WEDDING DAY TIMELINE
There are basically two ways to work a wedding timeline. Both are great. There are just trade offs with each scenario. I thought I would present both options in a blog post, so that brides can see the pros/cons of each and also some additional tips on how much time to leave for various things (dinner, plated versus buffet, etc).
In the USA, the most common outline for the day is roughly as follows:
-Bride gets ready, 4:00 ceremony, 5:00 cocktails (family, wedding party & bride/groom photos during cocktail hour), 6:00 dinner.
Photographers in the States are huge advocates of what is called a “first look”. This is when the bride & groom opt to see each other before their ceremony, in a special setting (with just the photog and her zoom lens capturing the moment). This is typically done a few hours before the ceremony, and all of the formal/posed photos follow. This “first look” allows all of the formal photos to be done before the ceremony even begins, thus allowing the bride & groom to enjoy their cocktails, allows the photographer more time to capture room decor & cocktail hour mingling, and keeps things running smoothly & back to back.
In Canada, things are done differently. Typically.
The most common time for couples to get married is 1:00pm.
Thus the timeline for your typical Canadian wedding is as follows:
Getting ready, Ceremony 1:00-2:00, receiving line 2:00-2:45, Pictures (family, wedding party, bride/groom) 3:00-5:30, Cocktail hour for guests 5:00-6:00, Dinner & reception 6:00.
This is a lovely way to do things, and what is expected. The conof this timeline is that it leaves guests with ALOT of time to kill. They have to find something to do from approx 2:30-5:00 (when cocktail hour starts). This can be troublesome for guests who don’t have a home or hotel nearby. I know a lot of mothers of the bride/groom open their home for snacks & lounging, but it really does make for a long day for some of the guests. The pro is, the groom’s first look of his bride was of her walking up the aisle. There is something lovely about how traditional that is. It is a special moment!
This summer, we have had quite a few brides with TONS of out of town guests (and out of country guests!). Being sensitive to their guests needs, they have opted for the following “first look” timeline.
Getting ready, 1:00-3:30 photos, 4:00-4:45 wedding, 5:00-6:00 cocktail hour, 6:00 dinner & reception. The beauty of this timeline is that everyting is back-to-back for their guests. There is no time that needs to be killed…..no guests waiting…they are entertained the entire time. The negative? The groom must see the bride ahead of time in a “first look” instead of as she walks up the aisle at the ceremony.
There is no right or wrong way to do things & I think it is a very personal choice for each bride. I just wanted to explain timeline logistics and present both options to our Eternal Reflections brides. We are with you all day, so the order of things does not matter to us. We just want you to love your day!
Some other things to consider:
In terms of dinner, if you dinner is plated, you can generally expect at least 1 & 1/2 – 2 1/2 hours for dinner service. 2.5 hours if your wedding is large.
If you have a buffet, dinner will last approx on average 60 minutes (again depending on the size of your wedding). To keep your buffet lines from being jammed, and to get people through the line as efficiently as possible, ensure that your reception venue/caterer sets up two identical tables with access to both sides of it, so that people can walk along BOTH sides of it, thus getting 4x the amount of people through the lines at a time! I saw a large wedding (250 people) get through the line up & fed in 40 minutes this way.
- Don’t have your reception timeline with too many “breaks”. I often, often, often see guests leaving because they are frusturated that the dance is not getting underway. If you have too many breaks in your reception, people get antsy and bored. Also, not everyone there knows a lot of other people (to mingle with), so people from work (for example) may not have many people to kill time with…..visit with while waiting for the dance to start.
I hope this helps you with your wedding timeline. If you have any questions for your Edmonton, Victoria, Vancouver or Destination wedding timeline, just let us know! We are happy to answer questions!