Now that you’ve put together your pre-ceremony timeline, the next logical thing to do is put together your ceremony timeline! We aren’t talking about the ceremony itself, but the logistical time around the ceremony that helps build your full wedding day timeline. 

How much time you should allow for the ceremony depends on a few different factors. It depends on whether you are in a house of worship or not, how many people are in your family/bridal party what wedding traditions you plan to include.

Average Wedding Ceremony Length

On average, a wedding ceremony is about 30 minutes long. This would include time for an average-sized processional and a basic ceremony that includes one to two readings. If your bridal party is extremely large or you have multiple sets of parents and grandparents, you might need some extra time. Or on the flip side, if you have just parents and only one or two members in your bridal party it could be shorter. If you are in a church or planning a Catholic ceremony with a full mass, you will definitely need extra time for the ceremony. 

Traditionally, a wedding ceremony includes these key pieces:

  • Processional: this can include the wedding party, parents or grandparents, and the bride walking down the aisle
  • Welcome: then, the officiant will welcome the guests and say an opening prayer if it is included in your ceremony
  • Readings: this can include a religious text, poem, or excerpt from a special book
  • Vows: traditional or self-written, the vows are typically when the "I Do's" are exchanged
  • Pronouncement and the kiss: finally, the officiant pronounces you married, and you get to kiss your new spouse

So, let’s use the half hour average for discussion purposes. If you have a 5 p.m. ceremony and your processional starts right at 5 p.m., you can plan to be done by 5:30 p.m. Then what happens between the ceremony and the reception?

Well, after the ceremony ends you will likely have more pictures you need to take. Allow space in the timeline post-ceremony for family pictures, and depending on what pictures you got done pre-ceremony, you might need to schedule some additional time for bridal party and newlywed pictures, too. Make sure your wedding photographer knows what your must-have pictures are so they can work their magic! This is a place in your timeline to rely on assistance from your photographer and their photography timeline knowledge!

Last thing to consider in your ceremony timeline is travel time. If your ceremony is at a different location than your reception, determine how long it will take to travel between the two for both you and your guests.

Creating Your Wedding Timeline

When creating your wedding timeline, remember, things often don't always happen exactly as planned. Create buffers in your timeline to add room for delays and ask your wedding planner to help keep the event moving. 


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Photo: Beulah Photography