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How to plan your wedding timeline

Wedding Timelines!

Planning your wedding timeline – a task that can put fear into even the most organised couple!

As a multi-award-winning UK wedding planner, I know that this is one area that can cause lots of worry and confusion. Getting the wedding timeline is essential – trying to hurry guests through the wedding will leave them feeling stressed, whilst having large gaps with nothing much to do could lead to boredom!

Planning your wedding timeline!

So, today we’re going to take a look at how long the key wedding events are likely to take and how much time you should allow for each in your wedding timeline.

First Look Photos – I’ve seen an enormous rise in popularity of couples choosing to have a first look photo. Not only is this an extra special moment for you both, but it can also help decrease some of the nerves before your wedding ceremony.

Civil Ceremony – As a general rule, this will last anywhere between 15-30 minutes, depending on whether you include any readings.

Religious Ceremony – Whilst a church of England service will last anywhere between 45 minutes – an hour, some Catholic ceremonies can last up to 2 hours. 

It’s essential to speak with your vicar or faith leader to ask them about their expected timings as it does vary considerably.

Photos After Ceremony – This always takes longer than you think! If you’re having a confetti shot at your ceremony venue, it will take your wedding photographer a little time to gather your guests into position. Similarly, if you’d like photographs with your bridal party, you’ll need to allow additional time. Somewhere between 20-45 minutes should be plenty.

Reception Drinks – We’d usually advise that you leave around 90 minutes for your reception drinks. This gives plenty of time for your guests to mingle and for you to get some photographs with your beau!

Wedding Breakfast – This can vary greatly, depending on the style of wedding breakfast you’ve chosen. As a very general guide, 2.5 hours should be sufficient, though always discuss the timings with your wedding caterer.

Speeches – At one Curious Dream, we always advise our clients to keep each speech to less than 5 minutes, controversial I know! This period is a surprisingly long space to fill, but should allow enough room for all of those important words of wisdom, love and comedy!

Evening Reception – Generally, your evening party is likely to begin somewhere between 7.30-8.30pm, right through until close.

Planning your wedding timeline tips!

Some wedding timeline tips.

  1. The morning preparations. The last thing YOU want to be doing on your wedding day is rushing around, so always leave enough time for getting ready in the morning so that you can relax and enjoy the prep.
  2. On that note, do speak with your hair and makeup artist about their timings, particularly if you have a large bridal party. Nobody wants to be waking up at 4 am on their wedding day, so increasing the number of hair, and makeup artists you hire would be a good idea to avoid this.
  3. Try and avoid significant gaps throughout the wedding day. Keep in mind that you can always hire in entertainment, like a musician, live painter or magician, to keep guests entertained. Lawn games work well and are relatively inexpensive.
  4. If you have an extended drinks reception, do make sure there are plenty of canapes, or even a grazing station to keep guests happily fed! If you’re having an earlier wedding ceremony, also make sure that the drinks you provide are a little lighter – Pimms and lemonade work well, or anything that can be watered down with a mixer. Hold the shots for now!
  5. It’s also essential to include the finish time on your invitations. If you’re not providing wedding transport, guests will need to make taxi arrangements to get back to their accommodation. Similarly, it’s also worth leaving a sign on the bar with a couple of local taxi numbers.

There are lots of amazing resources available to help you plan the timeline for your wedding. Of course, if you’re working with a wedding planner, they’ll be able to help you navigate this tricky task!

If you’re hoping to hire a wedding organiser and you’d like to explore my wedding planning services, why not get in touch – I’d love to hear from you!

You can reach me on 0800 772 0765 or [email protected] or find me on Instagram!

As an independent UK Wedding Planner, I’m not tied to recommending specific venues or suppliers, so you’ll always have access to the very best of the best across the industry, allowing us to produce a personal, unique wedding that’s designed just for you.  I don’t accept commission or referral fees from wedding venues or suppliers either, so you can always be sure that my recommendations are made with your very best interests at heart.



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