top of page

Five Places To Nail Your Wedding Day Timings

Updated: Nov 6, 2022

When clients hand their timelines to me, there are a couple of points that come up again and again, that make me go 'eeek, that's not going to work!'. But hopefully you can avoid that once we've gone through these FIVE points.

How Long Is Your Ceremony?

This is pretty obvious and not that complicated but you would be surprised at how many people get it a bit wrong. Now, religious ceremonies are between an hour and an hour and a half and sometimes its just 45 minutes. The best way to be sure is to speak to the person giving the ceremony. Talk to them and find out exactly how long you need to schedule.

A civil ceremony will be around 30 minutes but if you're not having any readings it will be nearer 20 minutes. If you want to be cautious, its always to better to overschedule and give a little more time. If you get it wrong here guys, you will fall behind very early in the day and its hard to recover from that. The same goes for a celebrant wedding, 20-30 minutes in total but definitely speak to them to confirm.

My Golden Rule

My golden rule when it comes to drinks receptions is always schedule in at least an hour and a half, maybe two. Never schedule an hour as this just isn't enough time. It will feel rushed and you won't be able to fully enjoy yourself. You may have a couple of photo opportunities after the ceremony that over run and you'll be too conscious of the next part of the day coming up. The drinks reception isn't just for your guests to enjoy. This is where you should also enjoy a drink, the music you have chosen and maybe have some canapes if you're having them.

Guests Can Take their Sweet Time

Number 3 on my list is how long it takes guests to take their seats. All too often I see this gets missed and couples seriously underestimate how long it can take for 150 people to get to their seats. Guys, its like herding cats! 10-15 minutes may seem like a lot of time to allow your friends and family to move and be seated, but it is not.

If you have around 80 guests, 15-20 minutes should be enough time. Anything above that I would suggest allowing 20-30 minutes. Again, you'd rather allow for more time and spend it enjoying your wedding breakfast instead of having your first dance way later than planned.

Speeches Are The Hardest to Estimate

This one is a little bit of an unknown. Your Dad who declared early on he does not like public speaking and will only be 5 minutes, totally finds his voice, has a whole monologue and takes 15 minutes. The best man says don't worry, I'll only be 5 minutes. 20 minutes and a whole overhead projector presentation later and the timings are shot.

Be firm with those who are giving speeches and tell them they have 10-15 minutes to do their bit. Anything longer than that and it starts to get a bit boring for the guests. Sounds sad, but its the truth! I think it's really good to have the father of the bride speech before starters as it's a nice welcome. Then the rest before or after dessert. People will be fed and happy, and its easier for the caterers to manage.

How Long Is Your Wedding Meal?

Again, this one is always underestimated. It will be at least an hour and a half if you're having a three course meal, nearer 2 hours if you have over 100 guests. It will also be totally dependant on what sort of food you have chosen, whether it be sharing platters to start, maybe they will already be on tables as you come in, or maybe they are served a little after your guests are seated. Speak to your caterer, they will have the most accurate timings for you.

Turn Around Time

Finally, its the turn around time. If you have a venue where you have different rooms for the wedding breakfast and the evening reception, then this won't apply to you. But if your venue has one main room that is used for both the meal and the evening reception, then you will need to consider how long it will take for the room to be turned around. Speak to your band or DJ and find out how long they will need to set up. Chances are it will be between an hour and an hour and a half depending on how quickly they can gain access to the room.

And that's it! 5 points in your day to consider. Now you have this knowledge, go free my friends and write up those lovely timelines!

Have a great week.

Happy Planning!

Lauren xx


Photo 1 - Mindy Coe Photography

Photo 2 - Anneli Marinovich Photography

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page