Your Wedding Timings

If you're planning your wedding day, one of the things you’ll need to consider is how the day will run and how to pace this. Firstly, what would you like to include on your wedding day? What are the elements you’d love to include? What kind of catering do you have in mind? And what about entertainment? Considering the ‘must-have’ elements and personal touches is a good way to start, then build your day around these.

Although you don’t want to be checking on the time all day (in fact we recommend that you don’t wear a watch on your wedding day; a good venue will keep things moving along, with liaison with your nominated point of contact) it’s good to have a plan in place, so all the elements of your day can be incorporated. And with all the planning in the world, there’s always the possibility that speeches will over-run or there’ll be a last-minute hiccup, so don’t get too hung up on the day running to time.

Quite often the format of a wedding day looks something like this:

The actual marrying bit; whether it be a church service or a civil ceremony

 A drinks reception; a chance to mingle with your guests and have photos taken

The main meal (your “wedding breakfast”); whether it be a formal, three course sit-down meal, street-food style buffet or picnic (good weather dependent!

The speeches, cutting of the cake and first dance

Partying away the evening

Backwards is better!

Sometimes it's easier to start planning from back to front.

Find out when your celebrations will draw to a close; at Penshurst Place its midnight, and then work back from there. Partying time of between three and four hours usually is enough to wear everyone out, so having your evening guests arrive for about 7.30 - 8pm is ideal. 

Aim to have all speeches done in around half an hour to keep everyone's interest. You might want to talk to your speakers in advance, so the Best Man is aware that he doesn’t have an hour to fill with embarrassing stories about you both!

The meal usually proceeds the speeches: allocate around 2 hours for this, but this is dependent on your number of guests (a meal for 50 guests will be consumed much quicker than a meal for 100) and the type of catering you are having.

Seating your guests usually takes around 10 minutes, but if you are having a receiving line (where the couple or the bridal party individually greet guests) this could take much longer – around half an hour. Even longer if Great Aunt Maud wants to stop for a long chat.

Your drinks reception: around an hour and a half is ideal. This will give you the chance to make the most of the beautiful gardens and fabulous backdrop, but not too long that your guests will feel like they’re waiting around.

The ceremony: a church service generally takes around 45 minutes, or about an hour if it’s a Catholic service. A civil ceremony is usually around 20 – 30 minutes (but the shortest we’ve known is 14 minutes). If you are having your ceremony anywhere other than your reception venue, you may want to factor in some time - about 15 minutes - for photos there and you’ll definitely need to consider travel time to your reception venue.

So, working back from there, you're probably looking at a ceremony time of about 3.30pm, if you're getting married in the venue that’s hosting your wedding reception.

Penshurst Place has a church right next door so if you’re marrying there, a 2.30 or 3pm service works really well.

Looking after you

Your wedding day will be full; full of friends, full of family, of laughter, fun and love. Make sure you leave some time for you. Factor in plenty of time for getting ready on the day; hair, make-up, getting dressed and spending some time with your nearest and dearest soaking up the excitement and anticipation of your day. Don’t forget to have some lunch too, which leads me to….

Feeding the family

If you can aim to have your wedding breakfast falling at a usual dinner time (around 5.30pm) that tends to work well.

By having a mid-afternoon ceremony, your guests are likely to have eaten lunch before they arrive. You may wish to add canapés to your drinks reception to keep them going until the main meal.

You may also wish to add an evening buffet to your evening celebrations to keep guests going and soak up the drinks!

Of course, with all weddings is completely personal and down to you; this is a guideline to let you know how much time to allocate for each element of your day. The main thing is to relax and enjoy…it’ll go past in a flash.

Happy wedding planning!