I have been photographing weddings since 2001 and I figured out that I’ve shot well over 500 of them.
In that time I have learned a few things along the way and I thought I would share my experience and knowledge with you.


You see, us wedding photographers are rare suppliers as we get to see the whole day. Not only the shiny bit the guests see but all the background prep before.

In this article I will focus on the timings of the day – from the morning, through the ceremony, onto the afternoon and finishing in the evening.

A little guide on how to keep things on track for a smooth, hassle free wedding day!

Everyone who has ever been married will say “The day goes by so fast”. This is so true!

It really does, so its important to have enough time to get the pictures that you want. You have paid a lot of money for your day so you don’t want to feel rushed.

I have divided the timings of a typical wedding into sections of the day to help you out.

The  Morning


1. Ensure you inform hair and make-up what time you want everyone finished. Not the time you are leaving. They can then let you know what time they will arrive to ensure everyone is finished on time.
2. If possible I will want the bride and bridesmaids in their dresses 20 minutes before I leave for the venue/church. This allows me to capture a nice portrait of the bride and the bridesmaids together.
3. If you are getting married at your venue it can be a lot easier to get ready there. You just walk down the stairs five minutes before you walk down the aisle!
4. Always try and have something to eat about lunch time. You won’t be eating again for quite a few hours.
5. If you are the Bride don’t get your hair and make-up done last.
6. Give enough time to get into your dress. Some dresses take longer to get into than others.
7. When I photograph the guys getting ready there isnt as much activity as the girls so not much to say here – just relax and dont be shy, I have seen it all!


Arriving at the church or venue


If the Groom, all the ushers, best man etc can be at the venue or church at least half an hour before the ceremony starts then this is ideal.

It gives me plenty of time to photograph the Groom with everyone and good candid shots of the guests arriving.

It is helpful if the bride can arrive on time, contrary to the urban legend of the bride always being late! If you are too late then it can hold things up and you might not have the time to get all the pictures that you want.


The ceremony


As a reportage photographer, capturing the ceremony is very important to allow the story of the day to be told through pictures.

The majority of celebrants welcome the ceremony being photographed but there are still some churches who can frown upon it. This may be because they had an intrusive photographer in the past. It is best to just check if photography is allowed, and please inform the celebrant that I work in an unobtrusive way!

I am happy to sit in the one place if that is required but photographing the ceremony is important to my style of work.

If you have small children at your ceremony and they decide to just do what they want then go with it. Most of the time it can make for the best pictures!

For the timings of your ceremony best to chat to your celebrant for this. Most ceremonies are from 30-40 minutes long. If you are having hand fasting or a few readings this will add to the time of your ceremony. A full Catholic mass is usually an hour long.


The Afternoon


The time from when the ceremony is finished to the call for dinner is the most important for the photographs.

You must take into account any travel time from church to the venue.

The ideal drinks reception time is an hour and a half. I find this works well. It gives plenty of time for pictures and time for the bride and groom to spend time with their guests which is so important.

As a rule the time it take for the following pictures are –

  1. Couple shots – 15-20 minutes
  2. Family group shots – 5-10 minutes
  3. Bridal party  – 5 minutes

You can read all about my photography for couple shots and group shots in my approach to wedding section of my website.

Click on the link below ro read more

My approach to the set up shots



The Evening


The speeches and dancing are pretty much photographed in a candid way so no set up shots here.

With regard to the speeches, best to have them lasting 30 minutes as that is most peoples attention span for listening.

If the speeches last too long your food will have to be kept warm and your evening guests will arrive before you have finished your meal.

What I can suggest, if couples fancy, is for some sparklers shots or fireworks which work well in the winter.

Also, sunset shots or last light pictures look amazing in the summer months. The sun in summer is lower and warmer in the early evening and is great for pictures of the Bride and Groom. This only takes around 5 minutes and can be so worth it!

You will normally have an hour from when the meal and speeches are finished until they turn the room around and it is ready for the evening reception. So this gives plenty of time for these kind of pictures before any of your evening guests arrive.

Most bands will take an hour to set up and do a sound check.

So hopefully some of this information may be of use to you when orginizing your wedding.

I always say to my couples to contact me at anytime if they have any queries about timings for the day.

Enjoy your planning!