A Wedding Day Timeline

Putting together a typical timeline of your wedding day can be a bit of a struggle. There are many choices and so many things to consider, so I have pulled together a few little tips to help as a general guide for you.

Before the ceremony

The Groom should arrive at the venue completely ready about one hour before the ceremony starts. This gives him time to greet guests, calm any nerves, while keeping him out of the pub.

The Bride should have her dress on and be completely ready thirty minutes before leaving for the ceremony venue- but not before this. This will allow for a few photos before leaving and any last-minute touch ups of hair and makeup. Crucially, it also prevents her being ready and getting restless waiting to leave.

The Bride should arrive at the ceremony venue ten minutes before the ceremony is due to start so that the registrar/vicar has time to ask any questions that they need to.

The Ceremony

Depending on the type of service you are having depends on the length of your ceremony. Most registrar and celebrant led services will last thirty minutes maximum so you will not need to account for any more time than this. Church of England, Methodist and Baptist services are normally about forty-five minutes to an hour in length. A catholic service can last up to ninety minutes depending on whether you have mass or not - be prepared and make sure your guests know too.

Photos and getting to the reception venue

This will vary depending on where your reception is being held. If it is the same venue, then you do not need to account for any travelling time otherwise you will need to include this into your itinerary.

Typically allow about ninety minutes for photos at this point and time for canapés and reception drinks.

Food and Speeches

A 3-course meal for around sixty to eighty guests will take about two hours to serve. You may wish to do the speeches before food, although I would not recommend this idea unless you have served canapés, but more often than not, couples choose to wait until after the food to speak.

One of the best options is to do the speeches between courses, usually main/dessert, which not only gives the kitchen time to change around for service, but also means you have a captive audience - no-one wants to miss desert!

Traditionally, the speeches are done by the father of the Bride, Groom and best man, although more and more Brides are getting in on the act. Speeches, depending on nerves, alcohol consumption and talkative and emotional fathers, take about half an hour.

Room change around

Allow an hour for the wedding breakfast room to transform ready for the evening - this is also when your DJ/Band and entertainment should arrive and set up.

Evening guests, cake and first dance

Evening guest characteristically arrive between six-thirty and eight pm. If you set this time on the invite, usually, your guests will all have arrived within the first hour which then allows you to gauge the rest of the evening.

The evening cannot really start until you have cut your cake and had your first dance, guests look forward to this moment, so I would aim for half-seven. This then allows those eager dancing types to get on the dancefloor.

Evening food

Ideally, aim for eight pm so that your guests who only arrived for the evening are not waiting around hungry. This also includes those guests with children who may not want to stay too late.

Top tip - ensure that your cake is cut up and served with the food or you will end up taking a lot home.


Typically, this part is predefined by the venue, but do make sure that you have communicated to your guests what time the day will end.

Also, and crucially, do not feel that you need to stay to the very end - it has been a long day - the culmination of months of planning, excitement and expectation.

Quick timeline example:

12pm- Groom arrive at Church

1pm- Ceremony starts

1.45pm- Photos at church

2.15-Travel to reception venue

2.30- Reception drinks and more photos

3.30pm- Sit down for starter and main course

5pm- Speeches


6pm- Room change around

7pm- Evening guests start arriving

8pm- Cut the cake and then first dance

8.45pm- Evening food service

11.30pm- Bride and groom leave

12pm- Last orders at the bar

12.30pm- Carriages

And lastly, please remember to enjoy your day, because it is, after all, your day!

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