How to Create Your Wedding Day Timeline
Do you know how to create your wedding day timeline? As you get closer to your big day, you’ll be thinking about the details of how your day will flow and how long to allow for each part of the day. You need to have a good idea of your timings to include in your order of service (if you’re having one). Your venue will also need to know this info as they will be serving your guests through the day.
Obviously if you have a wedding planner, she will work through each aspect of your day with you to create a very detailed plan.
But if you’re going it alone, let’s have a look at typical timings for your big day and what usually happens in what order – remember though you can re-order certain elements if you choose. My top tip is to start with your ceremony time as that is fixed. Then work back from that for getting ready and forward for the rest of your day.
Don’t underestimate how long you need for this. If you have booked someone to do hair and/or make up, ask them how long they will need, especially if they are doing bridesmaids & mothers too.
As a general guide you probably need to allow around an hour for each of your bridesmaids and probably 2 hours for the bride. Allow at least an hour contingency too – you do not want to be rushing around to finish getting ready.
If you’re not getting ready at your venue, then ensure you’ve booked your transport with plenty of time for them to get you there. Again ask them how long they think the journey will take, especially if it’s a vintage car or something more unusual.
If they’re doing more than one trip, maybe to take your bridesmaids first, then again make sure you factor in plenty of time for a return trip prior to them coming back to pick you up.
Do you also need transport between your ceremony venue and the reception venue? Don’t forget to plan this in otherwise you’ll be booking an Uber!
This is a job for the groom and best man, and ushers/groomsmen if you have any. Guests should be arriving at least 15 minutes before the ceremony starts to ensure everyone is seated on time. However, they often arrive much earlier than this so it’s a good idea for the groom to be at the wedding venue in plenty of time.
If you’re having a civil ceremony this will last between 20 to 30 minutes depending how many readings you have (if any.)
However, if it’s a church service, the ceremony will usually be between 45 to 60 minutes.
Drinks Reception & Photos
If you’re getting married in church you will probably have photos in the church grounds and then head to your venue for the rest of the day. Photos will usually be around an hour in this scenario. Sometimes your photographer will take you somewhere else, such as a local park, if the area around the church doesn’t give the best photo opportunities.
If you’re in one place for the whole day, then allow 90 minutes to 2 hours for drinks, canapés and photos. Any longer and your guests are likely to get a bit restless and in need of some more substantial food!
A 3 course meal served to you is likely to last around 2 hours. If you’ve opted for a less formal option, such as a buffet, then it will be quicker, probably more like an hour.
Ideally these won’t last any longer than 30 minutes – any longer and your guests will be getting bored and fidgety! Try to avoid too many speeches and ask speakers to limit their speech to five minutes. More advice on this one here.
Evening Guests Arrive
Typically you will invite your evening guests to arrive around 7pm – 7.30pm but this can be earlier or later to fit in with your overall timeline. It’s best not to have a big gap between afternoon and evening if you can avoid it as guests will be hanging around. You may find people sneak off home or to their hotel room for a nap and don’t come back!
Cut the Cake & First Dance
This shouldn’t be a long job – usually around 10-15 minutes with photos. Traditionally cutting the cake happens at the start of the evening. But more and more often now, couples are choosing to do this earlier in the day so that the cake can be cut and served as dessert.
Your first dance usually follows the cutting of the cake. Again this isn’t a long process unless you’ve created a whole medley of songs with a dance routine.
All night!! Typically at the end of your first dance, you’ll invite your guests to join you on the dance floor and then it’s down to your DJ or band to keep them there. You’ll need to plan in a break around 9pm for your evening food to be served. This will also give your band/DJ chance to have a break too.
If you’re not staying overnight at your wedding venue, make sure you have some transport booked – nothing worse than waiting an hour for a taxi after your wedding day. Your guests will also need to know what time the evening celebration ends – this does vary a lot by venue so check with your venue and include this in your invitations.
I hope you’ve found this helpful to create the timeline for your wedding day. If reading this has made you realise you need some help to run your wedding day, then maybe my Wedding Day Management service will help you.
And as ever, you can get in touch if you feel that personal planning support is what you need.