After meeting with hundreds of brides and grooms, there seem to be some questions, 'What is a good time to start and end my wedding?' and 'How long do most weddings usually last?' Many couples are not familiar with the planning and preparation for their wedding as this is usually their first time they have done so. Our wedding planners have planned thousands of weddings and have advised all of our couples on timeline structure and the duration of the event.

Most people feel that a wedding is a great gathering which should go all night long and the music should never stop. Although it is true that it’s a big celebration of a couple's unity and two families joining together, there is much more to it than that. Unlike a simple birthday party, graduation party or similar events, a wedding typically has many more elements and activities that need to be timed properly and have the all participants ready and in their proper places. Each activity or event should be timed in conformity with the timetable. Otherwise everything will be in a muddle.

The Wedding Makeup

Finishing your hair and make-up is the first obstacle to your time to reach it, triggering a domino effect over the rest of the day. Never underestimate how long bridal beauty can spend – you should have a good idea of how long your hair and make-up will take after your wedding make-up trial.

Makeup artist Lina Cameron said: "You can spend up to an hour and 45 minutes to make up." 'A long-lasting look requires thorough application and blending, which takes time.' Also, allow a few minutes for touch-ups before you walk down the aisle.

Make sure you have all hair and make-up done at least 30 minutes before you need to leave, just in case things run over. So, if you need to leave at 12.30 for a 1pm ceremony, make sure you’re done at 12pm. Keep in mind that you’d better have enough flexible time and never leave the things be done for the last minute.

The Wedding Photos

It's also important to leave enough time for the most important snapshots. This is one of the photos you must remember to ask your photographer to take. 'Aim to be ready one hour before you need to leave,' says photographer Katy Lunsford.                                               

'Therefore there’s plenty of time for things to run late and for the photographer to get some lovely shots of your perfect looking before the wind blows or you cry.' You’d better coordinate your time with the photographer's and inform him or her your taste and thoughts about the photos to avoid wasting time. Take the transport time to your ceremony venue into consideration and you’re guaranteed a stress-free morning.

The Wedding Ceremony

On average, most wedding ceremonies may only run about 30 minutes but can last up to 3 hours. How long the ceremony lasts depends much on what type of ceremony you have chosen. For example, civil ceremonies tend to last just less than 30 minutes, however Catholic weddings can last more than one hour, so it’s best for you to check with the person marrying you before printing the order of service.

The Wedding Breakfast

This is what everyone is waiting for, so give it the time it deserves. 'Allow between two and two-and-a-half-hours for a sit-down meal, two hours for a buffet and one hour for sharing platters or afternoon tea,' says Sarah Hammond, director of Rhubarb catering. It’s also essential to let your spokesmen know when speeches are taking place. 'If they are between the courses, it can be thorny because no one knows how long they will last.'

If you stick to only the basic elements, your ceremony will be much shorter than those with plenty of additional elements. Each element will vary in length of time from culture to religions. Most couples can use a standard format to design a ceremony that reflects their personal preference and values.

The Wedding Speeches

How many times have you attended a wedding and the speeches have gone on for so long that you got bored? You want to avoid this, so best to keep all speeches under an hour for the sake of joy and interest.

wedding rings

The Evening Party

Imagine this arrangement fail: your evening-only guests are set to appear at a certain time and have to wait outside because the speeches aren't done or the dessert is still being served. How awkward it is! So do your best to adhere to the schedule throughout the day and – not to belabour the point – keep those speeches on target. Only in this way can you have enough time to attend the evening party.

Whether you are the bride or a guest of the wedding, it’s always beneficial to know a wedding reception timeline so that you can plan ahead! Of course, weddings can vary in length of time but having a general idea of what a reception holds will at least give you a sense of what is expected on that beautiful and divine day, such as exchanging wedding rings.