There's no way that words like schedule, itinerary or timetable have ever been romantic. But a big part of planning a wedding is getting the timing of events right, and unless you've done it before it can be really hard to plan when and how things will happen.
If you've got a good event manager they'll be able to help you sort this out, but its useful to have some ideas before you get to this stage, so here's some tips!
1. Allow half an hour on your invitations for guests to arrive and settle in before the ceremony starts.
2. Everyone will want to hug, kiss and congratulate you after the ceremony and this takes time! Add 15 minutes to the ceremony time just for this, if you're planning on taking off for photos straight afterwards.
3. Have something for people to do between the ceremony and reception, and try not to leave this gap too long. An hour to an hour and a half is fine. We like to set up a bar at the ceremony site, so that you can serve champagne straight away and start celebrating. With a drink in hand people will entertain themselves happily for an hour or so and catch up.
4. Serve food quickly once the reception starts. Whether its a lunch or dinner reception, people will be hungry by the time they get there, and especially if you've taken up the suggestion of a bar after the ceremony its important to serve food within half an hour.
5. Keep speeches short and sweet where possible. Ideally no more than half an hour for speeches, and give people making the speeches a timeframe, which depends on how many people are speaking. If you're doing them before the meal this is even more important (see tip 4), personally I think speeches over dessert is a great idea, as most people are happy to sit still and listen with a plate of sweets in front of them.
6. Here's a sample timeline that we work to for most of our weddings:
4pm Guests arrive
4.30 Ceremony start time
6pm Reception start time
6:30 Food service begins
8:30 Dessert service
10:30 Last drinks
11pm Event concludes
7. Remember that if things don't go according to schedule its not the end of the world! Allow some room for a margin of error in your timeline and don't worry if things take a little longer or shorter than planned for, some flexibility is key to making the day a relaxed, fun and joyful celebration!