Your FOOL PROOF wedding photography timeline

Published by Claire Gould on

Jessica Grace Photography Surrey

This is a guest article by Jessica Grace Photography. Show her some love with an insta follow @jessgracephoto!

Getting engaged is a beautiful thing. The romance, the excitement. The questions!

Most couples I have spoken to about planning a wedding always say that as soon as you’re engaged the questions start coming thick and fast. Where are you getting hitched? Are you going to have a wedding band? Do you know what colour scheme you are going for? Ever thought about making your own wedding favours? I am going to stop now because the list could go on.

However, I am here to give you a little helping hand and to ease the pressure of planning a wedding. Behold below a wedding schedule that can be used as a guideline for any kind of nuptials that are being planned.

Whether you are having an informal wedding in the woods, a grand stately home shebang or a registry office and drinks at the pub shin-dig – this guideline can be used in whatever planning facility you need.

Remember this timeline is just a guideline. Do not take this wedding photography schedule word for word, unless you want to. This is just here as a helping hand to answer some of those age old wedding photography timeline questions. So here goes:

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Bridal preparation photography is not the first priority on everyone’s list, however I love it. The morning when everyone is getting ready is not all about the make-up and hair. It is about the build-up of your wedding story. Bridal preparation photography is there to serve as a visual reminder of the goings on and relationships that you cherish, as well as documenting things like getting into your wedding dress.

Believe me you will want to remember the look that your mum had when she saw you getting into your dress, or how your bridesmaids teared up when you gave them their wedding gifts. Little moments that you might miss in the chaos of the morning are captured and that is why I love bridal and groom preparation photography.

Along with natural moments throughout the morning your photographer will be able to capture details of your wedding. Elements such as your dress or bridal jumpsuit or suit – along with any other clothing or accessories that are special to your day.  Photographers will always have different methods of how they like to do things, however I like to arrive in the morning just as my brides are putting the final touches to their make-up. This allows everyone to feel most at ease and confident and still allows the perfect amount of time to document last minute touch ups and to document all the bridal elements.

Allow 1 Hour and 30 Minutes to 2 hours for bridal prep

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Whether you are religious or having a civil ceremony, you will always be given an estimation on how long the service will take from the people conducting it for you.

It is important to think about how your ceremony is going to affect your wedding day timeline. The ceremony will be a crucial space in your schedule.

I like to advise brides and grooms to use the ceremony and work back from this for afternoon timings. If you need for example half an hour’s travel time from your church to the reception venue, it is essential to take into account the distance and traffic. Leave ample time as the last thing that you want is for your travel time to eat into your reception, which I will talk about after this!

Your length of ceremony will always hang on what kind of service you are having conducted. Catholic ceremonies in church can take up to an hour and a half depending on the service. Whereas a ceremony in a registry office can be as quick as half an hour. If you are having an outdoor ceremony or getting married abroad these timings can change with different proceedings.

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


The reception is a time where as a couple you can relax and get over those ceremony butterflies.

However, for your photographer there is a lot to complete in a reception turn around. During a reception your typical wedding photographer will have to organise and stage group photographs, capture honest images of your guests enjoying themselves, they will also have to document your reception venue and all of the interior décor as well as taking your couples portraits.

As a couple if you bear all of this in mind your wedding timeline will have to consider a wider range of time for your reception.

Some venues will allow an hour for your reception timings, but in my opinion this is very tight. During this time you will want to be able to have time in your reception to have a canape, talk to your guests and not feel like you are being dragged from pillar to post.

Leaving ample time is not only valuable for your photographer but it is also beneficial for you as a couple too. The last thing that you want is for your reception to race by and realise that your champagne glass is still full and you didn’t chat to all the people you wanted to.

Believe me a photographer can achieve all of the elements I have discussed above in an hour, but the time to do it will be regimented. Your wedding day will go by so quickly and your reception is the perfect time to mingle and soak up the atmosphere of your day as well as fitting in the necessary elements.

With this in mind ALLOW 1 hour and 30 minutes to 2 hours for your reception

Jessica Grace Photography Surrey


As you go about planning your day, no doubt you will be in conversation with your suppliers and your photographer in the lead up. Each photographer organises when to do couples portraits differently which is why I will give a few examples.

Sneaking off directly after the ceremony is sometimes ideal if guests have a journey to take to get to the reception. You are not missed as a couple and you are not in turn missing out on any of the action. This can be the perfect time to have photographs of the two of you together as all of your adrenaline and excitement still lingers in the air after your ceremony.

You can be whisked away in the same kind of style just as guests are sitting down for your wedding breakfast. Whilst guests are finding their seats, your photographer can take the two of you away together to have a quiet moment before speeches and dinner.

In my opinion you do not need hours to create relaxed and intimate portraits of couples. If you and your photographer choose a time you are comfortable with, this will show through in your portraits. Relaxed people in real life portray relaxed people on camera.

Allow 20 to 30 minutes for couples photography


These days there are so many fantastic ways to celebrate your first meal together as a married couple. Whether you have a sit down three course meal or a food truck where people serve themselves, the details are totally up to you. Your caterers will always be on hand to give you estimations on how long dinner service will take, however you decide to feed your guests.

In terms of speeches there are many ways in which you can fit these into your wedding timeline. They can usually happen either before people start service or after your wedding breakfast all together. As always there is no specific guideline to how long your speeches should be. Although I always love it when guests take bets on how long each speech will take! A general estimation would be ten to fifteen moments each.

Through previous experience in the wedding industry, a wedding breakfast can last from one to two hours. This is all dependent of service and expediencies.

Once your wedding breakfast has been cleared your room may need to be turned around for your entertainment. In my experience bands do take longer to set up as they have more gear and people to arrange compared to a DJ. You can save time by hiring a venue where there is a separate dancefloor and you and your guests can transition from one room to the next.

Couples traditionally can cut their cake before their first dance together – however you are well within your rights to break from traditions if you are not intent on having either of those traditions. Remember this is just a guideline!

Jessica Grace documentary wedding photographer Surrey


My fool proof wedding photography timeline! Do take pinches of advice from this wedding timeline blog and use it to your benefit.

Not everything that has been discussed will be essential to your day or relate to your wedding. There has been no discussion about accommodating different cultural wedding traditions or rituals – so feel free to insert your heritage and celebrations within these guidelines.

It may happen that from reading the blog that all you take from it is that you need to possibly extend your reception time.

Always remember that your wedding should reflect you as a couple.

Use this wedding photography timeline to your advantage and you can design it however you see fit.

Find Jesse’s beautiful wedding photography website at:

Facebook: @jessgracephotography/
Instagram: @jessgracephoto/

Claire Gould

Claire spends her days writing - either in beautiful calligraphy or online. She lives on the edge of the English Lake District only minutes away from the beach, where she loves to escape and unwind. Claire's calligraphy can be found at Claire launched the English Wedding Blog in November 2009 - it's been a top 10 UK wedding blog ever since, with a regional focus we hope you LOVE.


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