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When it comes to planning a wedding, timing is everything. One thing falls behind schedule; all the things that follow also get affected. Learn the art of planning a wedding on time. With your soon-to-be-husband, you can outline a wedding ceremony schedule to ensure no delays occurs.

You should also have a backup place in place, so you can fall back on it immediately instead of running here and there in panic mode on your wedding day trying to arrange a backup. For instance, the cake you ordered does not get delivered on time. Have a backup cake in the fridge.

It may not be as lavish as the one you ordered but at least, it will not delay the cake cutting ceremony. Yes, you will have your bridesmaids and maid of honor to handle that on your behalf, but you will still feel stressed about it. You will want constant updates from them.

Being stressed out on such a momentous occasion will ruin your mood. Another way to ensure your big day goes as planned is to hire a wedding planner. Even then, it is important to know how long does a wedding ceremony last. To answer this question, we have developed a timeline that you can use as a guide to help you plan your wedding ceremony. Let’s start.

Timeline of Wedding Ceremony with and without a Gap between the Wedding Reception

A wedding ceremony without a two-hour gap between the wedding reception might look something like the following:

  • 9:00 AM: Getting ready (hair, makeup, and clothes)
  • 9:30 AM:  Vendors arrive at the venue for wedding ceremony setup
  • 10:30 AM:  Preparations begin, and the photographer starts to take pics
  • 11:00 AM:  First look and couple photo session starts
  • 11:45 AM: Family photo session starts
  • 12:30 PM: Doors open, vendors prepare room for guests, and pre-wedding ceremony music starts
  • 1:00 PM:  Guests start arriving
  • 1:15 PM:  Wedding ceremony starts
  • 1:35 PM: Wedding ceremony ends
  • 1:40 PM:  Cocktail hour starts, and the second round of family photo session starts
  • 2:30 PM:  Vendors serve lunch
  • 3:00 PM:  Toasts to the couple start
  • 3:30 PM:  Couple’s first dance
  • 5:00 PM: Couple cuts the cake and vendors serve dessert
  • 6:15 PM:  Couple leaves the venue
  • 6:30 PM: Guests leave the venue
  • 6:30 PM:Vendors clean up
  • 7:30 PM:  Vendors leave the venue

A wedding ceremony with a two-hour gap between the wedding reception might look something like the following:

  • 9:00 AM: Getting ready (hair, makeup, and clothes)
  • 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM: Vendors arrive at the venue for wedding ceremony setup
  • 12:00 PM:  Wedding party arrives, and photographer starts to take family photos
  • 1:30 PM: Doors open, vendors prepare room for guests, and pre-wedding ceremony music starts
  • 2:00 PM:  Guests start arriving
  • 2:15 PM:  Wedding ceremony starts
  • 3:00 PM:  Wedding ceremony begins
  • 3:00 PM:  Vendors arrive at the venue for wedding reception setup
  • 3:30 PM: Guests leave the wedding ceremony venue
  • 4:00 PM:  Vendors clean up the wedding ceremony venue and leave
  • 4:30 PM: Doors to the venue for the wedding reception open, guests start to arrive, and music starts to play
  • 5:00 PM:  Couple arrives at the wedding reception and cocktail hour begins
  • 6:30 PM: Vendors setup for dinner and guest move to the dinner area
  • 6:45 PM: Vendors open the buffet or serve dinner to guests
  • 7:00 PM:  Guests eat their food
  • 7:15 PM: Toasts to the couple start
  • 8:00 PM: Couple’s first dance
  • 8:05 PM:  Guests join the couple on the dance floor
  • 8:05 PM:  Photographer takes the second set of pre-sunset photos
  • 8:26 PM:Sunset
  • 8:45 PM:  Vendors serve dessert
  • 9:45 PM:Last call
  • 9:55 PM:  Vendors turn off the music
  • 10:00 PM:Couple and guests leave the venue
  • 11:00 PM:Vendors clean up and leave the venue

By looking at the time between the start and end of the wedding ceremony, you know that it should not take longer than 15 to 20 minutes. You can extend it 30 minutes, but not longer than that. However, this is not a hard and fast rule, as how long does a wedding ceremony last depends on several factors such as the various types of elements you include in to it and the type of wedding ceremony you are having — religious or secular.

Common Wedding Ceremony Questions

What Time Should You Ask Guest to Come?

You have early guests who will show up at your wedding 30 minutes before it begins and then you have the late guests who will show up to your wedding at least 10 minutes later. For this reason, you need to plan your wedding ceremony 15 minutes after the given invite time.

When Should You Serve Dinner?

The type of food service you have selected and the size of your guest list depend on the time you serve the food. The most common dinner options include plated, family-style, and buffet. Plated dinner is spaced about 40 to 45 minutes, family-style dinner takes around 15 to 20 minutes for 100 guests to get their food, and buffet takes around 20 minutes for 100 guests to go and return from the buffet.

With that said, you need to keep this in mind when choosing the type of dinner option you want to have at your wedding. You should also discuss this with the catering service you have hired to serve food at your wedding.

When you plan your wedding, you need to have a general idea of the timeline. You can sit with your fiancé or wedding planner or both to discuss the timeline of the wedding ceremony. If something goes not as planned, do not panic, stay calm, and have a backup ready.

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