Here is a guide to what your wedding day timings may look like.  I’ve written this blog post based on the majority of weddings I shoot, but obviously every wedding is different.


So I usually arrive with you between 1.5 – 2 hours before the ceremony to document the busyness of the morning. I’ll try to document you both, even if you are getting ready at separate locations.  Once you are all dolled up, I like to take a few portraits of you, and some with your gang before you get married… this doesn’t take long, but you’ll need to remember to schedule it into the morning.  For tips on getting the most out of your wedding photography during this time have a read of this: WHAT TO EXPECT ON THE MORNING OF YOUR WEDDING DAY

bride getting ready - wedding day timings

groom getting ready - wedding day timings

bride getting ready at dewsall court


Find out what time you are due to arrive at the ceremony. It’s traditional for the groom to greet everyone first, and the bride to walk down the aisle once everyone is there.  But obviously your wedding may be a same-sex wedding, or you may want to arrive together, walk down the aisle together or be in the room together before your guests… With churches you do a lot of the paperwork beforehand, although with registry offices you both need to chat to the registrar separately for about 10mins before the ceremony to make sure you are all legit, but you may not want to arrive too early and risk your guests seeing you before the ceremony.


The ceremony usually lasts anywhere between 20 mins to 1 hour depending on the kind of ceremony you choose to have (or up to 1.5 hours if it’s a catholic wedding with mass.) If you’re getting married in a religious venue please speak to the person marrying you about the photography.  Some are super chilled, and others are super strict.  I will obviously find them and touch base when I arrive, but it’s good to know about any restrictions in advance. If you’re stuck for ceremony inspiration, check out this blog post: SIX WEDDING CEREMONY IDEAS YOU WOULDN’T HAVE THOUGH OF

Barn wedding at Dewsall Court Hereford


Straight after the ceremony is usually when your guests shower you in confetti – this might be venue dependant and so if aren’t allowed to throw confetti at your ceremony, some couples choose to do it once they arrive at the reception venue. I will work closely with you on planning this, as this part is usually organised by me, with the help of some members from the bridal party.  For lots of confetti ideas check out this blog post: WEDDING CONFETTI IDEAS


I always aim to shoot your formal group shots straight after the ceremony as this way they are done as quick as possible as no one has had a chance to pop to the loo, or the bar. That’s the bit that gives the group shots a bad name, when we are all waiting around for someone who’s disappeared.This obviously isn’t always possible, for timing reasons, or weather, or something else, but it’s what I start with. I’m not a photographer who shoots hundreds of group shots; about five usually covers the important members of the family, and these take about 15mins. If there are children in your bridal party I will also aim to photograph them at this time too. Children usually give me just a small window of time to work with so I try and be as quick as possible, capturing them looking all clean and sweet before they get frustrated with their wedding attire.  For further information on group shots you may want to check out: WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY PLANNING – THE GROUP SHOTS


During this time I capture the story telling parts of the day… there are LOTS of hugs during this bit as everyone wishes you their good luck and love… all these moments are so real and honest and I’m there to capture them all. Some people won’t have seen each other for years, others met at the hen party and are sharing jokes… it’s the first time everyone is all together informally, drink in hand, mixing and mingling with each other.  During this time I’ll make myself known to your guests as I mingle with them, capturing fun moments and taking informal group shots… it’s all very casual and relaxed.  The drinks reception lasts anywhere between 1.5 – 2.5 hours


Sometime during the day I will capture a portrait of you both with all the important people to you – bridesmaids, ushers, best man etc.I will ideally photograph this either before your first portrait session as everyone is still looking dapper and flowers are still looking fresh.  I like to think of this shot as something that belongs on a vinyl record, something that you print up big and frame onto your wall.

bridal party - wedding day timings by Philippa James Photography


Once you’ve had some time to give everyone a hug, grabbed a canape and downed a glass of bubbles, I’ll then sneak you both away from your guests for about 15-20mins for a short little portrait session. I will guide you every step of the way and you will end up with a selection of non-cheesy photos of you both looking ace on your wedding day.  As you can imagine, you are very busy on your wedding day and sometimes don’t get the chance to see much of each other, so it’s also an opportunity for you both to catch up and say ‘hell yeah – we just got married!’

DINNER (aka the wedding breakfast)

What usually happens, and again this totally depends on you and your day, is the guest are called into dinner about 15mins before the chefs are due to serve. Once they are all in and seated, you enter together and everyone stands and cheers! I love to capture the atmosphere of everyone you love all having one massive feast.  This is also the time when I sit and eat my dinner too – I either sit with you and your guests if there is room, or some venues provide a place for suppliers to eat separately.  The time allocated for dinner is usually about 2-2.5 hours.


It’s super popular to do speeches before dinner, a kind of ‘get them out of the way’ for slightly nervous speakers, and others do them after dinner which is more ‘traditional’ I guess… either way, I will document not just the speakers, but more importantly the reactions to the words spoken, the cheers and celebrations. Don’t be afraid to have too many speeches, I know sometimes speeches have a bad reputation, but they really are a lovely opportunity for those that love you to express how great they think you are.  If you have more than three, you could always do some before dinner and some after, or have a speech -between each course which as they do in Denmark. Speeches and food usually take about 2.5 – 3 hours


By this time in the day, after dinner and speeches, ties are loosened, heals are kicked off, and that’s when we’ll do one last portrait session. This one is very relaxed, most of the formalities of the day are done and you may have had a little (or a lot) of champagne.

Couple Just Married


The first dance is usually done about an 1-1.5 hours after the food/speeches. This usually gives the venue enough time to turn a room around (if needed) and for guests to have a breather, a coffee, and to get ready to party. In this time I do your portrait session (as above) and observe and document you and your guests.

Photo Booth fun at Dewsall Court


Cutting the cake is commonly done just before the first dance as it gathers everyone together before heading to the dancefloor. If you are having the cake for desert though, you may decide to cut the cake before you sit down for dinner, to give the caterers time to cut it up for your guests.


Evening guests are usually invited in time for the first dance.  Not everyone has a rehearsed first dance, but if you have anything choreographed or secret plans please let me know.  I once had a bride turn all the lights off for her first dance as she had fireworks in the background and I was totally unprepared!  We did get some great shots – but best I know as much as possible beforehand!  Also not everyone has a first dance.  In these photos, Gareth and Amy didn’t want a first dance, but instead Gareth played a song on his phone and they had a little dance during their portrait session.  As soon as the band started everyone just piled onto the dance floor.

Bride and Groom at Dewsall Court


After the first dance all your guests will jump onto the dancefloor (if you’re having a disco that is) If you have booked me to stay later, then this is the time I am constantly on the lookout for those guests throwing shapes! To photograph a dancefloor takes time… slower songs don’t photograph well, as people are less expressive, but once everyone has warmed up and the music is pumping with songs everyone knows – that’s when some smashing dancefloor shots are captured. If you want to make sure your dance floor is buzzing, check out this post: HAVING A WEDDING DISCO? MY TOP TIPS ON CREATING A BUZZING DANCE FLOOR

Each wedding is different, but I do hope this blog helps as a starting point when thinking of your wedding day timings.  If you’d like to see the slide-show for this wedding just click play below.



WEDDING VENUE: Dewsall Court

DRESS: Lana Gown – Alexandra Grecco

FLOWERS: Love Lilli

CAKE: La Fleur de Chocolat

PHOTO BOOTH: Silver Trailer Photo Booth

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