It appears that timing can be a most confusing topic to newly engaged couples, especially when you’re in amidst of arranging vendors and making important decisions! In order to avoid that ungraceful bridezilla moment, grab a glass of iced tea, secure a comfy position, and read the below timing guide (I promise this shall make planning a whole lot easier for you!):

Ceremony – 1 Hour and 20 Minutes +

  • Allow the length of time you wish to be late, or if you want to be on time, then allow 10 minutes for your photographer to capture you arriving, getting out of the car, and readying to walk the aisle (plus this allows last minute guests to be seated).
  • Allow 20-30 minutes for a short-medium length ceremony (consider what needs to be said legally plus any readings, songs, signing the registry, unity ceremonies, message, etc).
  • Allow at least 30 minutes after the ceremony for congratulations and photos. Almost every guest will want to greet you in addition to having family photos taken (remember it takes time to get Aunt Betty to stop yapping and get into position!)
  • Allow 10 minutes for your bridal party to be gathered together, hop into cars, and drive off for photos.

Images by Lady Jayde photography

Photographs – 1 Hour and 30 Minutes +

  • Allow for travel time from the ceremony to the photographic location/s and/or reception venue.
  • Allow at least a solid hour for photographs with your bridal party, and with just the two of you. This may sound like a long time but it will fly by! Even with candid photographs, you will still be ‘positioned’ to a degree albeit in a more natural way. This enables a sneaky snack along the way too!
  • Allow time for your photographer to capture your reception beautifully set up and all the styling details. You may also wish to have a mock cake cutting and first dance too.

Images by Lady Jayde photography

Reception – 5 Hours +

  • Allow 15 minutes for the bridal party to enter and be seated. This is the appropriate time for the MC to welcome guests and run through any housekeeping details.
  • Allow 40 minutes for Entrées. This generally covers the amount of time to serve entrées to all guests, have everyone eat (people eat much slower when they are chatting!), and have staff clear away plates before the next course.
  • Allow 40 minutes for Mains. Typically mains are not that much larger than entrées, and so they take the same amount of time.
    NOTE: If having a buffet, allow at least 1 hour.
  • Speeches – the biggest mistake you can make here is minimising the amount of time, but not the number of speakers. You need to allow at least 5 minutes per speaker. If they are big talkers, then adjust time accordingly. Add 5 minutes to the overall speech time to allow for speakers changing over. It is always better to overestimate than underestimate and end up running over time (read into this: food going cold!)
    TIP: Try not to start the reception with speeches. Guests will be more content to sit back and listen after having some food in their bellies. Also, if you have many speakers, you may like to break speeches up between courses.
  • Cutting the Cake will take around 10 minutes. Although it will literally take a few seconds to slice that knife through layers of frosted goodness, it will take longer for your photographer to get the perfect shot before allowing guests with camera-in-hand to capture the moment too.
  • Allow 30 minutes for Dessert. This course is generally shorter than entrées and mains due to the fact that dancing typically follows. Staff will be able to clear tables whilst you’re skimming along the dance floor like Fred and Ginger.
  • Dancing time is determined by you! There is no set amount of time here, except maybe 5 minutes for the First Dance, and 5 minutes for the Father-Daughter Dance (again, if you are having one). If you are involved in a choreographed dance then you may want to allow more time. Don’t forget to allow for the bouquet toss and garter throw if need be.
  • Lastly, start your good-byes around 20-30 minutes before you plan to leave. It will take this long to see all your guests who want to farewell you and wish you the best. If farewell circles are not your thing, remember to say good-bye to your parents and bridal party at least, and consider leaving via a tunnel of hands.

Images by Lady Jayde photography

Image by Feather and Stone

A timeline is imperative and will greatly help you plan ahead. This is intended as a guide only, so please be sure to tailor it to your own specifications, and discuss with your wedding vendors. Here’s to stress-free planning!

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