Planning your wedding is normally a once in a lifetime thing, so it's normal to have almost zero experience of how to do it! One of the questions I often get from couples is around timings and how to plan the schedule of the day so that no moment is rushed, meaning that they get to really be present and appreciate such a special moment in their lives. So I thought I would put a blog post out of my suggestions to help with your plans!
Your groom prep can really start whenever you think is best for you, and to fit in with your timings. My main suggestions would be to make sure you have enough time to savour spending some quality time with your groomsmen. If you are all staying in the same place the night before the wedding, a good breakfast together followed by a brisk walk to get a bit of fresh air on the morning is a great way to settle your nerves. Make sure you leave plenty of time to ensure you are looking your best, and that you don't forget anything. Don't forget to build in time for some portraits of you and your groomsmen, plus maybe a quick drink, before heading down to the main venue around 45 minutes before the ceremony to welcome guests and make sure everything is looking ok.
So much to do and so little time! Hair, make up, breakfast, Prosecco! First things first, you need to eat a good breakfast! You probably won't eat properly again until 5.30pm-ish so I can't stress this point enough, it is a long day! Also, don't forget to get plenty of fluids in you as well (not just Prosecco!). Aim to get in to your dress no later than 30 minutes before the ceremony to give time for any first looks, portraits and that reveal moment.
The ceremony really is the centre piece of the day, with everything else working around it, so getting the timing of it right for your day is really important. For winter weddings I would personally say having the ceremony around 1 to 1.30pm is best as it gives plenty of time and light for a good length of reception which means group photos and couple photos won't be too rushed! For summer weddings this can be pushed back to any time between 2 and 3pm, in fact a 3pm wedding can be quite nice at the height of summer as it leads to late and even more lively evenings on the dance floor!
The confetti moment is one of those classic wedding moments that leads to some really great photographs and loads of laughs! It is always best to do it as close to the end of the ceremony as possible, ideally just after while everyone is still buzzing from the ceremony!
The best time of the day to do create those all important group photos of you and your nearest and dearest is during the post-ceremony reception part of the day. Yes this means dragging you and guests away from the champagne and beers for a while but it's always best to do it outdoors while there is good natural light wherever possible. I always suggest waiting for a good 45 minutes after the confetti shot before starting these, just to allow everyone (including you) to have a drink and a catch up with all of your friends and family first!
Ideally I would always suggest starting the wedding breakfast no more than 2 to 2.5 hours after the ceremony comes to an end. The reception after the ceremony is one of the most fun parts of the day, with old friends and family catching up while everyone enjoys some much needed bubbly and canapés. One of the dangers of making this part of the day a little too long is that everyone goes a little too mad on the champagne and ends up a little too drunk before the wedding breakfast! If you make it too short then it might be tight for getting all of the group photos done and for carving out some time for couple photos as well!
Your wedding day will be such a crazy day that will fly by in a blur, and the time you have together for couple portraits will probably be the first moment you both get to take a breath together! For Spring Summer weddings, couple portraits are best done just before your are introduced to your wedding breakfast for a few minutes, and after the coffee service/speeches when the evening light will be at its best. For winter weddings, obviously daylight availability is an issue so couple portraits are best done in the 30 minutes before you sit down for your wedding breakfast.
Cake cutting is one of those traditional moments on the wedding day that you can't really miss! It also acts as a good chance to gather everyone of your guests in one place which makes it easier to transition from this moment to the first dance, which would be the next traditional moment of the day. Having your guests altogether at this time means that it will be easy to have everyone present for your first dance which should follow. My recommendation would be to aim to have the cake cut around 7.45 - 8pm, just before your first dance.
I always think it's good to make the audience wait for your first dance to make sure that the dance floor fills up quickly and stays packed! From my experience, I would suggest aiming to have the first dance no earlier than 8pm in the evening. It allows plenty of time for people to get a drink and unwind after dinner, and to let their wedding breakfast meal go down before getting on the dance floor and partying the rest of the night away!