How to plan the order of your wedding day

Preparing a plan of the day in advance is essential for avoiding hiccups (not literally). Any event, big or small, will always provide a few hiccups, this is only natural and happens to the very best of us! Having a plan in place keeps them to a minimum and helps you to deal with anything that arises with a relatively clear and calm (organised) head. 


In our minds, there are two types of wedding day plans, one for those involved behind the scenes and one for your guests and loved ones to see on the day itself, traditionally referred to as the ‘order of the day’. If both go to ‘plan’ everyone should be singing from the same (seamless) hymn sheet. 


Top tip: although organisation and planning is incredibly important, past experience has taught us that those broken down minute by minute cause more stress. The basic structure of when you need to get ready, your arrival time at the ceremony, when the wedding breakfast and speeches are will make you feel more in control and relaxed. 


You’ve probably never had to do this before, so, putting a timeline together can be incredibly daunting when you have absolutely no idea how long everything takes. The aim of this blog was to offer you, the reader (and potential bride to be) a little guidance! Of course, there’s no one rule fits all for weddings, but we hope this gives you a better idea of timings and traditional structures. 


Another top tip: have your schedule in place before you assign exact times! 


How long (typically) does each part of the wedding day last? 


A civil ceremony at a registry office or at a venue can last as little as 10 minutes. If you choose to add readings, your ceremony will typically last around 20-30mins. 


A religious ceremony’s running time will depend on your denomination and religion. A church of England service will normally take around 45mins, including prayers, hymns and readings. 


The timing of photos after the ceremony can be determined by your photographer, however, we suggest allowing 15-30mins for this. It completely depends on the location of your photos etc! 


Reception drinks allow you and your guests to relax, so, allow 1 hour or so here. This gives you plenty of time to mingle, take photos and grab a drink or two! 


Wedding breakfasts’ last around 2 hours if it includes the speeches. Your venue and caterers will be able to provide you with accurate time allowances. 


Speeches from the traditional order of father of the bride, groom and best man normally take around 10mins and we perhaps wouldn’t recommend any longer than this. It’s is completely up to you when you’d like the speeches to unfold.

The cutting of the cake will happen before evening guests arrive. This may give your venue staff the opportunity to prepare for the evening guests and depending on entertainment/location can last up to 30-45mins. The cutting of the cake itself won’t take very long. 


The evening reception brings the day to a wonderful end and includes, the first dance, music, evening food and your departure. This normally comes to an end around midnight, depending on your venue. 


Here’s a rough example of a wedding day that has a 2pm ceremony time


9am- Time for breakfast! 

10am- The photographer arrives and hair and makeup begins on the bridesmaids.

11am- The bride begins to get ready. The flowers are also normally delivered and suppliers may begin to arrive at the venue. 

12pm- The bride will get into her bridal gown… (cue the amazing reactions). 

12.45pm- The bridal party photos will commence. Top tip: Time for a quick (mess free) snack here! Especially if you’ve had a Prosecco or two! 

1.30pm- Groom and groomsmen will arrive for the ceremony and the guests begin to arrive. 

1.45pm- The bride and bridal party depart for the venue with the photographer. 

2pm- The ceremony will begin.

2.45pm- The ceremony ends, confetti shots are taken and the married couple depart for more photos!

3.15pm- Reception drinks and canapés are served (cue hungry guests). 

3.30pm- The couple returns from taking photos and continues photos with the wedding party.

4.45pm- Guests are seated for dinner.

5pm- Food is served.

6.15pm- Speeches unfold. 

6.46pm- Dessert is served.

7.15pm- The cutting of the cake and golden hour photos are captured! 

8pm- Evening guests arrive.

8.30pm- The first dance.

8.45pm- The DJ/Band steps in (cue some questionable dance moves). 

10.30pm- Evening food is served. 

11.45pm- The bride and groom depart. 


This is a very rough example that won’t take into account your specific venue, ceremony, entertainment etc. 


Top tips for planning your order of the day


Cover any potential ‘lull’ time- If you are looking at your day and worrying about time that perhaps may be a little stagnant for guests, then perhaps you might want to explore extra entertainment depending on your wedding style and theme.


Always remember that your guests will get hungry (and thirsty)… So, our top tip here is make sure that your guests are always catered for. Naturally, people are likely to remember if they were standing around with rumbling tummies! On this very same note, pace your guests’ drinks with lighter alcohol and non-alcoholic alternatives if you have a morning ceremony.


Photography- To make sure everything runs like clockwork, ask your photographer to scope out some potential backgrounds for photos in advance. Make a list of different photos and combinations that are a priority to you so that the photographer doesn’t miss them. Give someone trustworthy the job of rounding up the troops who are required in group photos, so that you don’t have to worry! 


If you feel that a lot of time has been dedicated to taking photos, perhaps book a company that offers a main and a second ‘shooter’ one that is focused on you and one that is focused on capturing the guests.


Seating guests- Designate some trustee bridesmaids or ushers to direct your guests, this gives you time to continue with photos or a chance to catch a breath with your loved one! 


Speeches- Take a speakers estimated time and double it! Speeches never seem to run to time. 


Evening guests- Plan for them to arrive at least least 30 minutes after your wedding breakfast – if for any reason your wedding breakfast overruns, the last thing you want is to have evening guests turning up whilst people are still eating!


Departure time- Make it as clear as possible to your guests, when they are expected to leave! Their departure will have a huge impact on your venue staff and suppliers.


Above all, always allow for contingency time, this can include elements beyond your control I.e. bad weather or traffic. 


If all of this has given you a sinking feeling, don’t worry, those feelings are completely normal. However,  hiring planning professionals like us here at KTV, can relieve you of lots of aspects that are less enjoyable for you than others. We are here to help you enjoy your wedding day and the lead up to it, with as little stress as possible.