How to help your wedding day run on time

While most wedding days go according to schedule, we’ve also seen a few that, for one reason or another, ended up running late. When things run late, people get stressed and worried. When that happens they don’t enjoy their wedding day so much and their photos don’t come out as well as they should. In the very worst cases, there’s no time to take the “money shots”, the photos that should be the feature of your album and hang on your wall for years to come

To help make sure there’s enough time for everything we do a timeline with all our couples well in advance of their wedding day, but even then there can be the occasional hiccup.

For the causes of these hiccups and tips on how you can avoid them, click “continue reading” below.

Issues with makeup artists are one of the main things that can make a wedding day run late, and the impact is amplified because getting your makeup done is usually the last thing that happens before the ceremony. Sometimes it’s beyond anyone’s control, sometimes the makeup takes longer than expected, sometimes the makeup artists just haven’t been told when they need to start and finish. Usually we’ve helped plan the day with enough contingency that it doesn’t matter too much, but this is the time of the day when most brides get a little anxious and you want it to run as smoothly as possible.

Hairdressers can also run late, although this isn’t quite as common unless there are too many bridesmaids for the number of hairdressers. Since hair’s usually the first appointment of the day there’s usually time to spare if things run late, the brides are usually on time as there’s usually nothing happening before their hair appointment.

On rare occasions we see the guys in a panic because the suits are the wrong sizes. Sometimes they’re the right suits with the wrong names on them, sometimes the guys have changed size since the fitting, sometimes they’re really the wrong suits. If your groomsmen can come with you to collect the suits they can try them on then, but even finding out early on the morning of the wedding’s better than finding out an hour before the ceremony.

To help save money, couples sometimes decide to decorate the reception venue themselves on the morning of the wedding. We’ve seen couples unable to get into the reception venues because the previous day’s couple forgot to return the keys, or locked doors that should’ve been left open. We’ve seen grooms driving around looking for forgotten items before rushing to get ready for the ceremony, rented sound systems that needed to have replacement parts installed, and a variety of other things. To help avoid these traps, make arrangements for access with backup phone numbers, and delegate as much of the setting-up as possible!


  • Talk to your photographer and make up a day plan at least a month before your wedding, preferably a couple of months before. Make sure your family, wedding party, and vendors have a copy of the latest plan and that they agree to stick to it!
  • Book a professional makeup artist, and try to make sure they’re not booked immediately before your appointment. Make sure they know the location, how many people need to be made up, their start time, and when they need to finish by – and for inner-city locations, where to park.
  • Consider using a salon that has multiple makeup artists, so if your artist runs late another can get things started for you. One makeup artist per two or three girls is best, otherwise it takes a really long time to get everyone made up.
  • Do a practice run of hair and makeup so you don’t need to experiment on your wedding day.
  • Anything that can be done before the wedding day should be done before the wedding day!
  • Have the groomsmen try on their suits when they’re collected if possible, or early enough on the morning of the wedding so there’s time to get replacement suits if there are any problems.
  • Delegate, delegate, delegate! Ask your friends and family to help out. Most will be more than willing to help, and it leaves you to have a fun, relaxing, low-stress wedding day.
  • Plan for a sunny day, a windy day, and a rainy day. Your photographer can suggest locations that are good for family, wedding party, and romantic photos for each type of weather.

For tips on creating a timetable for your wedding day read our article on wedding day planning.

Originally published October 2012. Updated October 2014.

This entry was posted in Wedding tips.

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