Shopping Cart

No products in the cart.

Wedding Timeline

Guide – Timeline for Your Wedding Day

That question pops up frequently in wedding chats and emails. Basically, you’re asking about the best times for everything on your wedding day—from when the photographer should show up to when you need to start hair and makeup.

Here’s a simplified guide: Timeline for Your Wedding Day – Guide

1. Wedding Ceremony Time

Your day revolves around the wedding ceremony time – think of it as the anchor that holds everything in place, and we should start with ceremony time.

First off, consider where your wedding ceremony is happening. Is it at the same venue where you’re getting ready, or do you need to factor in travel time?

  • I recommend a 2 o’clock Ceremony if it’s at the same place you are staying in the morning—for example, the venue.   
  • If it’s a church ceremony, add travel time—if the church is, for example, a 30-40-minute drive from the venue, I would recommend a 1 pm Ceremony. 
  • For winter weddings, the ceremony should be planned earlier since it gets dark early. 4 pm is not daylight for photos.

You should be in your dress at least an hour before the ceremony or before heading to the church.

Guide - Timeline for Your Wedding Day 1

This way, everyone will be ready in time for some photos with your bridesmaids, maybe with a glass of champagne or prosecco, and the first look with your Dad.

Your videographer/photographer needs to set up and might need to leave 30-40 minutes before you, so keep that in mind and chat about it with your hair and makeup artists.

EXAMPLE—If your house is close to the church, like a two-minute drive, and your wedding starts at 1 pm, you should get into your wedding dress by 12 o’clock at the latest!

This way, you’ll be all set and ready without any rush.  

2. Wedding Morning Preparations:

Wedding Photographers start around 10-11 am in Bride or Groom’s house or venue.

If I visit the Groom, I visit Him first at 10 am if he is no longer than 5 minutes away from the Bride, or I will meet Groom at the church or venue 30 minutes before the ceremony.

See more tips here: Morning Schedule Wedding.

Guide - Timeline for Your Wedding Day 2

Aim to step into your dress at least an hour before you need to leave or the ceremony begins. 

This gives everyone enough time to get ready without rushing. Capture those precious moments with your bridesmaids, sipping on champagne or prosecco.

Guide - Timeline for Your Wedding Day 3
Guide - Timeline for Your Wedding Day 4

Of course, everyone’s circumstances are different, but as a general rule of thumb, the bride should not be the last one to get her make-up done; the most important, people should go first.

Unfortunately, all too often, I see the bride and mother of the bride hiding from photos because their makeup has not been done yet – which I think is very unfair!

Guide - Timeline for Your Wedding Day 5

3. First look

If you’re planning a first look on your wedding morning, aim to have it 1 to 1.5 hours before the ceremony and allocate 20 minutes for it. Don’t forget to adjust your schedule for makeup and hair.

Please remember, a first look doesn’t replace a professional photoshoot at the wedding – a photoshoot with Bride and Groom needs to be done after the ceremony to keep the wedding dress clean. :)

For more tips, see more:

4. Wedding Church/Venue

If your ceremony is at 1 pm and the venue is 40 minutes away, consider this:

  • The church ceremony often runs over an hour – civil ceremony 30-40 min.
  • The bride might need to arrive on time, but some quests can be late.
  • You’ll have a receiving line and family photos outside the church.   

So, if the wedding ceremony starts at 1:15 pm, you’ll probably leave the church around 3:20 pm, considering the receiving line and family photos.

Add the 40-minute drive, and you’ll get to the venue around 4 pm.

Guide - Timeline for Your Wedding Day 6

5. Wedding Reception/Photos

You’ll get to the venue around 4 pm.

Dinner usually starts between 5 pm and 5:30 pm. That leaves you about an hour and a half to take photos and enjoy the drinks reception.

Try not to schedule your ceremony too late so you have plenty of time to enjoy it. Aim for about 30 minutes for bride and groom photos, leaving you about an hour to relax and enjoy the drinks reception.  

Family photos are difficult to time. It depends on how long your list is and how fast people gather in front of the photographer’s camera. They can be done in 15 minutes, but I have seen them take an hour!

Guide - Timeline for Your Wedding Day 7

6. Wedding Meal/Speeches

  • 5:30 pm: Dinner call at the venue.
  • 5:30 to 6:20 pm: Guests sit down and order their meals.
  • 6:20 pm: Entrance – Bride and Groom to the ballroom to start dinner.
  • Dinner lasts about 2 hours.
  • 8:30 pm: Dinner ends, followed by speeches until 9 PM.

7. Sparklers/Sunset


SUMMER is for sunset photos; WINTER is for sparkler photos.

The best time for sparklers is after meals, just before the first dance, but be aware – the summer months get dark very late!

First and foremost, sparklers must be used in a dark place for them to be effective. If it’s not dark enough, the photos will never look good.

For this reason, you must remember this very important rule:

  • SUMMER – time for sunset photos or just evening photos (I love them as well! )
  • WINTER – It gets dark quickly, which is ideal for sparkler photos. From 5-6 pm onwards will work fine.
Guide - Timeline for Your Wedding Day 8

8. First dance – FUN!

  • The band starts setting up at 9 pm until 9:45 pm.
  • Some venues let the band set up during the meal to keep the first dance from being too late. Check with your venue.
  • For most weddings, The first dance is planned for around 9.30 – 10 pm.
Guide - Timeline for Your Wedding Day 9

9. Conclusion

Every wedding and every family is unique. Organizing family photos is sometimes quick, and other times, it takes longer.

The speed at which venues serve food and the length of speeches can also vary.

With experience from over 1000 weddings, this advice should help you plan your timeline better.

That might help a lot:

My Wedding Guide with Wedding Checklist included!

A Wedding photographer with a lot of experience will help you on the day!

Happy planning, Daniel.

Would you like to book a wedding photographer for your wedding day?

Call me now at 087 780 7297 or by email – contact.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Let's talk about your wedding

It's not just about pictures; it's about moments that stand the test of time. Dive deeper into my world and let's discuss your wedding dreams. Let's talk – I'm genuinely looking forward to it!

Schedule a call
wedding photography advice

DKPHOTO LTD is a fully registered Irish company and fully insured
Wedding Albums Wedding Planning Book and Canvas Prints Online Shop

Accepted Payment Methods