A good place to start is to have a chat with your wedding venue and professionals you may have booked such as your wedding videographer and photographer. They will have lots of experience to draw upon and will be able to help you with what works well. A big part of planning your day has to be to look at the time of year you are getting married. If you are getting married in the middle of summer when sunset is nice and late in the evening you can afford to have a later wedding ceremony and plan your day around it however, if you are getting married in the middle of winter when sunset is much earlier then an earlier ceremony is always a good place to start.
Brides chat to your hair and makeup artist about the number of people needing hair and makeup. They will normally come up with a list of timings to ensure everyone is ready on time. If the wedding ceremony is happening in a different location chat to your wedding transport company around their recommendations on the timing of the journey. Google maps might say that it takes 20 minutes but a vintage car will probably take longer. Think about what time you want to be actually ready for, it will be nice for you to have a glass of bubbly and chill with your bridesmaids. As a wedding videographer I normally look to arrive at the ceremony venue around 20 minutes before the ceremony start time so if you are ready in good time it allows me to get across to the ceremony ready for you. Grooms, just get there in good time! I would say look to arrive between 40-60min before the ceremony.
The type of ceremony that you then choose can have a big influence on the timings of your day. If you are opting for a civil ceremony then normally once you have said your vows and signed the register you are looking at around 30 minutes but a church ceremony can be up to an hour, with some religious ceremonies lasting even longer. If your ceremony is all in one place that does make things easier for both you and your guests but if you are looking at having your reception and ceremony in different places always look to factor in travelling time. When I got married I had a half hour journey between venues, in a vintage car this became 40 minutes. I think once you are adding too much travel time between venues you are starting to lose precious time with your family and friends.
Don’t forget some time for you! While it can seem an odd thought but, you are getting married but actually it can be so difficult to get some alone time to actually let everything sink in. You haven’t seen each other until you are back together at the top of the aisle. A short car journey between wedding venues can be perfect for this as can your time away with your Photographer and Videographer! It may feel awkward at first but actually, this is a perfect time for you to reconnect after what has been a bit of a whirlwind! Factor in some time into your day to head off away from everyone with your Photographer and Videographer to get some you time and also capture those magical memories for you!
Golden Hour is the hour normally before sunset where (nice weather permitting) magical things happen to the light. It can go from being harsh to being a gorgeous golden colour. This is the perfect time for capturing stunning footage and pictures so if you are planning your wedding timings it is always worth planning this in. This is something that often gets missed and might mean either you being grabbed between courses or missing it altogether. It would be a real shame if your wedding film missed out on some gorgeous stunning golden light or sunset!
Your family will all be wanting group photos. Group photographs are one of those traditions that everyone expects but often bride and grooms don’t tend to actually look at too often. When factoring in group shots into your wedding timings it is always worth thinking about less being more. I always tell engaged couples that they should factor in 3-4 minutes per photo. Many photographers can, of course, work quicker than this but it is a rough guide. It only takes someone to be in the loo at the wrong time and it can soon slow down the process. My advice (and many photographers I know) would be to stick in the 8-10 bracket. This can soon take 30-40 minutes of your day for something that your family will look at a lot more than you probably will.
Another tradition that needs a little thinking is your speeches. I often see lots of different ways of arranging your speeches. Some before the meal, some after, some in between. This completely comes down to you and your preference, for me as your wedding videographer, after the meal is simpler. I have to set up ready for speeches so in some situations this may mean me having to come away from what is going on if the speeches are before the meal. I usually would do this during your group photos. As I say this is completely your call as to when you schedule your wedding speeches but one thing I would thoroughly recommend is having a time limit for each speaker and chat with them about it beforehand. 3 speeches at 7-10 minutes each can soon hit half an hour and I’m sure you and your family and friends would rather be getting the party started!
Are you having a first dance? It’s a great way to kick the evening off and really get the party started! That being said it is always worth thinking when you want that party to get started! Do your first dance too early and it probably won’t have the desired effect, too late and there is less time for the party to kick off! On average I tend to find around 8pm being a bit of a sweet spot as venues then tend to bring out food around 9pm so it gives a nice hour before people stop for food.
So that’s my ramblings about planning the wedding timings for your big day! I am not saying I know everything and it is totally up to you as it’s your day and the most important thing is that your wedding day reflects you as a couple!
Here are a couple of other articles that might help you with your planning!
How to Choose your Wedding Hair and Makeup Artist
Wedding Car Hire – What to look for