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How to build your wedding day timeline...

Updated: Jun 14

You've chosen your menu, booked your photographer, you might have even finalised your flowers; but what's your wedding day actually going to look like? Often, the inner workings of a wedding day can be a daunting prospect, especially when you have an entire cohort of guests to consider and (ideally) want to find that sweet spot between a chaotic rush and a wedding day that doesn't flow seamlessly. To give you a starting point, I've pulled up a 'typical' wedding day timeline from the archives and added in some essential tips, to show you that it doesn't need to be a nightmare.

If you want even more support, you can sign up to Foil's monthly newsletter here and every quarter receive an exclusive downloadable straight from my own planning files; when it comes to the logistics of a wedding day - we've got you covered!

My top tips for building your wedding schedule

Before we dive in, I want to remind you that your wedding day timeline can look very different to this, if you want it to! Whether it's food truck service instead of a formal 'meal', speeches throughout the day, live music, zero family photos and more, there is no rulebook for how a wedding day should run. If you're looking for more comprehensive guidance on making sure your day goes perfectly, you can take advantage of a 'Plan' session with Foil, where we deep-dive into your plans and build a wedding day timeline that's perfect for you. Otherwise, below you'll find my best advice for building your timeline as well as a sample schedule to start from!

Wedding Timeline focus: Guest arrival + The ceremony

30-60 minutes (depending on drinks)

If you are opting for a celebrant-led or non-legal wedding ceremony, you could consider offering your guests a welcome drink. This can be a great opportunity for the half of your couples that is on-site first to mingle, calm some nerves and kick the day off in a more relaxed style. If that isn't your thing (or isn't an option) then 30 minutes beforehand is a good window to aim for. Remember; guests are ALWAYS earlier than it says on the invite anyway!

Wedding Timeline Focus: Photographs + Guest transport

30-40 minutes

Thinking you'll just whizz down the aisle, take a quick confetti shot and hop aboard? Pop along to your local farm, round up 100 chickens, make them all stand still for a group shot, attempt to get them onto a double decker bus.

ANYTHING involving your beautiful wedding guests will take twice as long as you think, so rather than stressing out, just allocate double the time - remember also, the more portraits you choose to have, the more family members you must source from the loo/ having a cheeky smoke/ prematurely boarding said bus.

Wedding Timeline fOcUs: Reception drinks + Canapés

1- 1.5 hours

Probably the most delicate of balances to strike - wedding receptions should be long enough for everyone to take a breather, have a glass or two of bubbles and try something tasty; but short enough to avoid casual nudity, heatstroke and people sneaking off for snacks. Factor in 15 minutes here for you both to sneak off, eat some of the canapés you paid for and have a couple of newlywed shots (photographic or alcoholic, I'll leave it to you).

Wedding Timeline Focus: The Meal (3 courses/ Family Style) + Speeches

Meal: 1 Hour 45 Minutes (including service and clear up)

Speeches: Who knows...

Top Tip: Don't intersperse speeches between courses. There, I've said it, controversial I know but remember the chicken analogy? Now these chickens have had some booze, are feeling emotional and realise this is their moment to shine. In the build up to giving a speech every single person will say 'I'll keep it short, I'm too nervous, it'll be maximum 5 minutes' and then, half a bottle of Bolly later and they are ready. to. go. There's nothing quite as painful as listening to a funny, heartfelt speech whilst also watching mountains of delicious hot food slowly go cold....

Allocate roughly 20 minutes for your starter, 40 minutes for the main and another 20 for the dessert and you'll be flying.

Wedding Timeline Focus: Everything Else

The evening can be a lot more flexible, plus it gives you a chance to catch up on any run-overs from the meal / the surprise singalong Uncle Martin kicked off and so on.... Here are a couple of closing top tips from me to you:

Cake Cutting

If you're wanting to serve it as dessert, do this during your drinks reception - it gives your caterer plenty of time to get it chilled and cut. If you want it for a late-night snack, do it just before your first dance!


Always need a break (they aren't machines!) so make sure you've got some playlists ready to go for in-between (or check that they're happy to provide one). Normally 15 minutes per 45 minute set will do the trick.

Late Night Food

If your wedding guests have just spent the best part of 2 hours eating, they are NOT going to be hungry for at least another few hours (plus, they'll want to focus on throwing some shapes). Meal finished around 7? Aim off for snacks around 9/9:30pm - This also is a great way to sober people up and treat any evening guests who have joined the fun.

An example wedding day schedule:

1:30pm Guest arrival

2pm Wedding Ceremony start time

2:30pm Ceremony finish + confetti toss

3:15pm Reception starts including family portraits

4:45pm Call to dinner

5:00pm Dinner starts

7:00pm Dinner finishes - Wedding Speeches begin

7:30pm Cake Cut

8:00pm First Dance + Evening guest arrival

9:00pm Late night food (and cake) service

11:30pm Bar closes

00:00am Carriages

If you've started to pull together your wedding day timeline, but want to be sure you've got someone on-hand to make sure it's stuck to(!) Why not take a step back and hand it all over to team Foil. We've been delivering weddings for over 7 years and know a thing or two about wedding timeline management, so check out our wedding planning services here to find out more.

Happy Planning,

Kate x


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