I’ve photographed more than 100 weddings and seen all sorts of things, from sunset ceremonies in winter to legal ceremonies days before the big wedding. And I’ve also seen what a massive difference the timings can make to your enjoyment of the day.
In order to have a relaxed wedding where you can enjoy spending quality time with your guests, have time for a breather, get lots of natural light photos, not be rushed about and be able to soak it all in and have the day feel like it didn’t fly past, here is the ideal timeline for your wedding day:
Preparation: If possible, do something relaxing in the morning, from a jog in the woods to a yoga session with your friends to a relaxing massage or a nice warm bubble bath. As for when to start hair and make-up, your stylist can help you with this, but beware that they sometimes take on more than one wedding in one day so be careful they don’t do you too early just so they can get to their next wedding.
Ceremony: The earlier the better so you can enjoy the day to the max! I’d say 1pm is the ideal time. However, with your ceremony taking place at lunchtime, you’ll want to feed your guests straight after the ceremony. Sandwiches and cake (I highly recommend doing you cake cutting now instead of later, as drunk people don’t eat cake) with tea/prosecco is perfect.
Dinner: 5pm is a great time for dinner. It gives you a good 3+ hours (depending on how long and where your ceremony is) between the ceremony and dinner to relax, chat, eat, have photos done and take it all in.
Speeches: 7pm is a good time for speeches – dinner is done, the caterers (if you have any) won’t be stressing about them overrunning and your guests will actually be listening instead of thinking about food.
First dance: 8pm is a good time to get the party started, although in the height of summer it might be hard to get people dancing until later – people don’t like to dance in the daylight where their shapes can be seen! In summer, let people mingle and play games until a bit later, then get the party started when the light starts to fade.
Evening food: Pizzas are the winner here. Serve them around 9pm and everyone will be happy.
Leaving: I really recommend not being the last to leave your wedding. The lights go up, and you’ll be left with a final wedding vision of broken glass, bleary eyes and staff mopping up. The best way to end the night is with a bang – or a splash! Sparkler exits are a bad idea (drunk people plus fire = trouble) unless you’re not having a massively boozy wedding or not leaving too late. Organised fireworks are wonderful too.