Timing, on your Wedding Day
While these timings may be globally beneficial, they are based on Weddings in Ireland. Irish Weddings Timing requires you to consider:
- Morning Preparation
- Receiving Line (handshake, congratulations)
- Photoshoot (couple, bridal party, family)
- Drinks Reception
- After hours
No Travel – Wedding Timeline
All on 1 site – Morning, Ceremony and Reception at the same venue
Super quickly, here are rough times for a very modern Irish Wedding:
Early Start: Hair/Makeup
12:00/12:30: Photographer Arrives
15:00/15:30: All Photos
16:00/16:30: Couple enter Drinks Reception
17:30: Bell Call
18:30: Food Service
20:30: Band Setup
Travel – Offsite Ceremony – Wedding Timeline
In a little more detail let us look at an example of a normal Irish wedding day timing, with travel from a church (or other offsite ceremony location). This is just a rough example; every day is different. Then we will pose some timing problems, offer solutions and alternative running structures to the wedding day.
Example 8:00 am to 12:15 pm
Bridal Prep depending on the number of heads and faces to be made up Hair Stylist and Makeup Artist could be starting bright and early! This could be 5, 6, 7 am. Give your suppliers your getting dressed time, the time they need to be finished. Do not aim for hair and makeup to be finished at your leave time or your ceremony time. You need time to enjoy getting ready and anything you wish to do before you leave to travel to your ceremony.
Travel to Ceremony
Example 12:15 pm to 12:30 pm
Let’s say a 15 minute drive, allow for a gentle spin to the Ceremony.
Example 12:30 pm to 13:30 pm
Whatever type of Ceremony you are having let’s call it an hour. Will you be bang on time, traffic could have you 10 min late, the celebrant could go off in a tangent. Be the time entrances are made, ceremony takes place, registers are signed, exits are made it will easily be an hour.
Receiving Line – Handshake
Example 13:30 pm to 13:45 pm
The Irish love a good handshake and slap on the back. How many guests are you inviting? Will it be a quick air kiss and a hug or will you end up chatting mid flow (I catch you later Aunty Mary!)?
Example 13:45 pm to 15:30 pm
Rather than break the photo sections into Family, Bridal and Couple that might be in different locations and slightly different times of day. Here is a rough time slot so you can picture the flow of the day. There are lots of different orders and locations that can be used to capture your photos (with a bit of travel time too, if needed).
Travel to Reception Venue
Example 15:30 pm to 16:00 pm
Let’s call it a 30 min spin to the Reception Venue, be it a hotel or country house or castle or other. Modern weddings are orientating towards all taking place in one location so you may save travel time but for that perfect ceremony location you might need to put down so kilometres.
Example 16:00 pm to 17:30 pm
Your guests will be there earlier, but the Reception should be full to welcome you on arrival after you photographs are taken.
17:30 pm to 18:00 pm
Dinner bell rings, sitting of guests and order taking.
18:00 pm to 18:30 pm
Speeches can vary in length. Do you know what you are getting in to (time wise)?
18:30 pm to 20:30 pm
Most food service will fit into a 2 hour window, depending on the number of courses or whether it is fine dining etc.
20:30 pm to 21:30 pm
The Band and DJ will need access to the room. Tables may need to be move, stage erected, leads plugged in, speakers to be levelled, drums to be banged etc
21:30 pm to 24:00 pm
The band will normally do a 2 hour+ set, check in with them, some play right through others, take a food break. May there be murder on the dance floor!
00:00 am to 02:00 am
After the Band a DJ normally plays into the late hours, normal hotel late licensing allows serving until 02:30am, noise must stop at 02:00am. Check with the venue, on rare occasions the cut off time is earlier.
03:00 am to The Last Song is Sung
For those that don’t stopped till the drop, they will have a late late night tipple in the residence bar. Sure aren’t there songs to be sung that a 29 verses long!
Scenarios that impact Wedding Day Timelines
Music must be cut off at 1 am
Whether there is a curfew or the venue has strict noise rules, if you have an earlier music cut off time here is a suggested solution. Scenario: Music must stop at 01:00 am! I still want my Band and DJ.
From talking to the Music lads, all in they will require 5 hours to provide their full service. That includes setup time, Band time, DJ time and any breaks or change over.
01:00 am Music must stop (DJ stops)
23:00 pm DJ starts, after Band finishes
21:00 pm Band starts, after setup
20:00 pm Band setup, room change over (tables moved etc)
18:00 pm Dining starts, first plate severed.
17:30 pm Speeches
17:00 pm Bell call for Dinner
16:00 pm Wedding Couple arrive to Drinks reception
15:30 pm Travel Time (Wedding Couple)
13:45 pm Photos
13:30 pm Receiving Line
12:30 pm Ceremony
When there is an early noise cut off and you still what to get as much dancing in as possible. Make or break is the dining service. If you plan to move the dining earlier, it is critical it happens and that the service keeps to timing. So that the Band and DJ can get cracking.
In the above scenario we have only moved the bell forward 30 min so the venue don’t feel under too much pressure and we have taken 30 min from the Bands window of time. That way your whole day does not have to be re-arranged and the Ceremony time can remain unchanged.
Ceremony cannot take place until 3 pm
With a shift from off site Ceremony locations to Ceremonies taking place in the same location as the Reception. Some venues insist a Ceremony may not take place until 15:00 pm and the bell call will be 17:30 pm as standard. This leaves 2 ½ hours to have your Ceremony, Photographs, and Drinks Reception. This is simply not workable.
In practice, in such venues the Ceremony starts after 15:00 pm and depending on how much you put into the Ceremony (music, reading, elements) the ceremony will take 40 minutes plus. Anyone saying otherwise is not being honest. You then have the receiving line.
At the earliest it will be 16:00 pm when you start your photographs. Depending on the time of year, there may be little or no light. You may want to get Family photos, Bridal Party photos and Couple photos. You will also want to spend some time in the Drinks Reception. 90 minutes at a push is not long to get all that done and relax! You should enjoy your wedding day not rush it!
- Ask the venue if the Ceremony can be moved to 14:00 pm. That hour will make all the difference.
- Have the Ceremony off site, there are many beautiful ceremony venues such as Kilruddery in Wicklow or Sea Church in Ballycotton. They will be more than accommodating to you Wedding Ceremony.
- Photographs to be taken before the Ceremony. A pre-shoot including a first look.
The first 2 solutions are self-explanatory, so lets look at the timing for the Wedding Photograph Pre-shoot and first look.
12:45 Arrive on site or leaving rooms
13:00 First Look
13:40 Bridal Party
14:00 Couple Shoot
14:30 Photos finish, pre-Ceremony freshen up
If the venue location is suitable for photographs, you can have a pre-shoot on site. If you strike a balance between getting the essential photos and not spending too much time before the Ceremony this can work out really well. As once your Ceremony is over, you are free to enjoy the drinks reception.
It is important to have a bit of time before the Ceremony to come down from the photos and ease yourself into the Ceremony. One partner may want to welcome guests to the Ceremony and one partner may need to freshen up before the entrance into the Ceremony. So as not to rush this leave a window of time before the Ceremony and after the pre-shoot.
By doing the pre-shoot you will also avoid waiting until 3 pm for your Ceremony, it creates a long day and simply throws hours away.
My Band are starting at 8:30 pm
“No they are not! Does the Band know? In your dreams. Why? Does the venue know?”
They are some of the answers or smart ass comments you might receive.
Seriously though, if you plan on having a band start before the window of 21:30 to 22:30 everybody needs to know and you need to be aware of what service the band and DJ are offering or covering.
Normally a band does 2 1/2 hours set then the DJ does 2 hours at an Irish Wedding. So if you are expecting more, check in with your music suppliers and plan the timeline.
If the Band is going to start at 20:30, they need to have setup and be ready to go. So the need full access to the stage area and the hotel service needs to be finished. That includes a clear dancefloor and tables being rearranged.
Speeches between courses
Evidence that this rarely works well, most venues will not allow this. Speeches tend to run longer, it breaks the flow of service. For Speeches in general, you should set the tone for the length that is permitted. If you want the speeches to be done in a specific window, tell the speakers what max time they have. If you are going to let them speak on, if that is your thing and the crowd expect it then build it into your timeline plan. Tell the venue so the chef knows.