How To Plan The Order Of The Wedding Day
Updated: Sep 8
Image via Heather Sham Photography
I flippin' love planning - hence why I chose to do what I do I guess. Although I'm all about being a free spirit and going with the flow, having an Order of the Day is a must for a wedding (even be it a loose one), so people know what's happening and when.
More importantly, you should have someone in charge of it so everything runs smoothly or things could get out of hand and precious party time will be lost (if you are in a venue that has a strict lights-out at midnight policy, every minute on the dancefloor counts, right!).
I don't think it's fair to ask your maid of honour your sister or your mum to do this as they won't be able to relax and enjoy the wedding properly, or they won't enjoy it. And you shouldn't be in charge of it for sure. You are the VIP couple. You shouldn't be constantly checking the time and running around sorting stuff out. Come on!
Most commonly the Order of the Day is displayed on a signage board which is placed at the entrance welcoming your guests. You can DIY one easily from driftwood, or wooden pallets, it can be made of a card or perspex. You can use and write on a large vintage mirror a clear glass vintage frame, or (my favourite) a painted wooden board in your chosen colour palette and your wedding font.
If you aren’t crafty (or bothered), you can just get one made - there are loads of suppliers on Etsy (like the one pictured above).
Better still, so it ties in with the rest of your stationery, you can ask your stationery designer to make a funky printed version for you. It can use an easel to display it from a copper stand.
Here at Whole Lotta Love Weddings, we offer custom-designed wooden signage (like the one pictured above). They can come in all shapes and sizes, in your colour palette and font.
The Wedding Day Schedule:
You always start with the time of the ceremony, that being either morning (let's say 11 a.m.), midday, or early afternoon. The ceremony runs for about an hour to 90 mins depending on what you’ve arranged.
After the ceremony, you may want some petals or confetti throwing (you can place the individual cones of confetti or petals by the welcome sign so the guests can collect them on arrival. Make sure you run the schedule past your photographer so no epic photo opportunities are missed. And most importantly, share your schedule with your caterer. They will give you a heads-up if they think the meal will run on time (depending on how many courses there are).
Then it’s time for some well-deserved celebratory drinks and possibly nibbles. Make sure you eat. Often the wedding couple misses out on nibbles, being too busy chatting with guests and posing for photos.
If the reception is at the same venue as the ceremony, give it an hour for mingling and photos. If not, you will have to allow for travel time.
Think about how much time you will allow for drinks, canapes, photos, carnival rides (if that is your bog), garden games, etc.
The next on the list is the wedding meal. It’s super important to set enough time for this, so all your guests are sat down and ready for your arrival. Traditionally, the speeches will follow the meal but if you’re smart (and kind) you’ll schedule the speeches before you eat. Give the nervous speakers a chance to get it over and done with while still relatively sober and not ramble on for ages fueled by booze - trust me this happens too often. Then they can relax and enjoy their meal without going through the whole stress of waiting for 2 hours, not eating much, just sitting there, sweaty-palmed, knocking back too many glasses of bubbly...
You might want to save the cutting of the cake for later when your evening guests arrive so that they don’t feel like they’ve missed out. For a sit-down meal, I would give it at least an hour and a half or even 2 hours.
The Wedding Evening Plan:
This is the second part of the day (after you and your day guests have been fed and watered). It’s when your evening guests are due to arrive and so it’s when your first dance should happen too.
This could include any of the following:
- Photo booth. There is usually a two-hour window for guests to use it so make sure people know about it and don't miss out.
- Band or DJ start time
- Sparklers for your guests to hold when you enter the party room after the cake-cutting
- Late-night snack for the hard party crew. This is usually served around 9:30/10 pm. You can hire a retro pizza van for example that rocks up at the venue and serves fresh stonebaked pizzas - invaluable for soaking up the booze.
- And for the end, mark the time for the “Last Dance”, maybe with your chosen song, so the party crew knows not to pester the DJ for that one last tune. Give it half our chill-out period so that you can say your goodbyes before everyone orders their rides home.
And that’s it!
A rough example of a wedding day schedule:
09:00 - Have a good breakfast!
10:00 -12:00 - Hair & Makeup
Noon - Start getting ready with your pals and have a good brunch
15:00 - Ceremony
16:30 - Petals / Confetti
16:45 - Drinks reception, group photos, garden games, etc.
15 mins alone time just the two of you!!
18:00 - Seated for dinner
18:15 - Speeches
19:30 - Cake cutting & First Dance
20:00 - Party kicks off
21:30 - Evening snack
23:30 - Last song
24:00 - Taxi's home
If you'd rather hand over the stressful task of making sure everything runs according to plan to a pro, give me a call. Planning, logistics, and making sure things happen when and how they should are my Jedi powers ;)
Check out what I offer with my OTD package here.
Whole Lotta Love,