When it comes to planning your wedding day celebrations, one of the most important elements to consider is your wedding day timings. Get it wrong and you risk either guests twiddling their thumbs or not having the space to relax. Get it right, and your wedding goes down in friend and family history as the event of the century.
“But what are the perfect wedding day timings??” we hear you cry! With so much to organise and plan, we decided to take this tricky admin task off your hands and let you know the very best structure for a glorious wedding day.
When to Say I Do
Arguably the most important part of your wedding, the ceremony sets the marker for the pace of the rest of the day. Whilst traditionally couples tied the knot in the morning, we find later makes for a smoother pace. Our recommended ceremony times tend to be 2pm for a summer ceremony and 1pm for a ceremony which takes place in the winter.
Whilst 2pm is ideal as it offers you and your guests enough time for a little lunch before the day’s events start to unfold, opting for a slightly earlier ceremony time in the winter means there is still plenty of natural light for which to enjoy your drinks reception and also have photographs taken in our beautiful grounds.
Our Milking Parlour Bridal Suite opens its doors to you at 11am on the day of your wedding, leaving plenty of time for primping, preening and looking your absolute best.
If you are having your hair and make-up professionally done, experts suggest leaving an approximate window of one and a half to two hours for this. However, if anyone else in your bridal party is having their hair and make-up done professionally, that will also need to be factored in to your timings. Our Milking Parlour is a beautiful and spacious place, but if your bridal party is particularly large, it may be worth asking some people to dress elsewhere and just join you for finishing touches and that all important glass of bubbly.
Opening The Gates
So your ceremony is at 2pm, when should you ask your guests to arrive?
This is a delicate balancing act. Whilst you need to leave a buffer to account for any unexpected delays, getting guests to arrive too early and having them waiting around really doesn’t set the day off to a good start. We suggest a 1.30pm arrival for a 2pm ceremony. The extra half an hour allows for reasonable delays and gives guests time to quickly catch up with loved ones, but also means everyone is still full of energy and excited for your arrival down the aisle.
Time to Eat
Whilst reception drinks and canapés usually follow the ceremony, the timing of your wedding breakfast is the next key decision in your wedding day plan. We tend to suggest leaving an hour and a half between the end of your ceremony and the call to the Threshing Barn. This provides ample time for relaxed drinks and chatting with guests before everyone is ushered through for dinner. So if your ceremony finishes at 2.45pm, we suggest inviting guests to the Threshing Barn at around 4.15pm ready for a 4.30pm meal.
Evening Guest Arrival Time
Planning day guests and evenings guests? When inviting separate people for the evening it is really important to ensure there is no overlap with the section of the day they were not invited to – for example the meal. We therefore recommend that evening guests are invited from 7.30pm onwards, giving enough time for dinner to be finished, the room adapted if necessary and for your day guests to be getting in the evening party spirit!
The Cutting of the Cake
A lovely part of the day for your evening guest to witness is the cutting of your cake. We suggest doing this at around 7.55pm, just before your DJ or band starts, to ensure everyone gets to enjoy this moment with you. The cake cutting then seamlessly leads off into the first dance at 8.00pm signifying the start of the party.
Food Glorious Evening Food
If you are keen to ensure all your guests are having the very best time, then evening food is a great addition to your day. 9.00pm is a prime time to serve this as there has been a reasonable gap since the end of your wedding breakfast. Well timed evening food gives an extra boost of energy to keep people dancing right to the end. It also offers a little help to those who may have hit the bar a bit too hard…
The bar closes and music ends at 11.30pm here at Southend Barns and we request that all wedding guests book carriages for 11.45pm.
As a helpful guide we have included our suggested wedding day timeframe below. This can obviously be adapted to suit your particular day, but these are the timings we feel make for a beautifully paced wedding day.
Southend Barns Suggested Wedding Day Timings
11:00 – Bridal suite access
11:00 – Bride arrival
13:00 – Groom arrival
13:00 – Shepherds Hut Check In
13:30 – Guest arrival
13:30 – Pre-ceremony interview
14:00 – Ceremony
14:45 – Reception Drinks & Canapés
16:15 – Call through to Threshing Barn
16:30 – Start of wedding breakfast
18:30 – Speeches
19:00 – Coffee Service
19:00 – Evening bar available
19:00 – Log fire lit and Marshmallows
19:30 – Evening Guest Arrival
19:55 – Cake cutting
20:00 – 1st Dance
20:00 – Music/Band
21:00 – Evening food
23:30 – Bar Closes and music ends
23:45 – Carriages