Huge congratulations on your engagement! Whether you’re deep into your wedding planning or you’ve only just started, understanding your wedding day timeline is going to be a crucial part of your process. 

A wedding day timeline is going to help you, your guests and your suppliers to know exactly what is happening throughout your wedding to ensure the day goes perfectly. 

Everyone from your wedding caterers to the photographers will need to know the timeline in order to keep the day running as smoothly as possible. 

You do not need to detail every small part of the day, although the more information the better. To guarantee the best experience for your guests you should look at the timeline from both the guest perspective as well as where the bride and groom will be – this will ensure your guests are fully entertained throughout the day, whether they’re mingling with friends and family or playing lawn games! 

Chalk Barn provide endless fun for children at weddings
A wedding timeline is crucial for keeping your friends and family engaged and entertained

How to Plan Your Wedding Day Timeline

Planning a wedding can be overwhelming and you might find yourself wondering where to start. Generally, basing your timeline around the ceremony time is best as this provides a fixed point to plan around. 

You can of course hold your ceremony at any time (venue dependant) but typically couples choose a time between 1-3pm. For our example, we are going to base our timeline on a 2pm ceremony time. 

It is also worth noting that at Chalk, you have exclusive access to the venue for 48 hours to allow ample time for set-up and take down! We love offering this as it ensures our couples can have their wedding morning completely stress-free. Therefore, our suggested wedding day timeline is based on this and includes minimal preparation or take-down – if you need even more convincing on why this should be the only way to hold a wedding, have a look at our blog page.

If you are hiring a one-day venue or holding your ceremony elsewhere, then you’ll need to adjust our suggested timeline, to allow for set-up, travel, cleaning etc.

bride and groom in the sunset
A recent wedding at Chalk Barn | Image by Amber Louise Photography

Example Wedding Day Timeline

9.30am: Breakfast 

You will need to sustain yourself through a pretty hectic day so make sure you have a good breakfast, and allow time for this. 

10.00am: Photographer and hair and make-up stylist arrive 

10.00am: Bridesmaid prep

If you have quite a few bridesmaids, their hair and make-up is likely to start before your own. Timings will depend on how complex the style of hair and make-up, but we recommend allowing 45-60 minutes per bridesmaid. If you only have one stylist, or a significant number of bridesmaids, then this preparation will start even earlier. 

11.00am: Bridal hair and make-up

Again, the timings for this will vary on how intricate the hairstyle and make-up look you want is, but we would allow a minimum of an hour for this. Always allow a little extra time just in case; if you don’t need it then you can enjoy a glass of bubbly with your bridesmaids! 

12:15pm: Bride gets dressed 

Strike a balance of getting dressed with enough time to capture photographs, without having to sit and watch everyone else get ready. 

12:30pm: Groom and groomsmen arrive at the ceremony venue

This is the perfect time for the groomsmen to lay out any programmes or confetti and complete any other tasks you may have delegated. Once done, they can enjoy a drink at the bar and relax ready to greet your guests.

1.00pm: Guests arrive at the ceremony 

1.15pm: Grab a snack! 

It has been a long time since breakfast, and you have a while to go until the wedding breakfast, so make sure you and your bridesmaids have a little something to eat. 

1.45pm: Bride arrives at ceremony venue

2.00pm: Wedding Ceremony

The magical moment where you marry the love of your life – the occasion you’re all there to celebrate. It’s time to say ‘I do!’

A couple marry at Chalk Barn with the incredible views of Pewsey
Newlyweds prepare for images post-ceremony at Chalk Barn | Image by Spencer Guy

3.00pm: Drinks reception 

This is also a good time to take group shots. We recommend assigning a groomsman to help the photographer to help, since the photographer isn’t likely to know everyone personally.

3.30pm: Couple portraits / lawn games for guests

Timing for this can vary depending on how many photographs you want to take and shooting locations. 

4.00pm: Guests sit down for wedding breakfast 

The MC will call your wedding breakfast and everyone will head to their seats. This is one of the most important parts of the day to time – too early and the drinks reception may feel rushed, too late and your guests might be a little peckish.

4.30pm: Food is served

The moment everyone has been waiting for! The length of time for your wedding breakfast will be determined on how many courses and the style of food chosen.

6.30pm: Speeches and toasts

Settle in to hear the speeches from your loved ones! Make sure to schedule this time according to how many speeches are happening on your big day. 

7.30pm: Evening guests arrive 

Let’s take things up a notch! Your evening guests will bring a new buzz to your party – whether close friends or acquaintances, evening guests open the door to more new conversation and a lively time.

8:00pm: Cake cutting and first dance 

9.00pm: Evening food is served 

From street food to ice cream carts, the options are endless for your evening food. It may seem late to eat, but most of your guests will still be full from the 4.30pm meal so a small offering to soak up some alcohol is all that is needed!

bride and groom eat pizza from a street food truck at wedding venue
Recent newlyweds at Chalk Barn enjoying pizza from Falvo Pizza | Image by Amber Louise Photography

12.00am: Carriages 

The bonus of a wedding at Chalk is on-site accommodation and no need to take-down your decor until the next day! So all the stress has been taken away as you head straight from the dance floor to your room. 

The Hide at Chalk Barn
Step into the luxurious comfort of The Hide, without worrying about your wedding day decorations | Image by Stuart Dudleston

Wedding Day Timeline Tips 

Gaps in the timeline

Once you have drafted up your wedding day timeline you will want to look over it for any gaps. We recommend doing this twice: once from your point of view as the wedding couple, and then again as if you were a guest. 

As we mentioned before, you wouldn’t want to be a guest at a wedding where you were left for an hour without any activities or entertainment. If there is likely to be a long gap between the ceremony and the wedding breakfast due to photographs, perhaps incorporate something to suit your venue and theme, it could be lawn games, live music or even a magician.

Wiggle room

Make sure you have added in some contingency time to your wedding day timeline. Something is bound to overrun or be delayed, from traffic to extreme weather. If you have allowed extra time between each part of the day, you will have enough space to adjust timings as you go.

The end of the night

A common mistake couples make is to forget to plan for the end of the night. With so much focus and anticipation on other highlights of the day, such as the ceremony or first dance, it is easy to forget the basics. Make sure that all your guests have prior notice of any curfews, accommodation information and have pre-booked their taxis. 

Plan a moment

Ask any married couple and they’ll tell you that their wedding day went by in a blur. You won’t want to miss the small details you spent months (sometimes years) planning. Block yourself out some time to soak in the moment and admire all the details.  The ideal time for this is before all your guests are seated for the wedding breakfast; take a moment – just the two of you – to admire the scene and take a breath as a newly married couple. 

Planning Your Big Day 

We have some availability for 2023 and 2024, contact us to book a private viewing. We can help you design the perfect wedding day from start to finish, and with 48 hour venue hire you can make the most of your wedding day timeline.