How To Create a Wedding Day Timeline

July 8, 2020

Throughout my time in the wedding industry I have loved helping my couples create the best wedding timelines for their day. I understand how frustrating and overwhelming this process can be, so I want to make it as simple as possible for you!

Every wedding day is unique to the couple that is celebrating such a special moment in their lives. In saying this, I’ve come to find that each wedding timeline can be split up into various categories that most couples tend to go through on their day. Check out the example below!


Within each ‘category’, there will be those unique moments that you’ve planned. Each couples morning prep is different from the next, as will the rest of their day be!

Before I break down each category and what that can entail, I want to point out some equally important details that you need to think about when creating your wedding day timeline…

The first important thing to consider is light. For spring and summer weddings this isn’t a big problem as the light stretches far into the evening, but if you’re deciding to have your wedding day in the autumn or winter, then I would advise you to plan your main portrait session and group photos as early as possible. I love using natural light in my work and this ensures that I don’t have to use artificial light to document your story. It also creates less stress for you and gives you plenty of time to enjoy the rest of your day with your guests.

The second point to consider is travel time. If you have a ceremony in one place and then your reception in another, PLEASE factor these times in! This means you’ll not be under pressure on the day and every minute can be accounted for.

Below I am going to explain what typically happens at each point on the timeline displayed above and how you can plan for these moments on your big day.

Morning Prep

The start of the story. Normally on the morning of the wedding, I will arrive at the bride’s house an hour and a half before you’re set to leave for the ceremony. If you are having two photographers, the second photographer will arrive at the grooms’ house around 45 minutes before they are set to leave. I have found that for the photographer, this is more than enough time to document that part of the day. For the bride you will have a lot of people helping you out on the morning, potentially you could have hair, makeup, your bridesmaids and family members all playing a part to get you ready to walk down the aisle. 


This part is probably the most important part of the day. You are getting married and making it official!! From the experience of my own wedding day, this part flies in, so make sure to cherish it. 

Wedding ceremonies usually last around 45 minutes to 1 hour. It all depends on where it’s taking place and who is in charge of the proceedings. Make sure to double-check this with whoever is marrying you and let your photographer know when planning your timeline.


After the ceremony I recommend mingling for 30 minutes or so (if possible), where you can great your guests, get a drink and something to eat before running off for your photos.

Before you know it, you will be into your group shots and portrait session. Again, depending on light and travel we want to get to this part as early as possible.

To make this process as quick and stress-free as possible, I always ask my couples to appoint a friend or family member from each side to point out who I need to pull in for a photo. It always works best when that family member rounds everyone up and has them close by so that we can just slot them in and out. This process should take between 20-30 minutes, but all depends on how many group shots you want with close family and friends. 

Then the portrait session, my favourite part!

I normally ask my couples to give this part of the day at least 30 minutes, but if you’d like to allocate less then we can always work with that. During this time I will take you both off and grab photos that are solely showcasing you as a new married couple. I often tell my couples to take this time to soak in the day so far – this will probably be the first time that you’re alone after making your commitment to one another! Emotions will be high so embrace them and let me document it for you!

Drinks Reception

The drinks reception is when everyone will be mingling before they enter the room for the speeches and their meal. It can run alongside the photographs and not all your guests will be needed for that part of the day. You wouldn’t want them standing around in silence looking at each other so everyone loves a mingle at this stage! Once the photographs are done you will be able to go and enjoy your drinks reception, relish in all the hugs and giggles and grab all the selfies galore!


You’re either dreading it or excited for this part, there’s no middle ground. On my own wedding day, we were just worried how long my dad was going to go on for, he loves a chat! Normally there are between 3-5 speeches but this is your day, have as many as you want! Just keep in mind the time you want it to take (and the food going cold!).


Andddd relax. This is the easy part, you get to eat that beautifully prepared meal. Once they get through serving all the courses the dinner normally takes around 2 hours. Leave a bit of extra time as your guests will be off mingling in between courses and everyone will again be coming over to congratulate you and your partner!

First Dance

A lot of couples opt-in for a first dance. If this seems daunting for you, you don’t have to do it! If you need a bit of moral support, maybe dance a part of it with you and your partner alone and then for the rest of it, invite (force) the rest of your wedding party to join you. The duration for this is normally one song but if you want more, go for it!

Cutting Cake

This normally happens at some stage during your evening reception and doesn’t take long. Normally I would ask my couples to let whoever is announcing the cutting of the cake to let your guests know that I will grab the first photo and then they can huddle around you to grab the next. 

Last Dance & Send-Off

The final part of the big day. This might be dictated by your venue, as they will have a time that the party needs to stop by, so make sure to double-check this with them so that you don’t run into any bother on the day.

I recommend getting creative with your send off! Have sparklers or a guard of honour with all your guests, it will be the perfect ending to the perfect day. I can help organise your guests for whatever send off you have planned.

If you have enjoyed the guide, you can download a blank version of my simple wedding day timeline here to have a rough guide when planning out the big day!

Wedding planning is one of the many extra services that I help our couples with. I have very limited availability for 2023 so if you want a photographer that will take pride in documenting your special day then please get in touch below.