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A Guide for Your Order Of They Day

Our couples often ask us for advice and guidance when it comes to achieving the perfect wedding day timeline, also known as the order of the day. It can feel like a bit of a jigsaw puzzle at first. Trying to jiggle things around in order to get everything to work harmoniously.

This is something we are more than happy to help with as we have experienced hundreds of weddings and have learnt what makes a wedding day flow naturally and seamlessly.

Below are our main hints and tips for achieving the perfect wedding day schedule.

Tip for achieving the perfect wedding order of service schedule
Order of the day step by step guide

The Ceremony

When choosing your ceremony time, you may automatically think 'the earlier the better' in order to get the most out of your big day. However it is important to remember that you need to allow time for all of the things which need to happen before the ceremony. These include:

  • Bride / Groom preparations

  • Breakfast

  • Photographs

  • Travel time (for both you and your guests)

The length of your ceremony may differ depending on the type of service. Church ceremonies tend to be longer than civil ceremonies and the amount of songs and readings you have can also play a part. On average you should allow 1 hour for a church ceremony and 30 minutes for a civil ceremony. If you are opting for a Church ceremony, then don't forget to account for photographs outside of the church and travel time between the church and the reception venue.

Drinks Reception

The time needed for your drinks reception depends entirely on what you plan to do in that time. As a minimum you need to allow enough time to receive congratulations from all of your guests. If you are opting for a civil ceremony then you will need to also allow time for group photographs as opposed to these taking place outside of the church. Some people also like to include some entertainers who will mingle with their guests such as magicians or caricature artist. Allow at least 1 and a half hours and a maximum of 2 hours in your wedding day schedule for your drinks reception.


When deciding on the time of your speeches, make sure you allow time for guests to be seated. Even though it is such a small element in the order of the day it can easy take up half an hour. Aim to have speeches wrapped up within 30 minutes by politely giving your speakers a max speech time of 10 minutes prior to the wedding.

Wedding Breakfast

The time needed for the wedding breakfast will depend on the number of courses to be served. It will also depend on the speed of the caterers so make sure you get some guidance from them too. We tend to advise that you allow 2 and a half hours in your order of the day for your wedding breakfast.

Arrival of Evening Guests

Ensure that there is enough time between your daytime guests finishing their meal and the evening guests arriving to avoid any awkwardness! An evening arrival time of 7pm - 7:30pm is ideal and gives evening guests enough time to celebrate with you.

Cutting of the Cake and First Dance

Once the evening guests have arrived, had time to get a drink and settle in, the cutting of the cake and the first dance can take place. It is always a good idea to do the first dance just before the evening entertainment kicks in. For example if you are having a wedding band you could ask them to play your first dance song and then go straight in to the rest of their set. This means that once everyone joins you on the dance floor you can keep the party going!

Evening Entertainment & Food

8:15 is what we find to be the sweet spot for the start of the evening entertainment. By this point people have relaxed, limbered up and are ready to party. It is great to break up the evening entertainment with some food to give your guests the fuel they need to party the rest of the night away. 9pm tends to be a good time to serve evening food. Any later and guests may get a little hungry.

Wrapping up the Day

Different venues have different closing times which means there is no one time suits all when it comes to wrapping things up. Things such as the time that evening entertainment must come to an end, last orders and carriages are down to your venue so always ask their policies on this and plan accordingly.

Here is an example of a typical order of the day for Alcumlow Wedding Barn. This is a wedding day schedule that works well for our couples and our venue but do remember that every wedding day is different.

Example template of wedding order of the day

If you are getting married at Alcumlow Wedding Barn we will always work with you to create the perfect order of service for your wedding. Should you require any further advice then don't hesitate to get in touch with us.!


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