Why Your Ceremony Time is Wrong
We’ve mentioned here many times before that there is no ‘wedding manual’ for getting married, and often those getting married rely on either ‘tradition’ or their wedding venue and suppliers to let them know what on earth to do! However, there is one important place where you could be losing out because you may not know any better – and that’s the timing of your ceremony and wedding breakfast on your wedding day!
Why Your Wedding Timeline Could Be Depriving You Of Special Moments
A wedding day is a wonderful day for you to spend with friends and family, to enjoy special moments together, and to have wonderful photos for your family heirloom wedding album that you will want to remember forever!
…but is that what is going to happen?
Unfortunately, most modern weddings in the UK are often super rushed affairs – with everything running late and barely a moment to spare doing the millions of things you want to do. From the ‘traditions’ everyone feels the necessity to do – the cake cut, the receiving line, the getting ready, etc… To the more personal moments you were expecting – the time with friends, the jokes with family, the catching up with relatives who have travelled from far away to see you today.
And all of that is great, and you should definitely do whatever you want on your wedding day (it is your day after all…) but there is one big enemy trying to stop this from happening – time!!
Time Is Your Enemy On Your Wedding Day
You’ve no doubt heard from friends and family that your wedding day will whizz past in a blur! Ask anyone who got married in England and most of them will say that the day was over just as soon as it began!
But the thing that makes this worse? Your ceremony time. It’s wrong.
Typical ceremony times in the U.K. are 2pm, with a wedding breakfast swiftly followed at 4pm (or 4:30pm if you’re lucky). This is a huge problem for anyone who wants lovely pictures and/or to spend time with friends and family – or their newly wed wife/husband!
This means that in a gap of 2pm to 4pm you need to fit in:
- Your Ceremony – The main show, 30 minutes average (up to 45-60 minutes with readings).
- Cocktail Time – You’ll want to spend at least 10 minutes with your other half now you have a chance to talk!
- Confetti Photos – Assuming you didn’t have them as you walked down the aisle, the confetti photos outside can take 10-15 minutes to organise and do properly for imagery you would want in your wedding album.
- Group / Formal Photos – 30 minutes (depending on your family size) at least for those family photos you and your family may want for posterity. This can take considerably longer if you aren’t organised and if family members aren’t aware of who is needed and where they need to be.
- Large Group Photo – That huge photo of all your ceremony guests, typically takes 10-15 minutes – double this for those heart shaped layout group photos.
- Bouquet Toss – We suggest this happens in the evening but some clients prefer it during this time as part of the festivities, which is completely awesome, but is another 5-10 minutes to account for.
- Creative / Couples Photos – Those wow images of just the two of you that you’ll want to look back on forever of the two of you during your first moment as man & wife. (Depending upon venue size a good photographer will typically ask for 60-90 minutes with you for a relaxed session with lots of variety).
- Receiving Line – Meeting all your guests – a very old tradition but one some venues/toastmasters almost insist you do. Typically 20-30 minutes (or more with large weddings).
- Travel Time – If your ceremony and reception are taking places at different locations, this means you need to add travel time into this time as well (this can also apply at large venues where the ceremony is at one end of the estate, and the reception on the other side…). Rule of thumb: always double any travel time. The time it takes for you to get in the car and drive to the new location is NOT the same as 50-100 guests in cars all trying to navigate the same roads and car parks!
So yeah…. That’s a lot to cram in to 2 and a bit hours! And that’s all assuming you aren’t late to the ceremony!
“But Mykey, isn’t this the way all venues do it and all weddings are run?!”
NO! No, no, no, no… no!
We can’t emphasise this enough, having shot 100s of wedding across Europe and America, and England is the only place where this madness happens.
Most countries allow far more time between the ceremony and dinner, or they get many of the bits we do in-between done before the ceremony even starts. For a start – who eats a massive three course dinner at 4/4:30pm on any day other than a wedding day? Furthermore, this is the most wonderful and special day of your life, but it only starts mid-afternoon?
In Australia, which is perhaps at the opposite end of the extreme to the UK, it is completely normal and common for there to be a 6-7 hour gap between ceremony and Dinner – even including a traditional trip of the bridal party and groomsmen to another location for drinks and photos!
So What’s The Solution Then Mykey?
Well, every wedding venue and wedding vendor tend to throw the word ‘bespoke’ at you, so we suggest you take them up on this offer, and simply ask for the ceremony to be moved forward and dinner back.
That was easy wasn’t it?
An earlier ceremony time means A) your day starts sooner – so less time for nerves and more time to enjoy the day!, B) more time between the ceremony and dinner for plenty of time with friends as well as all the formal photos you and your family want, aaand the wow images you’ll regret if you miss, and C) A MUCH MORE RELAXED AND FUN DAY
We can’t emphasise C) enough… Our new second shooters are often gob-smacked at how much more relaxed and fun the weddings that Mykey Day Photography captures are – and this is all down to allowing plenty of time, and no need for rushing. We even have venues remark how much less fuss and confusion our weddings are, never realising it’s because of the more normal timings of the ceremony and dinner.
Well That’s Easy! Why Don’t All Venues Do That?!
We have absolutely no idea…. It blows our minds…
We can only guess at one of two reasons, firstly that it’s just ‘the time we always do weddings’, which is a pretty terrible reason to spoil so many people’s wedding days by forcing unnecessary rushing about…
Secondly, maybe it’s all about money – as staffing your wedding day costs less if the wedding day starts later and is therefore shorter. Maybe forcing a huge meal on your guests so early also means you’re spending out for an evening buffet not that long after (neatly overlapping for one shift of catering staff to do). A bit sinister, but it’s the only reason we can think of that makes any sense… (at least to the owner of your venue…).
Why Our Wedding Day Timeline Consultations Make All The Difference
For all the above reasons, this is why your ceremony and dinner time is the first thing we discuss in your timeline consultation and venue walkaround, where the majority of our clients take our advice and decide to move their ceremony and dinner times so as to take back some of their wedding day for their enjoyment!
Sometimes venues can be inflexible, and where we have had clients seek us out before even choosing their wedding venue, we point out the venues that refuse clients requests for the timings on their wedding day, so they can be avoided! If you have already chosen your venue, we have a few suggestions as to what to say to get your venue to do what you would like them to.
How Other Countries Do It:
Here’s a rough indication of wedding day timelines in other countries, showing that in fact we are the weird ones, haha.
Also, do note how much wide variety of timings there are even within countries, there are so many possibilities available – and yet in England we seem to all be stuck with just the one way…
Greece: Whilst there is much variation from island to island, for a typical Greek evening wedding the Ceremony begins at 7pm, lasting 30-45 minutes with a 30 minute time allotted for family and group photos immediately after. Then at 9pm the First Dance takes place and evening celebrations begin immediately after. Most notably, it is the standard for the creative photos and any further family photos to take place the afternoon after the wedding, with approximately 2-3 hours allotted separately (included in the price) – and the possibility of multiple locations.
Italy: A mid-afternoon ceremony typically starts at midday / 12:30, with dinner at around 3pm/4:30pm – however the formal photos and creatives take place either after dinner or during a buffet, leaving plenty of time between the ceremony and dinner for concentrating solely on family time, and even more time in the morning or evening for a more relaxed photo session. A late-evening ceremony starts at around 5pm with dinner at 8:30/9pm.
Even in the above scenarios it is becoming more and more common for the creative photos to take place the following day – a dedicated 2-3 hour bride & groom portrait session with no time constraints.
There are huge variations (see a theme developing here?) from client to client, and depending upon whether it is a morning or evening wedding in a church or secular ceremony. Lot’s of choice for the Bride & Groom, and plenty of time on their day to enjoy themselves.
Spain: A Mid-Afternoon Wedding typically starts at 11:00/12:00 with a 3:30pm sit down for food. An Evening wedding can start at 5 or 6 pm with dinner at 9pm. Times really vary according to the couple’s individual requirements.
USA: This can really vary as much as within Europe, but often there is a “first look” where the couple see each other before the ceremony (alone and very romantic!) followed by pre-ceremony photos in many parts of the centre of the USA. Or, an early afternoon or late afternoon ceremony is followed by up to 3-4 hours time before dinner – with group photos often taking place after dinner.
Check out this link for a ‘typical’ Wedding Day Timeline in North America with ‘first look’ and two creatives photo sessions (each lasting longer than typical English Weddings get). http://www.bridebox.com/blog/wedding-day-timeline/
Australia: As above there can be various starting times due to the time of year as the Australian summer is often too hot for midday ceremonies, but Australian winters lend themselves perfectly to this time. But, as mentioned above, there is often a whopping 5-6+ hour allotment between the ceremony and evening dinner – where it has become the tradition for the wedding party (Bride & Groom with all bridesmaids and groomsmen) to disappear to an alternative location (the beach, the city, etc…) for lots of drinks (typical ozzies!) and far more fun, creative, and candid wedding photos!
London & Kent Wedding Photographer Mykey Day
Your Wedding Day will never be as important to anyone else as it is to you, but trust us when we say – your wedding will be crucially important to us as well! Please browse our website for examples of our work, and we look forward to making your wedding photographs special too.