What time to have your wedding ceremony, what time to have the meal, how long do photos take and how much time to leave for speeches are probably the questions I get asked the most on the lead-up to a wedding day. As a wedding photographer who's covered over 250 weddings over the last 8 years, from Sardinia to Scotland and from Cyprus to Cornwall, I've seen great timelines and ones that have led to stressed out couples and hungry guests - I know my couples are laid back and relaxed, and want a fun, stress-free day, so this is my advice to you to get exactly what you're looking for from your wedding day.
When planning timings for your wedding day, my advice would be to decide on your ceremony time and work from there.
Allow more time than you think for getting ready in the morning - I'd always aim to be ready at least 30 minutes before you leave, and allow a good 20 mins or so to get into your dress, unless you have a really simple dress. I've had zips that suddenly won't get past a change of fabric, corsets that have lost one of their eyelets, and ribbons that just won't stay straight! And I've heard one story of a dress that caught FIRE after a bridesmaid hung the dress onto the light fitting for a photo (don't worry - I won't do this!) - luckily in that story, the bride was also the dressmaker and managed to save the dress with last-minute alterations.
Your hair and make-up artists will be able to advise you on how much time they need - listen to them, take their advice, they're the expert.
Aim to get to the ceremony on time - yes, it's traditional to be late, but by aiming to be late, you're not allowing any time for emergencies! Aim to be on time, and you allow for a slow drive, 5 mins relaxation, a quick chat with the celebrant before your wedding starts, and final lipstick retouching!
Drinks receptions are usually time to chat to guests, relax and enjoy the day you've worked so hard for. They're also the time when I'll steal you away for about 20 minutes to create some amazing wedding day portraits of the two of you, and the time when we'll get the must-have family photos done (I aim for this to take less than 20 minutes, but I'd advise leaving 30 minutes as rounding up people can take time!)
It's ideal to allow at least 15 minutes to seat all guests, and a 3 course meal will take around 2 hours to serve and eat. Allow 20 minutes per speech for any speeches you have - even if you have reluctant speakers, it's best to allow this much time to prevent evening guests arriving while you're still eating!
Bear in mind travel time if you're having the ceremony and reception in two different places, time to turn the room around if you're having the meal and party in the same space, and allow a little time for people to relax after the meal, before the party starts!
If you're planning your wedding day and you're still looking for a photographer, I do have a few 2017 dates left and I love laid back, last minute couples, so get in touch now to chat about what you're looking for!