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How do you structure a wedding timeline?

It’s a ceremony, a feast, and a kickass party all in one, which means there’s about fifty billion things to consider. And chances are you’ve never done this before! Even if you’ve been to loads of weddings you probably just joined in and weren’t paying loads of attention to what happened and when. Let me tell you, shuffling wedding guests around is like herding cats, so I’m going to get you boatloads of tips for keeping everyone happy and keeping it simple for yourself while making time to get some killer wedding photos.

Starting Your Wedding Day Right

Eat the most delicious breakfast you’ve ever had and have an extra long bath. This is a long day, so start it off in the most enjoyable way you can image. While you’re getting ready you should expect several vendors to arrive. Your photographer, hair and make up artists (if you’re having them) will arrive in the morning and they’ll tell you how long it takes to do their bit before the day. If the button holes are arriving with your bouquets, make sure there’s someone with you who can take them to the groom.

Killer Wedding Tip – Have some wiggle room

We’ve already established that you’re new at this, and that shuffling wedding guests around is like herding cats.. You can plan to your heart’s content, but it’s good to build some flexibility into your timeline. Have some extra songs on your playlist in case you need to start the dance early, or go for more casual streetfood instead of a 3 course meal if you want ultimate flexibility.

The Ceremony

Most civil ceremonies are about 30 minutes long, which gives you time for a reading or two. Church services are up to an hour long, so budget your time accordingly. It’s generally best if guests arrive 15 minutes before kick off (remember, herding cats) and be prepared to have a few photos taken immediately afterwards. If your reception is at a different venue to your ceremony, make sure you’ve got plenty of time to make that journey, mingle with drinks and snacks, and have time for photos.

The Wedding Reception

Guests expect to mingle, as long as they’ve got a full glass in their hand and you’ve got some kind of snack on offer. Everyone’s really happy because they’ve just witnessed an amazing moment, so this bit of the day is usually super chilled. If there’s a long gap between the ceremony and the meal you have to provide something to keep people occupied (or they’ll just drink, and then this happens). Stuff like ping pong, or giant jenga is a great way to get strangers talking to each other. This is the time to schedule any line up photos too. Give your photographer and someone with a loud voice a list of all the line up photos you want, and let them crack on with getting everyone assembled.  

Couple Time

While your guests are locked down in their Jenga tournament, find your partner and the photographer, and disappear for half an hour. If you can time this for late afternoon then do, as the light is generally reliably gorgeous at that time of day. Even though you’ve married each other this is probably the only time you’ll spend together all day, so grab this opportunity with both hands!  

Eat!

This is usually the bit where the couple is “presented” to their guests. You don’t have to do this at all, but if you do want to then it’s usually helpful if your guests are all sitting down ready to eat, and you walk in and there’s rapturous applause. Who wouldn’t want that?

Speeches

Lots of people roll their eyes at the suggestion of speeches, but I must say I love a good speech. I love the personal touch they provide, and I’ve heard some corkers in my time. It’s customary for the father of the bride to kick things off and then hand over to the best man/men, after which the groom says a few words about how beautiful his new wife is (more rapturous applause) and thanks everyone for turning up. They’re more than that though – they make people laugh, cry and make WTF faces in abundance. Everything a good wedding photographer needs to do their job!

Another Wedding Tip

Speeches are a perfect way to transition from the meal to the cake cutting and dancing.

Cut the Cake & Dance

Traditionally these two things happen back to back and from here it’s a party. If you feel awkward about your first dance you could immediately ask everyone to join you, but again I think this is just one of the few times you can connect with your partner after a very busy day. However you do it, go as wild or as chilled as you want. The photographer will usually want to stay for a few songs before calling it a day and scarpering away to edit your photos.

Remember all those fifty bajillion choices? They all come to fruition on this one day. Your wedding day should totally be an expression of you and your partner, so personally I’d always advise going to town on creating your perfect experience. I mean, it’s a day that can legitimately start and end in cake!