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Wedding Day Timings: A Guide to Planning Your Big Day

Have you been feeling overwhelmed with the task of planning your wedding day? From the bridal prep to the ceremony, drinks reception, and everything in between, it can be challenging to figure out the timings...

Have you been feeling overwhelmed with the task of planning your wedding day? From the bridal prep to the ceremony, drinks reception, and everything in between, it can be challenging to figure out the timings for each element. But fret not, you're not alone!

In this article, we'll provide you with some valuable advice and insights on wedding day timings and running orders. While there's no one-size-fits-all template, we'll give you a rough guide to help you plan your special day. So let's dive in!

Bridal Prep

The bridal prep sets the tone for the day and involves several factors to consider. These include the size of your bridal party, the complexity of your hair and makeup, and the time of your ceremony. To determine how much time to allow for your bridal prep, consult with your hair and makeup artist. They can give you an estimate of the time needed for each person. Work backward from the start of your ceremony, factoring in travel time, getting dressed, and the timings from your artist.

Top Tips!

  • Remember to enjoy a delicious breakfast and lunch during your bridal prep.
  • If your bridal party is doing their own hair and makeup, double the time they estimate.
  • Allow a margin of error of about an hour to ensure you're ready in plenty of time.

The Ceremony

When it comes to the ceremony, there are two aspects to consider: the arrival time and the duration. As a general guide, we recommend the following arrival times:

  • Groom, Best Man/Men, and Ushers: 45 minutes before the ceremony.
  • Guests: 30 minutes before the ceremony.
  • Groom's parents: 15 minutes before the ceremony.
  • Mother of the Bride and Bridesmaids: 10 minutes before the ceremony.
  • Bride and Father of the Bride: 5 minutes before the ceremony.

The duration of the ceremony depends on the type:

  • Non-Religious Ceremony: 20 to 45 minutes
  • Civil Wedding/Partnership: 30 to 45 minutes
  • Religious Ceremony: 60 to 90 minutes

Top Tip! If you plan to use the ceremony location for group pictures and the confetti shot, factor this into your timings.

Drinks Reception

Allocate 1 ½ to 2 hours for your drinks reception. This timeframe allows your photographer to capture group and personal portrait shots. It also gives you time to mingle with your guests and enjoy delicious canapés and bubbles.

Top Tip! If you prefer a longer drinks reception, keep your guests entertained with plenty of drinks and canapés.

wedding-day-timings-poster Caption: Make the most of your wedding day timings to ensure a smooth and enjoyable celebration.

Group and Portrait Photos

The number of group photos and personal portrait shots you desire will determine the photographer's time requirements. As a general rule, allow 5 minutes per group photo and at least 30 minutes for personal portraits.

Top Tips!

  • Ask your photographer to scout potential backgrounds in advance to ensure everything runs smoothly.
  • Create a list of must-have photos with different combinations of family and wedding party members.
  • Designate a trustworthy person to gather everyone for group photos and handle any stragglers.

Seating Guests

Allocate up to 30 minutes for guests to move from the drinks reception to the location of your Wedding Breakfast. If you plan on having a receiving line, add an additional 40 minutes. This is also an excellent opportunity for you and your partner to steal some time together or capture romantic couple's shots.

Top Tip! Designate a couple of your bridesmaids or ushers to direct guests, assist with the receiving line, and keep things running smoothly.

Speeches

Keep your speeches concise and engaging. Allow a maximum of 30 to 40 minutes for all the speeches, with each speaker allocated up to 10 minutes. Sticking to these timings ensures your evening maintains its momentum and keeps your guests entertained.

Top Tips!

  • When asking your speakers how long they'll take, double their estimate. Speeches often run longer than anticipated.
  • Prepare cue cards or prompts for your speakers to stay on track and avoid rambling.

Wedding Breakfast

Consult with your caterers to determine the appropriate timeframe for your Wedding Breakfast. Factors to consider include the number of guests, food choices, the number of courses, catering staff, and the venue type. As a general guide, allow up to 2 hours for a 3-course meal.

Top Tip! For more wedding breakfast tips, check out The George in Rye's Top Tips for the Perfect Wedding Breakfast.

Evening Reception

The evening reception is a time when timings can become more flexible. However, certain key elements shouldn't be forgotten amidst the festivities. We recommend scheduling your first dance, cake cutting, and bouquet throwing no later than 45 minutes after the end of your Wedding Breakfast. This ensures your photographer captures these special moments before they leave.

Top Tip! If you've invited evening guests, ask them to arrive at least 30 minutes after your Wedding Breakfast. This allows for any potential delays and ensures they don't arrive while guests are still eating.

Remember, each wedding is unique, and timings can vary. Please use this guide as a loose reference and feel free to deviate to suit your preferences as a couple. If you need additional help with your schedule, consider utilizing our Wedding Planning Services.

Planning your wedding day timings may seem daunting, but with careful consideration and our expert advice, you'll create a seamless and enjoyable celebration.

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