A Guide To A Typical Wedding Day Timings In The UK

monthly goals for June - West Midlands Wedding Photographer Series

Wedding Photography Timing Guide For The UK | Creating Realistic Timeframes For Your Wedding

by WEst midlands wedding photographer - Lisa Lander

I wanted to give you all an overview into the timings of a typical wedding day in the UK. This is a suggestion from the weddings I have attended and been to ask photographer. Not all UK weddings will be the same but this is a good foundation to start with your wedding timeline writing.

GETTING READY

IDEAL PHOTOGRAPHY TIME NEEDED - 60 minutes

IDEAL LOCATION – Bridal Suite or Hotel Suite

We typically arrive 60-90 minutes before you leave for your ceremony or portraits. This first part is focusing on getting as many details shots as possible (such as photos of the dress(es) and/or suit(s), rings, shoes, stationery, flowers) and then document the getting ready process (hair, makeup, dressing, etc.)

TIPS TO HELP THE PROCESS GO SMOOTHLY:

  • Tidy the environment (make beds, pick up objects and garbage, hide the suitcases and bags, etc…).

  • Have all the detail items out and together. Remember to keep ALL the rings together. We will help coordinate to get them back in time for the ceremony.

  • Get ready in a room with as much natural light as possible – artificial light produces strong yellow tones that are hard to Photoshop out. Try not to mix artificial and daylight as these light sources are two different colours and can affect if you look grey or orange in your photos.

  • If you are getting professional hair/makeup, plan for longer than the stylist says, as this part of the day is most likely to run behind schedule. It will happen, so build a buffer into your timeline.

  • The getting ready time can be broken down into parts (these are all average, but this is typically how it plays out)

    • Details and general candids: 30 minutes

    •  Bridesmaids together in robes: 5-10 minutes

    • Bride getting dressed and finishing touches: 20 minutes (wait to put on earrings, jewelry, and shoes until after you’re dressed)

    • First look with dad/parents: 5-15 minutes (this can be faster if it happens and coordinated in the same room. If you have to find another place it will take longer as you will have to move all the participants and tidy the environment.

If you have two photographers, the men will be photographed at the same time.

This is usually as simple as putting on jackets, pocket squares, and boutonnieres. If you have one photographer and the men are getting ready elsewhere, have them wait to put buttonholes on until the buffer time before the ceremony begins.

Decide whether you will have someone come to the hotel or house where you’re getting ready to do hair and makeup, or whether you’ll all go to a salon. What happens if there is traffic? How long does it take to get from one place to another? 

It is easier to have the makeup and hair stylist to come to you and order food in. This will save a lot of time and headache. Many couples who get ready at home will have a family or friend pick up coffee and sandwiches and set out the food while everyone gets prepared together.

FIRST LOOK

If you choose to do a first look, this is how the timeline would look.

IDEAL PHOTOGRAPHY TIME NEEDED – 45-60 minutes

IDEAL LOCATION – Venue Garden, Empty Venue Hallway (shaded areas with natural light)

ADVICE – The first look should be around 45-60 minutes. During this time, the bride and groom enjoy seeing each other for the first time on the wedding day. While the actual first look might only be 15 minutes, the rest of the time is spent on a few basic portraits of the bride and groom.

Ideally, we are saving the bulk of the couples session for later (see the “couples session” section below). However, if there is no other time in the day, it is best to allocate another 45 minutes to an hour here so that we make sure we have enough photos of just you two.

If you choose to forego a first look, you will then schedule to have as many of the other photos done before the ceremony as possible. These include wedding party photos with each respective party separate (the bride & bridesmaids / the groom & groomsmen). You can also do family photos with the couples separated and their parents and close family if they wish.

WEDDING PARTY PHOTOS

IDEAL PHOTOGRAPHY TIME NEEDED – 45 minutes

IDEAL LOCATION - Venue, Gardens, Lobby ext.

ADVICE - Wedding Party Photos should be around 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the size of your party.  During this time, we get a variety of shots. The photos start off with more formal images & lighting then we can have more fun and creative images. We also like to have pictures with you and each one of your bridal party.

FAMILY PHOTOS

IDEAL PHOTOGRAPHY TIME NEEDED – 30-45 minutes

IDEAL LOCATION - Same as Wedding Party Photos

ADVICE – Formal Family Portraits should take another 30-45 minutes. It’s essential to have additional images with your parents, grandparents, and siblings within different variety and groupings. Make a list of relevant pairing/groups so that we can run through them quickly and efficiently. Plan about 3-4 minutes on average. We all know how much weddings mean to the immediate family, and we want to make sure we’re capturing enough pictures with them.

Family photos are a separate category of their own and can be fit in your schedule. You can put them either before the ceremony (if you’ll see each other) or just after.  

To Find Out More See “Family Formal Portraits” 

CEREMONY DETAILS & VENUE

IDEAL PHOTOGRAPHY TIME NEEDED – 30 minutes

IDEAL TIME OF THE DAY – Morning or Afternoon

ADVICE– This is one of the parts of the timeline that most often gets left out, the ceremony details, and venue. We know that you have spent a long time picking out your venue and planning all the little details, they need to be photographed. The second shooter typically arrives at the ceremony location about 10 minutes before the main photographer. They will generally grab photos of the venue & details before guests arrive. Before you have the guests take their seat,  we must be able to capture the complete set up of your ceremony so we can capture the scene at its best. Sometimes guests come in early and leave their bag or jackets on the seats, which makes it impossible to Photoshop out.

CEREMONY

IDEAL PHOTOGRAPHY TIME NEEDED – 30-60 minutes

IDEAL TIME OF THE DAY – Late Morning, Afternoon or early evening depending on the season

ADVICE - The amount of time you need for your ceremony will differ. Depending on the type of ceremony and service, the time can vary greatly. Most civil ceremonies are around 30 minutes, but if you have a church service, this can take 45-60 minutes.

Make sure that you have some extra time in the timeline after the service for people to give their good wishes and congratulate you. This would also be a good point if you would like a confetti photo as you exit the ceremony venue. This can take another 10 minutes to set everyone up to throw their confetti.

PORTRAITS COUPLES SESSION

IDEAL PHOTOGRAPHY TIME NEEDED – 30-60 minutes

IDEAL LOCATION – Venue Garden, Beach, Hotel Lobby, Park

ADVICE – Couple session should be around 60 minutes and should take place ideally about 1 hour before sunset. The is the best time in terms of lighting as the light is often softer and produces stunning images. This time also gives you a chance to have a small moment together during your wedding day. Since golden hour is such an important time, you can either schedule that couples portraits are right before the reception begins or about 20-30 minutes into dinner (that way you can have time to eat then sneak away for your portrait session).  

RECEPTION DETAILS & VENUE

IDEAL PHOTOGRAPHY TIME NEEDED – 20-30 minutes

IDEAL LOCATION – Reception Site

ADVICE – It is a good idea to allow for about 20-30 minutes for the photographer to photograph the reception details. As with the ceremony details, this would be the only opportunity that we can capture the beauty of the reception room before guests start coming in.

RECEPTION

IDEAL PHOTOGRAPHY TIME NEEDED – Varies but generally about 30 minutes after the first dance.

IDEAL LOCATION – Areas with interesting lights, fountains, or landscape. This can include anything giving a reflection, including mirrors or windows.

ADVICE – As above, plan your reception to coincide with sunset. You can plan the rest of your evening to include cake cutting, toasts, games, and other key points you wish.