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Wedding Day Timeline

Understanding the order of your wedding day is important to keep everything running smoothly and to time.This article shares a few tips on what to consider for a traditional wedding.

Posted by Charlotte on September 21, 2023


Start by confirming the time of your wedding ceremony and work around that.

Getting Ready (Approx. 3 – 4 hours)

On the morning of the wedding, the bride, bridesmaids and mother of the bride will get ready together, while the groom will be with his ushers and best man. Professional hair & make-up can take between 30 – 45 minutes per person so you’ll need to factor that in when booking, with the bride taking around 1 hour. Ideally, you’d want to be ready at least 15 - 30 minutes before you have to leave for the ceremony so work that into your timings. The hair and make-up artist will be able to advise you of their schedule depending on the number of bridesmaids you have and who else in the bridal party, requires hair and make-up.

Bride in makeup

The Wedding Ceremony (Approx. 45 minutes)

The groom, best man and ushers should be at the wedding ceremony at least 45 minutes before the start time, to welcome guests and to show them to their seats ready for the arrival of the bride and her bridesmaids.

Depending on the number of songs/readings you’ve chosen the average length of a wedding ceremony is around 45 minutes.

Transport to the Wedding Reception

Factor in some time for guests and the wedding party to make their way to the reception venue if it’s at a separate location. It can take a while for everyone to make their way back to their cars or to jump onboard the organised transport.

Wedding Reception (Approx 1 ½ hours)

This is a great opportunity for your family and guests to mix and mingle whilst drinks and canapes are being served. Your photographer will want to use this time to capture some formal shots of the bride and groom and any group photos you’d like to have. Background music or roving entertainment is always a good option to keep your guests entertained whilst you’re being photographed and creates instant atmosphere.

Wedding Breakfast (Approx 2 - 3 hours)

Guests will be seated as the newlyweds are announced into the wedding breakfast. Once seated, the caterers will start the food service. Depending on the number of courses e.g. starter, main, dessert the caterer will advise you on the time required for each course.

Speeches (Approx 30 minutes)

Traditionally speeches occur after dinner and tend to follow a pattern of who should speak and in which order e.g. Father of the bride first, followed by the groom and finally the best man. However sometimes if you have nervous speakers who might prefer to speak as soon as guests are seated, then the speeches can take place before dinner. Either way, the caterer will need to know when the speeches are taking place so that they can adjust the food service accordingly.

Wedding speech

Cutting of the Cake & First Dance (Approx 10 -15 minutes)

After the dinner service, its time for the bride and groom to cut the cake. This is a great photo opportunity and guests love to gather round to watch this happening. The cake is then taken away by the caterer and cut into small bites for guests to enjoy later on into the evening.

Then its time to take to the dancefloor for the first dance. Your band or DJ will have your favourite song lined up ready for you to share your first dance together or you may want to invite guests to join you halfway through the song. After that, the evening party will commence. 


If you’d like any help organising your wedding day, we’d love to hear from you. Contact Charlotte at or call 07970 981887. Based in Henley on Thames, we cover Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire as well as further afield.

Photo credits: Wild Weddings Photography

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