Are you planning your wedding day timeline and don’t know where to start? I’ll try to show you a typical order of the day from a photographer’s perspective.

Anyone who has ever been to a wedding will know that there really are never two alike. As a wedding photographer this means being able to react to situations as they arise without compromising on the quality of your wedding photography.

Wedding day order - typical vintage palette timeline
A creative football themed vintage pallet wedding timeline.

Typical wedding day timeline UK

Fortunately most weddings follow a similar structure, even if the details are very different. I have put together a diary of a ‘typical wedding’ to help you plan a stress free wedding day and to give you an idea of what I would be aiming for during your wedding day.

My typical wedding day timeline broken down looks like this:

Order of the day – wedding day schedule

  • Getting ready
  • Ceremony
  • Family and group photos
  • Wedding breakfast
  • Couples portraits
  • Evening reception

1. Preparation

Weddings are all about preparation, so it makes sense that you would want to record this part of the day in your photos.

At this stage your house is normally buzzing with people – bridesmaids, parents, hair & make-up artists, maybe even a wedding videographer, and of course you.

At this point I aim to capture the atmosphere and energy that is going on all around us. This may include final touches to hair & make-up, the Bride’s dress and shoes, perhaps a little note from the Groom.

Depending upon the timescale of the preparation we may have opportunity for a few bridal portraits before departing for the ceremony venue, however experience has shown that often this is best left until we reach the ceremony venue due to the ‘wedding fever’ that descends as the ceremony draws near.

Wedding day order - getting ready photos
A typical wedding day timeline starts with getting ready photos.

2. Ceremony

The Wedding Ceremony, or Marriage, is the centerpiece for the whole day. This is the point where two people make a promise to spend the rest of their lives together.

I like to arrive at the ceremony venue ahead of the Bride to capture some shots of the venue before the guests arrive. This means I am able to meet the Groom and his party for a few portaits before they become too busy / nervous to stand for a photograph.

Being at the wedding venue also allows me to capture the arrival of the Bride in her chosen mode of transport. Upon her arrival there is normally a very short window for us to capture a few portraits of the Bride with her party before she is sequestered by the officials conducting the wedding. During the ceremony I try to remain as anonymous and invisible as possible so as not to distract from the ceremony itself, while still capturing the key moments.

The ceremony concludes with the signing of the register and the exit of the Bride & Groom, which is normally followed by a period of congratulations from your family & friends.

Wedding ceremony at The Normans near York
Laura and Adam during their wedding ceremony. Photo from this wedding at The Normans.

3. Family and group portraits

Traditional wedding photography was based upon family portraiture, and this is still an important part of your wedding timeline.

This is the part of the day where I work with you beforehand to decide which photos you would like to include and how long to set aside for this portion of the day. This is one of the only times where we would ‘assume control’ of your wedding for a few minutes to organise your family photos.

Many people are unsure of how many photos to request or how long this will take to complete. My rule of thumb is approximately 10-15 group shots will normally take around 30 minutes to arrange. This is usually a reasonable time for guests to chat, have a drink and enjoy whatever entertainment you have arranged.

I would suggest that if you require more group photos than this then it may be best to arrange more formal entertainment for guests so that they feel included while photos are taking place. It’s also important to allow more time for those in your wedding day itinerary.

Group photos as part of a wedding day timeline
Group photos are an important part on your wedding day timeline.

4. The wedding breakfast

Although I use the term ‘wedding breakfast’ this really relates to the activities that surround your afternoon reception, such as the speeches & cutting your wedding cake.

Your wedding breakfast is the most relaxed part of your wedding day in terms of photography. I use this time to move around observing and capturing yourself and your guests as you take part in the festivities that follow your marriage.

Highlights from this part of the day tend to be the speeches, and the cutting of the wedding cake.

5. Couple portraits

Aside from your Wedding Ceremony, your portraits as a couple are some of the most important photographs that I produce on your wedding day. These will be the images that will describe you as a newly married couple when you look back on your wedding with your family.

Although I will spend almost the whole day taking photographs of you individually and together, your Bride & Groom portrait session provides the opportunity for you to spend a little time together away from your guests. During this session we will work together to produce a series of portraits of your both in a calm and relaxed environment while your guests entertain themselves.

Do not worry though. I don’t do too much unnecessary posing. I will make sure that you are comfortable and confident now that all the formal elements of your wedding day have been completed, so that your portraits reflect you in the best possible way.

Instead of doing it all in one go I tend to take my couples for a few short photo walks around the venue. The exact times of these sessions may also be affected by the time of year if we are hoping to use natural light for your portraits. Usually 2-3 short sessions (approx 10 minds each) is enough to produce a good amount of photos. This way your guests don’t feel like they are left on their own for a long period of time.

Whirlowbrook Hall wedding
Couples portraits don’t have to interfere with your wedding day order. Photo from this wedding at Whirlowbrook Hall.

6. Evening reception

Time to relax and enjoy yourselves with your family and friends on the dance floor.

The culmination of our coverage is your first dance together as a newly married couple. This is a tradition that family and friends love to watch and makes a great way to complete your photography.

During this time I work in a very fluid way to capture you as a couple. I do not pose you for your dance, instead I capture this part of your day as it is seen by your guests.

After your first dance I will stay for a while to capture some boogie woogie and maybe your weding sparklers exit and then I will quietly pack away and say goodbye to let you enjoy the rest of your evening with your family and friends.

Wedding day timeline UK