So you’ve got a location and date in mind, but your suppliers and guests will need more details than that! My usual advice is to sit down with a pen and paper and create a timeline, working backwards from the arrival of the evening guests if you’re splitting yours between day and evening. If you’re having evening guests they are usually instructed to arrive at 7.30pm or 8pm but this is entirely up to you. Remember though if you have evening guests coming from a long way its not going to be worth their time arriving at 9.30pm for an event that finishes at 11-11.30pm.
So your next step backwards is usually either your first dance or cutting the cake. Decide whether you want your evening guests to be there for these moments and fill them in on your timeline accordingly. I’d recommend allowing 10 minutes for the first dance and 10-15minutes for cutting the cake. A quarter of an hour to cut a cake might seem excessive but this needs to include the preparation, announcing the cake is about to be cut, people gathering nearby, professional photographs and then usually a whole hoard of friends and family photographs!
How many speeches will you have, are they before or after the wedding breakfast? Traditionally they follow the wedding breakfast, often between the main course and dessert, but more frequently lately we have seen people allowing the men to speak before the first course in order that they can relax and enjoy the meal! As a rough guide we recommend 2hours, plus 10mins per speech. If you know one of your party is going to just say a brief thank you or of course the other end of the spectrum then you can adjust your timings accordingly.
Are you having a receiving line? Allow 2 minutes per guest. Still working backwards you would usually now reach the drinks reception where you will typically be having your photographs taken. Your photographer will be able to advise you on the duration of this, depending on the style and amount of group shots that need arranging, usually between 40mins-1h30mins.
This last section depends on where you’re having your actual ceremony and whether it is religious or civil. If your ceremony is at a church or other location you will need to allow for travelling time and any more photos at the ceremony. Your minister or other officiate will be able to advise you on the length of the service depending on religion and the options you choose. Civil ceremonies are generally shorter, but depend hugely on the amount of readings or poems you choose to include. Again your registrar will be able to advise you better once you have chosen what you would like to include.
This should bring you to the end of your day’s timeline (or the beginning really!). Now you have decided your ceremony time you can book everything and get your invites out there. Now you have this time you can fit in all the preparations; picking up flowers/button holes, hair, make-up, getting dressed, transport, more photos…. There’s a lot to think of, it’s never too early to start making a list you can continuously update as you think of more things.
This is a very rough plan of course, if you need any help at all planning your wedding entirely or just help with the actual day please do us get in touch.