Perfect Wedding Day Planning

How long for photos? When to cut the cake? Take your cue from this bride's nicely timed Napa, California, wedding and your day will run like a dream.

Rachel Finkelstein, 26, spent a year creating her wedding to Gary Levin, 28. With the help of planner Brittani Waldman, the bride put together a wedding-day timeline to keep everything—and everyone—on track. "I knew the day would go fast, and I wanted to enjoy every minute," says Rachel. "A schedule made it less stressful." Here's the play-by-play:

11:30 AM: Getting Ready

The hair-and-makeup team arrived early enough to beautify all the ladies—including Rachel's mom, six bridesmaids, and two flower girls—without rushing.

3:45 PM: Posing for Pics

Family and bridal-party photos were scheduled to take one hour on the lawn at the Charles Krug winery, where the ceremony would take place.

4:45 PM: Ketubah Signing

Minutes before the vows, the couple stepped inside to sign the ketubah (marriage contract), surrounded by close friends and family.

5:02 PM: Processional

Guests were asked to arrive at the winery by 5:00; two minutes later, the flower girls started walking down the aisle.

5:10 PM: Bride's Entrance

With the bridal party in place, Rachel's parents, Susan and Daniel, escorted her toward the altar as "What a Wonderful World" played.

5:50 PM: The Kiss!

After the 40-minute Jewish ceremony, during which Rachel and Gary exchanged their grandparent's rings, the couple shared their first marriage smooch.

6:00 PM: Cocktail Hour

A quick bus ride took guests to the reception at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone for 90 minutes of nibbles and drinks.

7:30 PM: Dinner

Guests headed into the main room, and dinner was served; next up was a welcome toast from the bride's mom and dad.

8:45 PM: First Dances

Several courses and toasts later, Gary and his mom, Faye, and Rachel and her dad kicked off the dancing.

9:00 PM: Boogie Time

Everyone hit the floor for the hora, a traditional Jewish wedding dance. Then the nine-piece band segued into a Motown-heavy playlist.

10:15 PM: Cake Cutting

Guests took time out to watch the newlyweds cut the cake and enjoy petits fours and milk shots. Then it was back to the dance floor.

10:30 PM: Bouquet Toss

As the evening began to wind down, Rachel gathered the single women for the bouquet toss. (She threw a 'maid's flowers so that she could keep her own.)

12:00 AM: Departure

After six hours of celebrating, the bride and groom jumped into an antique Packard as guests waved sparklers. Let the honeymoon begin!

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