Planning Your Wedding Timeline 

Planning a wedding can take on average 12 – 18 months. There is so much to consider and often the big day itself can be hard to envisage so far in advance. In-between booking the venue, suppliers and thinking about all the little details the final picture of how it all fits together will be easily lost. Today’s blog will be all about a wedding timeline and things to consider when arranging the organisation of your day.

Below are the foundational timings that we work from as a venue to plan your big day. Once you’ve got these timings in place the rest will follow.



First things first

Allocate 1 – 2 hours

‘The moment I wake up before I put on my make up’ (Thank you Aretha) I spoke about this briefly in my previous blog Wedding Planning Made Simple it’s important to consider how you want to wake up on your big day. You want to start your day off  in the best possible way.  Whether that’s an hour doing yoga or time spent with your loved ones, it’s yours to spend however you see fit.

Time for that Makeup

Allocate 2 – 3 hours

We’ve covered the ‘before the makeup’ stage so now it’s time to co-ordinate the arrival of makeup artists and hair dressing. Although it’s not an essential part of getting married, in our experience, it’s common practice for a bride and her bridal party to get pampered for the day. Normally you will have had a trial with your chosen Makeup Artist and you’ll have an idea of how long the process is from start to finish. Be sure to allocate enough time so you’re not especially rushed. This can be a nice time to capture candid moments of the pre- wedding excitement and butterflies so be sure to coincide this with your photographers arrival.

 Behind the scenes – Allocated time to be determined by suppliers

Whilst you are hopefully blissfully unaware, your months of preparation are paying off. Any room dressing suppliers are tying your chair covers, centring your centre pieces, carefully placing the cake and arranging the flowers. It’s important to confirm arrival times of all suppliers and co-ordinate it with the venue so that everyone is aware of what time everythings is arriving and were it needs to be. It’s a good idea to nominate your most trusted accomplice to oversee this stage of preparation whilst you enjoy a delightful stress free morning.

Civil Ceremony – Allocate 30 minutes

Your officiate will of been booked well in advance, your music is prepared (guide lines for music coming up in our next blog) all you have to do is turn up. Then live happily ever after.

Arrival drinks, canapés and photographs – Allocate 1 – 1½ hours

The time spent at this stage is determined by the types of images you’d like of your wedding day and the size of your gathering. A mixture of group photographs and couple images posed and candid are recommended but this can be discussed before hand with your photographer. Whilst you are off doing your couple photographs your guests can enjoy your arrival drinks and canapés or if you decide against providing arrival drinks you may find them naturally congregating at the bar. This step is entirely optional and some ceremonies flow straight into the wedding breakfast.



Wedding breakfast – Allocate 1 – 2 hours

Whether you opt for a traditional sit down 3-course wedding breakfast or an afternoon tea it’s important to add in enough time for the food service. If you’re forgoing this step and have opted for a later ceremony and evening reception skip ahead to evening reception.

Speeches – Allocation determined by how many speakers you have

Speeches are by far my favourite part of the proceedings and are not to be rushed or forgotten about. When else are you going to get to hear funny stories, well wishes and heartfelt praise other than on your wedding day? Traditionally the father of the bride, the best man and the groom make speeches but now it’s common practice for alternative guests to get involved. To get the timings right you could suggest the speakers rehearsed their speeches and let you know how long they will need. It’s normally around 30 minutes in total but don’t be afraid to spend more time on this stage.  It is now a popular choice for speeches to start before the wedding breakfast.  This can really help if those giving the speeches are nervous.  It is important to remember that it is your day.  Do things how you want!

Evening reception

Our evening receptions start anytime from 6.00pm onwards but most commonly at 7.00pm. Ours finish at 12.00am – 12.30am.  Your evenings entertainment/suppliers (disco, band, magician, photo booth) should ideally be set up before the evening guests arrive.  Sometimes however this is not possible as the evening reception is being held in the same room as the wedding breakfast itself.  Ensure you have told suppliers what time they can access the room and just as important, the actual access they will have to the room.

Cake cutting and first dance

Adding these steps to the evening reception gives a ceremonial celebratory feel for the guests who weren’t at your daytime function. Your first dance can be a choreographed master piece or just an opportunity to invite all of your loved ones onto the dance floor for a gentle sway to your favourite song. The cake cutting can be before or after the buffet is served but it makes sense for it to be before. The cake can then be served as dessert- yum!


When planning the time your buffet is served there are a couple of things to consider. Take into consideration the time your wedding breakfast will be served, what time your function is finishing and the type of food you are serving. If you had an early wedding breakfast your evening food will need to be earlier to reflect that. If your function is going on into the early hours you may want to make your evening food slightly later to keep people sustained longer. If you are serving warm food, such as a hot fork buffet or a hog roast this will also affect the timings.

Closing and carriages

Letting guests know a time to depart is important for those who need to arrange transportation or accommodation. It’s also important to ensure that you are aware of the venues alcohol licensing and closing times so it isn’t a disappointing ending to a wonderful day.

Thank you for reading this blog. I hope that you find it helpful in planning your wedding timeline. If you have any suggestions, feedback, or have anything that you would like to share please do drop me a line at

See you next week for more wedding planning tips.

(Special thanks to for suggesting this blog )


Abbey Signature