The ultimate wedding day guideline

Wedding planning

Arragh!!!! You’ve woken up from a (probably fitful) sleep and it's your Wedding Day!!!

The first thing to do is take a deep breath – everything has been done. Today, regardless of planning, will be what it will be. Everyone will do their utmost to make it as special as possible for the two of you, and no matter what, at the end of the day, you will be a married couple. Woohoo!

This blog was intended to give you a timeline for the day. The more I looked into it, the greater the variety of wedding day schedules I came across, the more regimented it felt and the more confused I got!

So I have decided to take a different approach and instead of giving you times, I want to give you guidelines that, hopefully, will help you plan your own timeline, for your own special day.

But first and foremost – ENJOY xx

Organising your day

Whether you have a morning, afternoon or early evening ceremony, whether you have everything at the one venue or all over town, whether you are casual or formal, there are simply things you have to allow time for. So let's start with that…

  • Allow LOTS of time! 

    The hair and or makeup will take longer than you expected. The drive to and from salons, homes, golf courses, restaurants, will take longer than expected. The photographs will take longer than expected – if you allow extra time for all of these things, you will enjoy your day a whole lot more
  • You have given your Guests times for ceremony and reception – stick to those 

    There is nothing more disrespectful than guests arriving late to a ceremony or wedding parties leaving their guests and disappearing for hours on end having photographs done.
  • Organise the photographer
    The photographer needs to know What time you want them, Where you want them, and What and Who you want to be photographed – the all-important Lists!
  • EAT!
    This is a wonderful celebration and because of that, we are far more inclined to raise a glass than a sandwich! However – regardless of the time of day of your ceremony, this is a looong day. So plan a good breakfast and make sure there are plenty of tempting nibbles on hand throughout the day, whether you are primping or golfing!
  • DRINK! 

    And by this, I mean lots of water!
  • Lists!
    knowing everyone has theirs and knows what they are doing throughout the day will make everyone a lot more relaxed.
  • Work backwards 

    Your guests have been told the time of the ceremony so work your day backwards from there to give you a time frame. Know how long it will take to get to the ceremony, ask the photographer how much time you need to allow for photos before you depart, allow time for dressing (men usually 10 mins, girls a good 30 mins!) and how long it will take for hair and makeup, golf and travel. With time for meals added in, this then is your start time for the day.

So, generally, this is the order of the day.

Let's start with Brides

  • Breakfast!!
  • Shower and then hair and makeup
  • While you are being attended to, others are picking up flowers, cakes, Aunties from the airport
  • The ceremony site and reception are being set up
  • Lunch! (if you are marrying later)
  • The photographer arrives and The Final Touches photos are taken
  • Everyone gets dressed
  • Family photos
  • Everyone except the wedding party departs for the ceremony
  • The wedding party depart

Billie & Chris wedding day
Billie and her bridesmaids getting ready at Grand Mercure Nelson Monaco

And for Grooms

  • Breakfast!
  • Shower and shave (if appropriate!)
  • If you have plenty of time on your hands before the ceremony, try not to do last minute wedding-y things. You have other people for that, with their lists. Enjoy this moment and make sure you and your attendants have a leisurely activity planned, ideally with someone who can take a few photos
  • Lunch! (if you are marrying later)
  • Time to dress
  • Family photos
  • Leave in time to greet guests – ideally arriving at the venue a good 45 mins before the ceremony time
  • Line up and get ready to be wowed and vowed

Billie & Chris Wedding day
Chris and his groomsmen pre-wedding at Grand Mercure Nelson Monaco

The Ceremony and Reception

From here, you do need a real flow to the evening.  This is where your MC is so important.  At the start of the reception they announce the plan for the night along with some general housekeeping (ie where are the loos??? How does the bar work etc)  Below is a guide to how the rest of the day would usually unfold.  Again, adapt this to whatever style of wedding you have planned.

The Ceremony

The ceremony usually takes about 20 minutes but this can be longer if you are having a church service or including readings and music.

After the ceremony, traditionally the newlywed couple walk back down the aisle with their attendants in behind them and photos are taken of the whole party.

This is often now a time where everyone gathers for cocktails and catch ups. You may have canapé served, games to play or simply some beverages and photographs. Again, make sure your photographer has a full list of who you want to be included in photos. You will be too busy to remember anything from now!

Tip: If you are departing to have more formal photos taken elsewhere, do not linger too long at the cocktails. The longer you stay, the longer the guests are left to drink and wait for the reception. Ideally, you wouldn’t leave guests for more than an hour before it is time for them to arrive at the reception itself.

Billie & Chris Wedding ceremony
Billie and Chris had a beautiful ceremony on The Village Green at Grand Mercure Nelson Monaco

The Reception

  • Once the guests are at the reception venue, the wedding party should arrive within 30 minutes.  This gives guests time to find their tables, admire the beautiful settings, settle into their seats.
  • The MC announces the Wedding Party
  • Everyone takes their seats. The MC runs through the plan for the reception (as per above).
  • Entrees are served.  This ensures guests have food before the speeches and toasts start.
  • Once entrees are served, ideally, this is the time for speeches.  Set a time limit. Half an hour of speeches is enough for any wedding guest regardless of how entertaining they are. 
  • Mains are served
  • Once mains are cleared, the cake is cut and dessert is served
  • After dessert is cleared, coffee and cake are served and this is time for the First Dance (if you were brave enough to plan one!)  If not, now is usually the time for the music and dancing side of the event to start.
  • Your venue will have a finish time.  It is helpful if guests are aware of this, for last drinks and last dance.
  • The bridal couple leave (if you choose to leave first)
  • Everyone goes home happy

Billie and Chris held their reception in The Grand Marquee at Grand Mercure Nelson Monaco

Doesn’t it all sound so simple??
It does, if you know what you want and if you are organised. 
Now get planning, and remember – ENJOY!!


Get planning, download our wedding day checklist

Wedding day checklist