Your photography timeline is something you can talk to with your venue and also your photographer. One tip I would definitely tell anyone planning a wedding is always leave enough time, everything always runs late and you don’t want to sacrifice something because the clock is ticking! Read this blog for some helpful tips and tricks to keep in mind when planning your wedding day timeline!
Every wedding is unique and has different elements that make it personal to you. I have been to so many weddings and the ones I remember well don’t follow the strict guidelines of tradition. If you want to have your first dance straight after you say your I dos, then do it! Why not!
Timing your day is something you’re going to want to work closely with your chosen wedding photographer on. They will get to know you and all the things you want. But it is hard to remember all the things you want (when there’s so much to plan!). I always carry your timeline with me on your wedding day as I know where I need to be at what time.
Understandably, planning out the details of your wedding day can seem like quite a daunting task if, like most people, you’ve not done it before and have only been to a handful of weddings. So in this post I thought I’d give you a helping hand and share my own tips as well as guide to a wedding day timelines.
I definitely recommend that you ask your wedding venue for some ideas, as they will know how to plan a wedding timeline that will work best at their venue. Other wedding suppliers (e.g. makeup artists, caterers and bands) will also have specific time requirements so it’s a good idea to get their input too.
My Two Top Tips from a photographers perspective:
Group shots always take more time than you plan for as trying to get everyone away from the bar is always a challenge!
Leave golden hour free, sunset photographs are absolutely worth it and the perfect time to have a moment alone, just the two of you.
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!
Its time to get all glammed up gorgeous! 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 clutter free and gorgeous!
If this is impossible to have a separate room then I recommend keeping it clean and even getting your bridesmaids to clear the room whilst you’re getting in your dress.
Talking of getting in your dress… I advise you get into your dress an hour before you walk down the isle! 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!
TRAVELLING TO YOUR VENUE/CHURCH
I sound like a broken record but my best advice is to allow extra time when travelling to your venue or church, just in case of any traffic etc. 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!
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.
Depending on the type of wedding ceremony you’re having, the length of your ceremony will vary. Typically a civil ceremony or registry office ceremony will last about 30 mins and a church ceremony will last about an hour. However this all depends on how many readings you have, whether you have a musician or are having a celebrant rather than a registrar. You can check these timings with whoever is marrying you!
It is good 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, photographers 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.
The drinks are flowing and everyone is in high spirits!
If you have had to travel to your venue make sure that you leave enough time. Double what you think, if not triple as it will always amaze me how long it takes for guests to get back to their parked cars, drive, re-park, gather their things, and then walk to your reception venue. Allowing 2 -3 hours between arrival at your reception venue and the start of your wedding breakfast is the perfect amount of time.
You will not feel rushed, you will be able to talk to all of your guests and for me to take some fun candid shots!
This 2-3 hour window should also allow plenty of time to photograph your groups.
I recommend keeping these to a minimum of ten 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! If you would like this to help with your planning, drop me a message!
Within this time we will also scoot off for a 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 write it down.
During this time I will also photograph your dining room, your table details etc before your guests are invited to take their seats.
WEDDING BREAKFAST & SPEECHES
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.
Speeches can happen before, during or after your meal! Whenever you believe suits your day best. I love informal, pre-dinner speeches outside because it can be less intimidating than speaking in a large room with all eyes on you! 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.
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!
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!
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 Civil ceremony wedding.
9am - Makeup & Hairdressers Arrive
10am - Photographer arrives
11am - Bride & Bridesmaids get into dresses
11.45 - Groom and Groomsmen arrive at Venue
12pm - Guests start to Arrive
12.10pm - Bridal Party travel to Venue - if not already there.
12.30pm - Wedding Ceremony Begins
13.00pm - End of Ceremony
13.15pm - Confetti & Congratulations
13.30pm - Welcome drinks are served
14.00pm - Group Photographs
14.45 - Bride & Groom Photographs
16.00pm - Call to be seated
16.15pm - Bride & Groom entrance
16.20pm - Speeches
16.50pm - 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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Laura Jayne is a professional photographer with a passion for showing people how beautiful they are.