Planning your wedding timeline just like Prince William and Kate at the Royal Wedding!

So I'm declaring it ROYAL WEDDING WEEK on the blog in honor of the upcoming wedding of HRH Price William and Kate Middleton. I love me a good royal wedding. I was 4 years old for Charles & Diana's wedding and still remember watching it on TV. Being a little older now ;) I plan on getting up early on Friday morning and watching with a Mimosa perhaps...

So the schedule for this week:
Monday: Let's talk about wedding timelines
Tuesday: Engagement pictures
Wednesday: Family formals and shotlists
Thursday: The difference between weddings in the UK and the US (for new readers, I'm originally from the UK but I've lived in the US for 9 years and been photographing weddings for 4 of them)
Friday: General wedding observations and a picture of me in my best wedding hat :)

Sound good? Would you like something different? Will you be watching the Royal Wedding? Let's talk in the comments!

So - for today - let's talk timelines. The official timeline for the Royal Wedding was recently released (it's at the end of this blog - remember to take off 5 hours if you're watching on the East Coast to account for the time difference) and literally every minute is accounted for e.g:
10:51am Bride departs for Westminster Abbey with her father
10:58am Bride arrives at Westminster Abbey
11:00am Marriage service commences

Now if you're marrying the future King of England, your wedding is being planned by a slew of royal advisors, all roads are closed to traffic, you have an entire police force at your disposal AND approximately 3 billion people will be watching your wedding then you can have this kind of timeline. Should things get off track there will be a cry off "Off with their heads!"

But for the majority of couples planning their wedding timeline, it's probably wise not to try to plan your day with this insane level of detail.

Once a couple book me to photograph their wedding I love giving them advice on how to best plan their timeline with a focus on finding the optimum time for photographs - making sure we have enough time, the best time of day for the sun, figuring out if they want to do a first look etc - whilst remembering that this is a wedding and not a photoshoot!

And we come up with nice simple documents like these below which are helpful for figuring times for transportation, hair and make up, flower deliveries etc

Usually we'll start with the time of the ceremony (as this is usually somewhat set in stone) and then work our way backwards (travel time to ceremony? will we do a first look? family pictures before the ceremony? what time do I need to arrive for getting ready coverage?) and then forwards (receiving line? travel time to reception? different locations for portraits? sunset time for beautiful twilight pictures?) and it'll all come together. Sometimes we'll chat on the phone to figure all of this out, sometimes we'll meet in person over a glass of wine :)

Ten top tips for planning your wedding timeline:

1. Allow more time than you think you need. Seriously - no one is ever upset because there is a little extra time. Conversely if you run out of time and have to miss cocktail hour or cut your pictures short then it's such a shame.

2. Be generous when allocating travel time - unless you're royalty there will be traffic on the road! I like using google maps to get the basic travel time and then adding on at least 20% extra time.

3. Consider the time that the sun will be setting. A good photographer will be able to find good light/shade throughout the day but if you can try to avoid pictures between 11am and 2pm then it saves everyone squinting in the harsh midday sun

4. If your dress is corset-style lace up or you have lots of teeny tiny buttons to fasten with a crochet hook you should allow at least 20-30 minutes to get dressed!

5. It's nice if you can both get ready in the same location (different floors of the hotel for example) as then you can have pre-wedding pictures of both of you

6. Consider doing a first look so that you get a beautiful private moment between the two of you (I use very long zoom lenses so I get your reactions but I can't hear what you're saying), you'll still feel all of the emotion of the ceremony and we can do a bunch of pictures before so that you get to enjoy the champagne and hor d'oeuvres of cocktail hour - mmm

7. Don't go last for hair and make up if you're the bride. It's usually good to be second-to-last so that someone else can be done whilst you're getting dressed/putting on a veil. If you want your maid/matron of honor/sister/mom to help you get dressed make sure she's ahead of you in the hair and make up line and dressed so they look lovely in the pictures vs. being in sweats with wet hair ;)

8. For a receiving line after your ceremony you should plan on greeting guests for 30-90 minutes depending on numbers (approx 10-15 seconds per guest - Hug! "Congratulations! You look beautiful! How are you?! This is my new husband/wife!" Kiss!) - and bring hand sanitizer so you don't get sick on your honeymoon after kissing/hugging 200 of your closest friends and family ;)

9. Think carefully about your must-have list of pictures for family formals. Each picture can take 3-5 minutes to gather the people, set up the shot, take a number of pictures in case of blinking. More about this on Wednesday...

10. Let me know if you'd like me to steal you outside just after sunset for some lovely twilight pictures (weather permitting!). Give me 5 minutes and I'll wield my little video light for some magical pictures like these:

At Neeta & Rich's wedding at the Hyatt Hotel in Cambridge we went outside to make some images with the Boston skyline in the background:

Here's Stephanie and Tim out on the balcony at their wedding reception at Hillview Country Club in North Reading:

If I'm photographing a wedding in Boston and the limo happens to drive along Commonwealth Ave I can't resist some wedding photos at night like this one of Becky and Duke:

Erin & Jeffrey took advantage and sneak out and celebrate being married at the Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester, MA

I photographed Lori & Kris outside at Groveland Fairways in maybe 3 minutes and this picture was actually used as part of a background for Train's performance of "Marry Me" at the 2010 American Music Awards on ABC last year :)

Are you convinced about sneaking outside just after sunset now?

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is it for today. As promised, here's the official timeline for the Royal Wedding - will you be watching?

8.15am and 9.45am: The general congregation will arrive at the Great North Door of Westminster Abbey.
9.50am: Governors-general and prime ministers of realm countries, the diplomatic corps and other distinguished guests arrive at the Abbey.
10.10am: The bridegroom and best man Prince Harry leave Clarence House for Westminster Abbey.
10.20am: Members of foreign royal families arrive at the Abbey from Buckingham Palace.
10.20am: Carole Middleton and son James leave the Goring Hotel for Westminster Abbey. They arrive at the Abbey at 10.27am.
10.25am: Members of the Royal Family (except those listed below) leave Buckingham Palace for Westminster Abbey. They arrive at the Abbey at 10.30am.
10.35am: The following members of the Royal Family leave Buckingham Palace for Westminster Abbey. They arrive at the Abbey at 10.40am: The Duke of York, Princess Beatrice of York, Princess Eugenie of York, The Earl and Countess of Wessex, The Princess Royal and Vice Admiral Timothy Laurence
10.38am: The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall leave Clarence House for Westminster Abbey. They arrive at the Abbey at 10.42am.
10.40am: The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh leave Buckingham Palace for Westminster Abbey.
10.48am: The bridesmaids and pages leave the Goring Hotel for Westminster Abbey. They arrive at the Abbey at 10.55am.
10.51am: Kate Middleton, accompanied by her father, Michael, leaves the Goring Hotel for Westminster Abbey
11.00am: The marriage service begins
12.15pm: The carriage procession of the bride and groom with a captain’s escort of the Household Cavalry, followed by the Queen’s procession with a sovereign’s escort of the Household Cavalry, leaves Westminster Abbey for Buckingham Palace.
12.30pm: The bride’s carriage procession arrives at Buckingham Palace.
12.40pm: Members of the Royal Family and members of foreign royal families arrive at Buckingham Palace.
1.25pm: The Queen and the bride and groom, together with their families, appear on the balcony.
1.30pm: Fly past by the Royal Air Force and Battle of Britain memorial flight.

Did you like this post? Here's an older post on planning your wedding timeline with some sample wedding schedules


  1. I'll be setting the DVR to tape it, so at some point I will watch it! Love the blog & enjoy your mimosa while watching the Royal Wedding! Cheers!