Complete Wedding Timeline for UK Weddings

YOUR PERFECTLY PLANNED WEDDING TIMELINE

 

Dear Bride and Groom, it’s time to start planning your wedding timeline for your big day!

It’s getting real!

We’re here to help you with the wedding planning process from the beginning until the end.  One of the main things to plan is your Wedding Timeline. It sounds like a big task but it’s the part where you get to dream how your entire day should look like.

These are our tips to make the most of your day.

In order to help you as much as possible, we have created three templates for you: an Excel Spreadsheet, a complete wedding timeline guide, the list of group shots we recommend you start with. All these are for you to download and adjust to your own event.

 

Firstly, there is a wedding timeline breakdown in the attachment image below, which you can save in your Pinterest folder, as well as another layout option at the end of this article.

Now, you can >>> DOWNLOAD FOR FREE OUR EXCEL SPREADSHEET <<< for both the bride and bridesmaids and the groom with groomsmen, on separate files.

YES, you can get that organized without even trying! Please note this applies mainly to UK weddings and you are free to change anything according to your own timeline.

 

The second guide we mentioned:

>>> A FREE TO DOWNLOAD Complete Wedding Timeline Guide <<<

It is basically the information you have below, in a PDF format, with links to take you to even more helpful resources. We truly tried to make things as simple and clear as possible and I hope we managed to do so with this guide. 

 

wedding timeline breakdown

 

GETTING READY

Groom

TIME NEEDED: 45 mins – 1 hr (does not including breakfast, meet-and-greet)

Generally, the groom will take 45 minutes to prepare at the house.

During this time, they all get ready and also give their groomsmen gifts he had prepared.

Before arriving at the church, it could be fun to stop off at the pub with the groomsmen. Then as the first people at the venue, the groomsmen can be the friendly greeters for early arrivals and a helpful last-minute preparation team.

Things to look out for in the morning:
– handing out wedding schedules
– chatting with the vicar or invigilator of the ceremony
– checking that the musicians are well set
– helping people find their seats.

grooms getting ready in the morning

Bride

TIME NEEDED:  3-4 hrs (this includes bridesmaids’ hair and make-up)

The bride alone will take about two hours to prepare. This does not include the bridesmaids/mother or anyone else joining in the morning.
Our advice: the bride should be last for her makeup,  to have the best chance of lasting through the day.

Like with any morning of the wedding day, emotions and nerves will be high, so it is easy to forget or miss a few things. In order to avoid this, you can prepare, far in advance, a wedding emergency kit.  You could hand this to either your mom or a bridesmaid to be in charge of, just in case you need anything from these things (and 99,99% is that you will).

Bridesmaids and Maid-of-Honour to-do list:

  1. Arrange refreshments or organize this with the venue
  2. Prepare a fun or relaxing playlist to get the day off to a beautiful start
  3. Make sure food and drinks are plentiful: water, herbal teas, fruits, and a bit of protein
  4. Plan for a toast before leaving for the church (great for a photo and can ease nerves)
  5. Write down the contact numbers of the photographer and important vendors
  6. Contact any vendor if there are any delays, without stressing out the bride!

 

Once the bride and bridesmaids are ready, it’s usually the best time to give the gifts to your bridesmaids, if you have any prepared.

 

FIRST LOOKS

TIME NEEDED: approx. 15 mins (includes some photos with the present family/friends)

This is an option for you and the groom, but not very common in the UK.
What’s more common in England is for the bride to have a first look with the father of the bride or a special person and bridesmaids. 

Great time for the photographer to be present.

Make sure the driver has a clear address of the location and that there are plenty of signs to help your guests find the church/venue easily.

CHURCH / ARRIVAL

TIME NEEDED: approx. 30 mins

Leave plenty of time to arrive but don’t worry if you’re 15 minutes late.
It’s fashionable for the bride to arrive a bit late so don’t panic if it happens. Your wedding timeline is good for reference but at this point in the day, it’s ok if things change slightly. 

 

CEREMONY

TIME NEEDED: 45 mins – 1 hr

This could, of course, be longer. Depending on your vicar’s suggestions and your religion, you should be advised how much time to leave for the ceremony.

The wedding ceremony typically  includes:

– The processional
– Introduction
– Readings
– Worship time
– Vows + rings exchange
– First kiss
– Legal ceremony (signing of marriage certificates)
– Final blessings
– The recessional

Please note this may not apply to all denominations, confessions, settings, cultures. Adjust your wedding timeline according to your celebrant’s suggestions.

wedding timeline always includes the vows of the bride and groom



How are you doing so far?

Are you feeling excited? Take a moment. Breathe. Look around. Take it in.
This is your day. These precious faces are here to celebrate you.



AFTER THE CEREMONY

TIME NEEDED: approx. 30 mins

It is nice to plan for around 20 – 30 minutes after the ceremony to greet all of the guests. These timings usually work well when you have about 100 to 150 people, so shift the timings accordingly.


Confetti

Now for planning the logistics of the famous confetti shot. Here is a detailed article for some alternative confetti ideas of what you could use.

Types of confetti:

Confetti bubbles

Biodegradable confetti petals

Tissue paper confetti

20 cm Confetti Shooter

Silver 40 cm Party Popper

Gold 40cm Party Popper

 

The confetti shot is best done in four different ways (at least, that is what we think!):

1. Everyone lines up in front of the venue (the courtyard, hall, church).
2. You ask only a few people to stay behind for the confetti shot after everyone else has left. This could include, for instance, your close family, bridesmaids, and groomsmen.
3. Have the confetti shot as you come down the aisle, after the ceremony. This works particularly well for outdoor ceremonies and it’s the most wonderful reaction from the couple.
4. Plan for the confetti shot at the reception. This means that all of your guests could line up and throw the confetti as you arrive at the venue.

Who knew there were so many options!

You’re not done quite yet. There are a few more key moments to consider for your wedding timeline. We’ll give you our best advice.


PRE-PARTY ( includes group shots + bridal portraits + canapés)

TOTAL TIME NEEDED: about 2 hrs

 

Group shots

TIME NEEDED: 20 – 30 mins

It is recommended to get the group shots done after the wedding ceremony. This can either be at the church if there is a lot of space or at the party venue.

A good rule of thumb is to have about 10 to 15 groups max. We know. It’s a lot of people.
Here is
the list of group shots we recommend considering.

>>  DOWNLOAD THIS FREE GROUP SHOTS LIST <<< to help you make your own list

 

group photos during a wedding

Bridal portraits

TIME NEEDED: 20-30 mins

You’ve spent a lot of time (and money) on looking that good! It’s also a great time to have a break with your -new- husband and take it all in, without having crowds of people around.

These are the portraits that you and your family will cherish for years to come, so we would advise you not to skip these.

Bridal portraits can be done somewhere on the way to the venue or at the venue. Just make sure there’s plenty of space to have some privacy and a beautiful location. If you choose the venue, then your guests will see you and will inevitably gather.

Don’t worry, your guests will be mingling, playing games and having canapés, waiting for you at the venue. Everyone expects you to be missing for a short while, so try to focus on you and your-now- husband!

Canapés + Games

TIME NEEDED: 45 mins – 1 hr

Once you’re done with bridal portraits, everyone will be waiting back for the reception.
Spend the rest of the time before the party mingling, playing
outdoor games, and eating canapés. After all, you know how delicious they are! Then get ready for the speeches and the sit-down dinner.


RECEPTION (includes speeches, cake cutting, party time, sparklers)

TOTAL TIME NEEDED: approx. 5-7 hrs but could be longer, depending on the venue

Speeches

TIME NEEDED: 30 mins

Even though it is your dream day, that dream includes a lot of humans with needs. That means that it’s usually good to keep it at three to five speeches and to serve some food and drink beforehand or in between.

A very important piece of advice from us here- even if you don’t have a videographer hired during the entire day (which is a shame), we’d highly recommend asking a friend to film the speeches. Use a GoPro or any camera will do. These are some of the most emotional moments of the day. You may want to have a memory of them.

father of the bride speeches during the reception as part of the wedding timeline

Our second piece of advice here: if the weather allows, block out 15 minutes during sunset for some beautiful bridal portraits. You get the famous golden light, with some sun rays gently falling on your face. It’s pretty magical and also quite rare in the UK, so don’t miss out on this if it actually happens!
It’s really important you have this mentioned in your wedding timeline, so your vendors are aware- especially the catering team. 

 

Cake Cutting

TIME NEEDED: 10 mins

One of the traditional moments during a wedding timeline is cake cutting. Depending on your wedding, this can also be done at church, for all your guests to witness, or straight at the reception.
Tip: Plan the cake cutting and first dance after the evening guests arrive, so they can assist some of the fun! Need some wedding cake-style inspiration?

bride and groom cake cutting as part of the wedding timeline

First dance

TIME NEEDED: about 10 mins

This is your time to shine. You can have a bride and groom first dance OR if you want to make everyone cry, have a father-daughter dance or a grandad-granddaughter dance.
It’s also the best time to do the bouquet toss if you wish (although it’s less and less popular here). The garter toss is also not really common anymore. Best left for the medieval times, when pieces of the bride’s attire were actually considered as a token of good luck.

 

Party time

TIME NEEDED: The rest of the evening

It is highly advised to have food options for the evening guests. Think, things like pulled pork, cheese platters, pizza, corn boils, you get it. Definitely have tea and coffee. You want to keep that dancing going long and strong (and keep those who are sitting nice and warm)!

Happy Endings

A word on entertainment and wonderful finishes: plan some live entertainment to get the guests mingling (you know what it’s like to show up solo to a party…) We’re thinking:  live bands, photo booths, and games. Nothing sends your guests home quicker than no wedding entertainment in the evening. We have tons of ideas for this part, so make sure you read our tips for wedding entertainment during the reception!

Sparklers

Hopefully, you managed to follow through with the wedding timeline as much as possible.
End the night shining.
Sparklers at exit are so much fun if the weather permits.

Get creative. What do you want the world to remember?
Not quite sure how to plan the sparklers exit or which sparklers to get? Here are our 10 tips to plan the best sparklers exit. 

On this topic, we also wrote one of the most helpful articles, on the Best sparklers to buy for the wedding exit. It includes the types of sparklers and sizes that are most recommended and exact links to products you can find!

Best wedding sparklers kit to get for your wedding:

Long wedding sparklers

Wedding sparklers bucket

Lighters

 

bride and groom exit at the end of the wedding timeline

 

A General Note on Perfect Timings for Your Wedding Timeline

In terms of timings, here is what we think: generally plan at least two hours between the wedding ceremony and reception. You’ve got lots to include!

Please be aware that things can go over schedule and that’s OK. Your wedding timeline should not be a reason for stress during the day.
Just try to respect the catering’s timings as much as you can. They have the hardest job- keeping the food warm for 100+ guests. If you go over the schedule for too long, chances are you have an extremely stressed-out catering team.

 

We’ve also covered an entire article about our personal 20 wedding planning tips to best organize your wedding day that I believe you should make sure to bookmark and take some notes from! These are golden tips. No fluff, promise!

 

Hope this wedding timeline was truly useful and now it doesn’t seem like such a task to get this step done!

Here are some of the most popular articles we wrote on wedding planning: 

20 Wedding planning tips to better organize your wedding

Wedding emergency kit list

Children wedding favors ideas

Best sparklers to buy for the wedding Exit- exact kit

The ultimate list of things to get for a wedding 

What to put in a wedding bathroom basket

 

Happy Wedding Planning! 

 

We have included affiliate links, to help you better plan for your life’s biggest moments. Purchases made through links on this page may earn us a small commission, at NO extra cost to you. We would only recommend things we trust and have seen work at other events. Our aim is to make life easier for you, saving you lots of time and research.

 


DON’T FORGET TO PIN AND SAVE THIS FOR LATER!

graphic for a complete wedding timeline

WE'RE SAM + DIANA

documentary cotswolds wedding photographer

We are a husband and wife team based in the beautiful Cotswolds area. We love the outdoors and shoot primarily non – traditional barn weddings and elopements for laid back couples.
We help remove the stress and pressure from your wedding day and do our best to make you feel at ease and extremely relaxed in front of the camera, so you will dearly remember your experience.
We are also founders of Mad Hat Photo Booth, a wedding and events photo booth hire in the Cotswolds, Birmingham, Gloucestershire and beyond!

GET IN TOUCH

SHARE THIS STORY