Wedding Day Timeline – Wedding Photography Advice



Planning your wedding and where to begin with your wedding day timeline can be daunting and scary. Where do you start? How long do you allow for canapés? Do I need to have a receiving line? Will our ceremony be too long?

Luckily your wedding is the chance for you to design your day exactly how you want it.  This wedding day timeline that I am going to outline for you in this blog is just a guideline. Ultimately, it all depends on how you want your schedule to run.  My hints and tips will just help you formulate the right timings to allocate to certain wedding day elements. So as Fraulein Maria once said in The Sound Of Music – “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start” (and might I add YES I am a complete musicals geek) Moving on!




Wedding Day Timeline - Bridesmaids Laughing During Bridal Prep - Outdoor Surrey Wedding


So, here is the thing. Like every element to a wedding day – you do not have to have everything included. This is something that I always reiterate when walking through my couples and their wedding day timeline. Bridal preparation photography is not essential. However it is a wonderful part of the day, if you wish to include it.  Moments with your family and friends are an emotional thing to capture on your wedding day and this is why I love it.

I have photographed many weddings where my brides are just not that fussed about getting ready photographs in the morning and others who desperately want it. I have photographed a wedding where the bride didn’t want any preparations photographed but the groom did. Like I say – it is totally up to what you want on your wedding day.

If you are thinking about having the morning preparations photographed here is my estimation guideline.


1 Hour and 30 Minutes to 2 hours for bridal prep


Wedding Day Timeline - Baby Blue Bridesmaids Shoes and Dresses - Outdoor Surrey Wedding


In this time your photographer will be able to capture details of your dress or bridal jumpsuit or suit – along with any other clothing or accessories that are special to your day.  They will also photograph elements of your morning and event that unfold. I like to get to bridal prep just as my brides are finishing their make up. This leaves the perfect amount of time to capture last minute touch ups and document the mornings happenings.

In this time frame I always allow for the moment that the bride steps into their outfit and the reactions afterwards. This is always such a lovely moment shared with a mother or a bridesmaid and really cement the atmosphere of the day. Before leaving I aim to always get some group photographs of the bridal party – these sometimes happen and sometimes don’t.

I always play it by ear during the morning and even the best laid plans to be on time sometimes go squiffy. I will never pressure anyone to smile for a photograph if they do not want to and I think that this is important.




Wedding Day Timeline - Bride and Groom Share First Kiss at Registry Office - Outdoor Surrey Wedding


What ever service or ceremony that you wish to have, there will always be an estimation on how long it will be from the people conducting it for you. This is important to think about with your wedding day timeline as the ceremony will be a pivotal space in your schedule. It is sometimes useful to work back from your ceremony for the afternoons timings. If for example your guests have to travel from the ceremony to the reception venue, it is always good to take into account travel time and traffic.

The length of your ceremony totally depends on what kind of service you are having. A Catholic service in a church can take up to an hour and a half, where as a ceremony in a registry office can take as little time as half an hour.  If you are having an outdoor ceremony or getting married abroad these timings can also be subject to change too.


Wedding Day Timeline - Bride Walking Down the Aisle With Her Two Dads - Outdoor Surrey Wedding


As an estimate leave 30 minutes to an hour and a half depending on your service



Wedding Day Timeline - Bride and Groom Outdoor Surrey Wedding




Wedding Day Timeline - Guests Enjoying Themselves and Laughing at Reception - Outdoor Surrey Wedding


There is a lot for your photographer to accomplish at a wedding reception. In this time your average wedding photographer will have to organise and arrange group photographs, capture candid images of guests enjoying themselves, sneak in to your reception venue and shoot the interiors of your tables and decor and take you away for some couples portraits.

Bearing this in mind – allowing enough time for your wedding photographer to be able to capture all that you would like documented. To have a lovely record of your day, you will want to be able to have time at your reception to talk to people as well as enjoy yourself. Leaving enough time is not only beneficial for your photographer but it is also beneficial for you as a couple too. Leaving time during your wedding to take in the day is essential for your enjoyment. The day goes by so quickly and the reception is the perfect place to mingle with guests as well as fit in all the essential elements.


Wedding Day Timeline - Wedding Guests Play Beer Pong At Reception - Outdoor Surrey Wedding


ALLOW 1 hour and 30 minutes to 2 hours for your reception


Wedding Day Timeline - Sausages at The Reception - Outdoor Surrey Wedding




When you start to arrange your wedding day timeline your photographer will advise you during your day when is best for the three of you to sneak off and take some photographs together. This can differ from each day that is planned, however I like to advice my couples that we head off at the end of the reception. You do not need hours upon hours to create really lovely memorable portraits of the two of you together which is why I sneak away just at the end of the reception. I previously wrote about how to achieve relaxed couples photographs on your wedding day which gives some handy tips and how much time to leave for natural wedding photography.


 Allow 20 to 30 minutes for couples photography



Wedding Day Timeline - Elegant Couple Smile At Each Other - Outdoor Surrey Wedding




Wedding Day Timeline - Couple Embrace During Speeches - Outdoor Surrey Wedding


All of my couples have a different ideas for their wedding breakfast and evening entertainment which I think is fantastic. Whether you are having a dit down three course meal or a food truck where people serve themselves the timings are totally up to you. The caterers will be able to give you some estimations about service time which can be handy when organising your wedding schedule. Speeches are usually before or after your wedding breakfast and that is your decision. There is no guideline to how long speeches are conducted, but a general guideline would be ten to fifteen moments each.

From my experience in the wedding industry, the wedding breakfast can last any time between one and two hours, depending on the service and practicalities. After your wedding breakfast there possibly will be some time where the venue will need to turn around the room for your band or DJ to set up for the evening entertainment. Couples can cut their cake before they embark on their first dance together – or if you have broken from tradition and are not having either of those, your wedding entertainment can get the party started!


Exciting and Funny Dance Floor Photography - Outdoor Surrey Wedding




Take what you will from this wedding advice blog post and use it to your advantage. Not all of these timings are essential to your day. There might be spaces in your wedding day schedule where you want to allow more time and accommodate specific traditions or celebrations. It may be that you only want to use the advice to make your reception longer.

What ever nugget of information that you take away from this, remember that your wedding day is yours to make what you want.  Your wedding day timeline should reflect this. If you would like to invest some more time is my wedding planning advice take a look at my post about the Three Reasons Why You Need Confetti at Your Wedding.

Jesse x