bridesmaids at a relaxed village hall in binham, norfolk


Minimalist wedding couple in their photography at a relaxed village hall in binham, norfolk


So, you’ve got your venue sorted, booked all your suppliers and have given each other a bloody giant high five for ticking so many things off of your to-do list. Awesome. Now, there’s just the tiny challenge of getting your timeline spot on – or near enough! I remember sitting down with Rich doing this ahead of our wedding, thinking it would only take 5 minutes – a bottle of wine and a few hours later we’d finally sorted it with a sigh of relief.

In this blog post is all the helpful tips I can summon up from my years as a wedding photographer. Spending time on this now will make a real difference to how your day pans out! Got questions or want to pick my brains? Don’t hesitate – you know where to find me! 🙂 So without further ado… x

happy bride putting on her veil at blackthorpe barn wedding


The main thing to remember with bridal prep, is that I’ll need to leave for the ceremony a minimum of 15 minutes (or double, if it’s a drive to the ceremony) before you do, to be in place to snap away as you arrive and also to get friendly with whoever is leading the ceremony so I can nab an awesome spot to photograph you from.

A lot of my brides want to be photographed as their dress goes on – consider this when planning your morning. What time are you going to put your dress on? Do you want your bridesmaids to get their dresses on before you do? It’s generally better to all get dressed really early and sit with a glass of something nice, rather than rushing like a crazy lady 2 minutes before I’m due to leave you – I’ve seen it happen too many times! Say I were leaving you at 13.30, I’d advise you to get your dress on about 12.45-13.00 and your bridesmaids 15-20mins before that.

If you’re having hair and make-up, they normally have their own schedule of when they’re going to do each person and this takes them up to the time you’re leaving. Make sure you let them know that your bridesmaids need to be finished and ready to put their dresses on at X time, with you finished at X time so that they can arrive earlier if needed to accommodate this.

It can be a good idea to make a morning timeline for yourself with plenty of ‘buffer time’ – give it to your most organised/bossy-in-a-loveable-way bridesmaid or family member and tell them to make sure everything is running to schedule!

bohemian bride and groom kiss during outdoor ceremony keeper and the dell wedding in norfolk


Typically a church ceremony takes 45-60 mins and a civil ceremony takes 20-30 mins, depending on music and any readings.. Whoever is leading your ceremony will be able to advise you. However, still add in some ‘buffer time’ in case you or a loved one are late because of traffic etc – if the ceremony is delayed even by a little bit and you haven’t accounted for any extra time then it will impact on everything else later in the day.

relaxed festival godwick barn wedding photography helen anderson


You’ve never got married before (or have you?!) so it’s completely understandable that generally, my couples forget to leave any mingling time for after the ceremony. I promise you it’s pretty much impossible to jump straight in to photos after the ceremony ends – your nearest and dearest want to hug you super tight and congratulate you! I’d advise you leave at least about 20 minutes for this after the ceremony. I’ve known it take 45 minutes just for the guests to leave the church as they each stopped to speak to the bride and groom on the way out – so think about allowing at least a little time for this!

If you’d like a confetti line (and your venue allows them!), add another 10 minutes to post ceremony mingling time. A tip for confetti shots is to pop round the corner out of sight immediately after the ceremony and nominate a willing usher or relative with a loud voice to organise your guests in to a line as they leave the ceremony. Then once the confetti is over, you can do all the lovely mingling and hugging bits then.

laughing bride and bridesmaids together at marquee wedding in woodbridge, suffolk


I personally think it’s a good idea to get your group shots all done as soon as you can after the ceremony – then you know everyone has been photographed, just incase, god forbid, someone might end up feeling ill and goes for a lay down, y’know? You don’t want to miss anyone from your family shots!

I really recommend no more than 8 group photos. Promise this is not because I don’t like them – quite the opposite, I think they are super important as it’s so rare for families to all be together and for posterity sake!

The reason is, you might not realise but each one of your group shots takes approximately 5 minutes (this can be longer for very large groups) to organise everyone in to place, round up any stragglers that have gone to the bar or the loo… Anyway, very quickly you can see how 6 groups is 30 minutes, 8 is 40 minutes…

Can you imagine standing in one spot for 40 minutes grinning? I’m not trying to put you off – group shots are very special, but just bear in mind that after 40 minutes of lining up, you and your guests will be getting fidgety, want to get the party started and enjoy yourselves. Stuck for what groups to have? Here are my suggestions, with a couple of spaces for your own…


You can always grab me for more candid groups with friends etc later in the day – I’m more than happy to do those as and when, it’s just the more formal ones I’m talking about!

hugging bride and groom after ceremony at st pauls walden bury


Quite simply, the more you invest in this part of the day, the better your images will be. The romantic, heartfelt, relaxed wedding portraits you saw on my site that gave you all those feelings of “Emily’s the wedding photographer for us!” would have come about because I was given the time to be creative, try out a few different things and the couple have had time to relax in to it.

Your couples portraits need to be private, so I’ll take you for a wander away from your watching guests so you’re as relaxed and comfortable as possible. We’ll do two separate 20 minute portrait sessions – this means you get time to relax together alone and take a much needed breather from all the excitement.

The first portrait slot I ask to be before the wedding breakfast, normally after the groups are all done, and the second later in the day – ideally about half an hour before sunset when ‘golden hour’ sets in. Feel free to email me to ask when this will be on your wedding day so you can schedule it in at the right time, I’m more than happy to work it out for you.

Norwich city relaxed wedding buffet


However long your caterer/venue advises this part of the day will last, I’d add on an a bit extra just to be safe. From experience, this part of the day generally always overruns and then it has a knock on impact throughout the rest of day which can be quite stressful for you if you’ve not planned for it! If you’re going for an informal buffet style, try to work out how long it will take each person to queue up. Having a festival style food truck? Ask them for their advice on how long it’ll take to serve everyone!


Unless you’re cutting the cake before you eat so it’s served for desert, my advice would be to do these together, straight away one after the other. If the cake is on the edge of the dance floor or nearby, even better!

It can take a surprising amount of time to get everyone to stop mingling, come indoors and gather around the cake and the dance floor, so it just makes sense to do both whilst everyone is in one place! That’s just my two cents though! Allow ten minutes if you’re doing them both together, or ten minutes each if separately.

relaxed bride and groom doing their first dance at blackthorpe barn

LAST WORDS FROM ME!  If you want to read a true story from one of my weddings which shows why adding in buffer time is so important, click to read the post here! Dun, dun, duuuun…

Just shout if I can help with anything or even if you just want an extra opinion because you can’t decide between the two of you 🙂

Big love x