Something a lot of brides don’t think about until quite late, is the timing of their wedding day. There are some important questions to answer. How early do you want your ceremony to take place? When do you want to arrive at your reception? How long do you need for photos? These questions should really be thought about and a rough timing plan made before sending out your invitations; this will ensure you have the most suitable times listed for ceremony and reception start times.
To help you determine the times for your ceremony and reception, the first person to chat to should be your wedding co-ordinator, or the venue’s event planner. You can’t just pull times out of a hat, there are many factors to consider. You can work backwards – find out if your venue has a curfew for noise or music, and what time the event has to conclude. You’ll want to allow yourself at least 1-2 hours for dancing and catching up with all your guests, up to an hour for speeches and formalities like cutting the cake, and 1-2 hours for food. Working backwards from the reception curfew, and in liaison with your wedding coordinator, allocate time to these elements to come up with your ideal reception start time.
A second factor to consider is how much time your photographer recommends, particularly for your bridal party photo tour and how many photographic locations you wish to visit. Again work backwards, from your ideal reception start time allowing ample time for photos and half an hour for your ceremony, to come up with the perfect ceremony start time.
Before setting these times in stone (or in writing 🙂 ), there are a few other factors to consider;
Should you wish to get sunset photos, you’ll have to work out what time the sun is forecast to set on your wedding day. You can find sun set times for many years in advance from Willy Weather. You’ll have to work out if you have enough time to get your sunset photos, and get to your reception in plenty of time. One idea to get the best of both worlds is to arrive back at your venue before sunset and get your sunset photos at your venue.
If your arrival is going to be quite late, you might like to keep your guests entertained with music, while enjoying canapes and drinks as they wait for your grand entrance.
Do you like the idea of a morning ceremony? Remember you will need at least 3 hours for hair, make-up and getting ready, depending on the numbers in your bridal party, so don’t plan on a 10am ceremony unless you are an early riser!
If you are having a beachfront ceremony or reception, you will also need to take the tide times into consideration. Each location is different, but some work best at low tide, others at high tide. Ask your wedding co-ordinator or venue for guidance about the best tide position at your selected location, and how the tides will affect the timing of your wedding day.
Finally, it’s your special day, so think about what is most important to you. Talk to your photographer, your wedding planner or venue, and unite all of this information to finalise a ceremony and reception time that suits you well.
And don’t forget to invite guests to arrive half an hour before your ceremony arrival, and plenty of time before the reception grand entrance, to ensure no late arrivals!