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Wedding Day Timeline: A Simple Guide To Planning The Perfect Running Order

Apr 21, 2023 | Wedding Ideas and Trends, Wedding Planning

Home » Wedding Day Timeline: A Simple Guide To Planning The Perfect Running Order
Wedding timeline at luxury venue in Essex

Image courtesy of Clare Graham Photography

Your wedding is such a personal affair that there’s no reason it should follow a standard format.

The timeline of the day’s events is entirely up to you to bespoke; it’s your day, after all!

However, some people find this leaves them struggling to know where to start. Here in this blog, we’ll cover a typical wedding day, giving you a foolproof basic structure to work from. 

Working Out What Time To Get Wed

Traditional weddings at certified venues can take place anytime from 11 am up until 3 pm, and church and civil ceremonies follow a similar timing structure. 

If you bring on board a celebrant to perform your ceremony instead, you’ll have fewer restrictions on what time the I do’s take place, meaning that the sunrise ceremony or evening event you’ve been dreaming of is completely possible. 

Deciding what time you want your wedding ceremony to take place depends on a variety of factors, including the availability of your chosen church or registrar and when you fancy serving your wedding breakfast.

Here are a couple of examples that take these factors into account:

Example 1

The earlier your wedding starts, the more time you’ve got to enjoy the day. You want a full day of celebration, so you book the registrars for their 11 am slot and serve a big, sit-down wedding breakfast after the ceremony.

Example 2

You like the idea of serving an afternoon tea in place of a full wedding breakfast, so you think a slightly later ceremony will be best. You have to check the registrar’s availability, but you are looking for times around 2 pm.

Wedding day food at bespoke venue in Essex

Image courtesy of Sophie Oldhamstead photography

Now Work Backwards!

You need that ceremony time to figure out the rest of the day. With your registrar, church or celebrant booked in, you can now work backwards to see what time you need to get started…

Don’t worry; it’s not as confusing as it sounds. Let’s run through an example schedule based on a 2 pm ceremony.

8 am – Rise and Shine

You might usually hide under the duvet in the mornings, but chances are, on your wedding day, your eyes will ping open at first light. Are those butterflies in your stomach already!?

Take it easy and enjoy a relaxed, delicious and uber-nutritious breakfast with your lovely bridesmaids to prepare you for the day ahead. 

9 am – Getting Ready

If you’ve had a hair and make-up trial – which we strongly recommend – you’ll have a good idea of how long it’ll take for full beautification. Quite often, it’s around the 2-hour mark, but adding a buffer of around 40 minutes gives you a bit of wiggle room in case things take longer than expected.

It can be helpful to work out an order if your hair and make-up artists are getting your bridesmaids ready too. 

Getting ready is such an exciting part of the day; make sure you take the time to sit back and enjoy it. Your photographer should arrive early, perhaps 2 hours before you’re ready to leave for your ceremony so that they can take beautiful photos of you and your loved ones getting dolled up.

And just like that, it’s time for the dress. 

Bridal makeup at wedding venue in Essex
Image courtesy of Farlie Photography

12.30 pm – Getting Into The Dress 

Set aside around an hour for this part of your day. An hour gives you plenty of time to slowly adorn your incredible gown without rushing.

Touch up your hair and make-up if needed, sup a glass of something bubbly and let the photographer take more stunning shots; think beautiful bridal shoes and the lacing up of your dress.

1.30 pm – Meeting The Registrars

If you have opted for a civil ceremony, you and your betrothed will need to have a brief meeting with your registrars before you get married. This is a legal requirement for all of your details to be confirmed and should only take 10 minutes or so for each of you. 

2 pm – Ceremony

Your photographer will have rushed ahead of you to park up and prepare for your arrival and will be waiting, camera in hand.

The ceremony itself, from walking down the aisle as a bride-to-be to walking out as a fully-fledged married couple, can take anywhere from around half an hour for a civil ceremony to 1 hour in a church. If you have chosen to write your vows, or have added in plenty of meaningful readings, it could end up being a longer affair. 

Allow time after the ceremony for your classic confetti (make sure you check which type – if any – of confetti is allowed) shot if that’s your thing! 

3 pm – Welcome Drinks

Traditionally, following the ceremony, at this point your fabulous catering team will be serving your guests a selection of chilled drinks and delicious canapes. This allows all of your guests, as well as the wedding party, to relax, congratulate and be congratulated whilst you bask in the newlywed glow.

It’s at this point that your photographer will pull groups of you out to complete most of your formal photos, as well as capture candid photos of smiles and interactions. With around 5 minutes spent on each formal photo, 90 minutes should be plenty for photos, drinks and loo visits. 

Wedding Timeline cocktails being served

Image courtesy of Farlie Photography

4.30 pm – Wedding Breakfast

About half an hour before your wedding breakfast is due to be served, your guests will be called in to be seated. Generally, the newly wedded couple is announced into the room at this point, but it’s up to you whether this happens or not.

The serving and eating of a three-course wedding breakfast usually takes around 2 hours. Speeches are traditionally done after the meal is finished, but these days it’s common for you to do what you like with this part; spread the speeches out through the different courses, or even get them out of the way before the first course is served. 

Whatever your plan, give your speech-givers a time frame to work with and ask them to practice, practice, practice! 

6.30 pm – Chill Out

Here, whilst the room is being turned around in time for your evening reception, there’s a lovely pocket of downtime. This is the perfect time to catch up with your guests, perform the bouquet toss and steal away for some couples-only shots while everyone chats away happily.

Your DJ or live band will need this time to set up, too, so that they’re ready to get everyone on their feet a little later.

Wedding entertainment

Image courtesy of Clare Graham Photography

7.15 pm – Cutting Of The Cake

Cameras at the ready! Your reception is ready to go; the room is looking spectacular, your wedding cake is front and foremost, ready for cutting and everyone has arrived. 

Let’s get going!

7.20 pm – First Dance

Having watched you slice into your cake, everyone is already gathered together, and you’ve got their attention. This makes the first dance a natural next move. Spend a fun and funky 5 minutes  getting your groove on, (or slow and steady if that’s more your thing), with all eyes on you, and then it’s party time…

Evening Reception

Typically, your reception will officially kick off around 7 pm with the cake cutting. After your first dance, the band or DJ will continue to wow your guests with toe-tapping tunes that get their bodies moving and grooving to the beat.

Your photographer will likely stay for up to an hour to grab some brilliant candid shots of you and your guests enjoying yourselves before heading off for the evening. 

Bride and groom dancing the first dance on their wedding day

Image Courtesy of Farlie Photography

8 pm – Evening Food

You’ll likely want to put on a spread for your reception guests. A buffet-style selection is a great choice, including chips and sliders for a cool and casual hot food option, and a sweet cart always goes down well… especially with the adults!

Carriages At Midnight

Politely letting your guests know what time the celebrations finish means they can pre-book transport home way ahead of time.

At Baddow Park House, steeped in stunning architecture and beautiful grounds, you and your guests can even gather around the fire pit for a nightcap before the night is truly over. What a way to end a day you’ll never forget.

But we don’t just have the perfect location for your wedding, we have a dream team too. Our Wedding Consultant will take all the stress out of planning your wedding, advising you on the best wedding day timeline and ensuring that all the tiny details that make your day extra special are taken care of. On the big day, the whole team will come together to ensure a seamless and stunning wedding that you and your guests will remember for many years to come. 

Are you on the hunt for a lavish wedding venue? Or looking for the perfect private weekend wedding venue, but not sure if it’s worth it? Then perhaps it’s time to discover what Baddow Park House has to offer. 

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