“I’m Late, I’m Late for a very important date!”
The white rabbit comes to mind when trying to figure out wedding timelines, constantly running around with a pocket watch in a panic, but it really needn’t be that way. We can help guide you to your picture-perfect wonderland, panic free.
When newly engaged you can feel an overwhelming urge to plan everything all at once and take big chunks out of your wedding planning journey. My advice would be to take your time, your wedding planning should be an enjoyable journey, not a task.
Firstly, you will want to break down your big-ticket items eg. Venue, Food, Drink, Photographer, Dress/Suits, Florists, Entertainment. Try and space these out into manageable chunks. Set time aside each month to look at one of those items, ideally together.
In time scale order you will want to look at your venue first. This will have the biggest impact on budget and the overall feel of your day- and dates will book up quickly. Low season tends to be December through till spring. Peak season will be spring till late summer and mid-season runs from end of summer through autumn/early winter.
You will then want to book your “individual suppliers”, registrars, photographers, hair and makeup. These one-man bands will be snapped up due to the fact they can only do a certain number of weddings a year.
You can then plug in the other items across your planning journey as to how important it is to you and your budget. My advice, make sure you plan your dress/bridesmaids’ dresses with enough time to have multiple fittings/alterations if needed. Alterations can take much longer than expected.
Timings on the day. These are a lot more straightforward than you would expect, and as a general rule most weddings will tend to follow this pattern/timeline.
Always make sure you are fully ready at least an hour + before your ceremony. This leaves time for pictures, to calm last minute nerves and to have your interviews with your registrar if needs be. You don’t want to feel rushed at this point.
Guest arrival: I would always advise putting your ceremony time on the invites as well as an arrival time. Guests will tend to arrive up to an hour before your ceremony.
Ceremony: Most registrar/celebrant led ceremonies will last approximately half an hour in length. This is even if you have a few readings or a poem or two from friends.
Drinks Reception: This is the point after your ceremony where you potentially have some canapés and drinks before you sit down for your wedding breakfast. Most drinks receptions are around an hour and a half in length. My advice would be to always have a “shot list” for your photographer of those photos that you know you really want; it helps structure your drinks reception. I would always advise on making sure you allocate enough time to be with your guests too, we don’t want you to miss out on anything on your big day! Something you might want to consider is building in an extra allocation of time over the 1.5 hours if you know you want a big confetti shot or lots and lots of group photos. During your drinks reception Ross and Ross Events will make sure you have a little moment alone as a married couple, where we will make sure you have a drink and a good selection of all your canapés!
Call for Dinner: This is an important part that sometimes can be overlooked. We would recommend allowing half an hour to allow your guests to take their seats for your wedding breakfast. Longer if you would like a traditional receiving line. Giving your guests this half hour allows them last minute trips to the bathroom, to find their name on the table plan and get comfortable at their table. It also allows you as the couple to have an extra 15-20 minutes on your own, either for a few more private portraits or just a moment alone.
Dinner Service: For a standard three course meal you are looking at approximately two hours for your wedding breakfast. That includes all service and clearing. Do think about the style of menu and service when thinking about your order of the day- for instance sharing courses can often take just as long as a plated meal, fully poured wine services or tea and coffee served to the tables will also add on time to the meal.
Speeches: To have the traditional three speeches we would allow half an hour additional to your wedding breakfast. Often clients like to break these up between courses, of course it completely depends on you and your guests speaking. There is no uniform way to handle speeches any more, and we are seeing a lovely number of bridal parties, mums and brides making a toast these days. One thing I would say is, you only need one toast measure. Topping up for every speech is unnecessary, will add time to your service and will prove wasteful. Please also avoid putting speeches directly before your main course, as this is a crucial service point for chefs and we want to minimise the risk of any delays.
Room Turn Around: Depending on your venue you may have to vacate the dining area to make way for the evening entertainment for your wedding day. Make sure to talk to the team involved for an estimation as to how long clearing excess tables and chairs will take. Once a room has emptied of guests a wedding of 100 people will take an average of 20 mins to clear.
Evening Entertainment set up and sound check: When booking evening entertainment, it’s often easy to overlook the logistics of setting up and sound checking. Unfortunately, it isn’t as simple as getting the party started straight after dinner. Set ups vary according to equipment needed and members of the group. It’s worth talking through logistics of this with your venue and your entertainment as one conversation; “can equipment be pre-set? How long do you need to bring equipment in? How long is the average sound check?”. Making sure to leave adequate time for suppliers to be in comfortable and in position before you dance the night away.
Evening Food: Everyone loves a late night snack , and after a few drinks and a bit of dancing – it’s ideal to refuel your guests. We would suggest evening food being served in the break of your evening band or after an hour and a half / two hours of a DJ. We want to refuel guests, not slow them down. So make sure your evening food is available for at least an hour. Here at Ross and Ross we like to circulate your dance food to all the nooks and crannies of your chosen venue, meaning guests don’t have to stop what they are doing to seek out a snack.
Bar provisions: Make sure you chat through last orders with your Bar team. If Ross and Ross Events are supplying your bar provisions, we like to make sure last orders are given around half an hour before your guests are set to leave the building. This isn’t an immediate cut off. It’s a tapered half hour where we make sure everyone has what they need and are ready and set for that big last song on the dance floor.
That should be a nice round off of your days timings. Please remember that although we are primarily caterers, we are all round events professionals too. Depending on your chosen venue we will act as your event manager for the day to varying degrees.
Do email us, or phone us with your timing questions, we are always here to lend a hand and flesh out logistics.
By Vix – Lead Event Manager