What time are you getting married? Due to the recent (we won't say strange or unprecedented times) surge in wedding postponements you might find that to secure a new date that you're happy with you have had to accept an alternative time for your wedding. Perhaps you had originally planned for a 1pm ceremony but now you're looking at an 11am or a 3:30pm ceremony instead. All of this culminating in the fact that you now need to plan for an alternative order of your wedding day. A bit of admin before we get started. We have a post for those of you who are having a 1 - 2pm ceremony and want to plan the order for your wedding day. You can check that our here. And please, even if you're having an alternative time for your wedding, you can still make use of the downloadable tool in that post to help you plan out the structure of your day. We also have a zoomcast all about this subject that you can watch here and you can check out the show notes for it here where you can find loads of relevant real wedding inspiration. Ok, on to business. The most important thing to do is to embrace the changes that are occurring right now. I have been to weddings at 12pm and weddings at 3:30pm and both were equally amazing in their own rights. The length of your day doesn't determine the value of it. You're still marrying the love of your life, hopefully surrounded by all of your friends and family and promising forever. This is always the most important thing. Right... Now on to how you can shift things around should you need to.
You can still make the most of getting ready with your girls. Try and get an early night the night before (!) and see if your venue will let you in earlier - all suppliers are willing to help as much as they can so please keep your communications open and transparent with your venue and always ask the question. There's no reason you can't still get ready together. Have a sleepover with your maid-of-honour/sister etc the night before so you are not worrying about travel/rushing in the morning. No-one sleeps particularly well the night before the wedding - those excitement butterflies may keep you a bit restless so you might as well make the most of your inability to sleep and rise with the birds.
Remember I was saying to embrace the day? Think about how you might be able to adapt the timings to suit your situation. Maybe your drinks reception is happening at 11:30 now rather than 2:30 - then give your guests breakfast! You can safely assume they had a decent breakfast before they arrived at your ceremony so putting on late breakfast come brunch will go down a treat. Swap your prawn volovants for mini pastries and maybe swap your espresso martinis for a brunch-time bellini instead.
You don’t necessarily have to consider additional entertainment if your wedding is earlier - people often fret about how to entertain guests during that canapé/drinks reception time but if you plan your day cleverly - it doesn’t need to feel too extended. And the bottom line? Your guests won't be bored. They're either catching up with folk they've not seen for years, reminiscing about hen do stories with new friends or chilling with their besties sipping on brunch bellinis. I'd love to find myself bored at your wedding if that's what's going down. This is a great opportunity for, what we like to call, interactive decor. Catchy isn't it. Essentially this is decor that doubles up as giving your guests something to do or just something thoroughly gorgeous to look at now that they actually have the time to take it in. Some great examples are a photo wall, innovative guest book, dressing up box, tattoo bar, DIY Photobooth with frames and props. Perhaps you had plans of getting the glitter out on the evening of your wedding... Why not bring that forward - there's no reason why your mate beardy Bill can't rock a glitter beard whilst tucking into his roast chicken. Glitter isn't just for when one is getting down on the dance floor you know. See some excellent examples of interactive decor here. Music is key to creating atmosphere and allowing your day to feel like it has some momentum. Perhaps consider a “day time” playlist - it doesn’t cost you anything. Think more chill-out music rather than dance tracks perhaps. And you can even ask your guests for requests. If you have planned live music for your drinks reception then chat with your musicians. Perhaps they had originally intended to do two 30 minute slots for you with a 15-minute break in-between. Perhaps now they may be able to do you 3, 15 Minute sets with shorter breaks to help fill out the time a bit. Chat to them - they can offer advice for how to make your new timings work and keep it in your budget. Another great idea for filling out sometime in the order of your wedding day is to bring your speeches forward. Yep, we said it. Screw tradition... do it your own way. There are several advantages of doing your speeches during your drinks reception too. Firstly, some of those making a speech might be feeling very nervous about it so getting it out of the way sooner is an added bonus for them. The more informal setting for speeches might suit your day better. You might find that you want to capture some couples shots at about 5pm as the sun is starting to set and this way you don't have to rush through anything to make sure you can dip out in time to capture it.
It's a great idea to make sure that with a prolonged drinks reception that you have plenty of seating for guests to take a load off. So check with your venue exactly how the layout of your room/s works and if you can bring in any additional seating for the duration of your reception. It might also be a good shout to limit alcohol consumption slightly during this time. Perhaps lay on a coffee cart with plenty of water or have a cocktail hour where guests can pimp their own drinks. No-one wants Auntie Barbara to fall asleep during the starters later.
As we always say, your day your way but if you need a guide as to how your morning wedding might plan out you can use this as a base.
6am - Hair and make-up will likely start around now (it's really important to check timings with your hair and MUA) depending on how long it takes for you to get to your ceremony venue and how many bridesmaids you have - could be slightly earlier, could be a bit later.
10am - Ceremony
10:45 - Confetti
11:15 - Reception drinks/canapés/decor entertainment. Two hours for this might feel like a long time but actually, it's not that long. Remember, you're having photos, guests are catching up. It's better you have two hours (plus) here than rushing it through in one.
1:30 - Wedding breakfast
3:30 - Speeches
4:30 - Wedding cake and coffees
5:30 - Evening guests arrive (yeah the party is starting early!)
6:30 - First dance
8:00 - Evening food as day guests will start to get peckish by now
Midnight - Carriages as dictated by your venue.
Afternoon wedding guestlist
Have you considered the possibility of joining your guest lists together if you originally had a day and an evening list? You can be sure that with a 3pm ceremony, for example, that your guests will have had a good lunch before they join you - you can even suggest that they do as your evening food isn't likely to be served until about 6pm. With that in mind, you could speak with your caterers/venue and ask them if they have a suggestion for how to change your food plans to incorporate more guests into your entire day. Perhaps you could drop from 3 courses to 2 or look at sharing platters or a hot buffet-style dinner. If this is an option for you yet you feel you would still like to have more of a formal sit-down dinner you could always do that the next day with your families and bridal party perhaps. Food for thought. (Don't pardon the pun - it was entirely intended).
You'll likely still be up at the crack of dawn. It is your wedding day and regardless the time of your ceremony - your butterflies will be the same only now it means you can take your time getting ready. It's likely that your hair and MUA will still stick to the same timeframes for getting you ready but you will have more time before that all kicks off. Why not organise for friends to pop round and see you for a bit, perhaps organise a wedding morning brunch? You may not need to start getting ready until 11:30 so make the most of that time. Take a long soak in a big bubbly bath, watch your favourite episode of Drag Race to get your energy up. Whatever takes your fancy, you have the time to do it.
We often talk about throwing caution to the wind and sacking off traditions or in fact, creating your own. And having a later wedding is a great way of incorporating a growing tradition we're seeing more form our friends across the pond in the USA. The first look. This is essentially when you and your soon to be husband or wife take some time before your ceremony to be together. The first look happens when you are both ready... fresh out of your respective hair and MUA chairs feeling and looking your very best. You can check out some examples of first looks below and we absolutely LOVE them. Especially if you may be having a ceremony later and you're short on light depending on the season in which you marry. Getting those couples shots when you still have the light might be a great compromise for you. You can still carry on the rest of your ceremony the same. Waltz yourself down the aisle to your other half waiting at the altar or maybe walk down together. Caution to the wind remember. Whilst I'm on the topic of photography, it's a good idea to chat to your photographer about when they think will be the best time for certain shots based on your new schedule, and from experience, I can tell you not to worry about the dark. Some of my favourite photos from our wedding were at night. Something about the atmosphere and the intensity really made them stand out. Our dance floor photos were also brilliant and really make me smile. So trust in your photographer. You chose them for a reason and they will capture your day perfectly whatever the light.
Make It An Evening Affair
Embrace the night. Ask your guests to come in their finest cocktail dresses, maybe make it black-tie... Think Met Gala fashion - OTT and super celebratory. Because why not? If you're concerned that your original party was finishing at 11 or 12pm and you now feel that's too short of a party timeframe, speak with your venue about ways in which you can extend that time. Is it possible? How much would it cost? Are there any other restrictions? Perhaps they close at 11pm because of a noise restriction - can you suggest having a silent disco to combat this and get an extra hour out of your dance floor?
As above, here's a lose guide to how your afternoon wedding might pan out.
11:30pm - Start getting ready. You'll be super relaxed after your champagne brunch.
2:30pm - First look and photos
3:30pm - Ceremony
4:30pm - Confetti
4:45pm - Drinks reception, group photos etc
6pm - Seated for dinner
7:30pm - Speeches
8pm - First dance
10:30pm - Evening snack We would love to hear more about your plans for the order of your wedding day so do leave a comment below or why not pop over to our free forum and start a thread in there all about the order of your day to get ideas from our community.
you can listen to Charlotte and Becky talk all about alternative orders of the day on Episode 36 of the podcast.