Have you ever been a guest at a wedding where you have had to wait for HOURS for the bride and groom + the bridal party to arrive at the reception? Or maybe there has been a long gap in between the ceremony and reception which becomes awkward time you need to fill up? I was a guest at a wedding when I was younger where we had to wait about 4 hours between the ceremony and reception! We couldn’t go home because the wedding location was in a different city from where my family lived, so we went to a cafe literally for hours – looking extra fancy.
A timeline may not be the most exciting thing to think about when it comes to planning your wedding, but I think it’s one of the most important things! It can make or break your photography, and be the difference between your guests having the time of their lives celebrating with you, or wondering where you are half the time.
This timeline outlines an ideal wedding day based on a 5pm ceremony time in the summer, it’s also based on having a First Look. Remember, every wedding is unique and your timeline might be different due to travel times and unique situations.
I love that more of my brides and grooms are choosing to do a First Look on their wedding day. If you don’t know what a First Look is, you can read all about it in this blog post (click here) this post also includes the feedback from previous brides and grooms who have done First Looks!
BRIDES PREPARATIONS – 1.5 hours. This time is for me to capture all of the little details like the dress, shoes and jewellery before the bride puts everything on. I love capturing the general atmosphere of the room, the last touches of hair and makeup and a few photographs with any family present. I always ask the bridesmaids and any family to be dressed before the bride. I usually leave for the First Look a few minutes before the bride, to set the groom up in the right place.
FIRST LOOK (15min) + BRIDAL PHOTOS (15min). This is such a private intimate moment, probably one of the only moments you will have to yourselves on your wedding day. After the first look, I will then capturing a few photographs (another 15min) before the bridal party joins in.
BRIDAL PARTY + BRIDAL PHOTOS – 30 min. This timeline is slightly buffered in case things run a little late, one way to stay on schedule is to make sure everyone is ready (like the flowers on the guys suits etc) before the photos. I make sure I get some fun photos of the bride and groom with the bridal party, and the girls and guys separately. After bridal party photos, the guys will leave for the ceremony to greet guests and the bride can go to a separate location to freshen up and chill out before she marries her best friend!
CEREMONY – 30min. Most ceremonies I photograph are half an hour long, but this time can obviously be adjusted. This is one of the most important moments of your wedding day where you make life long promises to each other, it also goes by so quickly so you want to cherish it!
FAMILY GROUPS – 15min. I always leave a bit of time for the bride and groom to say hello to people and let others congratulate them straight after the ceremony. But it’s important to do these family portraits really soon after the ceremony, so people don’t leave! The bride and groom always gives me a list of the family group photographs they would like before the wedding day, and I start from the largest groups to the smallest. It’s great to get your celebrant or pastor to quickly announce where the family photos will be just before the ceremony finishes so their is no confusion. Family photos are important! But they don’t need to take a long time so your family misses out on champagne and cocktail hour.
COCKTAIL HOUR – 1 hour. Sometimes this is afternoon tea, but usually it is the canapes and champagne time right before dinner. This is the other part I love about having a first look – you are able to celebrate with your guests straight away! In cocktail hour, straight after the family photos, I will go to the reception space to photograph the tables and room set up before the guests come in and throw their handbags and jackets down! I usually go between the guests and the reception space to make sure I photograph guests having a good time too.
RECEPTION – 2-3 hours. Obviously this time can be adjusted, depending on how long you would like the reception photographed. Most of my couples choose an 8 hour photography collection, so with that I usually stay until the First dance, depending on how your reception is structured.
Phew!! It is daunting to think about your wedding day timeline, but I hope that this helped some of you! It only takes a bit of planning before the day and if you get it right, your wedding day is sure to be effortlessly amazing.