Wedding Day Timeline and Things You Might Want To Consider

Only since starting to work in the wedding industry in Cumbria have I come to realise just how much of a task it is to plan an entire wedding… I right or am I right? There is so much to consider and research. Venues, Photographer (very important…see what I did there?), flowers, cake, bridal party, what to wear, stationery…. the list is endless if you're planning a traditional wedding. It’s exhausting!

But with all that effort put in in the months leading up to the event you really want the day to flow as best as possible. You want to enjoy your day so it’s important to consider a few things beforehand that will help to achieve a stress free (or less stressful) day. Forewarned is forearmed as they say. So here are a few things that could be helpful (from a photographers prospective) to give some thought to.

Where all the action is happening

There are definitely great advantages to having everything happen at one venue.

You can rule out problems with traffic for a start and everything is going on within a set area which makes it easy for your photographer to get around quicker. It really does have its perks.

However if that’s not your plan and you are perhaps having a church or registry office wedding and then onto another location for the reception you must keep in mind travel and traffic.

What time of year is it? For example particular areas of Cumbria where I am based have a huge influx of tourist traffic between Easter time and towards the end of October and its particularly troublesome at the height of summer.

What day is it and what time will you be traveling from place to place? Are there any other events going on that day that could increase the volume of traffic or even ongoing roadworks?

If you have any concerns about any of these it can be useful is to travel the route on the same day of the week around the same time of day a week or two before your wedding and it can give you an idea of likely travel times.

When is it all happening

I mean what season are we in? Summer? Fantastic!

Daylight for most of your day but your sunset is nearer to 10pm so if you are wanting those beautiful golden hour images make sure your photographer is still around then and be aware that you will need some time away from your reception to get those shots.

It’s well worth it in my opinion but something to consider.

If you’re planning a winter wedding then obviously you will have minimal daylight with a sun setting closer to 4pm and reduced light with the prospect of poorer weather through the day.

So if you’re dreaming of beautiful naturally lit images you might want to consider how you can fit that in with your timeline, perhaps a much earlier ceremony might be needed.

Getting ready

What is it they say about getting a house built?

Get the time estimate, double it and you might be nearly there! Well getting ready always takes longer than you anticipate. Always.

If you are having hair and make up done trial runs are your friend and your mua and hairdresser will help you with this.

If you’re doing any of this yourself, again, do trial runs so you have an idea of how long it will take. Delegate! if you have little flower girls in particular, allocate someone to solely be in charge of getting them ready so you don’t have to think about that.

Allow yourself plenty of time for this so that you can enjoy the pamper. Rushing around because you’re running late is no good for the stress levels and we don’t want that.

Try and be ready well ahead of the time you have to leave so that you can relax, breathe and take it all in perhaps with a glass of bubbly to settle the nerves. And remember, your photographer will have been with you getting ready and now needs to head off to the ceremony location and get there in good time for your arrival so giving them that window of time is really super helpful.

The ceremony

Usually these things are set in stone. Whether it’s a church, celebrant, registry office or whatever, the officiant has usually been there and done it all many times before and can tell you how long it will last to the nearest 5 mins.

But what happens afterwards? How long have you left between the end of the ceremony until the start of the reception and what are you planning to fit in, in that time?

How is everyone getting to the reception and how long will it take to get there? Which leads me on to the next point…..


Depending on what photos you require this is something that needs a lot of consideration so that you and your photographer are working together to achieve the best outcome.

The group shots can be an important part of the day and in particular the older generation love these photos (and when you are part of the ‘older generation’ you will understand why).

I always recommend a list of the essential formal group shots is decided upon by yourselves and discussed with your photographer. Keeping this list as short as it can be is really very helpful because gathering guests together and getting the shots set up and organised takes longer than you think.

If your photographer is working alone which is often the case a great tip is to allocate someone from your bridal party to be the ‘hunter gatherer’! They have a list too and while your photographer is getting one group shot done your hunter gatherer is rounding up the next lot of guests and they will have a greater advantage than your photographer as they are more likely to know people on the list. And of course, this leaves you to enjoy being with and having your photo taken with your nearest and dearest.

And of course, an important part of the day is your couple portraits. You need to set some time aside for these and it really is a great opportunity to get away from the crowds and breathe. Take it all in and enjoy some time just the two of you (and your third wheel).

The majority of photographers nowadays have a natural and relaxed approach to this and it is much less daunting than it might seem. Many, like myself, just allow you to spend a little bit of time together while they capture things naturally with minimal intrusion and direction. The time can be split over the day if you prefer for example 20-30 mins before the wedding breakfast then another 20-30 mins before the party starts, the light will be different at different times of the day so it can make for a more varied gallery. So set aside time for this and if you are wanting the sunset shots be prepared to leave your party for a little bit of time.

Feeding The Crowd and Speeches

Your venue will have allocated times for this and it’s pretty important to have your guests sitting down ready for the food at the right time.

There is nothing worse for the caterers having the food ready to go at the time you arranged and the Best man is still on page 2 of ‘War and Peace’. So work with the venue around speeches if you are doing them at all, when they will happen, how long they might they take and what will work out best for your day.

It is fairly common now for speeches to happen before the food as it can be understandably nerve wrecking for some people doing speeches and they like to get them over with so they can relax and enjoy the reception.

So communicate with your venue about this and allow plenty of time to enjoy them.

Getting the party started

If you chose a Band or a DJ for your party they will need time to get set up before they can start. And if this is happening in the room where you’ve just had your food your venue are more than likely going to need a turnaround time to get the room set up for the party while the band/DJ do their thing.

If you are sticking with tradition and having a first dance your DJ should be able to give you a time estimate for when this can happen and get the party started.

Communicate this with your photographer and guests so everyone knows when this is happening and can be there for it.

You don’t want a family member to have sneaked off for a power nap and miss the start of the party!

And finally…

Your wedding is not a military operation or a photoshoot.

It is a day of celebration for you as a couple and your loved ones.

You want to take it all in and enjoy it as much as you possibly can, you’re not planning on doing it again!

So plan in advance, allow plenty of time for everything. Communicate and delegate.

Your suppliers will be working their butts off behind the scenes doing their thing and when you have communicated clearly with them you can leave them to do their jobs while you relax knowing it’s all happening behind the scenes.

Not everything is going to happen when it should and that’s ok, especially when you have planned well and allowed buffer time throughout the day for this.

Every wedding is unique and whether you’ve planned something quite traditional or gone for a more alternative approach the advice is still the same; communicate, delegate, leave time and enjoy!