Some couples ask me what time they should have their ceremony whereas other couples have already made up their minds and know exactly how their day will be scheduled. Often people are not too sure about the timing of their ceremony or what time to start their reception.
There are a few contributing factors to consider. What time do you plan to start your reception? If this is already booked, for example your reception starts at 6pm and it is a 15-minute drive from the venue, the ceremony cannot be at 5pm. You also need to consider how much time is required for photographs between the ceremony and reception. I would always discuss this with your photographer and consider that you will need family photos as well as some lovely shots of the two of you.
You also need to consider logistics of your big day. If you are having your ceremony at the same place as you are having your reception less time will be required between both events. Your venue will allow time for your guests to have canapés while you are having your photos done, whereas if you are having your reception and ceremony at different venues you will need to allow travel time as well as enough time for all of your guests to get there before you, so you can make an entrance.
I generally recommend couples organise the ceremony time to start 15 minutes prior to the bride’s arrival at the ceremony. Most guests will be at the venue on time but there are times when guests come in after the bride and I had one wedding where the bride was stalled, as it was quite a small wedding, and the bride and groom wanted all their guests to be present before we started the wedding. I think it is better to have the guests wait an extra 15 minutes than have the bride worry about late arrivals. (Some other celebrants may not be fond of this idea. I like to make sure that I am there really early and don’t book other weddings usually on the same day, or at least make sure that there are a few hours between so that if the bride or guests are late, it is not an issue for me, whereas perhaps other celebrants may choose to try to squeeze as many as they can into the day.)
Also make sure that you are comfortable with the time of day you choose. If you have a lunchtime wedding like I did, be prepared that you will probably be up before the sun, to fit in hair and make up. Also if you are have a lot of attendants this is something that you will also need to consider. My friend recently had her wedding and we spent time with her getting ready at the house with all of her attendants, it was a lovely part of the day, and we all got to chat and it made for a relaxing start to her big day. These are all things that contribute to stress levels on the day, so make sure you work out how much time is needed, plus your travel to the ceremony, and maybe do a test run. For example drive from where you are getting ready to the ceremony venue at the same time/day to give you a rough guide including traffic flows.
Do you have any tips for others as far as working out timing on your special day?