11am vs 3pm ceremony?

posted 3 years ago in Ceremony
Post # 31
701 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2018

I’m surprised at the number of people saying they’d never stay for a 12 hour wedding, as that’s pretty standard for UK weddings! As are feeding people twice (plus canapes). 

If you feel most of your guests will be at the venue the night before, 11am wouldn’t be a problem. I’ve been to weddings ranging from 11am to 4pm, and the 4pm one the day just disappeared. It also took up as much of my day as a 1pm wedding, as I couldn’t really do anything with my morning.

As there’s no bridal party, you can get through hair and makeup quite quickly but if you’re getting them done professionally, my hair and makeup artist both wanted an hour. I’d say check with your VIPs and as long as none of them have concerns, make the most of your day with the 11am slot.

Post # 32
226 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: November 2017

iomi :  I had an 11am ceremony start time and boy was it rough! We started getting ready around 7:30am (after a night out mind you). We didn’t do a first look but the ceremony started slightly late (by 7minutes). The reason I chose 11 was to save money plus our wedding fell on daylight savings time so we technically got an extra hour of sleep. However, if I had had the choice between 11 and 3pm for the same price, I would have gone with 3 pm. 

Post # 33
210 posts
Helper bee

I see you’ve said you’d like the first look photos earlier in the day so there are less tourists, and also that you’re not sure how you would fill the time before 3pm. Could you and your partner meet and have the first look photographs earlier in the day, and then spend some time just together and maybe grab lunch? 
I also think the idea of having a ‘gap’ for your guests where the ceremony is at 11, and then they have to occupy themselves ‘enjoying the town’ until a late lunch isn’t ideal, nor is a drinks reception at 11.40.

Post # 34
198 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: November 2018

Whatever makes the most sense to you.  You know your guests, venue, and overall feel the best.  If your guests are traveling and not likely to do anything else but wedding-related activities, then either time is fine.  Like many bees said, in the US, I’d for sure say the 3pm.  From what I understand, it takes a lot longer to get ready than one thinks.  Plus, the reception party activities don’t take as much time as you think either.  The timeline PP posted seems like a good place to start.  

Post # 35
1049 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2018

Hi – UK Bee here.

We originally planned our (church) wedding for 3pm, but after further consideration we changed it to 2pm. 3pm would definitely have felt too rushed for us. Starting at 2pm felt good and not many people left the wedding before the end. We actually wish we’d had a few hours longer. So I’d probably vote for 11am for you, esp if you’re a mornings person (which I am NOT!)

From my experience at my own wedding and other UK 11am weddings, what I’ve learned is:

1) If you go for 11am, then either be VERY clear to people what type of food to expect and when, or else served the wedding breakfast at a fairly early time and then the vans later (ie feed people twice). I’ve been to several 11am weddings when I didn’t get fed until about 4pm and by then I was STARVING having had no chance to get lunch. Think carefully about feeding people or when they might eat. We had our wedding at 2pm because we wanted it to be clearly after lunch so people would eat beforehand. 

2) It took me longer to get ready than planned. It took me about 3 hours and that was with one hairdresser doing me and one bridesmaid, and me doing my own makeup. We didn’t have as much time for pre-wedding photos of the bridal party as I’d hoped. I’m really not a mornings person so wouldn’t have wanted to get up early enough for an 11am ceremony, but you obviously are a mornings person with a small bridal party so it shouldn’t be a problem.

3) 11am – midnight in the UK shouldn’t be a problem. I’ve been to plenty of weddings that long.

My timeline ran thus:

9am breakfast

9.45am took car to the car wash!!! (We were using it as the wedding car)

11am start my hair

12pm start my makeup / bridemaid start hair

1pm put on dress (nb no lunch was scheduled as a friend prepared a grazing fingerfood buffet for us. So we ate on and off all morning).

1.15pm formal photos with the bridal party (we weren’t ready by then – we only had time to take a couple of photos around 1.45pm)

1.57pm walk to the church (down the road)

2pm ceremony

2.50pm confetti shot / formal shots. This was faster than we expected – we put a list of shots and who we wanted in each one as an insert in the Order of Service to speed things up. It seemed to work well.

3.30pm People went to the reception venue (a 30min drive away). We had some private photos taken first.

4pm-4.45pm cocktails (we were still having private photos so only arrived around 4.30pm)

4.45pm-7pm Dinner (3 courses, 130 people, overran to 7.15pm)

7.15pm-7.30pm speeches (4 speeches, overran to 8pm)

8pm cake cutting then immediately into first dance

8pm-11.45pm dancing. Evening buffet was put out around 8.15pm. We had loads of food left over because of course most of the guests had already just eaten a 3 course dinner. So if you had your dinner earlier in the day due to having an earlier ceremony, more people would probably eat your evening food too.

I hope this helps.


Post # 37
3804 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: April 2017

3pm for sure. You’ll have heaps of time. My ceremony was at 4pm and reception 6pm-midnight. 2pm-midnight would be a looong reception plus you’d have to serve a lot more food! Most things don’t take much time, e.g. cutting the cake takes like 5 minutes, speeches are usually done between courses for a max of say 30 minutes. 

You can sleep in, have a leisurely breakfast with friends, get ready with no rush and have lots of time for the first look. As for lunch, just prepare a tray of nibbles like crackers and fruit. 

Post # 38
716 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2019

View original reply
iomi :  great choice!! Can’t wait to hear how it goes, sounds like it’s going to be a beautiful and fun wedding 🙂

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