Planning your wedding timetable

Crafting the perfect wedding timetable can feel overwhelming, but fret not! Here’s a guide to help you create a smooth and enjoyable day for you and your loved ones

Creating the Schedule:

  1. Start Early: Aim to finalise your schedule at least 2-3 months before the wedding to ensure smooth communication and vendor confirmation.
  2. Allocate Time blocks: Assign realistic time slots for each activity, considering travel, buffer periods, and potential delays.
  3. Prioritise Activities: Identify key events like the ceremony, speeches, and cake cutting, and schedule them accordingly.
  4. Factor in Guest Needs: Consider arrival and departure times, meal service duration, and entertainment breaks when planning the flow.
  5. Incorporate Buffer Time: Allow buffer periods between activities to account for unforeseen delays or last-minute adjustments.

The wedding morning

Here’s a breakdown of how to plan your wedding morning schedule:

Step 1: Consider Key Factors

  • Ceremony Time: This is the anchor point for your schedule. Knowing the ceremony start time will help determine everything else.
  • Number in Bridal Party: The more people getting hair and makeup done, the earlier you’ll need to start.
  • Photography Preferences: Factor in buffer time for detail shots, getting dressed photos, are you wanting to do first look photos with dad or your bridesmaids? And also group photos after you are all ready. 

Step 2: Build Your Timeline

Here’s a sample schedule you can adapt (assuming a 2 pm ceremony):

  • 7:30 AM: Breakfast for everyone getting ready.
  • 8:00 AM: Hair and makeup artists arrive, bridesmaids start.
  • 10:00 AM: Bride starts hair and makeup.
  • 12:00 PM: A quick lunch in between hair and make up!
  • 12:45 PM: Bridesmaids get dressed followed by the bride, consider your dress and if you will need extra time for getting into it, and who will be putting you into your dress, as they will need to make sure they are ready first to help you. 
  • 1:15 PM: Some photographs with the photographer, the registra will also need to speak to you beforehand too, and relax… 
  • 2:00 PM: Ceremony!

The key to a smooth start is the timing of hair and make up and allowing enough time for this, make sure if you are wanting photographs with your wedding party that hair and make up know the time you would like to be ready for to allow this, and for your hair and. make up team to know this and not to be aiming on you being ready just for your ceremony time. Speak to your photographer to guide you on the time they sugguest you to be ready for. 

Choosing the Ceremony Time:

  • Strike a balance: Avoid an overly early or late ceremony that feels dragged out or rushed.
  • One venue: For ceremonies and receptions held at the same location, a 1:00/2:00 PM start is ideal.
  • Multiple venues: Consider an earlier ceremony if travel is involved between locations to accommodate travel time.


  • Respect for the registrar: Arrive on time for the ceremony. Delays can inconvenience the officiant and other couples.
  • Preparation: Aim to be ready 30 minutes before your departure for the ceremony.
  • Buffer time: Factor in travel time and potential traffic delays.
  • Relaxation time: If you arrive or are ready early, use the buffer for a relaxed pre-ceremony gathering.

After ceremony – the drinks reception 

  • Photographer’s perspective: The drinks reception is a crucial time for photographers to capture various photos, including:
    • Family group shots
    • Portraits of the couple
    • Natural, candid interactions between guests
    • Images of the wedding breakfast setup
  • Time allocation: Allow at least an hour and a half for the drinks reception to ensure ample time for these photo opportunities.

  • Entertainment: Some couples like to add in some entertainment for their guests at this point, such as musicians or magicians.  Please note if you decided to do this for this not to start immediately after your ceremony as this is usually when your photographer will be taking your guests away for the group photographs and you don’t want your guests to miss the entertainment!

Key Takeaways:

  • During the drinks reception, strike a balance between capturing cherished memories with your photographer and genuinely connecting with your guests.
  • Allocate appropriate time in your wedding timeline to achieve both objectives.

The Wedding breakfast and Speeches

Should you have your speeches before or after the meal?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this, but here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons of each approach to help you decide:

Speeches before the meal:

  • Pros:
    • Speakers can get it out of the way and relax during the meal.
    • Less chance of speeches getting rowdy or overly sentimental due to alcohol.
    • Sets the tone for the event and gives guests something to talk about during the meal.
  • Cons:
    • Audience might be hungry and less attentive.

Speeches after the meal:

  • Pros:
    • Audience is likely to be more relaxed and have had something to drink, creating a more jovial atmosphere.
  • Cons:
    • Depending on the time of year lighting may be poor for your photos with less natural light in the room.
    • Speeches could drag on if people get tipsy.

Ultimately, the best time for speeches is whenever it will work best for you and your guests.

The Evening 

  • Evening transition: Consider timings for the speeches, meals (the venue will guide you on this) guest breaks, venue setup adjustments, and additional portraits.
  • First dance timing: The most popular time for your first dance is usually around 7:30pm/8pm:
  • This should allow for guest bathroom breaks, refreshment, and potentially more portraits after your wedding breakfast and speeches.
  • Ensure a smooth transition to the evening festivities without an excessive gap as this is usually when guests start to flag and tire after their meal!

  • By carefully planning the evening’s timeline, including a reasonable gap after dinner so you can ensure a smooth transition, a vibrant party atmosphere, and your photographer can capture memorable moments of your guests enjoying themselves.