The Traditional Wedding Day Running Order

One of the best ways of ensuring a smooth wedding day is to plan everything to within an inch of its life. What may seem a little OCD to some of you will definitely pay dividends on the day. Especially when you’re flapping around while someone is trying to do your hair, someone else is doing your makeup and others are talking in your ear asking questions.

If that sounds familiar, or sounds like something you don’t want to have to deal with on the day, this post is for you.

The typical running order of a wedding has been the same for years. It doesn’t matter whether you’re having a religious ceremony or not, the basics are the same. Timings might be slightly different but everything else is as it appears here.

We have divided the day into three sections to make it easier to break down. The morning of the wedding is all about getting ready and getting to the ceremony on time. Then we cover the ceremony itself and then the reception. All in a day’s work!

The Morning of the Wedding

The morning of the wedding is generally the most stressful as the build-up adds pressure. Depending on what kind of night you had, get up early and drink lots of water/coffee/fruit juice. Then do some form of exercise if you can. This will help relax you and wake you up for the day ahead.

Hair and Makeup

Once you’re showered and ready, it’s time to glam up. A hairdresser will need an hour for your hair and you will need a further 45 minutes for the makeup. Add 30 minutes per bridesmaid for hair and a further 45 minutes for makeup for each unless they are doing their own.

Most hairdressers will prepare the bridesmaids first so the photographer can capture the “getting ready” shots and you, the bride, will look the freshest for the wedding.


Once you’re ready, get dressed, arrange the dress and put the veil on last if you’re having one. Leave dressing until the last minute to prevent spillages or last minute disasters.

The photographer will probably want some shots of you at home wearing the dress, so add 10 minutes for that.


Plan for getting to the venue on time even if you’re not going to. Plan for traffic, time of day, weather conditions and last minute delays if you’re managing transport yourself, or leave it to the driver if you hire vehicles. Aim to arrive a little after your due time if it’s a religious ceremony but near to the time if it’s at a registry office.

Some wedding venues have a room for brides to hide before the ceremony. If you’re getting ready at home, it’s a good idea to get there after the bride groom and wedding party has arrived but before the ceremony to add finishing touches and to ensure you look perfect.
The Ceremony

So here is the traditional running order of a ceremony.

1. Groom and guests arrive anywhere up to 90 minutes early
2. Bride arrives either to use a room or for the ceremony with her party
3. Music plays
4. Introduction of the bride
5. Bride enters with whoever is giving her away
6. Hymn if it’s a religious wedding
7. Readings
8. Hymn if it’s a religious wedding
9. The Marriage Vows are taken
10. Register is signed
11. Final blessing if it’s a religious wedding
12. Departure of the bride and groom

Depending on the type of ceremony you’re having, it will take between 20 and 60 minutes in all. Civil ceremonies are shorter than religious ones.

You will need to add a further 20 minutes or so for the photographer to do their thing and get the shots signing the register and whatever else you/they want to capture.

Allow plenty of time to travel home or to the reception. This depends entirely on how you have structured your day, the distance between venues, time of day, weather and so on. Some weddings have a couple of hours break between the ceremony and the reception. Not all do, so factor that into your timings.

The Reception

The reception is the last leg of your wedding day and an opportunity to relax a bit once the formal stuff is done. Reception timings are more flexible than the ceremony, so we have added the average time to complete each step in order to help.

There is an order here to depending on how formal you make it.

1. Receiving line – this can take 30-40 minutes depending on how many people you invite
2. Seating ‚Äì 20 minutes if it’s a formal sit-down dinner
3. Wedding Breakfast – 2 – 3 hours depending on how many courses you have
4. Speeches – 30 – 40 minutes
5. Cake – 15 – 20 minutes
6. Party 2 – 3 hours or longer depending on the reception you have
7. Departure, bouquet throwing

This is a typical running order of a typical wedding. Religious and civil ceremonies differ a little, but not enough to make problems. The main thing you need to remember is to allow enough time between venues and events to round up children, wait for lost relatives, repair your hair, top up the makeup and all those little things that can take time.

Use this post to plan your perfect day and ensure everything runs like clockwork. Keep an eye on our blog to see what other useful hints and tips we have for you!

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