Wedding Timeline : A helpful guide

A Wedding timeline is often a daunting idea, after all its not often you have to plan such a big day! I always try and give my couples as much info and advise as possible to make sure they have a smooth and relaxing day.

I thought I would write about it in a blog post for everyone and to have it as a quick ‘go to’ if anyone if feeling a bit lost with it all. Of course every wedding is different and with so many different variables, you simply cannot say ‘one way fits all’ but hopefully this will give you a good understanding of how a ‘typical’ day runs.

My aim is to ensure all my couples feel relaxed, and enjoy the day as much as possible. A solid Wedding timeline and getting it all organised before the day is actually very important to make sure this happens! I send out a Final Details form approx. 6 weeks before the wedding where I ask for your final timings, family group shots etc but at this point its very hard to change timings if needed and should be carefully thought about before this so this will hopefully get you going!

Bridal Prep (1.5 hours)

Always a fun part, getting ready to go out! =)

I recommend as a guide I have 1.5 hours with you in the morning before I need to leave. Timewise, thats 2 hours before YOU need to leave, as I always need to be one step ahead of you. 1.5 hours will enable me to get all your details shots like the dress, shoes, flowers etc The final stages of you and maybe some if your bridesmaids  getting your hair and make up done. You getting into your dress and hopefully some lovely portraits of you all ready to go!

Tips:
  • Have all your detail shots ready for me in one place so I can easily find them and do not have to disturb your preparations too much.
  • Buffer, buffer, buffer! Its always a good idea to leave some buffer time in the morning, so often times gets away from you and there is that last min panic, which is never really wanted. For your hair and makeup its usually takes about 1 hour each, (depending of course on what your having done) I would suggest adding another 15 mins in between the two for a toilet break, change of underwear or just enjoying a glass of bubbly! If you are having a hair and makeup artist, they will be able to give you more firm timings knowing what you will be having done in advance.
  • Always add another 15 mins onto how long you think it will take for your dress to go, especially if its a tricky lace up number. Remember the ladies at the bridal shop will not be there on the day, who have had years of experience and can get it tight up quickly. It will most likely be your mum or friend that will be doing it for the first time.
  • Try to get your bridesmaids ready dressed before you plan to put your on, that way they can help you and hopefully have time for a few quick ‘final’ photos.

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Ceremony (30 mins – 1 hour)

I like to arrive 30 mins before the ceremony begins, to capture the Groom and any best men, along with guests arriving. I have a quick chat with whoever it is marrying you on the day to check if their are any rules I need to stick too and then be ready and waiting for you to arrive!

Tip:

I would recommend inviting your guests 20 mins before the ceremony is due to start to make sure everyone has arrived and settled before it begins.

Ceremonies last between 30 mins – 1 hour depending on if its a civil or church ceremony etc. Once you leave the ceremony think about the time it takes to move 60, 80, 100 plus people and then everyone is wanting to congratulate you! I would allow at least 15 mins at this point. I would suggest moving away from the doors so your guests can leave the room quickly and smoothly and encourage them to come and say Hi!

Often at this point its lovely to have a confetti shot! Add another 10-15 mins for this.

Finally a good tip again it to BUFFER! If your church is in a different location to your reception, think carefully about travelling from A-B. What if there is a traffic jam, road closure, the time it takes for guests to get to their cars and park up again. It’s best to feel relaxed, than rushed for you and your guests!

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Arriving at reception to sitting down to eat. (2 hours)

This is the time to mingle and enjoy yourselves! A lot of things also needs to take place in this time. If I break it down into sections which is very approx as each wedding is different but you will need 30 mins for group family shots, 30 mins for portraits, 30 mins for mingling and 15 mins for detail room shots before everyone sits down. Guess what the extra 15 mins is for?! Buffer time! =) Encase its raining and we need to set something up indoors for photos takes time, or that missing guest who is needed for a group shot whether they have gone to the bar, stopped to get petrol en route, checking into their room, feeding their baby – the list is endless. If all goes to plan, whats another 15 mins spending with your friends and family on the happiest day of your life anyway and for me to capture all these real, honest and happy moments?! =)

Tips:
  • Ensure whoever it is you assign to help me gather groups are aware that this is happening, usually the best man or ushers.
  • Let people know ahead of time photos will be happening at X time so not to disappear if they are needed.
  • If its a beautiful sunny day, I like to split your portraits into 2 sections, 1 being at sunset to get some gorgeous, dreamy images so allow 15 mins in the evening for this to happen.
  • Often sunset is happening right through dinner time (depending on time of year), so I may come and see if your able to pop out quickly in-between the mains and desserts.
  • Time, If photography is important to you and you love what you see in my work, its because couples have given me time to work my magic. For the portraits, its great for just the 3 of us to wonder off for a while uninterrupted by guests to concentrate on getting those beautiful images you want to hang on your wall!

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Wedding breakfast (2 hours)

Depending on how many guest you have, it usually takes 2 hours for you all to eat your yummy traditional 3 course dinner. Of course there are so many different options that your caterers can help you with timings.

Speeches (20-60 mins)

I would say usually they last 30 mins, its a good idea to give your speakers a rough time limit to stick too so things don’t over run.

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Cake Cutting (5 mins)

This is often super quick and is usually done either just after mains for dessert or just before the first dance. I have found it flows really well just before your first dance as everyone is then already in place, together ready to watch your first dance. Saves a lot of time!  You can get your DJ or band to announce that there will be cake cutting, followed by first dance straight after.

First dance (5 mins)

Your first dance lasts along as the song you have chosen. I will have to set up lighting before the cake cutting so its all ready to go. Often couples like to get everyone up dancing with them as soon as possible, I recommend doing this for your second song and not the first. Its tricky to get those beautiful images in low light so you are far more likely to get those stunning dance images if we have 3 mins instead of 1!

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wedding timeline

Boogie shots (30 mins)

Such a fun time! I love to get your friends and family showing me their best moves on the dance floor. Stay on the dance floor and encourage your guests to dance in this time. I would hold off bringing out your evening buffet for at least 1 hour after your first dance, this is always a ‘clear the dance floor and make way for food’ which would be a shame if I had nothing to capture.

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Mock Wedding Timeline

This is going off bridal prep, ceremony and reception all being at the SAME venue so make sure you add realistic times between A-B for travelling. I always work backwards from the ceremony and then follow on from there.

11.00 ~ Photographer arrives for bridal prep and shoots ‘details’

11.20  ~ Photographer shoots ‘getting ready’ images

12.20 ~ Bride gets into her dress

12.35 ~ Shot with bride and bridesmaids, or mum or dad and any bubbly shots if time allows

12.50 ~  Photographer leaves bridal prep

1.00 pm ~ Photographer arrives at ceremony to shoot Groom waiting etc

1.15 ~ Registrar speaks with bride

1.30 ~  Ceremony

2.00 ~ Ceremony finishes

{I recommend 2 hours from end of ceremony to when you get called to sit, remember this doesn’t include any travel time}

2.00 – 2.15 ~ Congratulations! Lots of hugs and Hi’s.

2.15- 2.45 ~ Group shots

2.45- 3.00 ~ Candid shots

3.00- 3.30 ~ Portrait shots

3.30-3.45 ~ Candid shots

3.45 – 4.00 ~ Detail shots of the room and tables

4.00 ~ Guests called to sit

4.15 ~ Wedding Breakfast

6.15- 6.45 ~ Speeches

6.45 – 7.30 ~Buffer Time, Roomed turned over, guests check into rooms, freshen up. Perfect time for some gorgeous golden hour portraits if we have the weather for it or perhaps some indoor flash work.

7.15 – 7.30 ~ Evening guests start to arrive

7.50pm ~ Cake cutting

7.55 pm ~ First Dance

8.30pm ~ Photographer leaves

 

This is a mock wedding timeline, there are lots of variables to consider but hopefully this gives you a rough idea. Almost every wedding I attend doesn’t run on time, things happen on the day that is out of our control! Whether its the weather, a car breaking down or your waiting for guests, if in doubt add 10 mins here and there throughout the day, if something happens you will be glad of that extra time and if not, as mentioned before you just get to enjoy more time with your loved ones! Win Win!

I speak to all my couples about their wedding day timings indiviudally and make sure we can create the best possible timeline for a relaxed, fun day that runs as smoothly as possible!

Happy planning!

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