confetti shot outside de vere latimer estate. Bride in white wedding dress and groom in blue suit

Your Wedding Day Timeline – Industry Insider Tips for a Relaxed Wedding Day

Wedding Planning

I adore my job as a wedding photographer, I mean who doesn’t love a wedding right! I’m privileged enough to get to go to a lot of weddings. I have been to a fair few over the last few years!  Wedding days come in all shapes and sizes and I love watching them unfold before me.  Every wedding day has it’s own vibe with its own little touches and it is a joy to capture every single one. I decided to write this blog to give my top tips for the perfect wedding day timeline to help you plan your day in advance.  You could say I have a little insider knowledge and I have seen what works well and what could be improved with a little forward planning. You may have hired a wedding planner who can organise your wedding day timeline for you, or you may be planning your wedding day yourselves

Either way, you want to get the most from your day and you want it to run as smoothly as possible. Grab a cuppa and a pen and enjoy my blog

1. Bridal / Groom Preparations

Your wedding day will always start with the preparation stage in some form. You should allow plenty of time for this as this will set the tone for the rest of the day.  If you take your time you will undoubtedly coast into the next stage much more relaxed.  Choose your squad well and spend some quality time together before things really get going.  If you are in a hotel, order room service and have a lovely breakfast with a glass of bubbly.  At home? get some food and snacks in the day before and spend some time chilling out and enjoying being pampered. 

If you have a hair stylist and make up artist booked they will give you their timings well in advance. This will depend on the number of people they are catering for.  Hair and make up for a large bridal party can take longer than you would think. I normally arrive around two hours before you leave for the venue.  This will give me ample time to cover the latter stages of preparation without missing the key moments.  If I am working on my own I can only cover the preparation of one of the parties.  If you are both getting ready at the same place I can jump between the two and cover both

bride applies lipliner in mirror in the buttery at the dairy at waddesdon during bridal prep
bridesmaid in green dress applying red nail varnish during bridal prep in hair salon in niort
father of the groom helping groom do up bow tie during groom prep
bridesmaid applying makeup to young bridesmaid outside the buttery at the dairy at waddesdon
bride and bridesmaids in dressing gowns clinking glasses during bridal prep

2. The Wedding Ceremony

Unless you are getting ready in the same place as the wedding ceremony venue, I aim to leave around ten minutes before you do.  This allows me time to get to the wedding venue and be ready for the big arrival.  Roughly speaking, a civil ceremony will last around 20 minutes. A church marriage ceremony can be anything up to an hour.  Make contact with the church or registrar well in advance to book your ceremony time slot. Summer slots can book up quickly.  I always think an early afternoon wedding ceremony works well.  This gives you plenty of time in the morning for getting ready without rushing.  It also means that the rest of the day’s timings work quite well.  You may want to make this slightly earlier for a winter wedding so you have more daylight hours after the wedding ceremony

bride smiles as groom puts ring on finger during waddesdon wedding ceremony in wintergarden room
bride and groom exchanging rings during outdoor wedding ceremony at domaine de la gravette
bride walking with father to outdoor wedding ceremony at fanhams hall. Bride carrying bouquet of pink and white roses
bride and groom go to kiss after their outdoor wedding ceremony at domaine de la gravette
close up of bride signing the register at corpus christi church in tring

3. Drinks Reception

You may have to factor in travelling time to the wedding reception venue if it differs from the ceremony venue.  If you’re having confetti you may want to think about whether you are going to do this at the church or the wedding reception.  If you do decide to do it at the church you will need to check with them that this is allowed.  Confetti walks are big at the moment and I absolutely love them!  A lot of places will stipulate that you use Biodegradable Confetti so as not to damage the environment.  Do not be put off by this, it is beautiful and very realistic.  Some people choose bubbles for their walk also, a big hit with the kids

Your drinks reception will be your first time to relax a little and mingle with your friends and family after the wedding ceremony.  Canapés are a great idea, especially if you have a big gap between the ceremony and the wedding breakfast, and a couple of glasses of your tipple of choice always goes down well.  Garden games are always a big hit! Once we arrive at the reception venue I give you a little time to take a breather before we do your group photos and portraits.  I normally recommend no more than about ten group shots so that they don’t eat into your day too much.  If you have a big family or want lots of shots with friends then we will absolutely do them, you just need to be aware that this will take a little longer.  Your drinks reception will normally last around an hour and a half which is plenty of time to incorporate all of the above and allow for time for you to spend with your guests also

female guests laughing during outdoor drinks reception at domaine de la gravette wedding
a woman speaks to two men during drinks reception at notley abbey during drinks reception in barn
bride holding bouquet of pink and white roses and holding drink. Speaking with female guests at waddesdon dairy
mother of bride speak to a woman while drinking champagne during wedding reception at domaine de la gravette
groom in blue suit speaking with guests during evening drinks reception at de vere latimer estate

4. Bride and Groom Portraits

My favourite part! Once your group photos are done that is when we will go off together for your portraits.  Please ensure you factor in enough time for this area in your wedding day timeline so it is not rushed. Portraits fill some couples with dread but please do not fret.  This is your first opportunity to spend some quality time together as a happily married couple and I want you to enjoy it.  This part of the day will be really relaxed and natural. This is all about you two and not me and my camera.  I encourage all of my couples to concentrate on each other with no cheesy posing or awkward smiles.  I will always give a small amount of guidance just so that we get the best out of this session but everyone always says how relaxed they felt afterwards.  Plus it will be well worth it for the end result

If the weather is bad we will do our best to work around it.  It may be that we head indoors and dash outside if we get a chance.  Or you could bring a pretty umbrella and we could get some really cool shots with that if you are happy to brave it.  If your wedding is in the winter months then we will do our best to get all of this done before the early sunset.  Failing that, most wedding venues are geared up for this and have equally beautiful spots indoors that we can utilise. I also try and steal you away from the wedding reception for a brief time later for some golden hour portraits. Golden hour is a beautiful time to capture some more gorgeous pictures of the two of you

bride and groom embrace in gardens of de vere latimer estate. Bride wears white wedding dress and holding bouquet of pink and white roses
bride in white lace wedding dress and white veil holding a bouquet of pink and white roses and groom in blue suit in grounds of fanhams hall. Looking at each other smiling
bride and groom sitting on steps at domaine de la gravette. Groom whispering in brides ear while she smiles
bride in white lace wedding dress holding hands with groom and smiling as she leads him away in grounds of waddesdon dairy
bride and groom portrait at the ashes. Bride in white wedding dress and groom in waistcoat. Groom kisses her on the forehead as she looks at the floor

5. Speeches and Wedding Breakfast

If you are having a receiving line this can take around half an hour before everyone has been greeted. For a receiving line, you should work on around 30 minutes per 100 guests. This needs to be considered so that the speeches and wedding breakfast are not too delayed. Once everybody is in the reception room the wedding breakfast and speeches can start. Which way round you choose to do this is entirely up to you and it is generally split quite evenly.  Some couples like to do speeches before the wedding breakfast so that those who are giving them can relax and enjoy their meal afterwards.  There is a lot of pressure on the best man to be funny whilst saying the right things, I do feel for them. The rest choose to go the more traditional route and do speeches after the wedding breakfast.  There is no right or wrong here.  My only bit of advice would be that if you choose to do them before the meal, try to not let them run on too long or you and your guests will be super hungry. Aim for speeches to last no longer than around 40 minutes so you hold everybody’s attention

best man in grey waistcoat and white shirt laughing during wedding speeches inside the stone barn at notley abbey
close up of bridesmaid in pink dress smiling during wedding speeches at the dairy at waddesdon
bride laughing during wedding speeches in the stone barn at notley abbey. Bride wearing white lace wedding dress and hair tied up
black and white of bride crying during brothers wedding speech at domaine de la gravette wedding
two men and a woman stand and raise glasses inside the stone barn at notley abbey during wedding speeches

6. Cake Cutting and First Dance

Everyone has been suitably fed and watered and now it is time to move on to the evening reception.  There can sometimes be quite a gap between the wedding breakfast and the evening reception. This is a great time to relax a bit and work the room.  Everybody will want to have a chat with you so this is the perfect opportunity to mingle.  You may have invited evening guests and they will probably now start arriving in time for the party.  There is no set time for the cake cutting but most couples aim for around 8 pm. After this it is generally straight into the first dance.  Your venue may need to turn the room around or you may have a DJ or band that need to set up so this will need to be factored in beforehand.  Once the cake is cut it is on to the first dance 

How you choose to do this is your call entirely.  You may choose to sway together to a love song, dance your socks off to an Ibiza anthem or you may give strictly a run for its money and Rhumba your way into married life.  Whatever you choose, enjoy the moment and don’t worry that all your guests are watching and cooing.  After the first dance, your guests will all join you on the dancefloor. Then the party really starts and you can really let your hair down.  I like to stay for a bit of the evening do and believe me I will be in there with you. Dancing my little socks off and snapping away.  When it is time to go I leave you to it and say my goodbyes. Generally followed with a big congratulatory hug!  

bride and groom cutting into wedding cake inside the stone barn at notley abbey. Bride wears lace white wedding dress. Both smiling
close up of bride and groom holding onto knife and cutting in to 4 tier white and pink wedding cake at the dairy at waddesdon
bride in white lace wedding dress and groom in navy blue suit. Finish their first dance at notley abbey with arms out to the side facing their guests in stone barn
bride and groom embrace during first dance inside the wintergarden room at waddesdon dairy
bride and groom on dance floor at de vere latimer estate with arms out to the side. Bride in white wedding dress and groom in blue tweed suit

7. Above All….Have the Best Wedding Day

I hope you have enjoyed my wedding day timeline blog and have got some useful tips. However you choose to run your wedding day remember that your venue and all of your suppliers will be there to ensure everything runs smoothly. If you have hired a wedding planner you can relax completely, they will sort your wedding day timeline and running order for you. If not then do not get overwhelmed, with a little planning everything will fall into place. Above all make sure you relax and have the best day you can

If you would like to discuss your wedding photography I would love to hear from you. Please contact me here and we can book in a call or meet up for a cuppa

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