Getting the timings right for your wedding day

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Now, no one would want their wedding day to feel like its a military operation but a little bit of military precision with your timings will go down very well – believe me!  Great preparation in advance of your wedding day on the timings will be a huge key to the smooth running of your wedding day.  Part of all of our planning services are working with our couples to create a detailed time schedule for the day which we usually put together as an Excel spreadsheet but there are lots of ways of doing this.  We work to 15 minute time slots and we start from early in the morning when the bridal preparations start – right through to the end of the day when guests leave the wedding and make their way home.
Timings are not only important for the peace of mind of our couples but also for all of the suppliers/vendors who are helping to make your wedding day a success.  People like leadership and organisation and your suppliers will work better for you if they know what they are doing and when you want them to do it. So, even if you only have a few weeks left until your wedding day – get cracking with that time schedule! 
Think carefully about how long everything will realistically take – here are some good tips for you:
 – If you are getting married during the busy summer season/school holidays (especially in the Dorset area where we have a lot of holiday traffic) remember to allow additional time to get from A to B in case of traffic.  Remember also that if you are travelling in a vintage car over a fair distance they don’t tend to travel at normal car speed so it will take you longer that you would expect.  Speak to your wedding car company to ask exactly how long they would allow on timings for this.  
Not a sight you want to see on your wedding day 
Image credit – www.dailymail.co.uk
 – Always allow plenty of time for getting ready before the wedding for hair and make-up.  Make sure that you plan to be ready (hair, make-up and dress) around 1 hour before you are due to leave in your wedding car for the ceremony.  Leave yourself time to enjoy the moment and relax and have some pre-wedding photographs. 
 – Getting people from A to B always takes longer than people think.  People don’t tend to move quickly – especially at a wedding when they are relaxing.  Make sure you have agreed a list of essential group shots with your photographer and if your photographer works alone assign someone to help the photographer gather people together after the ceremony for these essential shots.  So much time can be wasted waiting for people to get together for photographs.  This section of the day can get quite boring for guests so you really need someone in charge to help with this task.  If you have a wedding co-ordinator they would usually help you with this section of the day.  Its a valuable place not to loose time – surely you would rather be spending time with your guests at your drinks reception, wedding breakfast or evening reception so don’t waste time here which you can enjoy later. 
 – For a typical drinks reception post ceremony and pre-wedding breakfast we usually allow 90 minutes – we find that 60 minutes is too short as you will want to have some more relaxed photographs taken during this time and perhaps bride and groom going off on their own with the photographer for some shots.  You also want to have enough time to enjoy at least some of the drinks reception with your guests.  2 hours can be a little too long – but if you have to have this much time (perhaps your ceremony room is being turned around for the wedding breakfast) then include some entertainment during this time to keep your guests happy and entertained.  Don’t forget during the wedding breakfast that its best not to give you guests too much alcohol without offering soft drinks as well (ladies often like to switch between bubbly and water or how about an Elderflower presse or something light) or feed them too – so canapes on the cards we think! 

Image credit – Columbia Photography 
 – Formal receiving lines.  Well – we can talk about these for ages!  Not a huge fan I have to say but they do have their place and purpose I know.  If you really feel that its necessary for a formal receiving line to greet your guests on their way in to the wedding breakfast beware of how long this can take.  As a rough guide – if you have the main wedding party greeting your guests (bride, groom, bestman, bridesmaids, and 2 sets of parents) with x 100 guests you can take anything from 45 minutes to an hour to get everyone in and its not the most exciting time for guests waiting in line.  If its necessary then consider only the bride, groom and parents – this can take less time.  Or, what about not having a formal receiving line but bride and groom visiting guests table by table and perhaps having a photograph with each table during the wedding breakfast? 
Receiving line – image credit – www.weddingtropics.com
 – Speeches.  I have a theory – whatever a groom or bestman tells you when you ask how long his speech will take – double it.  With my experience I tend to find this is correct no matter how nervous they say they are.  Fathers of the bride tend to be pretty accurate.  Get speeches done and out of the way pre-wedding breakfast if you have nervous speakers – provided that you have it well organised in advance with the caterers and you pre-warn the speakers they cannot go over time otherwise you could have food delivered to you in not the condition you would like!  
Best Man Speech – www.weddingspeechmatters.com
 – Try to get the formalities of cake cutting and first dance fairly early on into the evening reception – and evening reception is nice so that evening guests can share in some formalities if you have extra guests arriving – and then the evening belongs to the bride and groom to enjoy themselves without being called for anything. 
 – If you think your guests would benefit from knowing a bit more about the schedule of the day draw up a Schedule/ Order of the Day and issue in advance or with your invitations or put it up on your wedding website if you have one 
Hope these tips help you to get the timings right on your wedding day – if you need help – just contact us 
Melanie 
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