Your wedding day timings will have a huge impact on how your day flows, how it feels and how much you and your guests enjoy yourselves. Too rushed and your day will feel formal and stressy. Too much time in between key moments and you will find your guests sitting around or sneaking off to their hotel rooms for a nap! While I can’t give you exact timings as every day is different, I can give you some tips and ideas to think about when you are putting your timeline together.

bride and groom walking down the aisle after wedding ceremony. Wedding day timings top tips

Wedding Ceremony Timings

Your wedding day timeline will be led by your ceremony time. The time you say ‘I do’ will lead the timings rest of your day. Depending on the venue and type of ceremony you choose, you may be restricted for your ceremony time choices.

Early ceremony- If you are getting married early, you might be up before sunrise to fit in bridal prep. Your day will be extra long and you will have a lot of time to fill to make your day flow.

Pro’s- extra time for drinking, eating and having fun!

Con’s- there is often a big gap between the meal and evening partying which creates a bit of a ‘wedding lull’. The hangover might kick in before you have switched to flip flops and you may be snoozing by the bar, wishing for bed instead of partying hard to your favourite band.

Late ceremony- might be tempting if you want to cut down food costs. Lots of time for getting ready in the morning with your besties. With a late ceremony, you normally only eat once and go straight into evening celebrations. This can have a nice relaxed feel and works well in summer. In the winter months, if you are having a late ceremony, be aware that you will miss the daylight which can restrict photo opportunities.

Bridal Prep Timings

Start early! Your hair and make-up suppliers will give you a rough guide on how long you will need for each person. Ideally start to get into your dress an hour before you need to leave. Dresses can take way longer than you think to get into and fasten. It’s good to have time once you are in your dress for reveal photos, hair and make-up touch ups, and any mishaps that may occur. It is no fun trying to sew up a bridesmaid dress malfunction if you are already running late (yep, really happened!) Give yourself time to eat, time to enjoy the moment and of course time for those last nervous wees before you need to leave!

bridesmaids in dressing gowns on wedding morning at stanbrook abbey

Drinks Reception

Your drinks reception- straight after your ceremony through to sitting down for food, has the biggest buzz of your day. Emotions are high, everyone is giving out hugs, kisses and enjoying catching up. This is a great time to capturing candid shots of you and your guests and the group shots you have chosen. During this time we sneak off for around 15 minutes for couple shots. Ideally allow at least 1 1/2- 2 hours for this part of the day.

garden drinks reception at tipi wedding

Wedding Day Timings For Food

Meal timings will be led by your caterers, venue and choice of meal. A formal wedding breakfast, with a sit down meal may take around 1 1/2-2 hours. If you are having something more informal such as street food or a BBQ, the meal time will be shorter and will feel more relaxed.

Food timings will have a big impact on how happy or hangry your guests may be! If you have had an early ceremony, people may have missed lunch and will be starving. Canapes or snacks are always really popular with guests. Happy guests = high vibes and good banter.

With food comes speeches- if you choose to follow this tradition. There is always lots of debate on if it is better to do speeches before or after food. After witnessing both (and even speeches between meals- don’t do this!!), I can safely say that they are better for the speech givers if done before, but better for the guests if done after. I can understand the speech givers wanting to get it over with- it can be nerve wracking and they might enjoy the meal more (and a beer or two) knowing they have delivered their speech. But in my experience, people with full bellies and a good glass of wine are more relaxed and open to listening to the embarrassing stories about to be told. If they are hungry and dying for the bar to open, they don’t find the jokes so funny!

guests laughing at wedding speeches at Warwickshire wedding

The ‘In Between’ Bit

The time in between food and the evening celebrations kicking off can be a bit of a strange time. Depending where you are, the venue may need to turn the room around ready for you revening. People will be feeling full after your amazing food and if there is nothing to occupy them , they will be sitting around waiting for the evening to start, or will sneak off for a nap in their hotel room.

This is the perfect time for entertainment. I’ve seen a whole host of different things bought in to keep the fun alive at this time, including magicians, look alikes, animals, board games, penalty shoot outs, garden games and my all time favourite- the rodeo bull.

If you have control over the timing of the ‘in between’ bit, keep it short and sweet so that the energy flows through and you won’t lose Aunty Sue, who just popped up to her hotel room to rest her feet for 5 minutes and ended up snoozing through the rest of the night.

bride riding the rodeo bull at coton house farm wedding

Party, Party, Party!

Get that party going as soon as you can. The energy lifts again when the music starts. If you are cutting a wedding cake, this is often timed just before your first dance.

There are no rules- if you don’t want a first dance, don’t feel pressured to have one. Just make sure you have epic music, right from the very start to get everyone going and to keep that momentum. If you want a full dance floor- you need to lead the way! With a group of guests that are up for partying and great tunes, the dance floor is often full until a natural break for food.

Wedding day timings are only every a guide and not something to try to control too much. Having a rough structure will help. I hope these tips and ideas have helped you to think about how you want the flow of your day to feel and will help when it comes to planning your amazing day.

bride and bridesmaids dancing

I would love to hear from you if you are planning your day. Say HELLO