A guide to your wedding day timeline

When we first started planning our own wedding we had no idea on wedding day timelines!  What time do our guests arrive? How long will we need for family photos? How long will the wedding breakfast be? Now we have been photographing weddings for over 5 years we see a similar pattern on wedding days. Most weddings we have shot take place between 1pm and 2:30pm. Of course every wedding day is different, and that’s how it should be! We wanted to show you an example of a typical wedding day timeline to give you an idea on how the wedding will unfold from the ceremony onwards.

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This example is based on a 1:30pm non church ceremony where the reception is also at the same location. If you need to travel between your ceremony and reception add in extra time. Of course this could be for two brides or two grooms but we will use an example of a bride and groom as a guide:

1pm: Groom & guests to arrive. Make sure on your wedding invites to ask guests to arrive around 30 minutes before your ceremony time and not the actual start time as you don’t want guests arriving as you make your entrance!

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1:15pm: Bride and bridal party to arrive. The bride will usually have to meet with the registrars if this has not been done in the morning already.

1:30pm: Ceremony to take place. Non church wedding ceremonies are typically around half an hour, a church ceremony is typically around an hour.

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2pm: Ceremony finishes and time for photos & drinks reception. Now, there is usually about one and a half to two hours between the end of ceremony to sitting down to your wedding breakfast. Use this time for those all important photos! After the ceremony there is typically a confetti shot. Are you going to do a receiving line as your guests head outside? Allow an extra 15 minutes for this. Then we advise to go straight into family shots (around 4-6 is a good number) then onto those all important couple shots. Then you can relax for a short while before heading into your reception.

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4:30pm: Dinner service to commence. Most weddings we have photographed the speeches are done early on, we think this is a good idea as the groom and anyone else doing a speech can relax and enjoy their food! It’s becoming more common for there to be a brides speech too!

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There is usually a break after your wedding breakfast before your evening guests arrive. Take this time to go around your tables to chat with everyone, consider using the outside space at your venue for lawn games or even archery like our last wedding at Woodlands Castle!

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6:30pm: Evening guests to start arriving.  Ask evening guests to arrive around 30-45 minutes before you are due to cut your cake or have your first dance. That way if anyone is a little late they won’t miss anything!

7pm: Cake cutting to take place. If you wanted to serve your wedding cake as dessert then bring this part of the day forward and ask your venue to cut it and serve to you and your guests for you.

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7:15-7:30pm: First dance to take place. It is usual for your first dance to happen a little later than planned! A good wedding planner or a well run venue will help keep you on track with timings. Make sure you have booked your wedding photographer for enough time to capture the first dance if you are running a little behind.

8pm: Evening buffet. We find if people have extra guests in the evening they will usually lay on an evening buffet. If your guests are attending all day it’s up to you! If you are having an early ceremony, consider having canopies during your reception drinks or an earlier wedding breakfast so guests (and you!) aren’t left hungry. And as you know food towards the end of the evening always go down well, especially after a few drinks!

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We hope that has given you some ideas and a starting block to build on for your own day. We work closely with all our couples on their timelines and give them advice and guidance to make their wedding say as seamless as possible.


If you liked this blog and would like more advice on planning your wedding click here

J&K x