Let’s talk about your wedding photography timeline!

I’ve put together some simple info to give you a rough guide on planning your wedding timeline. I’ll stress that every single wedding is different and with my ‘day in detail’ questionnaire I’ll be sending you, we’ll be able to work together to help you plan a timeline that really works for you. This is just a simple guide to what I recommend when my couples put together their wedding timeline to get the best out of their photography.


Over-estimate your timings!
If you think something is going to take 30 minutes, plan 45. If maps is telling you it’s a 15 minute drive, allow 25 minutes! Best case scenario, you run ahead of schedule and you have more time together or more time with your guests. Worst case scenario, you run late, panic and get all flustered!

Bride and Groom portraits at Fennes, Gaynes Park, Private garden wedding Best Essex Suffolk documentary wedding photographer

Start with your ceremony start time, and work backwards. And then start with your ceremony end time, and work forwards.
If you think you want to attempt some golden hour portraits, google the sunset time on your wedding date – it’s the hour before this point that I’ll be looking to come get you for this and there is a big difference between seasons!


Typically, you should be dressed and ready 20/30 minutes before you need to leave for your ceremony venue or before your ceremony if you are prepping at the venue. Remember you’ll need to be interviewed by your registrar if you are having a civil ceremony! If you’d like the preparations, maybe a few portraits, a first look with your dad, maybe a lay flat, I need a minimum of 1 hour for this, preferably 90 mins. Double check your prep time with any other vendors (make up, hair etc). If you’re unsure, please give me a shout!

If your partner is also getting ready in the same location as you, I can alternate between you both. If your partner is getting ready elsewhere, my second shooter will need 45 mins to an hour with them before either leaving for your ceremony venue. Remember to include travel time!

Best Essex Documentary Wedding Photographer Gaynes Park Fennes Bruisyard Estes Apton Hall


Include any travel time between where you got ready and your ceremony location. Again, overestimate the timeline here. Guests might still be arriving or getting to their seats for the first few minutes. And don’t forget to allow time for hugs and kisses afterwards – this bit is so important and I really don’t like interrupting it, rather documenting these beautiful moments and waiting until it is over naturally! However long your actual ceremony is, add on another 15-20 minutes for a buffer.
If your ceremony is at a different location to your reception venue, we’ll also need to consider a confetti shot too, so if you want it captured at your ceremony location, add another 10-15 mins.

Wedding ceremonies at Blake Hall, The Barns at Lodge Farm and Ely Cathedral Best Essex Documentary Wedding Photographer


I really suggest limiting these groups as much as possible to five (with variations of the same people) – you’ll have read more on this in the info I sent you when you enquired and there’s a big spot for this info on my ‘day in detail’ questionnaire so don’t hesitate to ask me about it if you need to. We can always grab more casual group shots later in the day if there’s time. Depending on how quick or unruly everyone is – I recommend budgeting 20 – 30 minutes for this, having your Best Man or a Bridesmaid help round up people makes this much easier so nominate someone who knows your guests and can shout loudly! I normally recommend doing this during your drinks reception, after your portraits. For a church wedding, I can do them at the church if that is your preference but again, remember to plan for this in your timeline!

Best Essex Documentary Wedding Photographer Henham Weddings The Barns at Lodge Farm South Farm


I really view the couple’s session as a chance for you to get a few moments just the two of you. We’ll need 20 – 30 minutes, and this will be done during your drinks reception too. If you are getting married at a venue, they’ll give you 90 minutes for your drinks reception, and I break this into three sections, one half hour to mingle and chill, one half hour for your group shots and one for your portraits. Which way round you do this is up to you – some couples want to get their shots out of the way and others want to relax and laugh with their guests immediately after their ceremony. If you have split venues, I can split your portraits, do some at your ceremony venue and some at your reception venue, whatever your preference is, you still need to allow 20 – 30 minutes for this.
Sunset portraits would be an extra 15-20 minutes taken later in the day depending on what time of year your wedding date is. During the Autumn this often falls during your dinner so factor this in if you wanted to squeeze it in between courses, give your caterer a heads up! Winter weddings, I often find sunset is during the drinks reception and so the only portrait session of the day will be one during golden hour.

Bride and Grooms at Blake Hall and Events Under Canvas weddings


So we’ve covered your 90 minute drinks receptionl for groups and portraits. During this time, I’ll also be photographing your guests interacting and mingling and find the time to document your reception decor before you sit to eat.
Depending on your caterer and your entertainment for the evening – this part of the schedule is really up to you. You should allow around 1.5 hours for the full meal, and add on time for your speeches too. There is a spot in my questionnaire for info on your speeches, I do need to know if you are planning to do them prior to or after your wedding breakfast so I can be ready.
Speeches before dinner is of great benefit to those who are nervous as it’ll mean a more relaxed meal for them. It also means that your tables will still look gorgeous but the downside is that your guests will be waiting for their food.
Speeches after dinner is traditional and signals the start of the evening. There is no delay for your caterer and your tables can be cleared. Your guests can relax and enjoy your speeches with full tummies!
I have shot a few weddings where speeches are between courses and I’m going to go through the logistical challenges of this to your suppliers. The tables in your first speech will look lovely but between courses they will be littered with empty glasses, half bottles, used napkins and this will show in your photos. Your champagne glasses may not be charged for each speech as it will be harder logistically for your catering staff to come round each time to fill them up. Your caterer will have to hold back plating and service until after each speech has finished which could be to the detriment of your food And lastly, it’s harder for your suppliers to have a meaningful break. At this point we mange to get a drink and something to eat to refuel us for the rest of your day. Photographers and videographers will also be changing batteries, memory cards, backing up, prepping lighting for dance floor among other things we need to do during this time, important tasks to maintain our service to you.
GOLDEN HOUR TIP – remember to check for sunset time when deciding on speeches before or after dinner!

Best Essex documentary photographer Tuffon Hall


I always recommend that you do these all at once, most venues work this way too! That way you’re not constantly interrupting your guests to get their attention. Once everyone’s been herded to the dance floor, your cake cutting and first dance should only take about 10 minutes. If you’d like me to get some shots of your guests on the dance floor too, add another 20 minutes on for this.
Top dance floor tips – make your second song an absolute, floor filling banger! Play to your audience – you’ll know the song that’ll get all your besties up and raring to party so request it! Stay on the dance floor yourselves, your guests will want to dance with you so if you leave after your first dance, expect them to leave too! Lastly, people love props – silly things like glow sticks, sunglasses, inflatables, get a load of these and I guarantee your guests will want to get involved! This will ensure you’ll get the most out of me for those first few songs of the evening – usually after 3 or 4 tunes, people skulk off for a drink, or possibly your evening buffet but I’ll have worked my magic by then!
For any other shots you are planning, for example, smoke bombs or sparklers during the Autumn/Winter months, add another 20-30 minutes for these too. Again, theres space on my ‘day in detail’ questionnaire for any of these ‘extra’s and I can chat with you about when is best to do these and the logistics of it all!

Newlyweds on dance floor for first dance at Gaynes Park, Chateau Soulac, The Barns at Lodge Farm