I was asked at a client consultation the other day about "what should a wedding timeline look like?" Having talked to many different couples about their weddings before this question was asked it never really dawned on me that some people might not know what a common wedding timeline looks like. However, most people who are getting married are doing it for the first time and so won't be familiar with how to go about planning the big day out and why should they?
So, I thought that that is what I'd do here. But first I'd like to say that this is a basic template, after all your wedding is just that, YOUR wedding. The timeline can look however you want it, but hopefully this will give you some grounding.
1) 11.00am - Preparations
This is where the bride and groom get ready separately. Usually the groom will be getting ready at his or his parents house and the bride will be getting ready at the venue. The bride will be with her bridesmaids and the groom with his groomsmen. If you've booked a full day wedding photography package the photographer will more than likely be taking photos of the bridal preparations, and if you have booked a second photographer they'll more than likely be shooting the groom prep.
2) 1.00pm/2.00pm - The ceremony
There is no set time for the ceremony to begin but the groom will arrive first, usually a few minutes before the guest have arrived and welcome them. He will then make his way to the front of the ceremony room and wait for the bride to arrive. When the bride does arrive, she is usually preceded by her bridesmaids and then escorted down the aisle by her father (or whoever is giving her away). You now get marrrrrrrried!!
3) 3.00pm - Cocktail hour
This is an hour to hour and a half where your guests can mingle and catch up before the reception. They will also make a huge fuss of the bride and groom no doubt as they will all be massively pleased for you. It is during this time that your photographer will take you away for 20 minutes or so to have your couple portraits taken. This is also a nice time to just spend with each other.
4) 4.30pm - Reception
Dinner is served. During this time the speeches will also take place. Whether they happen before or after the meal is entirely up to you. Your photographer will also go out and grab a bite to eat (but not during the speeches, I definitely wouldn't want to miss the look on the grooms face when the best man is giving his).
5) 7.20pm - Cutting the cake
Need I say more...It's cake time!!
6) 7.30pm - First dance
Your live band or dj will set up after you've finished eating, so if you are having your party in the same room as your reception the tables and chairs will be removed, meaning that your guests will probably have another hour or so to stand around and mingle. However, once it is all setup it's time for your first dance, sometimes this only lasts for 30 seconds and other times it last for several minutes. This all depends on how comfortable you both feel dancing in front of people when all eyes are on you. If you do feel uncomfortable then motion for others to come and join you.
7) Midnight - Everyone goes home
Most venues only have a licence to host an event until midnight (a definite question to ask your venue). So at midnight the bar stops serving, the dj or band stop playing and it's time for everyone to go home and for you to make your way up to the bridal suite.
This is just an outline though, your wedding timeline can look however you want it to. If you want to have a sparkler exit then go and do it, if you want to cut your cake after the first dance then do it, if you want your ceremony at 4pm then do it, as long as the two of you are happy that's the most important thing.