So you’ve made all the big decisions and got your suppliers sorted but now you’re trying to slot it all together. Should be easy right? In actual fact, this is one of the areas that can often cause a lot of stress but there is a simple solution. Ask the experts.
Yep, those good old suppliers are burstng with knowledge. Unlike you, they do this all the time and they have so much experience – you just need to tap in to it. If you have a wedding planner then they will be all over this but not everybody will have this luxury. Fear not, a key supplier that you will all have, is a caterer and they are so well versed to advise you on the order of the day. Let’s face it, the food and drinks are the core part of every wedding and they will be able to tell you what works and what doesn’t.
A timeline that we’ve found works really well at Brook Farm is outlined below. Please note, there are two timelines; if you are having your ceremony here, a good start time is 2pm but if you are just having the reception, arriving around 3pm works perfectly.
14:00 Guests Invited to Ceremony
14:30 Ceremony Begins
15:00 Drinks Reception
16:30 Wedding Breakfast & Speeches
19:00 Evening Guests Arrive
19:30 First Dance followed by Cutting the Cake
20:00 Evening Music – First set for a band
20:45 DJ / ipod
21:15 Second set for a band
22:00 DJ / ipod
Why does this timeline work so well? Have a look at the notes below for more details.
Whatever time you invite your guests for, they will arrive earlier than that. In our experience most guests will arrive around 30 minutes prior to the start time and you’ll always get a few keenos that arrive up to an hour before the start. Please bear this in mind. Will your venue be ready for them? It is quite dull for your guests to hang around watching us set up. At Brook Farm, we won’t have any parking attendants on site until 1pm at the earliest – it is important the guests don’t arrive before this time as people will start parking all over the place and all the aesthetics you’ve worked hard to achieve can be ruined quite easily with dodgy parking right next to your marquee.
The most popular time couples usually have their ceremony is 2pm. This gives you guys enough time to relax and enjoy the morning while nailing your wedding prep photos. It also means everyone has a chance to eat lunch before they come – including you. Seriously, it’s a long day and although you don’t want a feast you should definitely eat something.
One and a half hours is a nice duration for the drinks reception. Certainly do not go any longer than 2 hours. It is enough time for your guests to socialise and enjoy a drink or two and a few canapes but not too long so they’re blind drunk by the time they sit down at the wedding breakfast. I know it sounds a bit dramatic but I’ve heard stories where there has been a long drinks reception and lets just say, it all goes downhill from there…
It is not that common anymore but if you do decide to have a receiving line, let your caterers know. It takes far, far longer to seat your guests. Without a receiving line it will take 15-30 minutes to get everyone seated although this is dependant on your guest numbers. Make sure your table plan is visible during the drinks reception. People will naturally find out where they are sitting during this time so it is then much quicker to get them seated.
Nowadays, each couple tend to order the speeches at different times so I would definitely recommend discussing this with your caterer. They need to know when to have the food ready to serve so clear communication with your caterers is key. I’ve actually seen it where the caterers have started plating the food, ready to serve and then a speech has started. It was a change the bridal party had made a few days before but had forgotten to advise the caterers of. It is not the end of the world if this happens, good suppliers adjust quickly but obviously they want to serve you and your guests the best food possible so they would not plan to have it ready 15-30 minutes before they are going to serve it.
Arrival of Evening Guests
7pm is usually the perfect time for the evening guests to arrive. The wedding breakfast should have finished and there will be enough time to say hellos and get a drink prior to the first dance.
First Dance & Cutting the Cake
At 7.30pm the evening guests will be nicely settled in and can enjoy the first dance. While you have everyone grouped together, cut the cake. This will mean you only have to group everyone together once and this flows so much better than letting everyone disperse and then regrouping them again.
Like many venues, we provide the sound system which has volume control in it. This set up has been in place since 2015 so has been tried and tested by countless couples. It works really well because it never cuts the power or music, just controls it. Live music is far more dynamic than a DJ which is why all live music has to finish by 10pm but a DJ can continue. Due to this, you should aim for the band’s first set to start at 8pm. They’re usually 45minutes long which means the band can have a 30 minute break before then starting the second set at 9.15pm.
Most couples advise the end time is 11.30pm even though, in reality, they know it will be more like midnight. This is because our end time of midnight is strict and we have to have all of the music off at that time. When people advise 11.30pm is the end time, it then gives the guests a chance to request ‘one more song’ (normally 2 or 3 times). It also gives everyone a chance to say goodbye without it feeling like an abrupt ending. In all likelihood, your wedding will still end at midnight but by advising 11.30pm is the end time, it will feel more relaxed and helps close the wedding nicely. It is certainly preferable to getting to midnight and just turning everything off.
A popular choice among a lot of couples is for their guests to all stay in the same hotel. There are two reasons for this. If anyone wants to continue the party they can, in the hotel bar. Secondly, your guests can enjoy breakfast together and chat about how wonderful the day was / catch up on any funny stories – there’s usually something! If you do decide to arrange a block booking at a hotel, the ideal way to transport your guests is on a bus or coach. Your guests can really relax knowing that their transport at the end of the night is sorted and it is another fun experience for them. All the little things adding up to make great memories.
One of the most common things we hear is that “we want to make the most of the day and enjoy every single minute we can”. We understand that and you will but if you start too early, it doesn’t necessarily make it more enjoyable. Using the timeline above ensures you fit everything in, there is a nice flow to the day and everyone is able to truly enjoy themselves.