Wedding Day Schedule – Photography timings on the wedding day

Let’s talk about the Wedding Day Schedule. When I meet wedding photography clients for the first time and discuss the details of their wedding day, I always advise that they have around 90-120 minutes between the ceremony finishing and the wedding breakfast. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a suggestion and I don’t want to dictate or impose on someone else’s wedding day, but it’s important to allow yourself time to get everything done on the wedding day. The formal wedding photography is usually straight after the ceremony and nerves can still be very high, so it’s good if the process is relaxing and not rushed!

Wedding Day Schedule Planning with Groom and Best Man

Wedding Day Schedule

On average, I need around one hour to get all the key photographs (below), which is usually around 30 minutes for group photographs and 30 minutes for photography of the bride and groom. A couple of other shots, like confetti or maybe a large group photo of everyone, are great to capture as well, and depending on your wedding party, it can be quite quick, or take a little longer to gather everyone for the key shots. If you have two hours, I then have plenty of time to capture all the candid, natural reportage photographs of guests mingling and everyone enjoying the day, as well as capturing all the wedding details and decorations.

Wedding Day Schedule - Hugging
Chris & Alice Wedding, Slaugham Place, Sussex

The Wedding Photography Schedule

I always ask my clients for a wedding day schedule beforehand and advise on how long I think everything will take, and there’s always some adjusting of what photos we do when and in what order. The gap between ceremony and reception is the busiest time for photographers, as all the important shots happen in this window of time and there’s not a chance to get them again! I recommend having a look through all my recent weddings to see a full wedding day.

The Confetti Shot: 5 minutes

Wedding Day Schedule - confetti shot

A large group photograph: 5-10 minutes

Formal group photographs: 30-45 minutes

I advise around 8-12 formal group photographs, which usually takes around 30 minutes. If your wedding party is pretty organised, and the shots are quite small, it can be a bit quicker, but it does take time to line everyone up and arrange the shot to the best order and capture everyone smiling at the camera. If your ushers are busy having a cheeky beer, and the family is little more chaotic/disorganised, it can take slightly longer. Chat to the people who you want involved in the key photographs and make sure they know what time they’re needed!

Photographs of the Bride & Groom: 20-30 minutes

Wedding Day Timings

When planning your wedding day schedule, during the time frame of between ceremony finishing and wedding breakfast beginning, some other things may happen too and you’ll need to consider these and budget the time accordingly!

Travelling to the reception venue: (depending on distance)

It totally depends on the distance, but allow a generous amount of time for everyone to get from A to B! If you get married at a church or other venue, before heading to a different location, you’ll need to bear in mind that guests will have to get there as well, so you can’t expect everyone to get there at the same time (people also get lost) so try and plan this time accordingly. You can always do some shots at the ceremony venue and more later at the reception venue. If you arrive at the reception venue first, then perhaps do shots of the two of you together whilst you wait for the rest of your guest to arrive.

Receiving lines: 20-30 minutes

You may wish to greet your guests at the end of the ceremony or at the beginning of the wedding breakfast in a receiving line. These are a lovely activity and a great way to greet your guests and say hello to everyone!

Wedding Day Schedule - Guests in a receiving line

But you’d want to note that, depending on the amount of guests, saying hello to a large amount of people (on average 60-100) does not take just 5 minutes! I’ve seen some receiving lines take well over 30 minutes. Think about it, you may not have seen these people in over a year, so there may be lots you wish to catch up on and they’ll all want to congratulate you, tell you what a nice day it is, how wonderful you look etc… They’re a lovely thing to do and they look great on camera, but be warned, they take longer than you think!

Say you have a receiving line of just 60 people, and you speak to each person for just 10 seconds. That’s 10 minutes! Now imagine you speak to each guest for roughly a 30 seconds to a minute, this could mean 30-60minutes!

Wedding Details: 10 minutes

There will probably be a bridesmaid running around making everything perfect whilst you’re having your pictures taken. The caterers/venue staff will be busy finalising the wedding breakfast preparations, lighting candles, laying tables etc… Your photographer will also want to get in before anyone else and get those shots of the finished venue that you’ve spent a year planning the decorations for. This can take a good 10 minutes and the window for this is usually pretty narrow! It’s also nice for you both to be able to see the venue once it’s ready and check that everything is how you pictured it.

Wedding Day Schedule - Wedding Reception

Guests mingling, wedding games and other activities : 15-20 minutes

It’s always nice to have some time spare too! Enjoy the wedding day, say hello to good friends and family, stand back and appreciate the canapés, the details, the games, have a drink and maybe spend a moment together just the two of you! I tend to photograph the other goings on at the wedding whilst you do these other activities, but it’s nice to have a some time to actually enjoy your wedding day with your guests without being rushed through the photography and other more formal activities such as confetti throwing and receiving lines!

Try and ensure you have enough time between the ceremony and reception but it always depends on when you get married and when you and your guests will probably be hungry! It also depends on the light as well (especially in winter weddings!) and what you’ve got planned in terms of photographs. You certainly don’t have to do all of the above and it’s very rare for people to do everything I’ve written about.

Nobody gets the wedding day schedule perfect, but give yourselves enough time to enjoy the day, time for photography to be relaxing and not too rushed, but you also want to strike a balance between it not being too long. Be aware that some guests may have travelled a long way and might be a tad hungry!