Wedding Costs – The Facts!

It’s no secret that weddings are an expensive thing, but just how much they can cost never fails to surprise newly engaged couples. Today Samantha shares the secrets behind your spending, to help you understand just how much wedding suppliers actually cost, but why they’re totally worth their weight in cofetti… 

Whilst it isn’t always necessary to fork out a fistful of cash for your wedding day, it is important to remember that for some aspects of your wedding, your hard earned pennies really are going a long way to ensure a perfect day.

As a wedding planner, I often hear questions asked over the supposedly ridiculous sums of money being requested by certain suppliers for the services they supply. But it is important to remember that in many cases, your finance doesn’t just fund what you see on the day. Hours and hours of hard work, quality equipment, and professional commitment go in to your wedding, both before and after the big day itself – so here’s a little glimpse in to the truth about supplier fees, and why many in the industry are simply worth their salt when saying ‘I do.’


The facts: Most photographers will snap away for an average 10 – 12 hours on a wedding day, capturing your every tiny moment from when you put your mascara on, to when you cry it off again during the first dance. They never miss a beat to ensure that you don’t miss a moment.

That’s a long time to be running around on your feet come rain or shine, with a heavy camera around your neck, different lenses in hand, and with a back pack the size of a small suitcase never leaving your side either. Often, they don’t even get a spare moment to nip to the loo or grab a sip of water between shots of the bridal party and your mingling guests.

Photographers work hard. Fact.

Not to mention then the hours – days! – spent editing on average 600-1000 photos after the wedding, to ensure you get that one memorable snap above your mantelpiece. And, of course, there’s the engagement shoot they did with you a few weeks before, the endless emails, the studying the venue and day plan, and the travel they put in to being there on your day… those extra hours really do clock up!

I’m a big believer in good photography, and truly feel that where your photos are concerned it’s worth paying well. These are the memories that will last a life time… and you’re paying for an artist, after all.

Look out for: Photographers who offer a full package from start of the day until shortly after the first dance, rather than by setting time restraints. Second shooters are always a bonus for maximum coverage (they have to be paid as well though!), and how many photos you receive after the wedding and in what format all counts in ensuring your money goes far.

Recommended Spend: £1,500 – £3,000. 

Wedding Costs - Oh So Perfect - Sarah Gawler


The facts: Pretty much the same as above! These guys use some bloody expensive equipment don’t forget, and that needs insuring too. It might seem pricey now, but in years to come, having the beautiful footage of your father’s speech will prove truly priceless.

Look out for: What equipment will your videographer use on the day – is it HD and loaded with snazzy extras? Will they be using a drone? (They should use a drone – drones are AWESOME). Find out how long the finished video will run for, and whether your guests can download copies of the highlights too.

Recommended Spend: £1500-£2500


The Facts: The cost of a florist will of course depend largely upon the sort of flower display you’d like for your wedding. If you want big, blousy blooms, large red roses, lilies, and peonies a-plenty, it’s important you’re prepared to pay for them (or else consider cheaper alternatives!).

But even so, a florist is responsible not just for styling the day itself, but for all the creativity that goes into helping you implement the bulk of the décor. Often, they spend long hours in and out of consultation with you making a plan to help achieve your dream floral vision, and in the days before the wedding they work all hours taking delivery, visiting the flower markets, and prepping and pruning the perfect posies, in order to put it all together on the day – which in itself will take a whole morning!

There’s also all the props and pretty vases, candles, ribbons and wire, that come together to create a floral feast for the eyes.

Look out for: photographic examples of a florist’s work will give you a clear vision of what to expect for your money. Find out whether you’ll need to hire props and vases separately or if this is part of the package, and will the florist be growing her own seasonal blooms or ordering them in?

Recommended Spend: £1000 – £3000 (depending on your expectations!)



The Facts: Brides are often rather surprised at the cost of a wedding cake, but remember we’re talking about a cake that’s at least 2 tiers bigger than your standard birthday bake, and with enough sponge packed in to feed the hundreds!

Quality cakes use quality ingredients – Belgian chocolate, freshly laid eggs, the finest sugar – these things don’t come cheap! Your cake maker will spend a good few days working in her kitchen to ensure the base is perfectly balanced and the right amount of spring is in your sponge. As for icing – that sugar crafted cascade of flowers will have taken oooh hours of fiddly perfection to get right!

Look out for: Try before you buy – look at previous examples of your supplier’s work, and go for a tasting to choose your flavours.  Delicious cakes are something to be sampled! Find out where your cake’s ingredients will be sourced from and the quality of them, plus whether your hire includes a stand and set up fee too. If you’re after something more exquisite, find out where your cake maker trained and what creative qualifications they have to justify their cost.

Recommended spend: £350-500 for 3 tiers. 


Live Music

The facts: When you hire a band, it’s important to note you’re not booking one man; you’re probably booking 4 or 5 of them. Similarly, you’re not just paying for 2 x 1 hour sets – you’re paying for the hour set up, the set, the break, the set again, and the break down – and that can be 5 or 6 hours on site, not even counting the travel.

Then there’s the rehearsals… learning the new songs you’ve requested… preparing your playlists… it all adds up!

At the end of the night, think how exhausted you felt after dancing. Yep, them too. Being super cool on stage comes at quite a toll!

Look out for: Consider how many people are in the band and where they’re coming from – could you look for a group that’s smaller or nearer? Check out their current playlists and repertoire – do they already cover most of the songs you want to hear or will you be asking for a few extras? Will they take requests on the night? Make sure you listen to their music in advance, even if it’s a recording or a video, to see what their talent is really all about and how they respond to their crowd.

Recommended Spend: £800-£1,200



The Facts: Remember that time you hosted Christmas for Mum, Dad, Granny, Grandpa, your Aunts, Uncles, their seven unruly children, and Great-Auntie Norah’s dog? Well imagine that, but times it by 10. Yeah. Stress.

Your caterers will have been up since dawn peeling and prepping fancy vegetables, chilling chocolate, and trying to work out which wine is for the tables, and which is for the bar. Not to mention that last night they set up an entire kitchen in a field for you.

A good catering team doesn’t just consist of the one chap you were emailing beforehand, there are chefs, sous chefs, waiting staff, bar staff, delivery people, office people – a whole small army of people involved in ensuring the starters come out at 18:00. These people have been working for days to prepare your wedding breakfast, and they won’t stop when it finishes either. Pots need to be cleaned, cutlery filed, and ovens collected; all before they can sit down and tuck in to a sandwich.

Look out for: What equipment does your caterers/venue already have at their disposal, or will they need to hire something in? Do you need a generator for them? A chiller unit? Where will they source their ingredients, and what’s the presentation like? Will it be silver service at the table, or a help yourself buffet? Always go for a tasting to get your menu just-so and read up on past testimonials about not just the food but the service too. You pay for top quality in a restaurant, so do it on your wedding day as well.

Recommended Spend: £80-£100 per head. 

Wedding Costs - Oh So Perfect - Sarah Gawler

So there you have it, it’s not just a case of popping on a frock and raising a glass on the day. Hours and pennies go in to a wedding, not just for you the organised bride, but for everyone involved in making your dream come true.

Sure, cut your budget where you can, and there’s lots of ways to do so too. But where quality is concerned, sometimes you really do get what you pay for… so spend those pennies wisely!

Post written By Samantha Kelsie Imbimbo and first published on Wedding Planner. Post later published on Oh So Perfect and UK Celebrant blogs. All images in this post are by Sarah Gawler Photography and show images from Jonathan and Muncelle’s wedding – planned and coordinated by Oh So Perfect. 

Top Tips: Breaking Tradition (so not to break the bank!)

Weddings, they can be pricey affairs! But there’s plenty of ways to cut back on your budget, simply by saying no to the ‘traditional.’

There is so much emphasis placed on having the ‘perfect day’ that many brides think they have to do everything just so to get it right, and often that means spending a small fortune to do it too. But once you change your perceptions of what is perfect, and accept that, actually, it’s your wedding your way, you can find plenty of ways to knock down your spending, and still celebrate in a way which is perfectly you.

Here’s how….

The Venue
Your wedding does not need to take place in a wedding venue. Fact. Whilst there are many gorgeous, glorious, and completely individual venues out there to choose from, they are not the only option. Hire a hall. Book a basement. Wed in a warehouse. Marry in a marquee…. Look beyond what’s already listed on wedding websites and simply find somewhere – anywhere! – which is suitable for you. A wedding is what you make it, and it’s far cheaper (and a little bit more fun….?) to hire your local village hall and dress it up in bunting, than to book a big venue already kitted out for the most luxurious of dream days.

Outside of the Ordinary
Remember, weddings don’t only have to take place in hotels and stately houses – look outside the box and see what room hire facilities are on offer in more unusual places, for example: museums, country parks, local tourist attractions, warehouses, galleries, restaurants…. Even at the zoo! Or contact some local farmers to see whether they’d let you use their land to set up a marquee in exchange for a small fee.

The Ceremony
….but doesn’t my venue need to be licensed for weddings? No. It doesn’t. You just need to use a wedding celebrant instead for your wedding ceremony (meaning you can hold the ceremony absolutely anywhere you like!)  and you can then register your marriage at the registry office for a minimum fee a few days before or after your wedding day.

IMG_0282The Décor
DIY. I’ll admit it’s not for everybody, but often doing-it-yourself can save a hefty wack of cash. Get everybody involved from crafty friends to helpful family members, and together you can get creative to make your day a pretty one at a fraction of the fee. But be sensible – plan ahead, research the how-to, leave plenty of time, and for goodness sake have an initial trial session at least a few months before you whip out the glue guns and wind up in a frenzy!

The Little Things
Oh eBay, you truly are a bride’s best friend! So many brides list their bulk-buy décor up on eBay after their wedding, so make sure you look online for some second hand beauties before you hit the big shops! And remember, any extras you buy for your wedding can be sold afterwards as well, just remember to think ahead and buy quality items which will be easy to sell on – and list them in bulk!

The Dress
This may come as a surprise to you, but you’re only going to wear that big, white beauty the once. Lots of brides sell their wedding dress after the big day, and there are plenty of second-hand bridal stores stocking some gorgeous numbers. I know the dress is super important, but if you really want to save some cash consider buying one already used – they’re not that bad! You could even customize it and add a little bit of extra detail to make it new and unique to you.

img_3422-1The Girls and The Boys
Bridesmaids and groomsmen do not necessarily have to wear the same outfit. Hit the mid-season sale and mix and match your girls’ dresses in similar shades, or have your gents dress in their own suits but with a matching tie and buttonhole to distinguish them on the day.

The Invitations
The majority of our day to day communications these days takes place over email, social media, and the trusty telephone – so why should our wedding be any different? Rather than post out 100 invitations, create a gorgeous PDF invitation and email it to all and sundry. You can design something bespoke or buy off the peg on Etsy, but you’ll save a fortune on paper and stamps by sending the invite out via the web.

Wedding Website
…. and if emailing your invites isn’t enough, set up a wedding website too, so all your guests can access the full details of the day online and email you their RSVP too.

img_0070The Cake
4 tiers of buttercream-covered fruit and sponge is bloody yummy, but it isn’t an absolute necessity. Hire a ‘dummy cake’ out of the window of your local cake maker (a polystyrene cake covered in real icing) to stand and look pretty in the corner, then purchase a simple square cake to cut and serve after dinner – no one will ever know the difference! Sneaky.

The Dinner
Keep your reception drinks short and sweet so the canapes double up as starters for the main meal, then for dessert it’s all about that wedding cake. In the evening, simply hire in a hot dog van and – BOOM! – full bellies on a minimal budget.

Bake Off
Bake offs aren’t just for the sweet-toothed amongst us, one can also whip up a wonderful savoury dish in full Mary Berry fashion. Invite guests to bring a baked good to your wedding – give some the task of sweet and others the mission to find something savoury, and then use their offerings for your evening buffet. Make a game of it, hold a bake-tasting, and give out prizes for effort. Super fun and not a penny out of your pocket.

The Bar
Sale or return = boozy bonus. Many bar hire companies and alcohol stockists now offer this option so that you can order plenty of drink knowing you’ll get back what you don’t use afterwards. It’s either that or a road-trip to Calais – whatever floats your boat!

Picnic hamper and wedding cake-off wedding - Oh So Perfect Flowers
I won’t lie, as a wedding planner I simply adore fresh flowers, but if you’re really looking to save then consider the alternatives. Do you need a great big bouquet on every table? Create centrepieces that represent you as a couple – get creative with a pile of books, some candles, photos and postcards, or some objects that represent things or places meaningful to you, or go really funky using glass vessels and coloured water – anything pretty and an alternative to petals! If you really do wish to have flowers, why not look into growing your own (usually a good task for a willing gran!), or order your blooms direct from a flower seller and have your bridesmaids get hands on in putting them together the day before the wedding.

The Entertainment
We’re all on iTunes or Spotify or the like these days. Create an awesome playlist, have guests give their suggestions in advance, hire a decent PA speaker system, plug it all in and away you go…. Penny pinching party time!

And finally…
…your wedding is simply what you make it. It doesn’t have to be a big, luxurious, lavish affair to be remembered (although, you know, if you’ve got it flaunt it honey!) but it does have to be true to your expectations. If you want to save, you can, just be savvy about it and let go of the ‘oh, buts….’ There’s no right or wrong wedding day, and not every tradition must be followed to a tee to make it right. It’s yours and it’s going to be a blinder whatever your budget.

Now, hold on to your purse and have fun!

Article written by Samantha Kelsie Imbimbo and first published on Article also published on and

Top Tips: Wedding Gift Etiquette

oh so perfect wedding gift etiquette advice

Ah yes, the old wedding gift conundrum – it does get rather a lot of brides in a flap! Back in the day, couples didn’t live together at all before their marriage (oh, the sin of it!) so having a gift list was essential to the guests giving them a great start in their married life and new home!

Today, many couples already live together for years before they’re wed, so to ask for money has really become quite the norm. And if you don’t want any gifts at all, well, quite frankly you’re probably going to get something because people like to give! This is their celebration too and many people will feel awkward about giving nothing.

Your best option is to write a very polite little note on your invitation letting guests know that whilst you’re really just super thrilled they turned up, if they do want to contribute something then a few pennies wouldn’t go without thanks….

Here’s some ideas to help you say yes please to gift giving:

Jill and Nick - Oh So Perfect - (10)

It’s completely normal…

…to feel awkward about asking! A lot of brides feel strange about asking for money or gifts, but giving is normal too! Your guests will be expecting instructions on gift list/money/vouchers etc so don’t feel bad about asking for it, or they’ll feel worse about asking you!

Be clear, be polite…

If you have a gift list – give full details. If you want cash – make that clear. If it’s going to charity – give the full charity name. Your invite is the giver of all information, so make it clear and don’t beat around the bush, but at the same time remember to be polite about it too and maybe include a little poem to keep it sweet.

How dare you!

OK, I’ll be honest… whether you request gifts or not, there will be some guests who simply don’t give. But you know what, it doesn’t matter! Those that don’t will have still probably forked out for a new outfit/transport/hotel/babysitter to be with you, so if they decide a gift is one step too far then don’t hold them to ransom over it, just be grateful they were there and say thank you all the same.

Jill and Nick - Oh So Perfect - (13)

Giving for every budget…

If you do opt for a gift list, be sure to include something to suit everyone. Close friends, family and those with pockets generously bursting may wish to spoil you, but those who perhaps don’t have the cash will need to look for something small, so make sure you include items that cover a whole range of budgets (and plenty of little bits to keep those with small purses happy!)

Give to Charity

Still feeling weird about it all? Ask for charitable donations instead. That way, if someone still wants to splash out they can, and you’ll all feel good in the long run.

Wedding Fund

We all know weddings can get expensive, and chances are if you asked for money it’s probably to help re-accumulate a few of the funds…right? So don’t be afraid to admit this either. Perhaps set up a ‘contribution list’ – £10 towards the flowers – £50 for the dress – £100 to guzzle champagne – let guests feel as though they are contributing to the celebration by asking for them to make a ‘donation’ towards the wedding, and have Aunt Nellie sit proudly at the table knowing she paid for pudding.

I vouch to give…

If cash isn’t your bag, how about vouchers instead? Request vouchers for a particular shop to help in decorating your home, or travel agent gift vouchers to fund the honeymoon. This way, guests won’t feel as though their gift is going quite in to your back pocket, and you can still ensure the generosity goes towards what you want it to.


Whatever you opt for, just make sure you say thank you!

Jill and Nick - Oh So Perfect - (8)

This article was written by Samantha Kelsie Imbimbo and first published on It has since been published on and All words are the copywrite of Samantha Kelsie Imbimbo and all images from Oh So Perfect.

Wedding Speech Guru :: Best Man Boot Camp

A nationwide survey* commissioned by Wedding Speech Guru, reveals that Britain could be heading towards a shortage of best men. Almost half of the UK male population – 43% – would consider turning down the opportunity to be best man because they are so nervous about the prospect of making a speech.

And their nerves would seem to be well-founded. Almost three quarters (74%) of the 2,000 people questioned said that speeches can make or break the wedding. And 79% say that they feel sorry for the best man because of the pressure the speech brings…
the wedding speech guru best man boot camp
Nearly six out of ten (56%) said that they have heard embarrassing and inappropriate wedding speeches, over a third (35%) have been to weddings ruined by drunken speeches and a third of 18-34 year olds are ashamed of their wedding speech.
With so many best men getting it wrong, Wedding Speech Guru is organising Best Men Boot Camp – a workshop to help men talk about a bridegroom with truth and humour, rather than embarrass him with cheap jokes.
“What many best men don’t realise is that rather than embarrassing the groom, the main purpose of their speech is to commend their friend to the guests,” said Robin Bayley, author and founder of Wedding Speech Guru. Once wedding guests see that a speech is coming from a place of love and respect, they are much more likely to respond with laughter.
At the boot camp, which is being held in central London on July 16th, the best men will learn how to gather their material, hone it into stories that illustrate the groom’s character, and practise delivery in front of the other best men.
But if best men aren’t willing to step up to the plate, it seems that women are. One in five – 20% – of UK weddings have best women rather than best men. Women are judged to make better, less cringe-worthy speeches, less likely to get drunk and also to steer clear of rude jokes about the bride.
62% of Londoners think that it should be normal for women to make wedding speeches, and 57% said that women are more natural because men try too hard to be funny. Nationally 53% of 24-34 year olds believe that women’s wedding speeches are better than men’s.
*Nationwide survey by Populus, March 2016. 2,000 respondents, aged 18+

Wedding Speech Guru was founded by author, life coach and serial best man, Robin Bayley.

Wedding Speech Guru’s mission is to ensure that speeches honour the bride and groom and come from a place of affection and emotional truth. Alongside group workshops, such as Best Man Boot Camp Wedding Speech Guru provides tailor made, one-to-one speech coaching for anyone making a wedding speech. Robin helped to set up Wedding TV in 2008 and is a registered minister, licensed to conduct weddings in California. He has just been asked to be best man for the sixth time.

For more information contact Robin
or visit


Post written by Robin Bayley and publised on 


Top Tips: How To Handle Wedding Stress

There’s no denying that wedding planning can be very stressful, and you certainly wouldn’t be the first bride to admit feeling it either. When wedding planning reaches its most complicated, it can be easy to get caught up in the negatives and emotions of it all and lose sight of what it’s really all about…

…but? It’s about you getting married. It’s about saying ‘I do!’ It’s about realising how much you love somebody, and making that commitment to them in front of all your nearest and dearest.

It’s not about whether Auntie Jacqui and Uncle Marvin can bear to spend one afternoon in the same room as each other, and it’s certainly not about whether or not anyone will notice what colour ribbon was on the guest book either.

Whilst all of the little wedding details can be super exciting to think about and plot and plan, they’re certainly not worth losing your head over. Try to keep sight of the bigger picture and what’s really important…

Here  are some top tips to help you get your calm back:


Take a break

Your wedding doesn’t need to be on your mind 24 hours a day 7 days a week. It’s OK to take some time off to think about something else for a few days. Maybe even for a whole week!

Ban the word ‘wedding’

Make an agreement with your fiancé/family/best friend to ban the word wedding from your vocabulary on certain days. For example, no one is allowed to discuss anything wedding related on Monday through to Wednesday… or after 6pm on a Saturday… or at the dinner table…. or when Game Of Thrones is on… etc.

Have a pre-wedding mini-moon

Who says the honeymoon is only allowed after the wedding? Book a cosy weekend away with your fiancé to have some fun and relaxation and remember exactly why you fell in love in the first place… that’s why you decided to get married after all isn’t it?

Write a list and scribble it out!

Jot down all the things that are bothering you or making you feel most stressed. For each one, ask yourself out loud – does it really matter? If the answer is ‘yes’ then sit down and write the reasons why, and what you can do to fix it. If it’s ‘no’ draw a big line through it and yell out ‘it doesn’t matter!’ Maybe ask your bridesmaids to do this with you for a bit of moral support, and an outsider’s perspective too!

Delegate, delegate, delegate…

Believe it or not, there are lots of people who will want to help you with your wedding! Bridesmaids are there to be useful, and mothers LOVE any opportunity to get involved. Why not offload a few of the smaller tasks to them and take some of the stress off yourself for a while.

Call in the Professionals

No, I don’t mean a shrink! Many wedding planners now provide a helping hand for couples organising their own wedding by offering a one-off wedding help session. Book in an hour or two with your nearest wedding planner to talk through your plans so far and check you’re on track with all that you need to do. Some (myself included!) even offer this service over the phone or Skype to lend a listening ear and offer some tips and advice to help you on your way.

Step away from the Pinterest board!

Pinterest is a beautiful blessing, isn’t it? But it’s also a bit of a curse! Let me say this simply – your wedding will (probably not/ very unlikely/ it’s pretty doubtful) look exactly like that one there in that picture. That picture (probably not/ very unlikely/ it’s pretty doubtful ) wasn’t even a real wedding in the first place. Be inspired, but don’t become obsessed…. you’ll only disappoint yourself later.

Don’t sweat the small stuff

Whatever the bridal blogs may tell you, truthfully, the biggest part of your wedding day is the bit where you say ‘I do!’ After all, isn’t that technically what the whole meaning of the day is really all about?

Don’t lose sight of why you are doing what you are doing. You are getting married. Not designing a feature shoot for Hello Magazine.

Feelings Come First

People won’t remember what shade of cream the napkins were, or how many teeny tiny lavender buds were mixed in with the confetti you scattered next to the home-made bunting (which, by the way, was an exact colour match of the bridesmaids’ knickers.)

People remember how pretty you looked when you smiled your way down the aisle; how they teared-up a little when your dad made his father of the bride speech; and what incredible shapes Granny threw on the dance floor to the sounds of Robin Thicke.

Don’t let your memory of the wedding be how stressed out you made yourself trying to figure out many portions of wedding cake it might take to fill up a vintage vase on a dessert table.


Right now. Turn off the lap top. Put down your iPad. You’re reading wedding articles again and you shouldn’t be. Now, go apply a face mask and make a cup of tea. (Or get back to work – you office time rebel, you!)

This article was written by Samantha Imbimbo and first published on It has since been published on and All words and images are the property of Samantha Imbimbo. 

Top Tips: Advice for the boys on Stag Web

Our expert opinion bad been expressed once again, this week on Stag Web’s latest blog feature: ‘How To Get Married & Live To Tell The Tale.’

The full article, full of tongue in cheek tips and somewhat amusing advice, is available to view on… But here’s a little snippet of our input on what to do when you’re the boy planning a big day.


Top Tips: Wedding Day Timings 

It can be quite difficult working out the timings for your wedding if you’ve never planned a big event before, as the last thing you want to do is plan an unrealistic wedding day schedule which your suppliers struggle to keep up with! That, or you might find your guests feelings a little bit lost and forgotten or otherwise rushed at various points in the day.

It is important to keep a good, steady pace throughout your day, and to not attempt to fit too much activity into a short period of time, or indeed leave long empty periods between entertaining points in the day that can really disrupt the party atmosphere.

Fear not though, as below is a rough guide to planning your timings on your wedding day, whatever your plans…
No matter how low maintenance you may believe yourself to be, it is always important to make sure you give yourself and your party enough time to get ready on the morning of your wedding. It may only take you 30 minutes to do your hair and make up on a normal day, but this definitely isn’t any normal day at all! Not only might there be a fair few of you waiting to get hold of the hair tongs, you’ll also be busy having fun, sipping champagne, chatting, giggling, and taking photographs, so give yourself a good few hours of getting ready time – it’s all part of the fun, after all!

At Oh So Perfect, we always make sure our bride is in her wedding dress an hour before the ceremony, to allow time for photographs, make up touch-ups, and for generally getting comfortable and taking some time to breathe and relax under all those layers! It can take up to 30 minutes to put on your dress too, so make sure you give yourself plenty of time, especially if you have a complex set of corsets, laces and buttons to do up at the back.

Depending on whether you marry in a church, with a registrar, or by using an independent celebrant, your ceremony may differ in its length from anywhere between 20 minutes to one hour. Even so, it is good to get your guests arriving about 30 minutes beforehand, and ensure everyone is seated before the bride arrives. After the ceremony, head straight out into your drinks reception, or on to the waiting transport to move you to your next venue, as any waiting around may confuse your guests as to where they’re going next.

It is traditional to hold a receiving line either at the exit of your church ceremony, or later on in the entrance to the wedding breakfast. Although traditional, most couples now opt to leave this out of their day altogether, and we couldn’t recommend this more!
A good receiving line can add around 30-45 minutes to your day, and may cause an uncomfortable queue leaving guests feeling a little bit impatient and bored. It’s far better to factor 20 minutes of time into your drinks reception to mingle freely with your welcoming guests, than to have them formally stand and greet you.

Your drinks reception should be no shorter than one hour, but certainly no longer than two! 90 minutes is about right to give your guests plenty of time to drink, laugh, mingle and chat before they begin to get tired on their feet. If you have a smaller party of guests, 60 minutes is ample too.

Plan with your photographer to start your couple portraits as soon as possible after the ceremony as your guests will be eagerly awaiting your return to say their congratulations to you. Ensure group photographs are taken at the start of the drinks reception too, so that your guests are free to mingle afterwards – save trying to round them all up again for photos later once they’ve already dispersed around the venue.

Aim to finish your couple portraits with at least 20 minutes to spare at the end of the reception, allowing you time to relax, freshen up and spend some time with your guests before the wedding breakfast call through.

For bigger parties of 150 guests or more, we recommend you call through to dinner about 30 minutes before food service is scheduled to start. For smaller groups 15-20 minutes is plenty to get everyone freshened up and seated before you are formally announced in to the room.
Ask your ushers to circulate amongst your guests during the drinks reception and remind people to check the table plan ahead of the call through to dinner. Also, position someone next to the table plan to help guests in finding their names and seats, to help speed up their entrance into the dining area.

As a general rule for any three course sit down meal, we recommend you allow 30 minutes for a starter, 60 minutes for the main course, and 30 minutes for dessert. These timings include the course being served, guests eating their food, and the plates being taken away afterwards. For exceptionally large weddings, you may need a total time of up to 3 hours for dinner. For smaller weddings, perhaps include a round of tea and coffee into your 90 minutes so as not to keep guests waiting at their tables towards the end of the meal.
In any case, always speak to your catering team to gain a clear idea of how long you should leave for the dinner service. They know their own team and their timing capabilities better than anyone!

If ever there is a moment in the wedding day most likely to disrupt your planned schedule, it is the speeches! No matter how simple and short you think they may be, never underestimate the full length of a good speech once a confident speaker gets going!!
So often our brides tell us “don’t worry, we’re only having a few speeches and I’ve told my dad/fiancé/best man to keep it short!” but truthfully, we’ve seen those same brides sat an hour into the proceedings, still listening to Dad wittering on about how proud he is of his little girl, with another 30 minutes of material stuffed up his sleeve yet to come!
We typically advise allowing 45 minutes to one hour for your speeches, as a worst case scenario. Or, 10-15 minutes per person.

If you have lots of speeches planned from multiple speakers, or if you know they’ll all likely be long ones once they get going, perhaps consider breaking them up throughout the day. For example, have the Father of the Bride and the Groom give their speech during the drinks reception, with the Best Man going alone after dinner, and anyone else who is contributing saying a few words as you cut the cake, or before your first dance.

Nervous speakers sometimes ask to give their speeches before the meal, so that they can relax and eat afterwards. Whilst we do sympathise with this, we would advise you to carry out your speeches between the main course and dessert, as if your speakers talk for longer than planned, this may disrupt the timings in the kitchen and allow food to go spoiled, and your hungry guests will begin to fidget at their tables in the hope of dinner being served soon!

If you are inviting evening guests to your wedding, it is best to time their arrival to start approximately one hour after dinner is cleared, as this will allow for any overspill of timings during the wedding breakfast part of the day, and give the venue time to do any clearing-up and moving around of the room.

If possible, have a designated area for your evening guests to arrive in, with access to a bar and some form of entertainment. This way, if your day is running over a little, at least your evening guests won’t feel as though they’re waiting too long to join you, or even worse, as though they’re crashing a part of the wedding they weren’t invited to.

A first dance usually starts around 8 or 9pm, essentially within the first hour of the evening reception. Even with the DJ spinning the best tunes, many of your guests will feel as though they can’t take to the dancefloor until you have, so try to have your first dance as soon as you’re ready, as this will allow the party to really get started!

It is up to you when you choose to call an end to your wedding day – you may never want it to finish! Guests will typically begin leaving around 11pm though, so midnight is a pretty good formal finish time for most. But remember, if you’re staying in a hotel with a night bar, or indeed if you’re having your wedding on private property, you’re free to carry on your celebrations in to the night with those guests who are staying. Just remember to ensure permission from the venue to party on into the small hours, and be cautious of any noise curfews in the neighbourhood!

This article was first written by Samantha Imbimbo for For more information about planning your wedding day visit 

Go Hen Feature: A Day in the Life of a Wedding Planner

  Oh So Perfect wedding planner Samantha gave an insight this week into what it takes to coordinate a wedding for online hen party experts Go Hen. Follow the link to read the article ‘A Day in the Life of a Wedding Planner’ on and see Samantha’s input as a feature writer for this popular website…

 Go Hen Feature: A Day in the Life of a Wedding Planner 

Read the rest of the article online now! 

Image: : Expert Advice – First Steps

Oh So Perfect‘s Samantha, is delighted this afternoon to announce a new online residency over at the marvellous wedding blog and directory – offering top tips and advice each month to blog followers online!

Samantha’s new position as wedding planning expert and chief agony aunt on this popular UK wedding directory involves answering your most agonising wedding planning questions and concerns, as well as providing you with top tips for planning your day.

This month’s article features guidance and advice for the First Steps when planning your wedding, including finding a venue and where to begin with managing your budget.  

Follow this link and pop on over to the blog to read the article in full!

This article is written in association with – view the full article on the Wedding Planner blog. For more information about Samantha and Oh So Perfevt, visit 

Oh So Perfect’s Top Tips to beat wedding stress on

Catch our wedding planner and all round wedding expert Samantha featured this week on the Go Hen wedding blog offering her top tips and advice on how to beat wedding planning stress.

Follow this link for the full article on 

Need help planning your wedding day? Visit for our full list of wedding planning and coordination packages and services. 

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