A wedding day is 24 hours like any other day. Except it’s the most exciting and busy day ever, so time seems to take on a different dimension. Think how fast that day at work went recently when you had mega deadlines and so much work to do that lunch came and went and you didn’t even realise. That’s what your wedding day will be like. Poof, time gone! Your mates tell you time will fly on your wedding day, and they’re not kidding. So plan your wedding day timeline carefully and you’ll be able to enjoy it thoroughly, rather than wondering why they’re turning on the lights and sweeping up when you’ve only just got started.
If you’re having a winter wedding, it’s even more important to plan carefully, as you’ll lose daylight as early as 4pm, so you’ll have a much smaller window for natural light photos. If you are having a late ceremony in winter I would recommend having portraits and group photos before the ceremony, and even having a lunch reception before the ceremony. Otherwise all the photos will be taken in artificial light, which isn’t nearly as beautiful as natural light. You also need to make sure your photographer knows how to work in low light.
If you’re at the beginning of wedding planning, here’s my guide to wedding day timelines to have the most relaxed and enjoyable day:
If possible, do something relaxing in the morning, from a relaxing massage or a nice warm bubble bath. Your hair and make up artist (if having one) can advise you as to when you should start getting ready – heads up, it’s usually much earlier than you expect!
The earlier you have the ceremony the better, so you can enjoy the day to the full! I’d say 1pm is the ideal time. However, with your ceremony taking place at lunchtime, you’ll have hungry guests, so a light lunch of sandwiches and cake with tea and/or prosecco is perfect. I recommend doing you cake cutting now instead of later, as drunk people don’t eat cake.
5pm is a great time for dinner, as people will be getting hungry again, plus it gives you a good few hours between the ceremony and dinner to relax, chat, eat, have photos done and take it all in. The time between the ceremony and dinner is the part of the day that a lot of couples don’t plan enough time for. You want to chat to everyone and enjoy the day yourselves as well, whether that’s playing the games you’ve set up, or enjoying a fancy cocktail or two, so make sure there’s plenty of time for that. Also, wedding venues like to call guests in half an hour before the stated dinner time (they hate serving late!) so you’ll need to factor this in.
After dinner is a good time for speeches – dinner is done, the caterers won’t be stressing about overrunning and your guests will actually be listening instead of thinking about food. Plan longer than you think for speeches – as much as the best man says he’s dreading doing a speech, once he’s up there and getting the laughs he’ll be lapping it up and ad-libbing anecdotes.
8pm is a good time to get the party started, although in the middle of summer it might be hard to get people dancing – people don’t like to dance in the daylight! In summer, let people mingle until a bit later, then get the party started when the light starts to fade.
Pizzas, mini burgers or cheese and crackers all go down well. Serve them around 9pm and everyone will be happy.
Try not to be the last to leave. When the lights go up, it’s not a pretty sight. Sparkler exits are a bad idea (drunk people plus fire = trouble) unless you’re not having a massively boozy wedding or not leaving too late. Organised fireworks are wonderful too. A lot of my couples quietly confide in me by around 9pm that they’re completely knackered and want to sneak off to bed, so maybe have a chill out area you can flop in.
THIS IS A GUEST FEATURE WRITTEN BY // Anna Pumer Photography
“Your wedding is about having a good time, being silly and spending time with your favourite people. You’re not interested in cheesy photos and standing for hours in a photography line-up when you could be larking about with your mates and stuffing cake in your face. My style is relaxed, fun and informal – perfect for anyone who thinks having their photo taken is the most awkward thing ever. I blend in as one of the guests, getting fun photos of everyone having a great time.
I’m based in Kent and shoot weddings all over the UK and Europe.”