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Planning Your Wedding Invitations- Traditional Running Order Of A Wedding Day

Updated: Apr 4, 2023

This blog will share some advice on the timeline of how a wedding will run, showing a brief run through of what to expect for your wedding day. Though this does not mean it is set in stone, each wedding is individual, and it is not often that a wedding runs completely to time, but this will give you points to consider. Even with meticulous planning we sometimes cannot for see outside elements that can send timing a bit off. However, if you have a basic structure of how the day should roughly run then we can do our absolute best to ensure that the run of the day runs smoothly.

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Photo by Capture The Moment

It is important that all key people involved within the wedding party are given a copy of the timings, for example: mother of the bride, bridesmaids and the best man or men. If you have a wedding planner for example myself I will as part of all my packages (Full/partial and on the day wedding coordination) I will produce and provide the timelines which takes a job off your hand in creating one.

You need to know when your suppliers will be arriving, and it is always a good idea to have a list of the phone numbers of your suppliers in case of late arrival. Having trails of your hair and make up is always good to establish how long it will take for all involved, along with this if you are getting ready and need to travel to the ceremony venue you need to calculate the time it takes to do the trials and how long it takes to get to the venue to consider when the getting ready should begin and to give yourself extra time for any issues with getting ready and on traveling to the venue. With this it is a good idea to have the trails done on the same day in the week as your ceremony, as the traffic on one day maybe different to another day. For example, traffic on a Wednesday maybe different to at the weekend. Another great tip is to have a wedding rehearsal to give yourself an idea on how long the wedding ceremony will last approximately. You may find that in Winter rather than Summer weddings the timings (particularly the ceremony) will have to be earlier rather than later due to the impact of light for the wedding photographer. It is also important when you are working on your timings that you give yourself some time in case of any unforeseen emergencies and mishaps.

The traditional running order of a wedding day

on the day service
Photo by Capture The Moment, Hair stylist Antonia Sparkles, Make up stylist Georgina Bray

Here is a simple timeline of the traditional running order of a wedding day

  • Preparations (3 - 4 hours)

  • The ceremony (30 - 45 minutes)

  • Drinks reception (1.5 - 2 hours)

  • Wedding breakfast (1.5 - 2 hours)

  • Speeches (1 hour)

  • Cutting of the cake (5 - 10 minutes)

  • First dance (5 - 10 minutes)

  • Evening reception (4 hours plus)

Here is a more in-depth timeline giving approximate timings for a 2pm wedding. This timeline can be adjusted forwards or backwards dependant on actual ceremony time.

  • 7.00 – Wake up – Cup of tea (or glass of bubble, it is your wedding day of course)

It is always nice if someone can bring you breakfast in bed. As it is not often that you get a chance to get pampered in this way, but it is a special day. Even if you are nervous and you will be it is particularly important to have breakfast, you do not want to faint during the ceremony.

  • 9.00 Onwards – Hair and makeup to start.

This is only a guide as it will be very depending on how many bridesmaids/attendants you have. You may have to start earlier, especially if at a salon and not at home. Do not think your hairstylist/make- up artist is bonkers if they suggest an earlier start.

Usually, the bridesmaids first so they can help you the bride into your dress. It is kind of important that someone that will be there in the morning is at your last dress fitting, especially if there are any tricky buttons/fastenings, ties to secure on the bridal gown.

At the grooms house he and the ushers, best man/men should be doing the same.

  • 12.30 – 13.00 – Photographer arrives to capture some portraits.

He/she may arrive even earlier dependant on your wedding coverage to capture the preparations/getting ready.

  • 13.00 – Groom and male attendants set off for ceremony, arriving at least half an hour before.

  • 13.30 – Groom, best man/ushers arrive at ceremony venue.

This gives plenty of time for the groom to relax, meet officiant, and so that the ushers can welcome guests and hand out order of the service if need be and direct guest to their seats. The photographer will usually arrive at the ceremony venue at a similar time to take some photographs of groom, best man/men and await arrival of rest of the wedding party. Wedding cars will roughly arrive at brides house at this time.

  • 13.40 – Bridesmaids and mother of the bride will leave for ceremony.

This time also depends on whether you are using one car for both bridesmaids and the brides arrival. (This does sometimes happen).

  • 13.45 – Bride and father (or who ever you have walking you down the aisle) of the bride will leave for the ceremony.

Leaving times from house to ceremony will largely depend on distance between and timings will have to be altered accordingly.

  • 13.50 – Bridesmaids and brides mother arrive at church or ceremony venue

  • 13.55 – Ushers escort brides mother and grooms parents who should now have arrived to their seats.

Registrar, celebrant, minister takes their place at front and gives out any announcements.

  • 13.55 – 14.00 – Bride and father of the bride arrive at ceremony venue.

The photographer/ videographer takes pictures of arrival. The celebrant, minister, registrar will then usually go see the bride, father of bride and bridesmaids to give reassurance before bridal entrance.

  • 14.05 – Guests will be invited to stand, and processional music will start.

Ceremony will start.

  • 14.35 – Ceremony finishes.

  • 14.35-15.00 Photos at church, ceremony venue

  • 15.00 – Transfer to Reception for guest, bride and groom, wedding party

  • 15.30 – Drinks reception, canapés if applicable.

Sometimes it is good to have some entertainment on at this time like string quartet/ magician/ caricaturist/ lawn games or a bouncy castle this always goes down well with the kids. The bride and groom have portraits done and group shots if applicable. It is always good to have an usher or if you have myself the wedding planner on hand with a list of shots you wish if having group shots so they can round up guests, and this list is always best for your photographer to have beforehand too. (this is normally discussed with your photographer days before).

  • 16.45 – Receiving Line (if applicable).

This is an old tradition that you do not see very much now a days.

  • 17.00 Guests seated for meal

  • 17.00 – Speeches can be before or after your meal whichever is your personal preference.

Along with the cutting of the cake can be before or after your meal this is your personal preference.

  • 19.00 – Meal Finishes.

This is a good time for the bride and groom to take a bit of time out and to get freshened up. Spend some time with each. Also this might be a good time to get in evening photos if you twilight part of your photography package.

  • 19.30 – Evening Guests arrive. Bride and Groom can greet their evening guests.

  • 20.00 – Evening starts- Band/DJ/Evening entertainment starts and First Dance

  • 21.30 – 22.00 – Evening Buffet

  • 22.00 Return to Entertainment

  • 00.00 – Finish.

This is a standard time to finish but is governed largely by Venues and you also have the option of obtaining a late licence, but this mainly does not go past 1am.

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With having a guideline designed for your specific recommendations the running of your day should then (with fingers crossed to no unforeseen circumstances) run smoothly. The one thing that you should always consider is and it is the most important thing is that you enjoy your day and that is what all my energy if you choose me to be your wedding planner goes towards.

I will take care and manage everything – organising the set-up, ensuring all the small extra touches are in the correct place, and making sure everything runs to schedule and smoothly. I will also co-ordinate with all the suppliers and answer any questions they might have. Whether it is ensuring guests are in the right place, helping the photographer with organising photos or ensuring both of you get a moment to breathe. I will be there to help facilitate it and you can savour your vision as it comes together in front of your eyes and watch your friends and loved ones enjoy themselves.

All you must do is relax enjoy your day with your family, friends, and your new husband/wife.

If you would like further information on my services, you can go to


If you would like to book your first free consultation you can contact me on 07445276667 or

Hope you enjoyed the read

Emma Louise x

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