Wedding Day Schedule & Timings

If you started booking your wedding vendors, you have probably already been asked quite a few times about your wedding day timings. Knowing the structure of events and the schedule of the day is crucially important to ensuring everything you planned will run smoothly. Navigating the schedule of the wedding day is hard enough when you need to plan what you and your partner need to do, but add to that all the prep that your vendors need to do, and it all becomes almost too much to handle. 


If you have a rockstar wedding planner, they will be on top of things all the time and orchestrate the whole event so that you will not have any need of worrying about any of it. If you do want to stay in on it though, then this post is for you. We’ll decipher complicated areas, consider most time-consuming things, and focus mainly on events you will be an integral part of. Let your wedding planner think through the backend logistics  

 

For brides, their wedding day starts with getting ready. Having your makeup and hair done should feel exciting and relaxing, and to make sure it is actually so, do invest your time and finances in a trial session in advance. 

Tip: Ideally, have a trial session during one of your inspection trips to the venue, a few months in advance. If that’s hard to arrange (you’re having a destination wedding in a far-flung location, and only plan to come for the actual event), then schedule it 1-3 days before the wedding date. You might even combine it with your preparation for rehearsal/welcome dinner or a couple’s portrait session with your photographer.

Schedule at least 1,5 hour for your full look to be completed, but timing does depend on the complexity of your chosen look.  

The next stage of the day is the arrival of your photographer and getting ready or boudoir photos. You want to be half-ready by the time they come, meaning, have all your make up except for a lip applied, so they can capture these last bits of the process on camera. 
Use that knowledge to calculate how many hours of photography you’ll need on the wedding day in total.
Photo and video team can also arrive at the beginning of your make up and use that first hour to capture details: your dress and shoes, invitation suite, jewellery, and venue. 

Next step: the ceremony. Depending on what kind of ceremony you opted for, It can be anything between 15 minutes and 1,5 hours. Symbolic ceremonies without personalised vows are the shortest, while religious ceremonies take the most time. 

Once the ceremony is over, it’s time for group photos, your portrait session, and some mingling. To make sure your guests are not bored with having nothing to do, I usually recommend starting serving drinks and pass-around canapés right after the ceremony.
In the meantime, you can do the must-have shots with your families and bridal party, then head off for a couple’s portrait session. With careful planning ahead of time, this should not take more than 30 minutes, after which you can be free to join your guests for chitchat and ask your photographer to snap casual reportage of that time.  

To avoid rush and stress of starting the dinner, allow for 30 minutes between the invitation to get seated and the actual beginning of service, especially if you’re having a large guest count. This will give everyone ample time to finish their conversation and cocktails and head to the reception area to find their seats.

If you are having a set menu for the wedding, you need to take into account the time that each course takes to be served and cleared to plan for the toasts and speeches in between. Again, a good and experienced wedding planner or coordinator should be monitoring this on the day, adjusting the service if necessary. Starters usually need anything between 20 to 30 minutes, mains — 30-45 minutes for the whole cycle.  

Next up: the cake. Now, depending on when you decide to have your cake cutting  (before the dinner begins, during the cocktail hour — is always an option!), this can be simply served as a dessert course.

 

Once the food serving is over, it is time for the first dance and party.

With that in mind, a guideline for wedding schedule will look something like this:

 

  • 1:00 pm — Prep, hair and makeup
  • 2:30 pm — getting ready & boudoir shots
  • 3:00 pm – Bridal party photos
  • 4:30 pm — DJ arrives to set up ceremony and reception music
  • 4:30 pm — Guests begin to arrive for ceremony and pre-ceremony music starts
  • 5:00 pm – Invitation start time
  • 5:10 pm — Ceremony starts
  • 5:30 pm — Ceremony ends
  • 5:35 pm — Cocktail hour starts / Family and group shots
  • 5:45 - 6:15 pm —  Couple’s photo session
  • 6:30 pm — Call to dinner
  • 7:00 pm — Introduction of newlyweds couple and bridal party
  • 7:05 - 7:15 pm — First speech
  • 7:20 pm — First course served 
  • 7:50 pm – Second Speech 
  • 8:00 pm — Second course served
  • 8:30 pm — Third speech
  • 8:45 pm — Toasts and cake
  • 9:15 pm — First dance and parent dances
  • 9:30 pm — General dancing music starts
  • 11:00 pm  — Late night snacks served and bar closes
  • 11:30 pm — Guests depart
     

Obviously, this is very flexible. You can have a morning ceremony, or have a very late night party, but you can definitely use this as a guideline.

Wedding day timings also largely depend on the time of the year you plan to have your wedding, destination and location, as this will affect times of sunrise and sunset.
Choosing a wedding planner, who has experience running weddings in different locations is a great advantage.

You can contact Xenia Motif today for the initial consultation, and we can discuss these details. With experience running weddings all across Europe and South-East Asia, we have tons of information and knowledge to share with our couples.
We are based in London and will be happy to meet you for the wedding planning consultation in this beautiful city as well.