Planning your wedding timeline for a stress-free day

Not sure where to start with your wedding day timeline? Don’t worry, your not alone! Often venues will provide a suggested schedule, but it can be difficult to interpret and make it work with other elements you might have planned. While that one schedule might work for your venue, it’s important to check it works for your caterers, your photographer and videographer, and most importantly, you.

This post is designed to be concise guide to help you plan how much time to allow and where.

Morning preparations

I’ll typically arrive around 90 minutes, to two hours before your ceremony to start documenting your story. Ideally you and your prep dream team should aim to have your hair and make-up finished at least an hour before you are set to leave. This leaves time for a glass of your choice tipple, and for you to calmly get dressed and for any delays. It also allows for portraits.


This will vary greatly depending your chosen ceremony. Your officiant should give you approximate timings but roughly speaking, allow 45 minutes for a church ceremony, and 30 minutes for a humanist or civil ceremony.

Post ceremony, allow 15-30 minutes for hugs, congratulations and confetti!

Cocktails & Drinks Reception

It may seem generous but try to allow around 2 hours for cocktails. During this time I’ll undertake your family group photos (more on this below) and we’ll also sneak away for 15-20 minutes for couple portraits, so it’s important to schedule some chill time to just hang out with friends and family.

Family & Group Photos

You wouldn’t believe how long family photographs can take. They are super important so make sure you leave adequate time, around 3-4 minutes per guest group shot. To make sure there is still plenty time for mingling, I recommend a maximum of 8 groups which will take around 30-40 minutes.


Allow 15 minutes after the call to dinner for guests to get into the room and be seated. Your venue should give you details on the time needed for dinner service, but allow for at least 2 hours.

(Sometimes after dinner, if your timeline allows we’ll pop our for a few more portraits in the evening light)


Decide on a maximum speech length and stick to it – ensure everyone making a speech is aware of the limit and tailors their speech to it. Speeches are the most common reason for things running late so it’s a good idea to set some boundaries.

Evening Reception & First Dance

Check with your band of DJ how much time they need to get set up. Sometimes the dancing will take place in a separate room and they’ll do this during dinner but often they will need the room you are in to be cleared before setting up. Plan for dinner (and speeches!) to end at least 45 minutes before you schedule your first dance. Most bands offer to play between 8pm and 12pm (though sometimes venues have earlier, or later curfews) So aim to have your first dance around when they start. Often cutting the cake happens just before the first dance too, so allow around 15 minutes for your guests to gather.

The take home?

Don’t rush your day. Make sure you’ve left plenty time for the times that are important to you and if they aren’t, why bother with them at all? I’ve you’ve read through this and you have some questions, or need a little extra advice ensuring your timings work, ping me an email and I’ll help you get organised!

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