Wedding Day Timings – things to consider

Wedding day timings are an important thing to consider. Here at Great Betley Farmhouse weddings tend to be relaxed and informal. However, that doesn’t mean that no consideration has been given to wedding day timings!

Whilst here some of the traditional elements of a wedding are not necessarily observed, there still has to be structure. I’ll run through some elements below which you’ll need to consider:


Getting Ready

Whether or not you’re having a hair and make up artist to help you and your party get ready you still need to factor in the time. And it’s not just ladies who need to allow for time to get ready, but the chaps do too. Wedding makeup takes considerably longer to do than the usual daily routine. You’ll need to talk to your HMUA about how many of you are going to be needing their services. Your HMUA is the best person to advise. I know that HMUAs get here very early in the morning and bring an awful lot of kit with them!

Even if you’re all doing your own hair and make up it’s going to take way longer than usual. Think getting ready for a night out and double it!

Bridal prep at Sussex wedding venue
Bridal prep at Great Betley Farmhouse
photo credit:

Pre wedding food

Don’t forget to eat – you may not feel hungry, but you need some fuel to get you through the day.


If you’re not getting married and having the reception at the same place then factor in travelling time.

Wedding Prep Photography

Is you photographer coming early to take shots of you all getting ready? If so you’ll need to allow a bit of time for that. Although most togs will work around what’s going on you might want some specific shots.

Time Buffer

Allow about an hour extra than you think you’re going to need. Things don’t always go to plan. But if they do and you’re ready early then you can take 10 to chill, maybe have a glass of bubbles.

The Ceremony

So this is really the key element of your wedding day timings. You need to work backwards with your timings for the things already mentioned. And you’ll need to work forwards for everything after the ceremony.

Ceremony Arrival Timings

Groom, Best Man and Ushers – 45 minutes before

Guests – 30 minutes before

Parents  – 10 minutes before

Bridesmaids – 10 minutes before

Bride and Father of the Bride – 5 minutes before

Now, apologies, these are very traditional and pretty gender specific terms – change them to suit your circumstances where necessary. They also kind of refer to a traditional church wedding which you may or may not be having. However, they give a rough guide.

At Great Betley Farmhouse most of the key people are here already anyway. My assistant and I often end up wrangling groomsmen into the right place at the right time. It can be a little like herding cats 😉 Bridesmaids tend to be easier! It’s all good fun and adds to the atmosphere of the day!

Ceremony on lawn at Sussex wedding venue
Ceremony on the lawn by the pond at Great Betley Farmhouse

Length of ceremony

A religious ceremony can take from 60 to 90 minutes. Other ceremonies anything from 20 to 45 minutes. Talk to your officiant to get a more accurate idea.

Post Ceremony Photographs

If you’re having photos and the confetti shot you’ll need to get advice from your photographer on how long to allow. Designate someone who knows your family to help get the right people in the right place at the right time!

Getting from ceremony to reception venue

If you’re not having everything at the same location, factor this in.

Receiving Line

This may be considered to be fairly unnecessary these days, but if you’re having one then allow enough time for this. If you’re having a Master of Ceremonies to announce your guests they will be able to advise on times.

Drinks and Canapés

Generally somewhere between and hour and two. It’s a nice informal time to mingle with your guests. If you’re going to go off and have some photos done whilst your guests are mingling, ensure there is plenty of nibbles and drink.

Main Photographs

Discuss in advance with your tog which shots are essential to you. Even the most relaxed weddings here have essential shots. If your tog has a sheet of these then it makes their life easier, and timings can be advised.

Try not to let the photography run on too long as guests will get bored.

Consider having a pre-wedding shoot at your venue to get comfortable with being in front of the camera. It also gives you an opportunity to decide with your photographer where the best places are for shots.

Reception Seating

Allow about 30 minutes for everyone to find their seats if you’re having a formal seating arrangement. Even if you’re having food trucks and informal seating a system is needed to avoid overwhelm at the trucks. People could grab a seat and then go up table by table to be served.


Some speeches can drag on a bit – especially if they’re not amusing! To help with your wedding day timings talk to anyone who is giving a speach and allocated them a time limit. I would suggest that 10 minutes is plenty per person, less if you’re having more than 3 or 4 speeches. Traditionally the speeches are after the wedding breakfast but you might choose to tweak this. If someone is nervous about giving a speech it’s sometimes good to get them out of the way early. That way they can relax and enjoy the rest of the day!

Whatever your plan for the speeches, make sure that your caterers are aware of it. And don’t change things last minute if you can possibly help it. It can really throw the caterers timings off and potentially spoil a dish.

Wedding Breakfast

If you’re having a sit down served meal then talk to your caterers for advise on how long it will take. They are the experts and know how long to allow. Generally 2-3 hours for a three course meal.

If you’re having food trucks you’ll need to know how much time they need. This will of course depend on what they’re serving.

Cutting the Cake

Just after the speeches, or you might want to have the cake(s) instead of desserts. This doesn’t take much longer than 5 minutes generally.

Bouquet Toss

If you’re tossing a bouquet then you probably want to make sure that the photographer is still on site.

First Dance

Again, you’ll probably want to get your photographer to get some shots of it, so make sure they’re still present.

Keep an eye out for the next post on actually putting together your wedding day schedule.


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Happy Planning!

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