One of the most common questions engaged couples ask us is how to plan out the timings on their wedding day. This is such a crucial element of the planning process, as it has a real impact on how you and your guests’ will enjoy the day. As always, we’ve got you covered and have pulled together a go-to guide for wedding day timings. 

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The Ceremony

After a morning of getting pampered to perfection and sharing a glass of bubbly with your bridesmaids, the time has finally come to marry the love of your life.

A civil ceremony will usually last around 30 minutes, where as a church ceremony can last up to an hour. If you are having a church ceremony, remember to leave extra time on top of this for photographs at the church.

Travel Time

If you’re ceremony is taking place in a separate location to your reception, remember to leave time for you to travel there! This can be easily overlooked, and can mess up all your timings for the rest of the day.

Drinks Reception

Leave at least an hour and a half for the drinks reception. Not only will everyone be wanting to congratulate you, but this is also the time when you’ll be having your photographs taken. This period can sometimes drag a little for the guest, so make sure there are plenty of drinks and canapes to go around. You could even book in some entertain here! Check out our blog post on alternative wedding entertainment if you’re stuck for ideas.

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Wedding Breakfast

Based on on a 3 course plated banqueting meal, 2 hours should be sufficient so as to not feel rushed.  Speak with your venue for their advice if you have additional courses but, as a rule of thumb, add 30 minutes per additional course. If you’ve opted for a buffet, remember that this won’t necessarily take less time. It’s likely your guests will dawdle and take a long time to serve themselves.

Speeches and Cake Cutting

Traditionally, the Groom, the Best Man and the Father of the Bride do the speeches. But remember, it’s your day! Many brides might ask their Maid of Honour to do one as well. Just keep in mind that whilst everyone loves a touching toast at a wedding, it’s easy for the speeches to drag on. We recommend gently asking your speakers if they can limit their speech to 5 minutes. This is also a nice time to cut the cake, but you could leave this until later on in the evening if you wanted to. 

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Cocktail or Coffee Hour

It’s time to take a short breather from the festivities. This little window of time will give your guests a chance to relax after enjoying the meal and freshen up if they need to. It’s also great if you have a venue where spaces need to be turned around, giving your operations team with enough time to get everything ready.

Evening Reception

The rest of the evening will be all about catching up with your guests, hitting the dancefloor and really celebrating this momentous occasion with your loved ones. Whilst things are likely to be a little less formal from now on, you still need to plan in those final few stages of the day. Schedule your first dance for around 8pm, as your guests will be excitedly anticipating this. Ask your venue to put out any evening nibbles you’re serving at around 9.30pm. This food is usually served buffet style, and can stay out for a couple of hours- perfect for those ‘elevensies’ hunger pangs!

Image Credit: Brook Farm Cuffley

TIMINGS TOP TIP: Let your guests know roughly how the day is going to pan out, so they have a rough idea of when they’ll be eating, when they can check in to their rooms and what time they’ll be dancing the night away until. You’ll find this will put them at ease and ensure they just relax and enjoy the day. We love the idea of creating a gorgeous timeline like this one to display at your venue. 

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These timings are a good guideline, but every wedding is unique so don’t worry about tweaking them where you need to! If you have any specific worries or concerns, your venue will be hugely experienced in this area and able to help you out. 

What are your top tips for making the day run smoothly? Or perhaps you have a timings dilemma?  Let us know in the comments below!

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