Having a rough timeline of every event of your big day will ensure your wedding day goes without a hitch and keeps it all stress free. Making sure you leave enough time for portraits, group photos, prep and just some downtime to mingle with your guests is all really important.
I’m always on hand to answer any questions or give any tips that might help you, as I’m sure will your other suppliers. Below are a few things to consider!
Timings for prep can differ depending on if you’re doing it DIY, whether you have hair and makeup artists or you’re doing it yourself, as well as how big the wedding party is.
Assuming you’re having hair and makeup done, then speak to your suppliers and they’ll give you a rough idea of how long they’ll need for each person. Then work backwards from the time you need to leave for the ceremony. Add in a little buffer space for photos before heading to the ceremony, and you’ll be golden.
From a photography point of view, it’s rare that I need to be there for the whole of prep. I usually aim to be with you 3 hours before the ceremony, that’s plenty of time to get some lovely shots of everyone getting ready.
The length of a ceremony varies from 20 – 30 minutes for a civil ceremony, to 60 – 90 minutes for most Church weddings.
Add on some time for mingling with your guests afterwards, and check with your photographer if it’s at this venue they would like to do the group photos. I usually aim to get group photos done shortly after the ceremony, giving you some time to mingle before getting the formality of those images out of the way, meaning you can just relax for the rest of the day and have fun with your guests!
With regards to photography, while Civil Ceremonies tend to have the same rules everywhere. Church rules vary from Church to Church, so speak to your photographer and maybe ask some of the following:
- Is photography allowed during the ceremony?
- If so, are there any parts of the ceremony the photographer shouldn’t photograph?
- Where can the photographer stand? Can they change locations during the ceremony if they are discreet?
While the group photos are very important images, as it’s often the first time in a few years that all of the family have been in the same place at once, you don’t want to spend hours stood around having photos taken!
Having the group photos agreed with your photographer in advance, and a plan to organise people, will get them done efficiently, leaving you to just get on with the party.
My top tips are:
- Keep the list to no more than 10 different groups
- Print the list 3 times (or ask your photographer to) – one for the photographer, and one for a person on each side of the family – it’s the family members job to round up the people for the photos, which is quicker because they know who everyone is.
- Work from the biggest group to the smallest, so people can head to the reception venue as soon as they’re finished.
- If you want a group shot of everyone, this often only achievable if the photographer can be elevated, or there are steps to stagger your guests on, so consider this when asking for one.
A 3 course meal can take 90 – 120 minutes including the speeches. Decide whether you’re having the speeches before or after the meal. Both work well, and often depend on how late in the day your meal is. The later it is the more hungry people might be.
If anyone is particularly nervous about giving a speech, it can often help to have them before the meal as well.. Sometimes people can be too nervous to eat properly or even worse, very occasionally have a little too much dutch courage by the end of the meal.
It’s always important to get some amazing images of the two of you, the best time for this is that last hour of light if possible, the “golden hour” as it’s called. But in the height of summer this isn’t until really late on in the day, and obviously in winter it’s very early!
While I might be happy to drag you away from the dancefloor, or eating your dessert to get some shots of the two of you with a beautiful sunset behind you. I can’t interrupt a first dance or a speech, so if you want to make the most of that light, plan accordingly.
A 1pm Ceremony might shape up to look like this:
9am – Hair and makeup artists arrive
10am – Photographer Arrives
12:15pm – Photos with Wedding Party before leaving
12:30pm – Leave for Church
1pm – Ceremony
1:30pm – Mingle with friends
1:45pm – Group Shots & Confetti + some couples shots
2:15pm – Head to Reception Venue
2:30pm – Drinks and Canapes
4pm – Speeches
4:15pm – 5:45pm – Wedding Breakfast
5:45pm – 6:45pm – Room switched around for the party, band starts to set up etc
7pm – Evening starts
8pm – First Dance
8:30pm – Sunset Portraits
9pm onwards – Party!
I hope that helps!
If you have any questions at all, or any of your own tips you’d like to add, let me know!