A Typical, Full Wedding Day Timeline.
I’ve written this blog post as many couples ask if there is a typical timeline for a wedding day as they are unsure what is needed and how what wedding photography works as part of this.
Is This right or...?
The first thing I would say is that everyone’s wedding is different and that there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way. We all want something different but some things the same too, and that's ok. Traditions vary across faiths, countries and cultures so this is not meant to be prescriptive in any way. It shows you my approach to a wedding day and how the photography would typically fit with your wedding day. If you have any questions please feel free to email me of course to discuss this in more detail.
A Typical Wedding Day
The following wedding timelines shows a timeline for a typical full-day wedding from bridal preparations through the first dance with a 1 pm ceremony time. This example is also based on a wedding at a venue where the bride and groom are both getting ready there. The timings are always flexible of course and would be altered a bit if it was a church wedding or if the bride was getting ready at the family home for example.
10.00am: Venue Shots
At the start of the day, I arrive early to get set up, speak to the venue organisers and take some photos of the venue which will typically include the reception room, the ceremony room, and all the little details I spot in between if they are ready and taking place here.
10.30am / 11am : Bridal Preparations
If the bride is getting ready at the same venue as the ceremony I would normally start coverage about 2/2.5 hours beforehand. This is a great time to capture candid moments with the bride and her bridesmaids as well as your wedding makeup and hair is being done. It's always a fun time so great expression shots all around. The emotional ones are always as the anticipation builds up as the ceremony time gets nearer.
11.30pm /12pm: Groom Preparations
The Groom preparations are just as important and are also a great opportunity to capture some special moments. Sometimes Grooms get ready at the venue allowing for shots of the Grooms and Groomsmen together. Other times the Groom arrives already dressed and that makes some nice portrait shots of the group outside the venue, inside one of the formal rooms or sometimes in the bar! The other thing you should know and allow time for is the registrar will always ask to see you before the ceremony to confirm all your personal details.
12.30 pm: Guest’s Arrive
Your guests will start to arrive and will often greet the Groom who may already be waiting at the ceremony location. This time is also a chance for us photographers to speak to the registrar or official to introduce themselves and discuss the approach for the ceremony.
12.45pm: Bride’s Arrival
If your getting ready location is different to the ceremony location then you will probably arrive in a wedding car. This is a good opportunity for classic photos of the arrival of the bride. The registrar will always ask to see you before the ceremony to confirm all your personal details, if you are getting ready in the venue they will come to you.
1.00pm: Ceremony (30 minutes unless a church wedding then it may be 1 hour)
The ceremony has a number of specific parts which the photographer will capture. The entry procession, vows, reading, exchange of the rings, first kiss, signing of the register and the exit procession are all key moments in between the ceremony.
1.30pm / 2pm : Confetti Shot
Confetti shot if you have organised one (check with venue/ church beforehand as they may not approve or may have strict rules ie biodegradable confetti)
1.45pm : 2:15pm Group Photos
After the ceremony has just finished and you have done your confetti shot this will be an ideal time to do the family group photos. I recommend a small number of these ‘formal’ photos (4-8). A list is best prepared before the wedding, I always email my wedding couples requesting this in good time.
2:30pm : Drinks & Canapes
A chance to relax and speak to your guests after the ceremony as a newly married couple.
3/3.30pm : Bride & Groom Portraits
Whilst the majority of my photos are ‘in the moment, it’s good to set aside some time for some classic couple portraits. These are normally done on the grounds of the reception venue for a natural feel and to capture the setting fully.
4.00pm: Wedding Breakfast
After your guests have taken their seats for the wedding breakfast, you are typically ‘announced’. Whilst you have your wedding breakfast I normally take this time to take photos of your wedding rings and flowers.
5.30 pm: Wedding Speeches
I am always nearby ready for your speeches as I love to capture the real tears and laughter this can bring.
A long-standing tradition is to have speeches by the Father of the Bride, the Groom and the Best Man after the meal. However, many couples are opting to have the speeches at the beginning of the meal to allow the guys to relax. Also, many brides and other members of the family are making speeches these days. It’s your wedding so don’t feel you have to run everything in the traditional way. Speeches are a great time to capture photos of people’s reactions - the laughter, fun, emotions and often some tears as each speaker reflects on the day and the importance of the wedding as a whole. The Best Mans’s Speech is always a favourite and there is a handy guide here.
6.00 pm: Turn Around
After the wedding breakfast is a nice time to take a break whilst the venue prepares for the evening reception. This may be turning around the room or setting up the band or DJ. It’s an ideal part of the day for the couple to take some time out with a walk outside and some fresh air. This is a chance to capture some end-of-day portraits.
7.15 pm: Cutting The Cake
It is tradition to get a photo of the couple cutting their wedding cake. After the formal photo, there is a chance for guests to take photos as well. If you’re looking for a wedding cake designer check out my recommended suppliers for this and many more great wedding suppliers. It is common for the cutting of the cake to go straight into the first dance.
7.30 pm: First Dance
A chance to take the classic shot of your first dance as a married couple.
8.00 pm: Party!
Once the party has got started I take photos of the couple and guests enjoying themselves and letting their hair down. This captures the mood and shows a lot of fun as the party gets started.
Want To Know More?
I hope this blog post has been helpful. If you have any questions about any part of your wedding day or wedding photography then please have a look at any of my other helpful blogs or get in touch by using the contact page.
Written By Nick Georgiou