Wedding Day Timings and Order of the Day
Weddings can take months, sometimes years of planning, and yet they go in a flash! Which is why it’s useful to think about your wedding day timings in advance, allowing you to cherish every moment of your big day.
To ensure a hitch-free wedding, it’s important to consider your wedding timeline and itineray as early as possible. Most couples will start to think about their wedding day schedule three to six months in advance of the big day; this allows enough time to book in speakers, suppliers and make the necessary arrangements.
Wedding Day Timings – UK
While no two weddings are the same, there are some general formalities that most weddings tend to adhere to. In order to help couples plan their wedding day order of events, we’ve broken the big day into the following key moments, including considerations to include.
What time is your wedding? Timings can vary, this is just a guide and timeline based on a 2pm ceremony:
Order of the day
- 9am – Wake up and have breakfast
- 10am – Bridesmaids join you get ready
- 11am-12am – Hair and makeup
- 1.15pm – Groom, best man and ushers arrive at the ceremony to greet guests
- 2pm – The Ceremony
- 2.30pm – Confetti shot and family photos
- 3pm – Drinks reception
- 5pm – Wedding breakfast
- 7pm – Speeches (Father of the bride, followed by the groom and then the best man)
- 7.30pm – Evening guests arrive
- 8.30pm – First dance and cutting of the cake
- 9pm – Party into the night
9am-1pm. Getting Ready
Allow for enough time in your wedding day schedule for preparation. The morning is usually dedicated to the couple, allowing them to get ready separately with their party. This is typically between 9am and 12 noon.
Following a nice light healthy breakfast the bridal party will need time for hair, make-up and fittings. Some parties are bigger than others, depending on whether there are; sisters, mums, mother-in-law’s, bridesmaids and flower girls to consider. Usually a photographer will join the bridal party, so be prepared for a few reportage style photos along the way.
While it’s more straightforward and quicker for the groom, it’s not uncommon for a pre-wedding tipple in the pub to settle the nerves!
Official transport should be booked for both of the parties in advance, allowing time for any delays on either side depending on the distance.
When getting ready it is also important to think about who should be arriving at the ceremony venue, in what order and at what time.
- Groom, Best Man & Ushers – 45 minutes before the ceremony to greet your guests and hand out an order of service.
- Guests & family – 30 minutes before the ceremony, advise this on your invitations.
- Mother of the Bride & Bridesmaids – 10 minutes before the ceremony.
- Bride & Father of the Bride – 5 minutes before.
2pm. The Ceremony
Your wedding day timings will vary depending on the type of ceremony you have – most proceedings tend to start around 1pm.
A religious ceremony can take up to an hour, while a civil ceremony can be approximately half an hour.
First to arrive should be the ushers and the groom, on hand to greet guests – usually 45 minutes before the ceremony starts. This is followed by guests arriving, usually half an hour before the ceremony. Next, the mother of the bride and bridesmaids will arrive ahead of the final guest – the bride and her father.
After a formal introduction, there may be readings, prayers and hymns, all dependent on the type of service chosen.
Once vows are exchanged, it’s on to the celebrations!
Make sure you allow time for the all important confetti shot, and family photos you may wish to have taken. Talk this through with your photographer so they know which shots you would like and to allow enough time.
3pm. The Reception
Difference between wedding breakfast and reception? Since some guests don’t know the difference between a wedding breakfast and reception, this is a good opportunity for the master of ceremonies (MC) to announce the wedding day schedule. Guests should be informed about any relevant transfer information, as well as photographs required and when to expect to sit down for the wedding breakfast.
Sometimes the wedding reception is on site, other times it involves a short journey to a separate venue. The ushers should be on hand to guide guests in the right direction.
You may also have a wedding coordinator at the venue, or employed as part of the day. It is worth sharing your wedding day schedule with them, including all supplier details. They should be able to take the burden of dealing with suppliers, freeing you up to enjoy the day as planned.
Upon arrival to the reception, it’s typical for guests to be greeted with their first of many drinks of the day! This is often the time when wedding photographs take place, to a backdrop of live music or canapes.
Be sure to include this into your wedding timeline, with a full breakdown of images required. It’s useful to delegate this responsibility to a friend who can gather guests for photos, in the interest of everyone’s time.
5pm. The Wedding Breakfast
One of the most enjoyable parts of the day is dinner time, also known as the wedding breakfast. Usually falling during early evening, this can be a three-course sit down meal, or a more causal buffet; there’s no set rules.
The evening meal on your wedding day is known as the wedding breakfast, traditionally a wedding ceremony was held after mass, the whole wedding party would fast before this and so therefore this was the bride and grooms first meal, or bascially breakfast.
After a wedding breakfast, the MC will signal that it’s time for speeches – one of the most anticipated moments of the day! Be sure to allocate plenty of time in your wedding day schedule, as they can last from 10 minutes to half an hour or longer, per speaker.
Wedding speech order:
- Father of the Bride
- Best man
It’s customary for the father of the bride to start, although as weddings become more modernised this may be the mother instead. The next speech is from the groom thanking guests, sometimes followed by the bride too. Finally, as excitement mounts, the best man (or woman’s) speech is saved for last. There might also be cards read out from absent friends to consider.
To signal the end of speeches, and the start of the evening’s fun, the MC will announce a toast to the happy couple.
8pm – 12pm. The Party!
Still early evening, there’s just a few more formalities before the party can officially start.
The first of these is the cutting of the cake. While this doesn’t take long, since it’s a key photo opportunity it’s worth adding to your wedding timeline, as it can easily be forgotten.
After this, the newlyweds are introduced to the floor for the first dance. This tends to be the last formality of the evening that a photographer might wish to stay for. It’s certainly worth including the time of your photographer’s departure in your wedding day order of events, so you can cross-check that all pictures are captured before they leave.
It’s tradition for guests to hit the dance floor after the first dance. If you have a live band, they will usually finish before the end of the day, so it’s worth having a backup DJ or playlist to keep revellers going.
Anytime between 11pm and 1am, guests will start to depart your wedding. It’s worth having a time for ‘carriages’ on invitations, so guests know when to book taxis.
After a long day of excitement, it’s time to get some rest, before your first day as a married couple. Cheers to that!
Remember, this is your day, so there is no set way to do it, be different, do it your way!