Planning your wedding timeline - Tips!

It’s a fairly important piece of work, but one that is often left till last and is often one that is the hardest to get your head around. Taking some time to plan your wedding day timeline can be quite a difficult task – chances are, you’ve only been to a few weddings, and so it can be tricky to know how to start pulling together your own wedding day plan. Thankfully (for you) I have been to more than my fair share of weddings so I can help you with some amazing tips and advice on planning your big wedding day timeline.

You should also note that your wedding venue can be a great source of help, as they often know how to pull together a day that works with their surroundings and set up. I always (selfishly) advise to ask your photographer to help pull together a timeline, as we tend to know rough timings for what we need on the day too! It is most important, that YOU are happy, so make sure you get it all set out at a pace you’re going to be happy with!

So, without further ado - see below for all my top three hints and tips for your big day!

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Tip 1 - Start your wedding timeline from an event you know.

Every single wedding is different and unique, so googling and simply copying a wedding timeline template you found exactly is probably not going to work for you (but please do use these templates as inspiration, though!). Start from something you know and use your ceremony time as a starting point. Make a list of all of the things that you know are going to happen around that event (getting ready, photo sessions, mingling with the guests, first dance, speeches, etc) both before and after the ceremony and then figure out how long each of these will take. You can then start to plot your wedding day agenda accordingly. If you’re unsure of how long you think these things will take - just ask your venue, or your photographer, or anyone else involved in your day!

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Tip 2 - Travelling and Buffer Time

Whoever is handling your wedding transport should let you know how long they need to get you all to the church or ceremony venue. If you know the local area better than they do, or you’re having family or friends take you there, make sure you let everyone know about any traffic delays that might be likely on your route. Although you do hear that it is “tradition” for the bride to be a bit late, do bear in mind that the ceremony officiant will likely not be too happy about this! Also, if you are very late, it will set back your timings for the rest of the day, and you might miss out on time for photographs later, so don’t keep your groom/bride waiting for too long!

I also suggest that you add a buffer between all the bits you’re planning. Ten to fifteen minutes should be fine - as you want to make sure you’re running to schedule on the day - rather than always running late. Things will overrun (it’s inevitable) - so it’s always best to have these things built in.

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Tip 3 - The Wedding Breakfast and Speeches

Depending on your drafted timeline, you’ve probably already built in some time to mingle with your guests and get some photographs taken. Once you’ve made it to your reception venue (if it is at a different location) It is up to you on if you choose to have your speeches before the meal, or afterward. If you have speeches before your meal I advise that you really do keep to your set timings as the caterers will be waiting to serve the first course, especially if it is a hot course. If you have your speeches after your meal, just remember that if you run over time, you may have your evening guests waiting to come into the room and having to wait on these speeches. Speeches work better when they are shorter, so I always advise short and sweet - don’t ramble on!  If you are having a cake cutting, this can come at any point – before or after the speeches, before the dessert, or before the first dance, and your venue will usually advise on their way of doing this.

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So…to sum

There are so many moving parts and pieces when planning out the timeline for your big day. Depending on the ceremony (church or civil) it will take a variety of times. I’ve included below some of the more common timings I’ve seen.

I always suggest - reach out to your photographer or any other provider you have helping on your big day - as you’ll be able to tap into their experience and knowledge!

An example of a Civil Ceremony Timeline

12.00pm Groom arrives at the Venue

12.15pm Guests and registrars arrive at Venue

12.40pm Groom is interviewed by the registrar

12.50pm Bride is interviewed by registrars

1.00pm Civil Ceremony

1.30pm Drinks reception, canapés, and photographs

3.00pm Receiving line (optional)

3.30pm Wedding breakfast & Speeches

6.00pm Cutting of the Cake & Room turnaround

7.00pm Evening reception guests arrive

7.30pm First dance

9.00pm Evening catering served

12am Music and evening reception to end

If you need any help in planning your big day - and getting your timeline right - just get in touch, I would be happy to help!

Jennifer Tamminga