How to Have a Relaxed Wedding Day Timeline

Your wedding day is one of the most special and memorable days of your life!

However, with so many things to plan and consider, it could also be one of the most hectic days. From preparations to the ceremony, group shots to speeches, and everything in between, it would be easy to feel like the day is flying by without a moment to truly savour it all. You want to enjoy every moment that your wedding journey entails…

That’s why I have put together this guide on how to have a relaxed wedding day timeline. 

As an experienced wedding photographer in Kent, I love being able to help my couples create a seamless experience from the very start of the planning through to the photography. So, grab a cup of coffee and let’s dive in!

Couples portraits on the beach at sunset that were scheduled into their wedding day timeline


  • Selecting the Time of Year and Light
  • Organising Preparations
  • Choosing the Ceremony Time
  • Planning Group Shots and Portraits
  • Time for a Drinks Reception
  • Scheduling the Speeches
  • Welcoming Evening Guests
  • The Cake Cut and First Dance

Selecting the Time of Year and Light

Choosing when you say “I do” can massively shape your relaxed wedding day timeline.

If you’re thinking about a summer wedding, you’re onto a winner with those long, light-filled days – perfect for catching some dreamy photos and you have until 9 pm in July before the sunsets. That’s plenty of time in the evening after first dance to take advantage of the light.

However, don’t write off a winter wedding, as they come with their own cosy charm and more indoor shenanigans, but do bear in mind you might need a bit more artificial sparkle for the pictures. The sunset in mid-December is around 3.45 pm so be sure to remember to move everything a little earlier so you aren’t racing the clock.

The key here is to remember your photographer is best buddies with natural light. And my favourite time as a photographer? Golden Hour! We have the gorgeous, soft, warm light which takes place about an hour before sunset – add this opportunity into your timeline for portraits.

So, whether you’re planning a mid-summer bash or a winter wonderland wedding, try to align your plans with when the daylight is going to be showing off it’s best side.

Couples portraits at sunset that were scheduled into their wedding day timeline

Organising Preparations

Getting ready on the big day is a thrilling part of the wedding experience, isn’t it? There is a really lovely sense of anticipation.

It’s not just about slipping into your dream dress or putting on a smashing suit. It’s about the excited chit-chat with your besties, the squeals of delight when your make-up is on point, and that moment of awe when you catch the first glimpse of yourself all glammed up.

Now, to keep this part of the day calm and fun, it’s best to kick off the preparations early. 

Bridal preparations that were scheduled into their wedding day timeline

Starting ahead of time gives you a buffer for unexpected hold-ups. Plus, and this is important, try to squeeze in a few moments of quietude before the ceremony. A bit of ‘me time’ to let it all sink in, to soak up the happiness and excitement, to feel the love.

As a photographer, I love capturing this part of the day – it adds depth to the narrative in your final gallery. Typically, I aim to be on-site 2 hours before the ceremony. However, this doesn’t mean you need to delay your hair and makeup preparations until my arrival. I will still have plenty of time to capture the finishing touches.

For a relaxed wedding day timeline, it’s important to add in that I will leave about 20 minutes before you do, allowing me to also document the happenings at the venue.

Grooms preparations that were scheduled into their wedding day timeline

Choosing the Ceremony Time

Much like the time of year, the hour you choose to tie the knot will pretty much set the rhythm for the rest of your day. 

If you’ve decided on a winter wedding, you might want to think about saying ‘I do’ around midday. Why? Well, this allows you to soak up as much of that precious daylight for your photos as possible post-ceremony.

Summer weddings, however, give you a little more flexibility with natural light. You could comfortably go for a 2 pm – 3 pm ceremony without having to worry about losing the light. This way I can get some preparation shots starting at about 1 pm and I will still be there for those golden hour pictures we already mentioned at about 9 pm.

So, when you’re planning your relaxed wedding day timeline, remember to consider how the ceremony time might impact the rest of your day’s flow. It’s all about balance!

Couples photos in their wedding venue that were scheduled into their wedding day timeline

Time for a Drinks Reception

The drinks reception, of course!

This is the perfect chance for your guests to raise a glass to the happy couple and for you to take a breather and soak up the joyous atmosphere. About an hour and a half should be enough time for this – you want your guests to have fun, share a laugh, enjoy a drink or two, but you also want them eager and ready for dinner.

Do check with your venue how far in advance they like guests to be seated before your wedding breakfast though so you can plan a relaxed wedding day timeline. This can sometimes be up to 15 minutes earlier than service starts and you don’t want that to eat into the end of your drinks reception time.

Drinks reception that was scheduled into their wedding day timeline
Guests enjoying their drinks reception

Planning Group Shots and Portraits

To keep group shots and portraits from becoming a chore, timing is everything.

It’s a good idea when planning your relaxed wedding day timeline to set aside a specific window for photo time for this, and usually 10-15 minutes after the ceremony is a top choice – just to allow you and your guests to hug and celebrate which makes for lovely candid photos.

I recommend keeping your list of group shots concise, ideally between 5 and 7. These photos can take more time than anticipated to assemble large groups.

Group photos that were scheduled into their wedding day timeline
Wedding party group shot

You don’t want to keep your guests waiting too long and you’ll want to get back to enjoying your drinks reception. I ask for the list of group shots before the big day and will have them with me to make sure I get the all important ones. And it’s a great idea to designate someone to gather the groups for me (someone who knows who everyone is to save a lot of calling out!).

For the portraits, I suggest allocating around 20 minutes. This time frame allows ample opportunity for me to capture memorable moments and for you to enjoy a quiet moment away from the crowd, revelling in the fact that you’ve just tied the knot.

If we are lucky enough to have breathtaking skies or romantically captivating light unexpectedly during your evening, consider sneaking out for a brief session – not every couple will experience this, and it’s a chance you won’t want to miss!

Golden hour wedding portrait
Couples portraits at sunset that were scheduled into their wedding day timeline

Scheduling the Speeches

Consider including your joy-filled speeches before dinner. This way, your speakers can breathe a sigh of relief, enjoy their food, and truly join in the fun without any nerves.

However, truth be told, I’ve witnessed some speeches that seemed to go on forever. It’s perfectly reasonable to set a rough time limit for the speakers. They might even appreciate the guidance, and your guests certainly will too.

I’m not undermining the importance of speeches; in fact, I’ve heard some truly fantastic ones. However, no one wants their wedding to be remembered for excessively long speeches—certainly not you.

So, for a relaxed wedding day timeline, keep them short and sweet!

Wedding couple making their entrance to their wedding breakfast
Wedding speeches that was scheduled into their wedding day timeline

Welcoming Evening Guests and Celebrate 

So, you’ve had a fabulous day, and it’s time to keep the party going as the evening guests start to arrive.

You definitely want to give them a warm welcome, but how do you ensure they quickly feel part of the celebrations? First of all, 7 pm is a popular time for evening guest arrival.

Plan a highlight event, like your cake cutting or first dance, shortly after their arrival. This gives your late arrivals a chance to dive straight into the action and experience some of those unmissable wedding moments.

I recommend that you have your first dance about 15 minutes after their arrival to kick the evening off.

Wedding cake cutting that was scheduled into their wedding day timeline

So, as you plan your relaxed wedding day timeline, keep in mind that coordinating these standout moments with the arrival of your evening guests can make all the difference to their experience.

Remember, it’s all about making everyone feel included and at ease, ensuring the joy and magic of your day extend into the night.

Top tip: don’t just think about your first dance song! Choosing a lively track for the second dance is crucial to kickstart the party atmosphere! Typically, I stay for a few tracks beyond the first dance, so it’s ideal to keep as many guests on the dance floor as possible to capture that lively ambience before my departure.

Evening festivities that were scheduled into their wedding day timeline
Couple enjoying their first dance

Ready to Plan Your Wedding Day?

Now you how to have a relaxed wedding day timeline you can go away and plan with ease knowing your day will be nothing but seamless and pure joy. Your wedding timeline on the day will be such a breeze.

Don’t forget to enquire about your relaxed wedding photography too – get in touch with me today, I can’t wait to hear from you!


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I'm a Kent Wedding Photographer for happy, relaxed, loved-up couples who want to look and feel amazing on their wedding day. I also cover Surrey, Sussex, Essex and beyond.


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