When you’re planning your wedding, there are far more exciting things to think about than the timings of the day. Trying on dresses, designing your tables and of course, reading the latest blogs and magazines are all probably much further up you ‘to do’ list than sitting down with a piece of paper and deciding what should happen when. However, the best weddings are those which flow seamlessly from one section to the next with no long pauses or any hurrying. This can be a tricky balance to achieve but with a little thought and some insider information, it can be easier than you think and come the big day itself, you’ll be glad you took the time to think about timings!
Before The Ceremony
When you wake up in the morning, it can seem like a long time before you’ll be saying ‘I do’ in front of your nearest and dearest but, as with all time on your wedding day, it can go faster than you think and if you’re not prepared, you’ll spend your last few moments as a single woman in a mad, rush. So, read the tips below and arrive for your ceremony as a blissed out, rather than stressed out, bride.
- Decide in advance what order everyone will be having hair and makeup done so you don’t waste time in the morning when people arrive.
- Make time for breakfast! It will be a long time before you probably get to eat again and an empty stomach and a few nerves isn’t a good combination, especially if you’re having a few glasses of bubbly whilst you’re getting ready. Grapes are perfect to snack on and won’t ruin make-up and manicures.
- Pin up a time plan in the room where you’re getting ready so everyone can see it. This will save everyone asking continually asking you questions! It’s also a good way to keep things on track.
- Lay out your entire outfit the night before. You don’t want to be hunting for a shoe or earring just before you wedding. This is a real waste of time and can take so much longer when you start panicking.
- Make sure someone is keeping an eye on the time. One minute you’ve got hours to wait and the next, it’s time to go so don’t get caught out. Delegate this job to a calm and trusted friend who won’t worry about this job.
- If you’re heading out to have your hair and make-up done, leave extra time for the journeys each way. Saturday traffic can be busy and it might take longer to park than you think. Better to be early than stuck in traffic watching the time tick by!
- Find out what time suppliers will be arriving – especially important if you don’t want the photographer to arrive whilst you’re still in the shower!
- If you’ve got a lace-back dress, allow twenty minutes to get yourself into it and to be laced up. It probably won’t take that long but it’s better to have a few more minutes to get yourself comfortable than to have to leave feeling too loose or too trussed up.
- Fight the temptation to leave early for the ceremony. It’s awful having to drive around because you’re early and all your guests haven’t arrived. That said, don’t aim on being late, especially for a civil ceremony – most registrars do more than one wedding per day and they don’t like you being late.
- Take your time walking up and down the aisle – make the most of the moment!
Drinks & Dinner
Hurrah! You’re now married and you can start the celebrations. But, thinking about timings for this part of the day is also important, especially if you’ve invited extra guests to the evening reception – you don’t want them all turning up whilst you’re still eating your dessert. So, thinking about timings and, most importantly, sticking to them, will help the day run smoothly and let you make the most of every minute.
- Decide with your photographer before the day how long you want to spend having photographs taken and don’t be afraid to say ‘enough’. Spending time with your guests is what makes your wedding special.
- Don’t let the drinks reception go on for too long. Around an hour or an hour and a half is long enough – you don’t want guests to start flagging (especially important in if you’re outside in the summer) because if people start getting bored, the great atmosphere starts to go downhill.
- As tempting as it might be to say ‘just another ten minutes’ when your venue or co-ordinator asks you to start getting ready for dinner – don’t! Chefs and kitchen staff are working to a precise timetable to get everyone’s food ready at the right time and delaying dinner can cause problems.
- Allow plenty of time for a receiving line. If you’re having the ‘traditional’ line (bride, groom, parents, chief bridesmaid and best man), allow at least half an hour for one hundred guests. It can be a good plan to have ushers on hand to ‘help’ guests to move along if they stop and chat for too long!
- Listen to your venue’s advice as to how long the meal will take. Buffets can be even longer than fully served meals when you add in the time it takes everyone to get up and serve themselves to discuss your plans fully with those who will be serving the food to make sure anything you’re planning is possible.
- If you need to get everyone out of the room you eat in after the meal (this is often necessary if tables need to be moved before the dancing can start), it can be a good idea to serve coffee in a lounge or other area. This often encourages people to move and the faster the room can be ‘turned around’, the quicker the evening party can start.
This is the part of the day where the atmosphere really changes – the formality of ceremonies, dinners and speeches is over and everyone can really let their hair down. But, timings are still important to make this section of the day seem just as perfect as the rest…
- Agree a time for your first dance and stick to it! Remember that no-one will dance until you’ve taken to the floor and it’s a waste of money to have your band or dj playing with no-one dancing. It can help to announce the time of your first dance at the end of the meal so everyone knows when they need to be back by if they go elsewhere for a few moments.
- Remember that any food put out for an evening buffet can only be left out for a certain length of time (check with your venue what their policy is) so ask your band, dj or co-ordinator to announce when the buffet is available so people make the most of it.
- Set aside some time to mingle with your new husband. It’s nice to walk around together and speak to people as a couple, especially if you’ve invited workmates that each other might not know.
- Take the time to speak to as many people as you can, even if it’s just a quick hello. You might want to spend all night on the dance floor with your friends but don’t neglect everyone else. You’ll look like a fabulous hostess if you’ve got time for everyone.
- Don’t stay until the bitter end – leave in a blaze of glory when there are still lots of guests dancing and having a great time. That’s the best ‘last memory’ to have of the day, not the mess that’s left over when people have left.
- Definitely get some time alone with your husband. The day will pass so quickly and before you know it, the guests will be leaving and you’ll realise you’ve not spoken to your hub since dinner! The break between dinner and the evening reception is the perfect time to sneak off…