November 15, 2022
Planning the timings of your wedding can be really daunting! So I have written this blog to help you start…
Below is a sample timeline based on how to get the most out of your day. All of the below is from my experiences after photographing over 150 weddings.
Note, these are all loose timings, will depend on your ceremony time, vary on locations, the weather and what you want on your day!
Every wedding is unique so there is no cookie cutter template.
Top Tip: It’s always good to add a buffer to your timings incase something runs over!
Also, talk to your venue, caterers and other suppliers such as hair and makeup to make sure you’re leaving enough time for each of their services too.
8:30AM – 12.30PM
Its time to get all glammed up! Many brides love to have this part of the day captured, as it’s usually a great time to get some relaxed and candid shots of you, your bridesmaids and Mother of the Bride getting ready. Your hair & makeup artist will be able to advise you on how long this part of your day will take. The timing will majorly vary depending on how many people they have to make up, as well as how elaborate your bridal hair is etc.
Whether you are getting ready at home, in an Airbnb or at the Venue then I always recommend having a separate room for all your luggage etc. The amount of times I have had to move a bright pink suitcase from a shot or photoshopped underwear from the floor… it’s not the best of looks. By keeping one space or room completely clutter free you will firstly feel much more calm, you will have all your bridal bits and bobs in one space and your images will be INCREDIBLE!
If this is impossible to have a separate room then I recommend keeping it clean and even getting your bridesmaids to clear the room before I arrive.
I usually arrive about 2 hours before, depending on location, distance from ceremony, and if I can get venue shots before hand.
Getting in your dress… I advise you get into your dress an hour before you walk down the aisle! So many brides underestimate how long it takes to get you buttoned in, the ladies in the dress shops are experts remember!
By being ready early it also gives you the chance to raise a glass of bubbly, reveal your dress to the girls and your emotional father! But more importantly you will be able to breathe and settle, not feel stressed or rushed. We can also get those last minute beautiful bridal portraits!
If you would like Groom Prep photographed too, then I recommend adding on a second photographer to cover this. However if you’re both getting ready at the same venue then I can more than likely cover both!
When I arrive in the morning the first thing I photograph is the details. Chances are that you put a lot of effort into picking out every little detail of your wedding day. From the shoes to your rings and jewellery to the flowers. Every little detail tells a piece of the story of your wedding day!
The beginning of the wedding day is the perfect time for me to capture all those little details before the craziness of the day starts! So by having all these items gathered in one place ahead of time and ready to go when I arrive, we can ensure that everything is documented without you running around whilst you’re trying to have your hair done to look for everything!
Here is a tick list of items you may want photographed:
ALL 3 RINGS
30 MINS – 1 HOUR
1PM – 1.45PM
The important part, the reason you have spent months planning & the reason you have gathered all your loved ones together, to say your vows and make that promise legal.
Remember between you being ready and the ceremony, you will need to allow travel time, even if that’s to another place at the venue! You will also need to factor in your meeting with the registrar/celebrant
You may also want some photographs of you arriving in the car, so make note that you will need time for this. It is of course traditional for the bride to be a little late, but you don’t want your groom sweating!
Ceremony timings depend on whether you’re having a church ceremony, which typically last 45 minutes to a registrar or celebrant which are normally much shorter at 30 minutes.
It is important to note that some wedding venues, especially churches, are very particular about photography and videography during the wedding ceremony. Some will only allow the professional photographer to take photos at certain points, and some won’t allow any photography at all, so do check beforehand if there are any restrictions and let your photographer know. Some places also have a specific place where they like us to stand, we always try and check this before hand but if you could too it saves any issues! Across the board it is illegal to photograph your marriage certificate. So this is one part you won’t see me photographing. I will step back as otherwise I get told off! But please don’t fret, I will always make sure I have organised to do a fake, dummy certificate photograph.
After your ceremony allow yourselves enough time to chat and mingle with your guests as they will likely be very keen to congratulate you.
Now is the perfect time for a confetti shot!! I’d recommend having the groomsmen give out confetti at the door as your guests leave, or even leave them on their seats before the ceremony with their order of service! Myself and other members of your bridal party can help shepherd your guests into place so that everything runs quickly and smoothly.
1.45PM – 4 PM
A drinks reception of around 2 hours is a good balance of time to chat, enjoy canapés, and have photos. In the summer you can push it a bit longer, but once you reach 3 hours, everyone’s starting to get hungry!
During this time I will also photograph your dining room, your table details etc before your guests are invited to take their seats.
You want to allow at least around 30 minutes for group photos and another 20-40 minutes
for couples photos!
I recommend keeping these to a minimum of 8 groups otherwise you’ll find everyone wandering off, getting fed up and in turn not smiling in their photo. I have a formula that works quite well whilst making sure all your nearest and dearest are captured!
GROUP SHOT EXAMPLE LIST
During the end of your drinks reception we will go for your half an hour romantic photoshoot, just the two of you. It is amazing that this is probably the most time you’ve spent together so far as husband and wife, so soak it in and have some fun whilst we take some gorgeous photographs in and around your venue! Your wedding photographer will be great at finding spots throughout your venue. But when you chose your venue, was there somewhere you fell in love with? A particular spot you mentally bookmarked for a photo with your love? If you are desperate for a shot in front of that magnificent oak tree or under that beautiful marble archway, now’s the time to let your photographer know!
By the time we get back your guests should be seated and we can announce you into the dining room.
WEDDING BREAKFAST & SPEECHES
4.30PM – 6.30PM
If you choose to have a receiving line as you enter the dining room, bear in mind that this will considerably increase the amount of time it takes people to sit down, so it may be something you’d rather do without. An alternative that doesn’t take hours is to go around each table and say hello to everyone between courses.
Speeches can happen before, during or after your meal! Whenever you believe suits your day best. By having your speeches before dinner it also means they’re over and done so everyone can relax and the best man isn’t too drunk. Another positive is that your tables are clean and tidy and not scattered with plates and gravy stains.
No matter when you plan your speeches, it’s best you keep as close to your set timings as possible so that your carefully planned meal doesn’t spoil, or evening guests aren’t left waiting while the last of the speeches rambles on! Ten minutes per person is pretty standard, make sure you talk to your speakers about this.
1 HOUR BEFORE SUNSET
Firstly double check the time the sunset’s on your wedding day, it changes time every single day and can set earlier in some locations than others. If you’re unsure, check with your photographer. I have a very handy app called Lumos that checks exactly where and what time the sunsets in a specific location!
Sunset’s in England are hit and miss. You can have the most glorious weather but the cloud cover comes in during the evening. However when we’re blessed with them our sunsets are amazing, sadly we just can’t guarantee.
Ideally you want to keep Golden Hour free (the hour before sunset). So consider the timings of your dinner and speeches in relation to the sunset at that time of year. Make sure you aren’t in
the middle of your main course, or speeches!
Also, if I come up to you with a huge grin on my face, dancing towards you saying that the light is amazing, don’t hesitate, get up and go and I promise you… you will be forever grateful as these images are usually the showstoppers!
The cutting of the cake can also happen at any point – during the reception in the afternoon, before or after the speeches, before the dessert, or before the first dance. A good money saving tip is to cut the cake and serve it as dessert! However most people cut the cake and go straight into first dance, which is the easiest way.
If you are planning on turning the room around for the evening… eg having music and dancing in the room where you had dinner, my best advice is to check how long the venue needs to clear the room, and second to check how long your DJ/Band will need to set up and work around them. Perhaps you and your guests can take the party outside or to the bar area in the meantime. This is also a good time for your evening guests to arrive so that everyone is ready for your first dance (if you’re doing one).
Now its time to grab everyone and get on the dance floor and party the night away!
If you’re having sparklers, these are best done at Twilight, just after the sun has set before its pitch black. You will need to check with your venue if they allow sparklers and I do have a few rules when it comes to these as they can be dangerous but beautiful!
My Suggested Wedding Timeline:
To give you an idea of what your wedding day timeline could look like,
here is a suggested timeline for a straight couple’s civil ceremony wedding.
8am – Makeup & Hairdressers Arrive
11am – Photographer arrives
11.45 – Groom and Groomsmen arrive at Venue
12pm – Bride gets into dress
12pm – Guests start to Arrive
1pm – Wedding Ceremony Begins
1.45pm – End of Ceremony
1.50pm – Confetti & Congratulations
2pm – Welcome drinks are served
2.30pm – Group Photographs
3.30pm – Bride & Groom Photographs
3.45pm – Call to be seated
4pm – Bride & Groom entrance
4.05pm – Speeches
4.40pm – Dinner is served
19.00 – Evening guests arrive
19.30 – Cake Cut & First Dance
20.00 – Sunset photographs
21.00 Dancing – Photographer leaves
23.30 – Final Drinks orders
00.00 – Carriages – Everyone to leave
I hope this was helpful in your wedding timeline planning, just to reiterate this is only a sample timeline, every wedding is different… its yours, make it unique.
If you want to add in a first look, or have a family or cultural tradition included then add it into your timeline!
To all my couples who have booked me as their photographer… if you have any questions, would like to chat through your wedding day arrangements or your group photo list, please feel free to contact me, I’m here for you every step of the way.
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