Advice on how to keep your wedding day timetable in check; from the start of your ceremony to the very last dance.
One of the challenges that is often underestimated when planning a wedding, is the timing on the big day. With so many exciting elements to a wedding celebration, it is key to keep them timed well and on track, so as not to cause disappointment to the newlywed couple or their guests.
We’ve all heard wedding stories in the past of when the drinks reception went on for too many hours, the meal was rushed, the speeches were so long that people had to be woken up and the gap between the first and last dance was not long enough to get the party started. Ultimately part of the planning and timing of your day should be down to the team at your wedding venue. Guided by you in advance of your wedding, the venue and staff should be fully clued up on what is going to happen - and when. In some cases, the timetable of a wedding day may not go precisely to plan, but in our experience, the vast majority of weddings that do follow the appropriate timetable, to the minute, are flawless and enjoyed by everyone, in every way.
Planning a Wedding Timetable
Your wedding day, typically, revolves around the time of your wedding ceremony. However, depending on where you are getting married and where you are holding your wedding reception could have an impact on throwing the timings of your day off. If you plan to get married at the the same venue you are hosting your reception then a Toastmaster who is familiar with all of your timings, or the staff at the venue should be able to keep the day running smoothly.
If you’re getting married in a church and then need to travel to your wedding reception venue, then your timings may vary a little. However, if you leave enough time for all of your guests to leave the church, find your wedding venue, park and have a drink, then everything should once again fall back in line, ready for the next stage of your celebration. Weather and the traffic on the day may cause slight disruption depending on how far your guests have to travel from A to B.
Essential Elements to Include on your Wedding Timetable
- Pre-ceremony preparations, including wedding hair, beauty, getting dressed
- Travel time to the wedding ceremony venue
- The wedding ceremony
- Photos at the ceremony venue (if not the reception venue)
- Travel time from the ceremony to the reception venue
- Drinks reception
- Full group photo
- Receiving Line (if you’re having one)
- The wedding banquet
- Wedding speeches
- The arrival of evening guests (if you're planning a separate evening guest list)
- Cutting the wedding cake
- The first dance
- Introduction of the evening buffet
- The last dance/end of evening
Potential Time Delays Throughout your Wedding Celebration
The following events could potentially throw your wedding timetable out of sync. The more familiar your wedding venue and suppliers are with your overall wedding timetable, the easier your day should flow.
The set up of any decorations that your florist or wedding venue are not doing for you may take longer than originally planned. This job should be delegated to a member of your wedding party, but it would be good to make them aware of timings. For example, when they are allowed in to the wedding venue on the day of your wedding etc.
It's natural to have lots of photographs taken before/during/after your wedding ceremony, but if you’re thinking of having lots of couple shots away from your group, then be sure to add this to your list as it may take longer than you think.
The Receiving Line
Traditionally happens either on arrival at the reception venue or prior to the meal and should only last between 20 and 30 seconds per guest. However, depending on the size of your guest list, this could take much longer – therefore delaying the wedding breakfast part of your day – which a chef may not appreciate if your food has been timed to the minute.
The Wedding Speeches
It is not uncommon for wedding speeches to run way over their allotted time at a wedding reception. Father's of the bride might get carried away, and when it comes to the best man, there’s no telling how long his speech might be. It would be advisable to give everyone speaking at your wedding a rough guide of how long they should allow for their wedding speech, in order to keep the rest of the day on-track.
Planning your Wedding Timetable with your Wedding Venue
Your wedding venue should be asking you for a detailed timetable of your day, well in advance of your actual wedding celebration. This will enable them to have welcome drinks, canapés and food prepared, not forgetting having the venue clean, decorated and organised in terms of staffing numbers for your day.
A well timed wedding reception will make a huge difference to your overall experience, and that of your wedding guests too. Ask your wedding venue how much control/influence will they exert to keep things on schedule? Also, be sure to keep them up to date with the different elements of your day as your wedding planning journey progresses.
In the unfortunate occurrence that your wedding timetable does happen to steer in the wrong direction on your wedding day, well prepared staff should step in to speed things up and get things back on track where possible. Reading reviews of recent wedding couples should give you a good idea on how good their experience was with the particular venue on their special day.