While there are many ways to personalise a wedding, most will follow a similar structure starting with getting ready and ending with a party of some sort. So, what exactly happens in between, and is there a magic formula for brides and grooms to follow to ensure their day runs smoothly and keeps guests entertained?
What are the main elements of a wedding?
Attending a wedding is a long day out for guests, however, you can bet that it will be a far longer day for the two of you getting married! But you wouldn’t want it any other way as it just means more time to soak up the biggest day of your life!
The daytime events for the bride and groom will start early in the morning, when (in particular, the bridal party’s) beauty regime begins. You can expect hair and make-up professionals to arrive and work their magic any time after sunrise, so do plan an early start and eat some breakfast first. Alternatively, organise a buffet to be brought to your room while you’re getting ready and to fend off those hunger cramps – this is the last thing you want when you already have butterflies in your stomach!
From your rooms, you will travel to the location of your ceremony, whether this is the church or another chosen venue. Here, the ceremony will take place followed by photos.
Back at your reception venue, you might be welcomed with bubbly or a cocktail hour along with a sit-down meal. Then, the speeches will begin. And, of course, as day turns to night, your guests will watch you cutting the cake and experience your first dance together as newlyweds.
With so much to do, you’ll be wondering how you fit it all in! But you needn’t worry because we can assure you that this is a tried and tested structure!
A suggested wedding day timeline
Of course, there is no one timeline that fits all due to a number of factors such as weather, the size of your wedding and unforeseen circumstances like you or even the registrar running late. What’s more, the time of your ceremony will determine the programming of the rest of your day.
However, below is just an example of how you might go about scheduling your wedding day timeline.
10 AM – Morning Preparation
Your photographer will usually arrive on location to snap you and your bridal party getting glammed up for the big day. He/she may take artistic photographs of your wedding dress on the hanger, and this is a great time to get some images of you and your squad in your matching gowns if applicable.
2 PM – Ceremony
As mentioned, this time may vary. An important thing to remember is that if you have lots of guests then it may be necessary to strategically pace the seating of guests which will be a longer process. If you have few guests, the arrival and departure of the congregation might be quite swift.
2.30 PM – Drinks and Photography
Though the official ceremony may be over, your photographer will need to whisk you and your closest family and friends away to capture some intimate photos. There may be the chance for some larger group shots as your guests enjoy a cold beverage!
4PM – Wedding Breakfast
This is the formal, sit-down dinner where day guests will usually be treated to a three or four-course meal paired with wine or the opportunity to buy drinks at the bar.
5.30 PM – Speeches
Sometimes, speeches take place before puddings leave the kitchen, which is often a great relief for the father of the bride and best man who will have been gearing up for their speeches since the early hours!
7 PM – Cake
One last opportunity to get traditional photos from the wedding day, and a great way to regroup and get everyone’s attention focused to the dancefloor.
7.30 PM – First Dance
Sharing the first dance with your loved one is like a rite of passage at a wedding, but you might also add a father and daughter dance and other significant couplings if you desire.
8.30 PM – Buffet
This usually comes right after the evening guests arrive, and when the evening entertainment really begins to kick off.
11.30 PM – Carriages
Be sure to let your guests know in advance what time the celebrations will end so that they can organise suitable carriages to take them home. Your chosen venue will be able to confirm their required closing time and may be able to advise on local taxi firms if necessary.
It is quite common to have signage printed or made to keep guests informed of the order of the day, so bear this in mind when looking at wedding stationery.
Music to cover all hours
You can create a specific vibe or use music to create an atmosphere during certain parts of your wedding day, which is why it’s important to consider music for the entire day. And you may need quite a long and wide selection!
There’s a chance for music to be featured at every step of the wedding, whether performed live by a musician or band, played through speakers, booming out of a DJ’s decks or chanted by merry guests!
All that remains is to discuss weather contingencies, and how the so called ‘weather gods’ can directly impact your timeline. If you plan to get wed outside, for example, but can only do so in the event of dry weather, then there may be a need to delay the ceremony (within reason) to wait for a shower to stop. On the flip side, if there is no sign of a downpour stopping, then your venue may quickly need to be turned into a ceremony space, as set out in your backup plan.
Similarly, in the event of extreme weather such as ice, you may need to factor in some extra time to allow guests to arrive safely at the venue.
As you can imagine, all of this will impact the order of the day, but the most important thing is that you are happy and that you have safe and happy guests.