How to slow down time on your wedding day

I bet this Belgian bun (which has the plumpest sultanas, thickest icing and juiciest cherry I’ve ever seen) you’ve heard these five words at least once:

“Your wedding day will fly by!”

Yep, I heard that all the time when hubs and I were planning our wedding. But the reality didn’t sink in until we suddenly found ourselves driving down the M1 to Heathrow airport the day after getting married. Where did that time go? It all happened so quickly! 

It’s like you wake up on your wedding morning and press fast-forward instead of snooze. Because the time passes you by faster than Usain Bolt chasing a world record. 

But whilst everyone rushes to tell you how fast your day will go, nobody tells you how to make more time

Until now.

‘K ok, you got me. You can’t bend the laws of physics and whip up another six hours. Nor do I have Hermione’s time-turner to hand.

But that’s all good. Because it’s not about how much time you have. It’s about how your time feels. Which is all about what you do with your time.

So whilst I haven’t found a way to turn back time, I can help you slow it down. 

Put on your invisibility cloak. We’re going undercover.

Want to make your wedding feel like a slowwww Sunday? 

Good news: I’ve been a professional wedding-goer for 15 years and have picked up some helpful time-saving hacks along the way.

Let’s dive right in with…

The one thing every time-seeking couple needs:

Organisation. 

To be all-in on your wedding day, immersed in every moment, you’ll want to plan ahead.

Otherwise, you’ll be chasing your tail veil all day and not have time to take in anything at all. Maybe not even a taste of your own wedding cake. #toughlove 

It may seem counter-intuitive but a well-thought-through timeline will make your day feel more laid-back than if you leave everything to chance.

So bring your pretty notebook, or geeky spreadsheet, it’s time to get organised…

Ten time-saving tips to make the most of your wedding day

1/ Make realistic plans

It’s easy to get carried away. When you’re sat in front of ‘Say “yes” to the dress’, imagining your wedding day and working out your timeline, it all seems so doable.

This is the only time I’m going to say these words:

Don’t be optimistic.

Always overestimate how long things might take.

And weave some slack into your schedule so you’ve got a buffer when things run over. Because I guarantee: that’s “when” not “if”. There’s always something that gets delayed. I’ve never been to a wedding that’s run entirely to time – and I’ve done this over 300 times. Such is life!

2/ Batch the formalities

Know how frustrating it is when you’re mid-conversation and someone interrupts you? It’s even more frustrating when it’s your wedding day and you’re mid-way through telling your newly engaged bestie what it was like to walk down the aisle. #badtiming #momentkiller

To minimise that, batch the formalities together. That way, you won’t constantly hear: “So sorry to drag you away but it’s time to … ”.

Sure, you might come up against someone who says: “Well this is the way everyone else does it.” But this is your wedding day. It doesn’t have to be the same as everyone else’s. (In fact, it’s best when it isn’t the same as everyone else’s.)

3/ Prepare

Pack your overnight bag and honeymoon case a couple of days ahead. Take the covers and labels off your outfits and lay everything out ready to put on the night before. Write your thank you cards and wrap any gifts the weekend before. Pay your suppliers the moment you get their invoice. 

Noticing the theme here? Don’t do anything on your wedding day you can do beforehand. Free up as much time as possible so your day feels as slow as possible.

4/ Delegate

For the things that can only be done on the day, ask yourself: Do I need to do this? If not, ask someone else to do it for you. That’s exactly what your wedding party and suppliers are there for!

Brief everyone on their roles before the day. You don’t want your bridesmaids quizzing you about the table layouts when you’re having your make-up done. Otherwise, your photographer will only get shots of you mid-sentence while you check your phone for the florist’s number or look frustrated when people don’t get your vision right away.

Even better, hire an on-the-day wedding planner to take care of everything for you. Sorted.

5/ Be efficient with your photography

Structure your schedule to take advantage of little pockets of time so you can do all those ‘just the two of you’ photos while your guests are busy. Like while your guests find their seats for dinner or while they check into their rooms after the meal.

Also, keep your posed photos to a minimum. I’ll be there to capture those more relaxed moments, so you’ll have meaningful photos without any of the standing around.

Or, skip the posed photos altogether and do a ‘day after’ portrait session instead. That way, you’ll be ready to hit the dancefloor the moment it opens!

6/ Start on time

Simple, right? Well, it doesn’t often happen. When your day starts, it feels like you’ve got all the time in the world. So what does it matter if you chat for a bit longer?

Problem is, it’ll catch up with you later – usually when you realise there’s only an hour to go before the ceremony starts. So start your day as you mean to go on and allow yourself more time than you think you need pre-ceremony. 

Be ready early, feel suitably smug (go on, it’s your wedding day!), and enjoy a glass of bubbles before you leave. Bliss.

7/ Stop and smell the roses

When you’re with your guests, there’ll always be someone vying for your attention. And whilst I don’t recommend you abandon your guests for the entire reception, it’s good to steal some time for yourselves. 

Arrive at the church five minutes early to stare in wonder at your floral arch. Take a wander around your wedding venue and soak up the scenery while your guests arrive from the church. Put your feet up on that comfy sofa while your guests find their seats for dinner.

Plan these pockets of time into your timeline so your suppliers and bridal party know what you’re up to… That romantic moment snuggled up on a bench to watch the sunset doesn’t feel quite the same when the cavalry shows up wondering where you are. 

Tom & Olivia's Wedding at Houghton on the Hill church & Kelmarsh Hall, Northampton (14)

8/ Limit your guest list

When it comes to your guest list, less is more. A wedding of any size is a magical and memorable occasion… but an intimate wedding brings a warm fuzzy feeling of connection to your day that’s tricky to achieve when your guest list is longer than your Christmas card list.

With fewer guests to speak to, you’ll have quality time to spend with each person. Which means less small talk and polite chit-chat, and more meaningful conversations.

9/ Appoint a timekeeper

A wedding that runs like clockwork is great, but you won’t want to spend half the day glancing at your watch wondering whether it’s time for the next formality – even if that watch is a Patek Philippe wedding day gift from your partner.

So ask an organised friend to be your timekeeper for the day. Or even better, book a quality toastmaster. Let them take care of the timings so you can let go, be fully in the moment and actually experience your wedding. 

10/ Limit the group photos

Sure, group photos are important. But do you really need eleventy seven different combinations? 

Be intentional and clear about what your photos are for. If the answer is one of the following: put it in our wedding album, frame it, gift it to gran for her mantelpiece – go ahead. If it’s more likely to languish on your laptop unprinted, think twice and free up that precious time.

Pweh! That’s it. I hope some of those ideas are useful to you. As always, this is just my take on things. So only do something if it feels right for you. You know you best.

I wish you a deliciously slow wedding day full of happy memories. 

And I can’t wait to capture you and your guests looking like you found Hermione’s time-turner. It’s gonna be a fab set of photos.