We see a lot of questions from B2Bs asking about the running order of their wedding day and what to do when. So we’ve created a little cheat sheet to help.
The first thing to remember is that it is YOUR day, and you can choose to do things anyway you want!
You do need to consider your guests and how you are going to manage them at various points of the day.
Next think about your locations or venue(s) and what restrictions that may place on your planning.
And the final thing to remember is that there aren’t actually any hard and fast rules because weddings are so varied in different countries and cultures. You can take whatever traditions or trends you want and turn them into your perfect day.
Although none of that helps if you don’t know where to start, so here goes.
One of the most important factors to consider with your planning is the time of day (and time of year), that you choose for your ceremony and reception.
If you want a sunset wedding then you need to check what time sunset will be at the venue on that date and what direction it is in, especially if you want to incorporate sunset into your photos. The second thing to consider is that the best light is actually about 15 minutes after the sun has gone down so do you want that to be in the middle of the ceremony or be finished so that your photographer can make the most of that light for your location photos? A sunset wedding will also limit the amount of time you have for other location photos, and whilst twilight light can be wonderful, you won’t have those stunning romantic, sun-kissed images of you and your newly betrothed.
Keep in mind too that many ceremony venues, especially churches, will restrict the timings of ceremonies and may have multiple weddings per day in the wedding peak seasons.
If you are choosing one location for both your ceremony and reception you will save time travelling, especially if you are able to get ready there as well.
So what time should you start the reception? A lot will depend of the packages the venue offer and your budget. Most receptions start with an hour of pre-dinner drinks and nibbles that helps keeps guest occupied whilst you get those all important bridal photos. A professional photographer will have you back to the reception venue at least 15 minutes before your official entrance to ensure you can freshen up. Once you are seated then it is time for the reception formalities to begin. The order of these is very much at your discretion , but again, needs to be negotiated with the venue and other suppliers. Depending on your photography package you may elect for a mock cutting of the cake (sometimes real if using the cake for dessert), and a quick spin around the dance floor can be staged before entrée is served. Depending on the time of sunset and the venue’s kitchen timing, there may be time for sunset or twilight photos between entrée and the main meal.
Once main is cleared it’s usually time to get into the speeches with your MC starting things off with a toast to the Bridal couple – this traditionally was the duty of the host (usually the Bride’s father), but now often changed with modern weddings. Modern etiquette is to have the Best Man go first, toasting the Bridesmaids, before the Matron-of-Honour takes over with a toast to the Bridal couple. The Bride and Groom will then respond, often together, thanking their friends and family and toasting their parents or significant family member before the parents of the Bride and Groom are invited to respond. The Groomsmen, sometimes with the Bridesmaids, round out a modern set of speeches with messages and telegrams.
Depending on the nature of desert, this may be served after the speeches or more informally once all the official activities are complete. The real cutting of the cake normally takes place after the speeches and the bridal waltz or first dance is usually announced immediately proceeding it, with the Bride and Groom allowed the first 90 seconds of the song by themselves on the dance floor before being joined by the rest of the bridal party, and then remaining guests after a further minute or so. Dancers should stay on the floor until the second song is complete, with the third song often being reserved for a Father/Daughter dance. This is considered the end of the formal part of the day and it is usual for elderly guests, or those with young children, to leave after this point. The bouquet toss (and garter if required), usually happen just before the end of the reception and the DJ or band lead singer will often control this part of the night.
There are so many variables on your wedding that it is important to talk to your wedding suppliers. They have done this many times, and will advice on what they have seen works well.
Of course all of this can change, and frequently does on the day, but if you have a plan it’s easy to work around and make adjustments.
Most importantly though, enjoy your day because it will go so fast!