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WEDDING DAY TIMELINE ADVICE FOR A STRESS-FREE DAY

Updated: Jul 10

How to plan the perfect timings on your wedding day

WEDDING DAY TIMELINE ADVICE FOR A STRESS-FREE DAY

Hey there! I've captured the magic of over 300 weddings, each one unique and special in its own way! From romantic sunset vows to early morning 'I do's', from outdoor blessings to legal ceremonies just days before the big event - I've seen it all!

Let me tell you, the timing of your wedding day can truly make a world of difference in creating an unforgettable experience. That's why I'm thrilled to share this blog post about crafting the perfect wedding day timeline!

Whether you're a master planner or prefer to go with the flow, planning ahead is key to ensuring a stress-free and enjoyable day. By organizing your schedule in advance, you can guarantee a day filled with relaxation and joy. To truly savour every moment with your loved ones, it's essential to plan out the timings.

Imagine having the time to yourselves, capturing beautiful and relaxed photos together, basking in natural light shots, and being fully present in every moment. By setting the pace of your day, you can ensure it's a memorable celebration that doesn't just fly by!


romantic wedding ceremony at Hospes  Maricel , Mallorca bride and groom kissing

Related: How to stay organised and stress-free when planning your wedding


I’m going to go through most of these steps in more detail below but here’s a basic schedule that would apply in some way or another to about 90% of the weddings I photograph.

12-noon Photos of groom & groomsmen getting ready

1.15 pm Photos of the bride getting ready with bridesmaids

1.45 pm Bride gets into the dress

2 pm First look with bridesmaids & family

2.15 pm Photos of fine details & portraits

2.30 pm Guests arrive at the ceremony

3 pm Ceremony begins

3.30 pm Ceremony ends & greeting guests

3.45 pm Cocktail hour & family photos

4 pm Wedding party & couple photos

5.45 pm Guest begin seating for dinner

6.15 pm Couple’s grand entrance

6.30 pm Dinner served

7.15 pm Photographer steals the couple away for sunset portraits (sunset timing dependent!)

8.30 pm Speeches begin

9 pm Cake cutting

9.05 pm First dances

9.10 pm Dance floor opens

9.50 pm Photographer steals the couple away for night portraits

11 pm Couple exit

This is only example of the timing but is works more or less for all weddings. You can change timing discussing your needs with your wedding planner. If you planning to have long day and late party then add extra timing for each section. Is Your Wedding ! Do as You like ! :)



Here is a guide for perfect wedding day timeline.

Wedding photography and Finca Alaiar Mallorca bride preparation

The wedding day timeline – The wedding morning – getting ready

Get ready to kick off your day in style with an amazing breakfast shared with your friends or a relaxing moment to set the tone for an exciting day ahead! Your talented hair & makeup artist will provide guidance on their schedule, tailored to the number of people being styled. To ensure we capture all the magical moments and the vibrant energy of your preparation time, I recommend allowing between 90 minutes to 2 hours. This will ensure a leisurely morning and ample time for every detail to be beautifully photographed. For more intimate weddings or if your preparation location is also your ceremony venue, a shorter timeframe may be all you need.


Wedding details photo at Cortijo Abril, Cordoba

Make Up, Getting Ready, Details

Hair and makeup photos are a great way to kick off the day. I enjoy starting my day like this as it gives everyone a chance to get comfortable with me and the camera. Think of your wedding day as a photo album - those initial pages really set the tone for the entire day. If your venue has a beautiful bridal suite, those moments with your bridesmaids, moms, and friends can be truly special and look amazing in photos. I find it really magical to witness the transformation from fiancé to bride. This is also the perfect time for me to capture all the little details.


Hedsor House wedding photography bride getting ready

So be sure to have these things ready and handy:

1. Wedding Rings

2. Engagement Ring

3. Ear Rings

4. Perfume

5. Shoes

6. Invitation set

7. Bouquet

8. Dress

I love to be able to shoot a beautiful flat lay but also love to grab close up images of a lot of this stuff. There’s something really beautiful about putting a photo of the wedding shoes next to a shot of you getting your mascara put on in the wedding album. Pairing everything together so that that spread in the book helps you remember forever the way it felt to become a bride on the morning of your wedding.

If the groom is also preparing at the same location, I can capture special moments of both of you. And if you've opted for a second photographer, they will be with the groom, allowing me to focus entirely on the bride. Let the excitement begin!




wedding details shot

Bride Gets in Dress

Getting the bride ready for her big day is usually a calm and peaceful affair. I like to have all the bridesmaids step out, leaving only the mother and either a sister or the maid of honour to help out. We lower the music, tidy up the room, and take a moment to relax before diving into the process. The moment the bride puts on her dress is when the emotions really kick in. She usually spends 2-3 hours getting ready, enjoying Champagne toasts and laughter with her friends leading up to this point. There's a mix of nerves, excitement, and anticipation until the dress is finally on. When she sees herself in the mirror, feeling beautiful, loved, and ready to walk down the aisle, it's truly magical. However, it's important to mention that many wedding venues offer beautiful bridal suites that can quickly turn chaotic once the bridesmaids show up. It's crucial to have a clean, well-lit space for getting dressed, as trying to manage in cramped corners surrounded by leftover pizza, makeup mess, and empty champagne bottles can take away from the beauty of the moment. Spending just 10 minutes tidying up beforehand is definitely worth it.;)


Hedsor house wedding photography bride in wedding dress photo by Rey Weddings

Groom preparations

If groom prep is at the same location as bridal prep, get ready for seamless transitions between capturing both! If they are in two different locations, no worries - bring in a second photographer to capture all the excitement of the wedding build-up. Typically, 60-90 minutes is all we need for groom prep - trust me, grooms don't take that long to get ready!

Guys, here are some fantastic options for you:

  • Get those final getting-ready photos with the second photographer joining at groom prep

  • Head to a pub for a relaxed atmosphere and some candid shots

  • Or simply meet at the ceremony location for the ultimate start to the big day

What's the winning formula? Meeting at the ceremony location or a pub, where the groom and groomsmen can put on their buttonholes, enjoy a quick pint, snap a few group photos, and capture all the candid moments leading up to the ceremony. Let's make these moments unforgettable!


groom preparation wddings at Hedsor House, London photo by Rey Weddings

Photos with Bridesmaids

Hey, just to clarify real quick: Bridesmaid photos don't have to take forever. Honestly, we can get all the important shots with the girls in like 5 minutes tops. So why spend so much time on them? It's not about fake smiles or stiff poses; it's about capturing real, genuine memories. Here's the deal: if I say, "Hey girls, grab your bouquets and a bottle of champagne, we're going to take a quick stroll down the long dirt road," we can have a toast, some posed smiles, candid moments along the way, and instead of tons of posing, we just enjoy a nice walk, share a drink, and head back. Same great photos, but a more natural process.:)


Bridesmaids posing with bride

First Look with Bride’s Dad

The whole "first look with Dad" thing has really grown on me lately. It's becoming more popular, and when it's done right, it's really special. But, you know, not all dads are into it at first. Sometimes we get so caught up in getting the perfect photos that we forget about the real moment itself. So, the trick is to just let it happen naturally without too much staging. These moments are quick and don't need a lot of time in the schedule. Just a simple hug, letting Dad take in the sight of his daughter as a bride, a few smiles—that's all it takes. When Dad can just be himself in those moments, the memories that come out of it are priceless.


brides father coming to see bride

first view with brides father

first view with father



Groomsmen Photos

Hey, when it's time for those groomsmen pics, just keep it simple, focus on those natural moments, and let the guys do their thing. Feel free to raise a beer, share a bourbon, and just let them be themselves—walking, laughing, and looking cool. No need for any skipping or hand-holding, just their cool selves are more than enough. After years of making wedding albums, I've noticed that we usually only get a couple of shots of the whole wedding party together. We'll snap a group shot of the groomsmen, then individual pics with the groom, and the same for the bridesmaids. We don't need to spend ages on group photos, but it's essential to capture a nice shot of each person with their buddy. That pic means a lot to both the couple and the person in it.

We usually save the groomsmen photos for last since they only need about 5 minutes to get ready. While I'd love to have a half-hour to chill, capture some candid moments, and hang out, if we're running late, we can get those photos done quicker.



groom with best man and friends


groomsman's and groom jumping


Your wedding day timeline – the wedding ceremony

Wedding at Hedsor house ceremony

Hedsor House Wedding Photography by Rey Weddings newlyweds first kiss

Bride entrance to ceremony

The Ceremony

Hey, let's chat about wedding ceremonies, okay? The main thing is, just do it your way. Whether you want to pour sand, light candles, make a grand entrance to the Imperial March, or include a communion, it's all about expressing your love in the way that feels perfect for you. So, here are a few tips to make your ceremony extra special:

  1. Think about the lighting. Remember, cameras might not capture your ceremony exactly as you want. Make sure your ceremony spot is well-lit for good photos.

  2. Take your time during the ceremony. You've spent months planning your big day, so don't rush through the ceremony itself. Enjoy the moment as you exchange vows and rings. Let your officiant talk about the significance of your union, and don't be shy to linger during your first kiss as a married couple. These are the moments you'll treasure forever. Read Our blog how to write Your Own vows to make ceremony more individual.

  3. Consider adding petals, confetti, or another fun element for your exit. While sparkler exits are cool at receptions, think about making your ceremony exit just as awesome. It's a happy moment to see everyone cheering as you start your journey together, and it's even more special right after you've exchanged vows. Plus, everyone is still sober at this point, so it's bound to be a blast! Check our blog about petals and how to make Your Own :)

  4. If you’d like confetti on your wedding day then I would advise scheduling this in the timeline after the ceremony. It is always lovely if the newlyweds have 5 minutes to themselves whilst myself and the bridesmaids/groomsmen organise a confetti line for you to walk through.

On average, the ceremony takes about 30 minutes (for religious ceremonies allow 60 minutes). It’s always super handy to have both a start and finish time on the timeline you will be about to find this out from your registrar/celebrant/priest. 

Opting for an early afternoon slot, like 2 pm, is perfect as it gives you the entire day to rejoice with your loved ones. And if you're planning a morning wedding, don't forget to pair some delightful canapés with Prosecco to keep everyone in high spirits until the meal! For winter weddings (October to March), it's best to kick off your ceremony by 1 pm to ensure you have ample daylight for those stunning portraits and group photos. Let the celebration begin!


wedding at Hospes Maricel Mallorca confetti

Wedding day timeline – the confetti

Confetti lovers, listen up! Here's the golden rule: you can NEVER have too much confetti! Make sure to check for any restrictions on where you can toss it. After the ceremony, it only takes 5-10 minutes to get your guests ready to shower you with confetti. Want to make it even more exciting? You can either greet your guests as they leave and then line up for confetti, which is a great way to say hello to everyone, although it might take a bit longer. Alternatively, you can hide away after walking down the aisle and surprise your guests with a confetti exit and big cheers (how fun is that?)!


Group photo

Wedding day timeline – the group photos

I put together a blog post about wedding group photos made easy. They don’t need to be overly formal, I like to work quickly and make them fun and easy. There are things you can do to help with this, firstly agree on the group shots before the day, so you know who is needed for the photos. Secondly, nominate a family member (or two) and a couple of people from the wedding party to assist in rounding up those who are needed in each photo. Allow enough time for these shots. For groups of 6 people or less, you should allow 2-3 minutes to round up, arrange and take the photo. For larger groups allow for 4-5 minutes. A photo of everyone at the wedding can easily take 10-15 minutes to sort out. I recommend 10 group setups, which should take about 30 minutes (or less hopefully).

Depending on your plan for the day we can either do the group photos straight after the ceremony or during the drinks reception.



funny moment with bridesmaid

Wedding day timeline – the cocktail hours

Get ready for an incredible time when you can hang out with your guests, have a drink, and relish the celebrations on your special day! It's the perfect moment for me to socialize and capture plenty of beautiful, natural photos of you and your loved ones. During this period, we'll snap your group shots, romantic couple portraits, and all the charming details in the wedding breakfast venue. I highly recommend allocating a minimum of 1 hour and 30 minutes, but ideally 2 hours from the reception start to dinner time. Let's make these moments unforgettable!

During winter it’s useful to find out what time the sun sets if you are wanting photos in daylight. If we time it right it’s possible to get beautiful winter sunset shots earlier in the day.

One of the things I do with all my couples is to send out an online final information form about a month before the wedding day. This helps me to put together a schedule for the day to ensure the best use of time during the reception.



newlyweds photo at Hacienda San Jose , Malaga

wedding at Hasienda San Jose, Mijas bride and groom posing

Wedding day timeline – the couple’s portraits

Isn't this time just fantastic?! It's a special moment for you to break away from the hustle and bustle of the ceremony and enjoy some quality time together. You're officially married! I absolutely love planning portrait sessions for you, one during the drinks reception and another in the early evening, aiming to capture those stunning sunset photos during the magical golden hour. During Winter weddings, catching a sunset might not be possible, but I'm more than happy to arrange a second mini portrait session around your venue or outside with some twinkling lights. Each session typically lasts around 15-20 minutes, maybe a bit longer depending on the venue and how much we explore. No need to stress about posing or formality with these photos. It's all about strolling, chatting, and letting me guide you to create those beautiful, authentic shots you see on my website.



wedding décor

ceremony decor

Wedding day timeline – the details (flowers, cake, table plan, favours)

During the drinks reception, I take the time to pop into the room where you are having the wedding breakfast to photograph the room set up and all the details, such as flowers, cake, table plan, favours. All the things you have spent the time planning, making and creating will be captured before your guests sit down. You want the photos before there are drinks all over the place and coats on every chair! I normally like to allow about 10-15 minutes for this to ensure capturing everything. If you have other decors throughout the reception venue these bits will normally be photographed while you are eating.



newlyweds entrance to  reception weddings at Hedsor House London photo by Rey Weddings

Guest call-in /the wedding reception

Get ready for an exciting part of the wedding day! There are a few key factors that will determine how long this part takes. Firstly, the number of guests you have will play a role, and secondly, if you decide to have a receiving line. The more guests you have, the more time it will take to gather everyone. But don't worry, there's a fun way to make this smoother! Ask someone with a booming voice like a groomsman, a friend, or a toastmaster to make an announcement for guests to head to the wedding breakfast. Then, have your bridesmaids and groomsmen lead the way to the reception. Guests tend to get caught up in chatting and enjoying the wedding day, so it might take a bit of time to get everyone moving.

If you opt for a receiving line, this will add a touch of elegance but may extend the call-in process. A receiving line involves the wedding couple (and sometimes parents) greeting guests as they enter the wedding breakfast room. It's a wonderful way to ensure you connect with each guest, even if briefly, and it also provides a perfect opportunity for some candid photographs.

For a standard call-in, plan for about 10 to 15 minutes to get guests seated. With a receiving line, you can expect this to extend to around 30 minutes. Let the festivities begin!



speeches mments at wedding in Hasienda San Jose , Mijas, Costa del Sol photo  by Rey Weddings

bride smiling at speeches time


Get ready for the most heart warming part of the wedding - the speeches!

Speeches are a special moment that can take place before or after the wedding breakfast. They can range from 20 to 60 minutes, depending on the number of speakers and the length of their speeches. If your speakers are feeling a bit nervous, why not consider having the speeches before dinner? This way, they can relax and enjoy their meal without the pressure of public speaking looming over them.

To ensure everything runs smoothly, it's great to have the following details handy:

  • The timing of the speeches

  • The number of speeches (don't forget to inform your videographer too, as they may need to mic up the speakers)

  • An estimate of how long the speeches will last





sunset photo foe newlyweds at Porto Cristo Mallorca by Rey Weddings


Weddings in Benidorm, Costa Blanca bride and groom posing

Magical Sunset Couple Photos

Experience the enchanting beauty of the golden hour at sunset. Capturing dreamy portraits of couples bathed in the warm glow of the setting sun is my specialty. I prioritize efficiency, ensuring a quick yet stunning photoshoot of 30/35 minutes so you can return to your evening festivities without delay. Discover more about the magic of golden hours here.



newlyweds cutting cake

Let's get the party started!

Based on my experience, it's fantastic to kick off the celebration by cutting the cake and jumping straight into the first dance. This sets a perfect rhythm, and with all your guests already gathered, the energy will be electric! Don't forget to ask your band/DJ to make the announcement for a seamless transition. And if you're planning a confetti cannon moment during the first dance, just give us a heads up so we can capture that magical moment perfectly.

After the first dance, We'll stick around for about half an hour to snap some amazing dance floor photos. Then, We'll leave you both to revel in the festivities and continue creating unforgettable memories!



weddings at Cortijo Abril, Cordoba newlyweds posing

photo session for bride and groom at Porto Cristo Mallorca by Rey Weddings

You can probably work out from this there is a lot that goes on during the wedding day! If your wedding day is short on time it can end up being stressful and not the fabulous, fun and relaxing day you would like. Without enough time it can really limit the photos that can be captured, especially the natural and candid ones of you and your guests. These are the ones most couples want, but without plenty of time during the reception, it’s hard to do justice to these images.

Most couples will never have organised such a large event, so feeling in the dark about the wedding day timeline and how to plan the day is normal. Hopefully, this gives you some guidance on perfect timings on your wedding day and an idea of how to make the most of your day and your photography. If you want more information I’m always happy to help, just ask! You can find more top tips by checking out my wedding planning guide .


Exciting Things I Haven't Mentioned Yet!

Are you ready to add some extra magic to your special day? Whether it's surprises, gifts, a first look, sparklers, or any unique ideas you have in mind, let's chat about how we can make sure these moments are beautifully captured! And hey, if it's a surprise for your partner, feel free to reach out to me discreetly to keep the secret safe. I'm here to help make your day unforgettable, so the more I know in advance, the better! Let's make it happen!


newlyweds celebrating they weddings with opening champagne weddings at Lloret de mar, Costa Brava


You made it. !!!

About 12 hours after you started hair it’s send off time. You’re married, you’re maybe a little tipsy, you’re exhausted, and it’s time to get you on the road! Walk slow, cheer along with everybody, embrace the last few seconds of the best day ever.

So there it is! In my opinion a pretty ideal baseline for starting to work out your wedding day timeline. I hope you find this very helpful, and know that I as well as your coordinator will be there with you every step of the way in planning your perfect day!

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