Wedding Day Sign

How to Structure Your Wedding Day

Every wedding will be different so your wedding day timeline will be completely personal to you. However, there a few key things you can think about to help make your wedding day flow perfectly. Every wedding planner will recommend you start from the end of the day and work backwards. They do this to ensure you have allowed enough time to enjoy everything you have planned. I would recommend you create a basic structure and go back through with the finer details.


What is your kick-out time? Or when does the music have to end? Usually this is anytime between 11pm-1am. Some venues might be earlier, some might be later, so make a note of this time and mark it as the close of the wedding. Working backwards from this point will make it much easier to allocate time accordingly. For ease, let’s say carriages are at midnight.

Evening Reception

How long do you have the DJ or band booked for? If your DJ will play for 5 hours, you would look at a start time of 7pm. The band on the other hand, might be your final showstopper so 10pm-midnight would be appropriate with the DJ scheduled around their performance.

Wedding Breakfast

The time it takes to feed your guests will be completely down to the number of guests invited, the type of service and the number of courses you have planned. Larger guest numbers and the more courses to be served, the longer it will take. Whereas, smaller numbers and single course servings will take half the time. When it comes to eating and speeches, I would allow for approx 2.5 hours based on 80-120 guests. Plus an hour or so window following that for people to relax and digest. We all know that feeling after eating a big meal. The last thing you want to do is get up dancing.

Drinks Reception

The drinks reception is the time after the ceremony for people to mingle and grab a drink. It’s the perfect opportunity for couples to get photos taken and to finally greet their guests after the ceremony. Conversation flows heavily here, so there is no need to rush this stage. Typically I would allow a minimum of 1.5 hours but longer is preferred as the time will just fly so quickly!


Ceremonies usually last about 30 minutes and you might give 30 minutes before to allow guests to be seated. Considering the location of the ceremony is very important. If your ceremony is offsite, it will take a lot longer to get your guests to the drinks reception. You will also need to think about the journey and any possible traffic delays. If your ceremony is offsite I would consider the drive time, and work backwards from the drinks reception start time. I would then allow approximately 30 minutes after the ceremony and 30 minutes before the ceremony to give your guests arrival time to the wedding.

Getting Ready

The bridal party will likely take the longest to get ready. You will want to think about the number of people in the wedding party getting their hair and make up done and how long it will take to do each person. Your hair and make up artist will be able to help with the coordination of this. You might also want to allow a minimum of 1 hour to get the wedding dress on and get any pre ceremony snaps with the photographer. You will also need to factor in the drive time if you are getting ready off-site.

Finer Details

With the basic structure in place, you can go through your timeline and add any key details to your day. The confetti throwing, bouquet toss, cake cutting, speeches and first dance. There are moments in the timeline which follow tradition, but if you are feel a little unconventional, you can add these traditions in as you please. Speeches can sometimes take a long time. 5 minutes per person will suffice. Often this is scheduled just before dessert which should fit in nicely with the wedding breakfast time slot, but if you feel they might be longer, bump your times back by half an hour.

Sample Structure

7am Hair and Make up

12pm Wedding dress and photos

1pm Guest Arrival

1.30pm Ceremony

2pm Drinks reception

4pm Wedding Breakfast

7pm Evening reception

12am Carriages

There you are – a basic run-through of a wedding day. You might even find that the times go completely out the window after the wedding breakfast is served. What’s important to remember is that it’s ok! A wedding structure should be for guidance and doesn’t have to be followed by the book. If you are struggling to make a clear plan for the day, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me where I will run through your plans in detail and suggest the best way to structure your day.

Photo credits: Concept, Styling & Coordination – Kept Weddings with Laura, Photographer – Melanie Barnfield Photography, Venue – Polhawn Fort, Videographer – Luna Media Video, Hair Stylist – Bridal Hair by Rhian , Cake Artist – Claire’s Sweet Temptations, Make-up Artist – Lashed by Nat, Wedding Dress – Amica Bridal Boutique, Jewellery & Wedding Rings – Isabella Day Goldsmith, Bridal Bouquet – Flower La Vita, Stationery – Kept Weddings with Laura

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