June 24, 2022
Putting your whole wedding into to one spreadsheet can be a daunting task, you don’t want to miss out on anything but you’re not sure how long you should give yourself at each point throughout the day. You probably haven’t planned too many of these before so it’s understandable that this feels like un-chartered territory. Keep reading to find out how to create your own wedding timeline.
A well thought out timeline for your wedding day is not just helpful for you but especially for all of the vendors that you’re relying on to bring everything together over the day. It means that everyone knows what’s happening, where to be, how long they’ve got and everyone’s contact details.
By putting in some clever, informed planning before the wedding, the more you’ll be able to delegate tasks so you can get on with enjoying the day and trusting that the team of vendors you’ve surrounded yourself with are going to be able to take care of everything. It’s our job to use our experience and the run sheet to help make the day run smoothly so you can relax and enjoy every precious moment.
Not all wedding timelines are going to be the same so this is only meant as an example and a starting point, somewhere to give you an idea of how much time to schedule for everything so you don’t feel rushed. Please take what I’ve written and change it to suit your wedding and to include everything that’s important to you.
The gents always go first since it’s a lot more practical for the boys to take off their jackets and loosen the tie a little bit than it is for the bride to change from the wedding dress into something a bit more comfortable. It also means the *grooms-party is ready to head to the venue early and greet all your guests as they arrive.
Before I arrive, ideally the grooms-party is all showered and ready to get dressed into their suits. You can still be hanging out in casual clothes, playing pool and having a beer so I can get some photos of how you spent your morning.
If you’re opting for a traditional bow tie- one that you need to tie yourself- my advice is to practice tying them before the wedding because if there’s one thing that will hold the boys up, it’s searching on YouTube how to tie a bow tie. If you have lapel flowers, opt for the pins as they stay on much better than the magnet ones and if you need to, ask your florist or myself for help pinning them on. As long as the pin is sharp and you’re careful, it won’t damage the suit. If you need to get in a car pre-ceremony, watch that the seatbelt doesn’t damage your lapel flowers.
I’m very unstructured when it comes to the morning getting ready photos. My main aim is to tell the honest story of how you were all feeling before the big moment, not to get you to behave in a way that’s awkward and unnatural to you.
Like the boys, I’ll also arrive early enough that you’re still hanging out in your robes or pyjamas so we can get the whole transformation. I usually suggest timing my arrival within 15 minutes of your hair and makeup being finished so I can photograph you while they’re doing touch ups.
Hair and makeup is one of the most important times of the day where it’s critical to stay on time. It is the top reason why a bridal party will be running late and unfortunately its early in the day to be behind the plan and usually to get the day back on track the time gets made up by cutting the wedding portraits short.
Before I arrive, if you could leave a tidy area near a window with nice natural light, it means I won’t need to do a tidy up when I get there so I can get photos of you and the girls instead. This is a great place to leave your dress hanging (bring a nice hanger with you), jewellery, shoes, invitations, perfume and other details you’d like me to photograph. Make sure you leave enough time for you to get into your dress, especially if it’s a complicated design with lots of buttons for instance. The bridal stores can certainly make this look much easier than you think because they’ve had lots of practice.
The time you spend in the morning with your bridal party before the ceremony is so special. You’ll probably be brimming with anticipation especially when you put the dress on and it all starts feeling real. It can also be an intense time of the day so it’s important to keep the vibes calm and as relaxed as possible.
I like to arrive about 15 minutes before the ceremony starts to photograph the set up and photograph your guests arriving. It’s also the time where the videographer and I will discuss our approach so we can work together to get what we need without being in each-others shots.
Thirty minutes is completely a rough guide because there’s so much variety in all the ceremonies I’ve ever seen. Some are short and sweet and others are longer ceremonies full of tradition and culture.
Try to relax during the ceremony, hold hands with each other, stand close. You don’t need to stand facing each other the whole time. If you’re feeling nervous about standing up in front of your guests, don’t try and turn away from them or you’ll also be turning away from me. Try standing with one of your arms around your new husband or wife so you feel close and supported with them.
Another important note to make around the ceremony timing is to consider what your options are if the weather isn’t the best and your outdoor ceremony needs to be relocated. This is one thing you really don’t want to leave to chance. Wet weather doesn’t have to be a dampener on a wedding day if you’ve got a plan B.
After the ceremony your family will all come and congratulate you so during this time, I’ll be unobtrusively following you and capturing everyone’s reaction to finally getting to see you. I find 15 minutes is usually enough time before we move on to family photos.
Look, I’ll level with you, the group photo can be a tricky one and one that’s not always worth it. It’s not always easy to fit 100+ people into one photo and be able to clearly see everyone. If you want this shot, the only practical way to get it done is right after the ceremony before everyone disperses and before the canapes are served.
If you’ve run late in the morning, this is the easiest way to gain back some time for your wedding photos which truthfully, you’ll value more.
These photos are an important part of the day. A marriage is of course, your families coming together to celebrate. To make these photos run smoothly, I always advise my couples to make a list with the family groups they want photographed and choose someone to be a helper to find the right people. Ask someone who knows all your family by name so they can quickly find who they need. For larger families, if you need to shorten the time for family photos, put a note on your wedding timeline to take some group family photos during the reception.
Right…now’s the time to pop open a bottle of champagne and have some fun! This a great time to all hang- out and celebrate now the formalities are done. We will also get the traditional bridal party photos but starting the photos with a bit of fun is a great way to break the ice with the camera and lets me capture some natural, candid shots of you all.
When we get to the bridal portraits, something you may not have anticipated is just how much you’ll enjoy taking this time away from your wedding party to actually celebrate privately with your new husband/wife.
As amazing as it is to have all of your closest friends and family with you on the day, it can also get a bit overwhelming as it’s the most attention you’ve probably ever had in your life. Take this time to just enjoy each other’s company, slow it down for a few minutes and take it all in. Focusing on each other will help distract you from thinking too much about the camera and will allow me to capture you in a more authentic way. I like to show couples the back of my camera during the portraits so you can see how amazing you’re your photos are looking and let you feel really comfortable with the process.
If at any point you want to head back to your guests, or go and hang out with some wine and canapés, let me know. I’m here to help you do it your way and have the best wedding day possible.
We’ll make it back in time for you to make your entrance and officially open this party! Hopefully you’ve had a chance to chill and touch up if you need to because this is the fun part.
I’ll usually try to enter the reception early so I can photograph the styling details before your guests all enter. I don’t need long to get these so if you can schedule 10 minutes in pre-reception, I’ll photograph all of the pretty details like florals, candles, cake etc.
An important point on the reception is the MC. This isn’t just someone who makes a few speeches and tells everyone what time the bar closes. They’re responsible for keeping everything on time and keeping the energy bright and entertaining. If you’re going to ask one of your guests, choose someone who’s good at being on time and is confident in front of a crowd. Most celebrants will also MC at weddings if you’d rather all your guests just relax and enjoy the evening.
Photos at sunset may not always be an option depending on the location, weather and what else is scheduled during the reception but it’s definitely something to keep in mind when your making plans. Sunset is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful times of the day so even if you can give me just 10 minutes, I promise you’ll absolutely love these photos. When I work with couples on making their wedding timeline schedules, we always google what time the sun sets on the date of their wedding.
During the evening, I’ll often head outside and see what we opportunities there are for an interesting night photo. If the sunset wasn’t very interesting, we can get some really sleek, editorial flash photos in the evening. You may like having a quick little escape from the party to appreciate the last of the evening or you can totally tell me “No thanks, this song is my jam”. As long as you’re having the best time then that’s what I want for you. Night photos are always happy extras, we got plenty of amazing photos during the day.
I hope you’ve found this helpful and I encourage you to take this and make it your own. If you have any questions for me, please get in touch. I work with all of my couples who choose me as their photographer to help them create their wedding timeline so we don’t miss anything on the day.
*Not every wedding identifies with traditional wedding terms like bride, groom, grooms“men”, “bridal”party so although this example is based off a heterosexual wedding, I still try to use inclusive language where I can. Wedding-party=bridal party.