Wedding Day Schedule

Wedding day schedule written on an old pallet

Putting the schedule for your wedding day together is one of the hardest things to gauge for any couple who are not used to organising large events. I always recommend working out the wedding day timings early on in the planning process (at least have an overview) as it helps the whole day fall into place.

Top tip…work backwards! If you’ve found your venue, ask what time the party has to finish and then decide what time you want to invite your evening guests from.  From this, you will then know the latest time at which you can have your wedding breakfast and so forth.

Use this simple template as a starting point for your wedding schedule; it’s based on a civil ceremony at the same venue as your reception.

Wedding Day Timeline

9.00am – Bridal prep

How long this will take depends on the number of bridesmaids and mums having their hair and makeup done professionally, along with the complexity of your hair and makeup. Give yourself 30 mins to get into your dress once you’re all done.

12.00pm – Groom to be at the ceremony venue

The groom and his ushers should be on hand to welcome your guests as they arrive. The bride should plan on not being late!

1.00pm – Ceremony

A civil ceremony can be up to 30 mins. If you are having a church ceremony, this will take approximately 1 hour and remember to factor in travel times between the church and your venue.

1.30pm – Drinks reception

With a ceremony around lunchtime, many guests won’t have had time for lunch, so make sure there are plenty of canapes.

2.00pm – ‘Official’ photographs

Even if you have opted for more reportage style, you will still want some ‘formal’ photos of family and friends for the mantlepiece! Ask ushers or family to help organise people to keep it as smooth as possible.

3.00pm – Called to be seated for your Wedding Breakfast

If you have around 100 guests this can take up to 30 mins. A receiving line will lengthen this, even double it if you have a traditional lineup.

3.30pm – Wedding Breakfast served

This usually this takes between 1½ hours to 2 hours, depending on the menu. More informal styles, like a buffet or BBQ can take longer.

5.30pm – End of the Wedding Breakfast, time for speeches!

Try to keep your speeches to 30 minutes – after that, your guests get fidgety! Venues in the summer can be stifling warm, so consider having speeches outside before the meal.

6.00pm – End of the formal part of the day

If the room needs to be cleared of tables and chairs for the evening, then you’ll be ask to move to another part of the venue while this happens.

7.00pm – Evening guests arrive

Many couples leave the cake cutting to this part of the day; it includes the evening guests in one of the traditions of a wedding day. Following this with the first dance always works well.

12.00pm – Carriages

Most venues will close the bar and stop the music ½ an hour before this time.

Wedding day schedule - bride and groom with sparklers at the end of the evening

Other considerations:

  • Week day weddings, including Friday – remember your guests have to finish work and get ready, so a later evening start is better.
  • Suppliers’ other weddings – your suppliers may have more than one wedding that day; for instance, you may find your makeup artist is going on or coming from another wedding, so this may impact your bridal prep.
  • Time of year – summer weddings can have a lengthy drinks reception, allowing your guests to savour the sunshine, but winter weddings are better with a shorter drinks reception particularly in smaller venues.
Wedding day schedule - summer weddings can have a lengthy drinks reception, allowing your guests to savour the sunshine, but winter weddings are better with a shorter drinks reception particularly in smaller venues.

The ‘Dead’ hour

This is what I call the hour or so between the end of speeches and when the evening guests arrive…and the party starts!  If you’re in a hotel, this is a perfect opportunity for your day guests to freshen up (or even get changed into something more glamorous!). But if not, have a magician, singer or some other type of entertainment.  If your budget is tight, I would have someone to entertain your guests at this point rather than during the drinks reception.

Wedding day schedule - entertain your guests while the venue is changing rooms with a fun photo booth.

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