You probably want your wedding day to last for as long as possible because, chances are, it’s going to whizz by all too quickly! But when should you start things off and when should it all finish? It’s up to you really, so to help you decide on wedding timings, we’ve compiled a list of pros and cons for each options…

Bride and groom in front of light-up letters Wedding Timings: What Time of day is Best for my Wedding?
Credit: James Davidson

Wedding Timings: What Time of day is Best for my Wedding?

An afternoon wedding

Credit: Sarah Morris Photography

With an afternoon wedding, your time is going to be limited. If your ceremony is scheduled for 2pm and you then host a wedding reception afterwards, before leaving for your honeymoon at about 6pm, that only gives you four hours to fit everything in; this should be more than enough time for a small, intimate wedding, but if you’ve dreamed of a big event you might find it all a bit of a rush.

If you have young children whom you want to be part of your big day, then they’ll be at their best during the afternoon rather than the evening when they might become bored, tired and grumpy.

Because an afternoon event is shorter, you’ll find it easier to stick to a tight wedding budget. After your ceremony you could simply hold an afternoon tea. Apart from some fizz for the toasts, you can get away with serving cups of tea and coffee and soft drinks. A vintage theme works really well with an afternoon tea and don’t forget you can hire some really pretty china to add to the effect.

An afternoon wedding can open up your venue choices, too – you can hold an elegant affair in the conservatory of a stately home or country house hotel and maybe even have a string quartet playing as people arrive in the mellow afternoon light.

An evening wedding

Credit: Rob Sanderson Photography

Due to a recent relaxation in the laws surrounding the time you can get married, you can now hold your ceremony during the evening and then throw a party immediately afterwards. If you fancy holding your event in a stately home or National Trust property, which normally only holds weddings outside of daytime opening hours, you may have the place all to yourselves. Talk to your venue about what’s possible.

Don’t feel you have to have a formal sit-down dinner if you’re hosting an evening celebration. If you’d rather your guests mingled, then consider serving a buffet. You can still have a table plan if you’re planning on seating your guests, and how about trying a sweetie table instead of formally serving dessert.

If you opt for an evening wedding then you’ll probably be having a DJ or live band to entertain your guests. If that’s the case, don’t forget to have some sort of chill-out room for your guests who would rather sit, chat and catch up instead of dance. They’re going to need to be able to hear each other rather than have music drowning out the conversation! Also, if you’re having to clear tables away from the front to accommodate the dancing then think about where those guests are going to be sitting – particularly older ones. You don’t want people to leave early because they’re uncomfortable!

Depending on the type of catering you decide on, an evening wedding may work out to be more expensive than an afternoon celebration as you’re likely to be inviting more people, hence catering for them all.

If young children are attending, you may need to think about a quiet room where they can sit and watch a DVD quietly or have a nap.

An all-day event

Credit: Award Weddings

An all-day event goes on for longer, which is lovely for you but you’ll need to think carefully about your guests’ wants and needs if you’re entertaining them from lunchtime through to midnight.

Firstly, consider your budget. If you’re holding your ceremony at 2pm then you’ll need to offer your guests refreshments immediately afterwards, either a drinks reception or an afternoon tea. For the evening event you’re going to need to do the same again; greet your evening guests with drinks and canapés before an evening meal, whether it’s a buffet, formal sit-down or something informal like a hog roast.

You’re going to need to send out two different sorts of invitations – an invitation to both the afternoon and evening event for some guests and an evening-only invite to others. Don’t make your evening guests feel second-best. Greet them warmly; they’re making the effort to attend your wedding, they’ve probably given you a present and you want them to have a good time.

If you can have a short break between the afternoon and evening event it gives everyone a chance to catch their breath – and it also gives you chance to redo your hair and make-up. If you’re holding your evening do in a different venue, people can go back to where they’re staying to get changed, freshen up and return invigorated for the evening ahead. Children can be bathed and put to bed in the care of a babysitter so parents can enjoy an evening unencumbered.

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