Looking at the traditional running order of a wedding day can be helpful when working out timings, however this is by no means a structure that you have to follow, simply a guide.
Wedding preparations (3-4 hours)
The bride and groom traditionally get ready separately on the morning of the wedding. Bridesmaids, the maid of honour and mother of the bride get ready with the bride, while the groom is joined by his ushers and best men. If you have a large entourage to get ready i.e. more than four bridesmaids for hair and make-up, speak to your hair and make-up artist/s to discuss additional time needed. Photos will also be taken during this time.
The wedding ceremony (30-45 minutes)
Following preparations, the wedding ceremony will take place. The groom and ushers should arrive at least 30-45 minutes before the start time, when - if you're having a civil ceremony - the pre-wedding interview will be undertaken for both the bride and groom. Depending on how many readings and/or songs you have chosen, ceremonies usually last 30-45 minutes.
Drinks reception (1.5-2 hours)
After the confetti shot, guests will gather for the drinks reception where canapés can also be served. This is a chance for guests to mingle and for group shots to be taken. Your photographer may also request that you and your partner are whisked away for a few shots on your own.
Wedding breakfast (2 hours for served 3 course meal)
The newly weds are announced in to the wedding breakfast room and food is served. Your caterers will be best placed to advise how long you should leave for the wedding breakfast and come the day, ensure timings are adhered to.
Speeches (30-40 minutes)
While the speeches traditionally take place after the wedding breakfast, there is also a traditional order in which various members of the party should speak. The father of the bride is the first to take the floor, followed by the groom and finally, the best man.
Cutting of the cake (5-10 minutes)
A symbol of the bride and groom's union and a promise to provide for another. Guests like to photograph this moment and it’s a good idea whilst to have everyone’s attention to do this and the first dance together. After cutting the cake it will be taken away by the caterers who will cut it for you and serve it later in the evening.
First dance (5-10 minutes)
Guests will gather around the dance floor for the first dance, which signals the start of the evening party. Whether you have a band or DJ to play your chosen song, you can request that they invite all guests on the dance floor halfway through and/or play an upbeat and up-tempo track straight after to get everyone dancing.
Evening reception (4 hours plus)
Evening guests tend to arrive from 7pm and the evening food is usually served from around 8pm.
I hope this has been useful and if you are daunted or overwhelmed about timings and the order of your day please do get in touch and I will be happy to help.