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  • Writer's pictureRobert Adcock

WEDDING DAY SCHEDULE (The timeline of a typical wedding day)

It’s the big day and no one wants to be a timekeeping bridezilla or groomzilla and definitely don’t need mumzilla to be fussing over the wedding day schedule. Planning ahead is the key to the day running smoothly so based on my experiences of numerous weddings which ran both beautifully and stressfully, believe me the stressful ones were definitely less enjoyable with the stress seeming too permeate everyone involved.

Marriage and civil partnership ceremonies typically last between thirty minutes and an hour, with receptions lasting anything up to five to eight hours. The majority of couple’s wedding ceremonies take place between 2pm and 5pm so I have based the following timeline on a 2pm ceremony (I will leave it to you to adjust the times to suit your day). It is also based on a ceremony and and reception at the same place, you will need to factor in traveling time if this is not the case for you.

This is a guide compiled by a photographer with many years experience working hundreds of weddings and should be viewed as a rough timeline for you to follow. You will need to adapt it to suit your exact plans. Share it with key guest and your planner and your wedding day schedule will ensure everything runs on time leaving you to enjoy your most special day.


10am: Bridal party make-up and hair
Don’t leave it too late, have a good breakfast and get everyone started early.

11am: Bride’s hair and make-up / photographer arrives
The photographer should arrive at least thirty minutes before you are ready, that will give them time to get photographs of the dress, invitations, flowers etc. The mother of the bride and bridesmaids should be ready for photographs once the bride’s hair and make-up is complete. If you want photographs of all of you in matching robes plan to have them taken once your hair and make-up are done but before you get dressed.

12pm: Bride gets dressed
While the bride gets dressed the photographer can capture photographs of the bridesmaids and mother assisting with shoes, zips etc.

12:30pm: Bride and bridesmaids photographs
Now that everyone is ready the photographer can capture images of you and your maids in detail and at locations around the venue. If you have some planned photographs of the party toasting with champagne or streamers etc. make sure you have all your props ready and remember that photography takes time, if you have a lot of per-planned photography or awkward shots allow extra time for these.

1pm: Deep breath, nearly ready
Go back to your room and freshen up, take a drink of what you fancy and a bite to eat (even a tiny snack is better than nothing) you do not want to be feeling faint during the ceremony.

1:15pm: Groom/best man/ ushers arrive at the ceremony venue
The party should aim to arrive before early enough to welcome the guests.

1:30pm: Guests start arriving
Some will be there too early but the majority will arrive around this time and be able to enjoy mingling a little and enjoying the ambiance before settling down for the main event.

2pm: The ceremony
For the majority, the most important part of the day, but don’t worry if the ceremony doesn’t start at the time on the invitations, in my experience a lot of ceremonies do not start exactly on time, the advantage of this is that if some guests are running late they have a little extra time to arrive and get settled. The time you allow for the ceremony is dependant on several factors, for example most non-religious ceremonies last twenty to thirty minutes whereas religious ones can last up to an hour.

3pm: Drinks reception and photographs
Phew! the emotional stuff is complete and it’s time to celebrate. Invite your guests to enjoy drinks and nibbles while the happy couple escape for some photography with the photographer. It is up to you and your photographer how many photographs are taken and how complicated their set-up is so you can join the reception part way through or spend time with everyone taking in the day while enjoying a drink and a bite to eat.

4:30pm: Dinner is announced
Allow guests around thirty minutes to finish their drinks, wrap up the current conversation and take their places at the table.

5pm: Dinner is served
The best man / master of ceremonies announces you as a married couple for the first time as you make your entrance

6:30pm: Speeches
Dinner is as good as finished, now the father of the bride, the groom, best man and maid of honour make their speeches. To avoid rambling embarrassment I suggest a time limit of ten minutes for each speech (five minutes if you have a lot of speakers).

7 - 7:30pm: Cutting of the cake
Depending on the traditions your wedding day is observing it’s time to cut the cake then throw the bouquet.

7:30 - 8pm: And relax
Sometimes the venue need to change the room, remove the tables and set-up for the ‘after party’. Take this time to relax, freshen up and change (should you need to) and catch up with your new husband/wife/life partner.

8 - 8:30pm: Evening guest list arrives / party starts / first dance:
Hit the dance floor with your partner before everyone else joins in and the party hits full throttle.

9 - 10pm: Evening food service
It’s been along tiring day and a lot of your guests will need some sustenance by now, let them graze on a buffet, bacon butties, sweet cart or whatever tickles your fancy.

11pm: Onwards
Your wedding day schedule has gone like clockwork, you have had an amazing day and probably don’t want it to end but all good things must come to an end. Having pre-arranged with your DJ or band what your final song will be they will let you know it’s coming up. When you are ready, say your final goodbyes, hug, kiss, whatever you want and allow the designated member of your bridal party to organise the guests and hand out anything that is need for your departure, balloons, sparklers etc.

One final thing

Live happily ever after!

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