Photo credit: Forever September Photography

Photo credit: Forever September Photography

It’s worth the effort

Please note: Link to a downloadable/print-friendly PDF version of this blog post HERE.

No matter how big or small your wedding day, having a run-sheet for everyone involved in planning the ceremony and reception will mean much less stress on the day.

It provides a blue–print to ensure a smooth event. Things can change (and that’s ok) but the planning is important and whilst we all know this, it can still be a little over- whelming. The timings can be tricky to judge and if you haven’t done this before, you don’t have a background of experience against which to create your own time-line.

So that’s where we come in!

This will provide you with an example run sheet that we know works really well at The Gardens at Bullimah and you can use it, or modify it, to create your version of how you see your day unfolding.

We will also include some notes here, to help you make decisions about the way the day will flow. It can happen in any order and way that you like but knowing the general timings for individual parts and having a guideline is vital. If you still don’t feel that you can do this – that’s ok too! Our Wedding coordinator can sit with you and help to create a run- sheet with you. If your event is at another venue – ask for their suggested timings!

FIRSTLY, the notes - and yes… you should read these!

It doesn’t matter whether your ceremony and reception is of a more formal style that is respecting cultural or historical traditions or a more modern style of a big celebratory party. What is important is that you allow a realistic amount of time for each activity (including moving from one to the next) and that everyone who is involved, has an understanding, of the order, the timing and the flow.

That’s what a run-sheet is; having everyone on the same page in terms of order of events, timing of events and the flow!

First step:  Decide if you want one big run sheet that starts the moment you wake-up (or even the day before for our very organised and logistically minded couples!!) and continues through to the end of the evening OR if you would prefer, to have two run-sheets. One which details the day for you (order of events and timing for breakfast, getting to dressing venue, dropping off things, hair, make- up and actual dressing etc) and one which details the order of events for everyone else and everything else (Vendors, MC, general run of the day excluding your dressing process). What-ever works best for you. We have chosen a colour coded version which incorporates both.  


Let’s talk about timings


On average a civil ceremony usually takes about thirty minutes from beginning to end (and sometimes less – rarely more). A church service can be anywhere from thirty to sixty minutes depending on the service).

Start with your ceremony start time. The first thing to do is to ensure that all vendors are finished by at least forty minutes prior to the beginning of your ceremony. The last thing you want is for a florist to still be pinning flowers to chairs or for the musician to be testing sound as guests are arriving. Guests will start to arrive at least thirty minutes prior to the ceremony start.  

Don’t be late:

A few minutes (no more than ten minutes) is okay but any longer just feels rude. Remember the bulk of your guests have already been waiting for about thirty minutes and particularly if the ceremony is outdoors, you don’t want to keep them any longer. Plan to arrive at the ceremony venue on time. Your photographer will want to capture photos as you alight from the car or with your bridal party, outside the ceremony venue and that will take another five to ten minutes. Don’t ask your guests to arrive too early. Twenty minutes is early enough. The early birds will still arrive about thirty minutes early. If you ask guests to arrive thirty minutes prior to the ceremony, the early birds will arrive forty minutes early (!) and possibly bump into vendors doing finishing touches. 

The after-ceremony congratulations:

Be prepared for this to take longer than you think. Allow at least fifteen to twenty minutes of milling and receiving congratulations. The larger your guest list, the longer you need to allow, as every guest will wish to approach you to offer their congratulations. 

Family photos:

These usually happen immediately post ‘congratulations’ and you should allow approximately twenty minutes for these. In the mean-time your MC (or other) may invite your guests to some light refreshments and drinks on our cocktail lawn. If your ceremony venue is not in the same place as your reception venue, guests will usually leave to meet at the reception venue, at a later, time.

Bridal party photos:

In The gardens at Bullimah you don’t need to leave the venue to have your photos taken so it is less time away from your guests (no travel time). If you do need to travel for photos - factor this in. Your photo shoot will take an average of one to one and a half hours in The Gardens at Bullimah. Allow more, if you are going to different locations.

After ceremony refreshments / games for your guests:

Let’s take an example of 3.00p.m for a ceremony start. By the time your ceremony and congratulations are completed, it will be close to 4.00 p.m. before your MC gathers people for refreshments/ lawn games/ cocktails etc. It will take you approximately one and half to two hours for family and bridal party shots.  We recommend that you also build in a twenty minute window for yourselves after photos. In the Gardens at Bullimah, you can come back to your accommodation to spend a moment together to soak it all up! Take a breath, enjoy the moment and refresh, ready for your big party. SO, this means your guests will have approximately two hours before your MC calls them to move to the Reception Centre. By just after 6.00p.m. they will be in the reception centre either seated to await your arrival or milling around in cocktail style. Arrive, when you are ready – and in whatever style suits you!


There are no longer hard and fast rules around the inclusion or order of formalities. Decide on which ones you wish to have and the order and timing of them. Some people like to have all their speeches at once – others like to spread out between courses. One word on speeches – everyone seems to agree that less is more! Give your speakers a tight limit – three minutes (or perhaps five for parents and/or bride/groom). Remember that the kitchen will need to know your speakers, in advance, so that they can manage courses between. Other formalities that are still popular are a welcome/ intro by MC, the introduction of Mr and Mrs with bridal party, cutting of the cake, first dance and final farewell. If you are doing a fare-well circle you need to start at least 30 minutes before the evening ends. A lot of couples are opting for a quick goodbye and an upbeat number to finish.  


Before you put together your running sheet, talk to the vendors involved in the day.  Your florist will be able to tell you well before the day, when and where they will deliver the flowers.  This goes on the run- sheet so the venue knows when to expect this to happen. The same goes with your cake maker, the decorations team, your caterers, your alcohol delivery, your musicians, your hire items, and any other vendor you use. Your venue needs to know when each of them will be bumping in and/or delivering.  


Clear as mud? It isn’t rocket science, but it does take a little while to get the plan together. We suggest that you take your template and add ceremony start (because that is one thing you are absolutely, sure about) and then work backwards and forwards from that point. When completed, make sure all the relevant people have a copy. Your MC, your venue coordinator, your bridal party, your family and you can provide relevant vendors their relevant parts (they don’t need it all).

Here is a link to a workable template

…all you need to do is modify, if that helps! We’ve also provided a blank template towards the end of that document.

Below is one example. You can use this, modify it or create your own to include headings that suit you. Note that in this one – everything in green relates to the bridal party. Everything in blue relates to other. This schedule allows for four bridesmaids.