wedding day timeline

Wedding Day Timeline: Planning Your Wedding Schedule

One of the most important things to think about when planning a wedding is your wedding day timeline. What will your wedding day schedule look like?

We asked Jade Lotsu, expert wedding planner at The Queens Hotel in Cheltenham, to talk us through a typical wedding day timeline and how to plan your wedding day schedule.


Can you give an example of a standard wedding day schedule?

Every wedding day should start with a celebratory breakfast for the couple and their close family and friends.

A bridal party will typically start to rise around 7am for hair and make-up and many couples will ask their photographer to arrive early to capture the excitement and preparations. Brides like to stay in our Renascence Suite for its elegant design and lots of space to relax and get ready.

We suggest that the couple are both dressed and ready for the ceremony at least 30 minutes to an hour before the ceremony for pictures to be captured with bridesmaids, parents, siblings, best man, and ushers. A groom traditionally also welcomes guests as they arrive to see the big ‘I do’.

Once the happy couple is married, we recommend that the wedding party has a reception drink with canapés either outside in our garden or in our orangery, Victoria’s. This allows time for the couple to mingle with guests, as well as having pictures taken. Ahead of a wedding, we invite our couples to come to the hotel with their photographer to plan where they will take the pictures on the big day.

Every venue has iconic wedding picture locations, ours includes our striking staircase, the hotel’s historic exterior, the fireplace in our lounge, and Imperial Gardens opposite the hotel.

Wedding guests will be called to our Regency Suite from 5pm onwards to enjoy the wedding breakfast, speeches, cake cutting, and the first dance.

Read more: Find the perfect first dance song for your wedding here

How can couples make a timeline for their wedding day?

We take our couples through the timeline for their wedding day once we know all the details that they’d like to see incorporated. Always ask your wedding planner to help with timings as they will know the amount of time you should dedicate to say hair and make-up, ceremony, drinks receptions, speeches, cake cutting and so on.

How long before the ceremony should the bride and/or groom be ready?

It is down to the individual couple because some like to dedicate time to pre-ceremony photos with the wedding party. We usually advise our couples to be ready 30 minutes to an hour before the ceremony. We can also arrange for the bridal party to enjoy a glass of bubbles in their suite, while the groom’s party may raise a toast in our Gold Cup Bar.

What needs to be done on the morning of your wedding?

We take care of all the arrangements on the big day so our couples can concentrate on celebrating their wedding with their friends and family. Our couples don’t need to worry about a thing as we will coordinate the arrival of their florist, cake maker, photographer, DJ, or band, etc.

What are a bride’s options the night before the wedding?

We have some wonderful suites at Queens Hotel Cheltenham and many of our brides will stay with us the night before their wedding so they can relax and enjoy the morning of their big day.

We hold dinners for the couple and their friends and family the night before a wedding in our restaurant as a pre-event celebration. Many couples opt for this to make the wedding into a weekend celebration.

And how about the groom?

We also welcome grooms the night before their wedding too. We ensure that the couple is allocated rooms at opposite ends of Queens Hotel to minimise the risk of them crossing paths before the ceremony. Our Gold Cup Bar is the perfect place to have a nightcap to calm any nerves, so our couples can get a good night’s sleep. 

Who typically gets ready with the bride?

This is a personal decision, but you typically see bridesmaids and her parents joining the bride on the morning of the wedding.

How long should you allow for the ceremony?

This is again down to the couple, as some opt for vows and the marriage register to just be signed. While others may wish to include close family members or friends through readings, or perhaps the signing of songs.

Read more: Modern wedding readings to personalise your wedding ceremony

A ceremony can last between 30 minutes to an hour. We cater to our couples’ dream day and preferences so that their wedding is truly unique to them.

What happens after the wedding ceremony?

Wedding guests will exit the ceremony room to toast the happy couple at a pre-wedding breakfast reception, and photos will be taken. We like to host receptions in our garden and Victoria’s because it is a light and airy space which gives guests the chance to mingle. 

Our historical space is versatile which allows our couples to decorate the space to their own preferences, from flowers to handcrafted decorations we will help them make the space their own. Our chef and his team will also create a selection of canapés, which go perfectly with a glass of bubbles or perhaps a cocktail.

When should the evening guests arrive?

Evening guests tend to arrive from 7.30pm onwards, following speeches and the wedding breakfast. We suggest to couples that evening guests arrive just before the cake cutting and first dance.

Read more: 11 amazing first dance videos that went viral

When do you serve the wedding breakfast?

We tend to seat guests in our Regency Suite for the wedding breakfast between 5.00pm to 6.00pm and serve a selection of dishes that celebrate local Cotswold produce, for example,  a Braised lamb shoulder accompanied by a parsnip and Guinness pure, carrots and braising jus. We offer a variety of dishes to suit dietary requirements, so all guests leave feeling full and very happy.

Read more: Unusual wedding catering ideas to delight your guests

When should the evening food be served?

If a couple asks for late evening snacks to be served, we suggest that the dishes are brought out at 8.30pm to 9.30pm. Our popular evening buffet includes a variety of hot and cold items for guests to enjoy.

Do you cut the cake before or after your evening guests arrive?

Cutting the cake is an iconic part of the wedding and we suggest that couples invite evening guests along to arrive just before this event. It gives the evening guests a sense of feeling fully involved in the day.

When does the first dance typically happen?

We have some couples who like to do a dance routine, and this may involve a costume change, so their guests have a dance before the couple returns to have their first dance. Other couples might be more traditional and ask that they have the first dance of the evening and this may occur just after the cake cutting.

Read more: The best Disney songs for your wedding

Planning your Wedding Day – Free Wedding Day Timeline

We’ve created a free printable template for your wedding day timeline. Use this to figure out the timings for your wedding day to make sure you allow plenty of time for all the key events and nothing clashes or overlaps!

Planning the day of your wedding in a wedding day timeline

Click to download your free Wedding Day Timeline. If you need some more advice, why not ask your wedding venue – they’ll be happy to help you out!

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