I’m totally on board if you want to keep it traditional and wait until the ceremony though–we’ll just be playing with flash and vibey hour portraits!)

Another aspect of creating a New Year’s Eve wedding timeline is definitely going to be transportation for both yourselves and guests. If you aren’t getting married at the same venue that you got ready at, you’ll have to factor in transportation times during peak holiday travel.

Still not sure how to tackle creating a New Year’s Eve wedding timeline? No worries! I’m full of all the NYE wedding ideas. And I’d be happy to send over some sample timelines for you if you want to get in touch!

The Planning Process Needs To Start Early

…like yesterday, actually.

When you’re booking vendors and venues for a New Year’s Eve wedding, you’ll need to take into consideration that many hotels and venues host their own NYE parties. So you will be competing for space against non-wedding gatherings in many destinations (not to mention all the other couples looking for a holiday marriage!).

In addition, sending out those save the dates ASAP is going to be crucial! Your guests will need the head’s up to start making the appropriate plans. Those holiday accommodations and flights book up quickly!

Picking An Incredibly Versatile Venue Is Key

One of the trickiest parts to planning a New Year’s Eve wedding is going to be finding that gem of a wedding venue for your big day. The venue needs to be a.) available, b.) within your budget, c.) able to accommodate your guest count, d.) pretty for photos outside, and d.) pretty for photos INSIDE.

The most common NYE wedding idea I find couples asking is, “What happens if it’s too cold to take photos outside?” We’ll plan on taking them photos inside, of course! So, when scouting out NYE wedding ideas at your venue make sure to love the inside more almost as much as the outside of the building. This means looking for spots with cool architecture, high ceilings, or just places in the venue that YOU are obsessed with.

Create The Wedding Vendor Dream Team

In addition to having incredible NYE wedding ideas AND a stellar wedding venue, you’re going to need wedding vendors who you can trust to make your day the party it should be. Hire a wedding planner to make things go smoothly, choose a wedding photographer you can trust to capture the day beautifully, and hire a DJ that’s going to SLAY your reception. (Obviously, you’re going to want incredible food and top tier cocktails for the occassion as well.)

Hire An Incredible Wedding Photographer

As a wedding photographer, you know I’m going to touch a bit further on the “choose a wedding photographer you can trust…” part of that paragraph.

Hiring a wedding photographer is no easy task to begin with, but finding someone who can capture beautiful photos and do it all after sunset is even harder. With a New Year’s Eve wedding timeline basically beginning after sunset, the large majority of your wedding is going to be inside and in the dark.

You should absolutely ask your potential photographer candidates to see a full gallery (or three!) and request some that feature indoor ceremonies and ballroom receptions. This will give you access to see how they captured the indoor photos with artificial lighting and if you like their style for those photos. (Bonus points if they have flash-only wedding portraits or weddings done indoors on rainy days!)

If you’re still looking someone full of NYE wedding ideas to capture your wedding day, I’d love to be considered! In addition to the wedding below, I’ve been photographing weddings for 8+ years now and am super familiar with artificial flash + tricky lighting situations!

Other Fun NYE Wedding Ideas To Consider

Make sure to have something super fun and memorable planned for your New Year’s Eve wedding timeline countdown! All of your closest family and friends will be there celebrating with you, so definitely plan on going big for the occasion! The couple above chose to have a projector viewing of the Times Square ball drop as well as a massive clock installed at their reception at the Cloth Mill at Eno River!

You’ll definitely want to make celebrating your anniversary on New Year’s Eve a big tradition every year too! Although you’ll probably want to celebrate your first anniversary together as just the two of you, in the future, you can always make hosting New Year’s Eve a tradition to celebrate your marriage and the people you love.

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i'm danielle

I'm a Virginia-based wedding & portrait photographer capturing photos that look like actual ART. 

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hi, i'm danielle—

In the past 10+ years as a Wedding & Portrait Photographer, I’ve found that, aside from arming myself with my cameras to catch swoon-worthy moments of my couples on their day, I’m also bringing a few other unexpected things. 

Like my tough love mom-voice that will keep your bridal party in check, my air of calm if you’re feeling overwhelmed, and the corniest jokes so no one has the jitters in front of the camera!

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