Tag Archives: Wedding Planning

Wedding Planning Advice: Your Wedding Day Timeline

Wedding planning advice by London Wedding Photographer Kat Forsyth



So you’re having a WEDDING (yay!). But unless you actually plan events for a living, it’s going to feel a little overwhelming. So many things have to happen on a wedding day – there’s getting ready, and the ceremony, and drinks & canapes, and family photos, and couple photos, and speeches, and dinner, and dancing, and of course you actually want to find time to hang out with all your guests somewhere in the midst of all that! So how does it all come together?

I’ve written this article to help you plan your wedding day timeline, as I’ve photographed over a hundred weddings and I’ve seen what works, but it’s just a guide – every wedding is different, and the most important thing is doing things your way (and having fun doing it!). But with that caveat out the way, this is my “How long stuff actually takes” Wedding Day Timeline.

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Alternative Wedding photographer LondonGETTING READY
1-1.5 hours

Brides, if you’re having a hair and make-artist, they’ll be able to advise you what on time you need to start getting ready. But from a photographic point of view, you definitely don’t need me there for the entire time! You’ll be getting hair and make-up done for a while before I get there. An hour or 90 minutes is plenty of time to capture the hustle and bustle of the morning prep, and get photos of you and your family or bridal party eating toast and dancing around to some Motown hits while getting your hair done! I also use this time to take photos of the wedding outfits, shoes, and any other important details.
Remember, if your dress is lace-up or has lots of tiny buttons, it can often take a lot longer than you expect to get it done up, so make sure to allow a good 20 minutes for this.
Guys usually need a little less time (45 minutes to an hour), but usually it’s only possible to cover groom prep if I have a second shooter. However, if you’re in the same building, I can do a bit of both!

london wedding planning advice | Quirky wedding photographer


Alternative wedding photography LondonWAITING TO LEAVE FOR CEREMONY
20 minutes

I recommend this partly as a buffer in case things run late, and partly because it’s a nice time for you to calm down, have a drink with your friends or family, and take some photos!

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As long as it takes! Try to add some extra time in, just in case of traffic. Of course, if you’re getting ready at the same venue, you’ve just eliminated the need for this.  🙂

Hindu wedding ceremony Froyle Park | Wedding photographers London


20-40 minutes

This is very dependent on the type of ceremony you’re having (for example, a full church service or a short registry office ceremony), so chat to your officiant well beforehand to find out.

wedding day planning | Alternative wedding photographer London



North London wedding photographer


At least 20 minutes

Getting people to filter out of the ceremony can take surprisingly long, especially as they’ll all want to stop and hug and congratulate you on the way out! This is a lovely moment to take happy photos, though. Confetti usually happens here, too (my favourite!).

candid wedding photography Hertfordshire


Northbrook Park wedding confetti | Wedding photographer Fun

Wedding guests hugging bride | North London wedding photographer



30 minutes

It’s up to you how many of these you’d like, and where, but I recommend getting them done after the ceremony before people have wandered off and started drinking. I’m quite quick with these, as no one wants to hang around for ages while these are being done. I recommend up to eight groupings, as these can take 3-5 minutes each, usually because someone has gone AWOL!

Bridesmaids mismatched pink dresses | wedding photographer Hertfordshire


Group photos wedding timeline | Gay wedding photographer

1.5 hours

Usually the rest of the guests get going on this while we do the group shots, and then you and your family can join in and have a bit of a chat with everybody. This is when I wander around surreptitiously and get photos of everyone laughing and having fun! If it’s outside, garden games (giant jenga, spacehoppers, etc) go down a treat.

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wedding planning advice tips | Fun wedding photographer Sussex

pink hair bride | London wedding photographersCOUPLE PORTRAITS
20 minutes – 1 hour (during the drinks reception)

This is my favourite part of the day – I just LOVE taking photos of just the two of you together – but it’s also completely up to you how many couple photos you’d like. I’m completely open to popping down the road to get pictures in a pretty field, but if you’d only like 5 minutes right near the venue, that’s fine, too! The closer we stick to the venue, the more limited the photos will be, whereas if we go for a bit of a wander we can use more backgrounds and different light and get more variety. So have a think about this!
Remember, it can take a good 20 minutes for the guests to get into the reception room and find their seats, so even if we only do 20 minutes of photos at the same time, you won’t be missing out on anything!
We can also divide up the time, and do 20 minutes before dinner, and 20 minutes afterwards (if it’s still light! You might find me babbling about the beautiful golden light and asking if you want to do photos in it at some point here!)

couple portraits wedding | One Friendly Place wedding


Happy wedding photos at sunset | Kent wedding photographers

2 Hours

Depends on how many courses you have, and if it’s plated or buffet, but I will say that dinner has run overtime at 90% of my weddings, so I’d allow at least an extra 20 minutes on top of what your caterers tell you, just to be safe!

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Documentary wedding photographer LondonSPEECHES
45 minutes

Totally variable depending how many you have, and how long they are, but I’d recommend giving people a time limit so that you at least have a rough idea of how long they’re going to take! Again, every wedding is different, but I’d say you’re looking at 35-45 minutes for the traditional three speeches (Father of the bride, groom, best man). But please don’t be limited by tradition! If you want different/more people to speak, but you don’t want speeches to run on too long, just give them a shorter time limit to stick to. Sorted!

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30-45 minutes

If you’re using the same room for dinner and dancing, the venue staff might need to get rid of all the tables, or possibly just the front few. This can take longer than you expect! Usually the guests go into another room for tea and coffee while this happens, so it’s another good time to chat to people you haven’t managed to catch up with yet, but it generally does take 30-45 minutes.

Speeches at wedding | Alternative wedding photographer


10 minutes

Most of this is taken up with getting the guests into position. The actual cutting only takes a minute or two!


Cake cutting wedding | Fun wedding photography Prince Albert Camden


wedding planner London | Alternative wedding photographerFIRST DANCE
10 minutes

Same as the cake! Everyone loves this moment, so they’ll all be trying to get a good spot on the edge of the dancefloor. The actual dance won’t take as long as getting them into position.

Wedding Day advice | First Dance wedding 6 St Chads PLace


Wedding day timeline | First Dance Alternative wedding photography London Tower Bridge

London wedding photographersDANCING
30 minutes

I find 30 minutes is more than enough to get the guests having a blast on the dancefloor. Often it’s the same few people dancing, so make sure your DJ plays some crowd-pleasers right at the start so that I get the most variety of people on the floor!

Fun wedding photography Cambridgeshire



Hertfordshire wedding photographersWedding day timeline | Wedding photography London



And that’s how a wedding day timeline adds up to 9+ hours! Again, every wedding is different – I’ve photographed ones where everything is over within 5 hours – but this is how a standard day generally runs!

Make sure to check out my other Wedding Planning tips!

Alternative Wedding Photography Advice – How to have a heartfelt wedding you’ll love looking back on

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You’ve probably seen this quote travelling around the social media sphere a lot (it’s Maya Angelou, by the way, and I’m embarrassed that I had to look that up), and while it’s spot on for how people think about each other, it also immediately popped into my head when I was thinking about writing this post. Because it’s true for your wedding day, too.

You’re going to forget what your cake tasted like. You’re going to forget what your Mum wore. But you’re never going to forget how your wedding day made you FEEL.



So, with that in mind, here are my top tips for having a heartfelt wedding that will make you feel all the feels for the rest of your lives together!



Alternative first dance


Because you totally can. Seriously. Somewhere along the way, people got a fixed idea of what a wedding “should” be like – white dress, white shoes, white chair covers, pastel flowers, nice demure couple repeating their vows obediently after the officiant…you get the picture. I’ve met couples who have been together for years, but who don’t want to get married because the whole white wedding palaver just doesn’t appeal to them. But no one’s told them they can have something else!

It’s your wedding, and if it’s something you love, you’ll love doing it. And you know what? Your guests will love it too, because you do, and they love you.



Bridesmaids rainbow dresses


The last thing you want on your wedding day is to have to deal with a family member you don’t get along with, or a pushy school friend who assumed she was going to be a bridesmaid without actually being asked! Obviously it’s awkward to exclude people, but it’ll be so much better on the day when you’re surrounded only by your absolute favourite people, all of whom are there to help you have the most stress-free, wonderful day ever. Especially during the getting ready part of the day – this is the time when nerves are stretched the most, so make sure you’re only getting ready with your nearest and dearest.




Gone are the days where you just had to say “I do” in response to the vicar or registrar, and finish off with a Bible reading! Obviously there’ll be certain limitations if you’re getting married in a church, but even though that might mean excluding the hilarious sweary reading you fancied, you can still do personalised vows and choose readings that have a special significance to you as a couple (check out my article on alternative wedding readings if you haven’t read it!).  You could write your own vows from scratch, and read them to each other as a surprise on the day, or you could write them together beforehand, and both say the same thing on the day so it’s one less thing to worry about!

You could also include your favourite songs in the ceremony – either as background, or, as two of my 2016 couples did, have a full-on singalong to include all the guests at the end! Print the lyrics in your programs or just on a spare sheet and hand them out beforehand (just make sure it’s something most people know the tune to!)



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I know it’s instinctive. Your dress is mostly likely white. And expensive. And it probably drags on the ground. Obviously your natural reaction is to try and keep it clean! But, when you think about it…why?

You’re wearing it for just one day of your whole life. A joyous day, where the last thing you want is the fear of a dirty hem limiting your fun. Do you really think your guests are going to judge you for enjoying your day? If your bridesmaids are clustered around the campfire, singing your favourite song, you’ll want to rush over and join them, even if it means ducking through a muddy field. If your photographer suggests getting some amazing golden light portraits, but it means walking down that sand road, forget the dust and get those gorgeous photos! I’m never going to make you literally sit in dirt, but I promise you that all wedding dresses get dirty underneath during the day, however hard you try. So you might as well forget about the dress and concentrate on making amazing memories!




Just like my first point, there are so many things that are taken as standard wedding fare, but that you really don’t need to do. Don’t want a cake or the whole cake-cutting spiel? Don’t have a cake! Don’t want the bride to walk down the aisle while the groom waits at the top, having being ordered not to turn around until the bride gets to his side? (I’m gonna say this right now: I think that rule is TOTAL bullshit.) Then do it differently! Walk down the aisle together. Or one at a time, with the Groom a surprise too. There’s no rule that he has to be there first! This is one of the things I love about same-sex weddings: because so many wedding traditions are archetypally male/female, same-sex couples have to reinvent the traditions to suit their wedding – anything from getting ready together, to walking down the aisle separately, to walking down with both sets of parents. And I’m thrilled to see more straight couples doing these things their way now, too.

Other things you don’t HAVE to do: Speeches, First Dance, Garter/Bouquet Toss,  Seating Plans, all that jazz. Your wedding is your oyster. If you just want to hang out at an epic barbecue in a field all night and catch up with your loved ones, DO IT.



Wedding ceremony crying


It’s pretty useless to say, “Try not to be nervous”, isn’t it? Like, if it was that easy, we’d all be doing it! But I can give you the advice above. If you’re feeling nervous about the ceremony, or stressed at the thought of all eyes being on you, just breathe, and remember that you’re getting married to the most incredible person you’ve ever met, and THAT’S what this is all about. That’s the feeling of joy you want, and the one that you’ll remember forever.

Happy planning!

Kat  xoxo