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Crafting the Perfect Wedding Day Schedule

Nobody wants to watch the clock on their wedding day. It's your big moment and you should focus on enjoying every minute – not counting every second.

But that's precisely why a wedding day schedule is so important. If you plan ahead and sketch out a rough timeline, you'll ensure that everyone – bride, groom, guests and staff – knows their cue. This means fewer timing headaches and more chances to relax, enjoy the moment and soak up the good vibes.

Not sure where to start? We've got you covered. Here's a wedding day schedule template you can use to map out your own big day.

First things first…
First things first…

Most weddings in the UK happen in the early afternoon, so we've used 14:00 as a kick-off time for the ceremony. If yours is scheduled for 13:00 or 15:00, simply move the timings back or forward to suit. If you're planning an evening or early morning ceremony, however, you'll need to make some more drastic adjustments.

We've also assumed the wedding and reception will happen in the same venue. Be sure to allow for travel time if you plan to use two venues.

And finally, bear in mind that we've used terms like 'bride' and 'groom' throughout. However, much of our advice still applies if you're planning a same-gender ceremony.

Morning schedule: getting ready
Morning schedule: getting ready

In most traditional weddings, the bride is still the centre of attention – followed closely by her bridesmaids (sorry, groom).

With this in mind, you should allow plenty of time in your wedding day schedule for hair, makeup and a hearty breakfast. And don't forget bridal party photos. These usually take 45 minutes to an hour.


8:00 – Breakfast and showers.

10:00 – Bridesmaids get their hair and makeup done. Photographer arrives.

11:00 – Bride gets hair and makeup done. Preparations begin at the venue.

12:00 – Bride gets dressed. Bridesmaids have photos taken.

12:35 – Bridal party photos. Pre-ceremony snacks and drinks.


Things to keep in mind
  • How many bridesmaids do you have? If you've got a large bridal party, you'll need more time to get ready – and perhaps more makeup artists.
  • Where are you getting ready? Make sure you factor in travel time if you're sprucing up in a salon or at home. And if you're getting ready at the venue, be sure to check when the room is available.
Early afternoon: guests arrive and the ceremony starts
Early afternoon: guests arrive and the ceremony starts

Allow around 40 minutes for guests to assemble before the ceremony begins. Usually, the groom and his ushers arrive first, followed by guests and the bridal party.

And, of course, your wedding day schedule has to leave room for the ceremony. It's your big moment, after all.

How long will the ceremony take? That depends. Non-religious ceremonies usually last for 20 to 30 minutes. Religious ceremonies can stretch to an hour or more.


13:20 – Groom, best man and ushers arrive.

13:30 – Guests begin to arrive.

13:45 – Bridal party arrives.

14:00 – Ceremony starts.

14:35 – Ceremony ends and confetti shots are taken. Bride and groom leave for photos.


Things to keep in mind
  • Start times are flexible. It's rare for a wedding ceremony to begin precisely at the scheduled time. Don't worry if there's a short delay – it gives guests a little more time to mingle and get their bearings.
Late afternoon to evening: photos and the wedding breakfast
Late afternoon to evening: photos and the wedding breakfast

The ceremony is over. Your nerves have calmed and you're probably floating on a cloud of matrimonial satisfaction.

But don't drift away just yet. You've still got some of the most important parts of your wedding day schedule to go – including wedding party photos, speeches and the cake-cutting ceremony.


15:15 – Wedding breakfast begins. Drinks are served.

15:40 – Photos are taken of the wedding party.

17:00 – Dinner is served. Speeches are performed.

19:20 – Cake is cut.


Things to keep in mind
  • What kind of food are you serving? A three-course meal will take longer than a quick dinner-and-desert combo. Of course, the number of guests will have an impact too.
  • Keep speeches short. Set a time limit of 10 minutes or so. This way, nobody gets bored and your wedding day schedule will tick along nicely.
  • Allow 45 minutes to an hour for photographs. If you want to save a little time, you could ask your photographer to take family snaps before the ceremony.
Evening schedule: first dance and finger food
Evening schedule: first dance and finger food

At around 20:00, evening guests should start to arrive for drinks and dancing. Make sure you leave plenty of time for day guests to say their goodbyes and for staff to get the room ready.

This might be a good time for a costume change, too, in case you fancy slipping into something more comfortable.


20:00 – Evening guests arrive.

20:30 – First dance.

20:45 – DJ or band.

22:15 – Buffet is served.

Midnight – End.


Things to keep in mind

All good things must come to an end. It's a good idea to set a 'carriage time' in advance. This way, everyone knows when they're expected to leave and staff can start making preparations to clean up and close down.

Wedding day schedule: tips and considerations
Wedding day schedule: tips and considerations
  • Don't fret about time: your wedding day schedule is just a guide, so don't worry if things overrun by 10 minutes here or there.
  • Remember the weather: make sure you've allowed time for unexpected hiccups or sudden torrential downpours.
  • Keep refreshments flowing, but serve lighter drinks early on so guests aren't sozzled by the time they hit the dance floor.
  • Match your playlist to your schedule: you don't want your background music to drop out halfway through dinner, after all.
Still looking for a venue?
Still looking for a venue?

Choosing a venue might be the most important decision you make while planning a wedding. After all, you can't draw up a wedding day schedule without knowing where your guests and garlands should go. 

If you're still undecided, why not consider Court Colman Manor?

Our hotel is set within a Georgian country mansion, surrounded by acres of gorgeous gardens and rolling Welsh countryside. If you want a rural wedding with a touch of traditional grandeur, it's about as perfect as a venue can get.

It's peaceful and secluded here – but we're far from remote. Court Colman is just a short hop from Bridgend and around 40 minutes away from Cardiff and Swansea.

Plus, with our experienced in-house wedding coordinator and catering options, we have everything you need to make your big day even better. We can even help you plan your wedding day schedule, with a selection of customisable wedding packages available to whet your matrimonial appetite.

Happy planning! We hope to see you soon.