Wedding timelines can be confusing when you’ve never done one, even if you’ve attended a lot of weddings you probably haven’t paid much attention to how long each aspect lasted.
Every Bride (and Groom) wants their photos to be perfect and not a moment missed. So planning the general flow of the day is important, not only for me as a photographer but it will also help you make sure everyone’s in the right place at the right time. So today I’m going to try and shed some light on how to keep your wedding day moving, no matter what kind of wedding you’re having.
These Timelines are just a guide and are not set in stone, but as your photographer, we need enough time to capture all the photos you want. Talk to your photographer about the timeline so that you can find the perfect timeline to suit your needs.
The following are the basic minimum time frames that I use of each aspect of your wedding day with reasons as to why I need so much time.
Venue Decor & Detail Photos ……………………… 30 Minutes
Groom Preparation & Portrait Photos …………… 45 Minutes
Bride Preparation & Portrait Photos ……………… 1 hour 30 min (+15min)
Ceremony ………………………………………………… 45 Minutes
The signing of Register & Confetti …………………….. 15 Minutes
Family Photos …………………………………………… 30 Minutes
Bridal Party Photos ……………………………………. 30 Minutes
Newlywed Photos ……………………………………… 1 hour
Anything between 15 and 30 minutes.
This depends a lot on how much detail there is and if you want me to take photos of the Reception as well as the Ceremony areas. Please make sure the venue planner or person who does the setup, know at what time I will be arriving, to make sure that I don’t miss any important detail in the photos.
Anything between 30 and 45 minutes.
Many Grooms don’t want these photos to be taken but afterward, you will be glad for them. The groom is ultimately part of the Wedding Couple and adding their preparations photos just adds a lot more to your story.
Usually, I ask the groom to be showered and dressed in their Trousers and Shirt. Any ties, jackets, shoes, and cuff-links are photographed as detail before (please have these ready for me to photograph as I arrive) and then as the groom puts it on. After the Groom is fully dressed I will take a few portraits of the Groom alone.
Groomsmen should be dressed if they have to be in the photos. Things like corsages or name badges can be put on in front of the camera.
If you have any special something that you want to do with the groomsmen, for example, pour a glass of special whiskey and have a toast or have a cigar with your buddies. Make sure you add a bit of extra time for that, sometimes it can take a while to get it going or get everyone to “play” along.
If you want the photographer to photograph the wedding rings together, please make sure that someone has it nearby to be photographed.
1 hour and 30 minimum (+15 minutes breather time)
Every bride wants her day to be perfect and this is where it all starts. Make sure you let your Hair & Make-Up Artist know when the photographer will arrive. Ask them to be very close to done when the photographer is due to arrive. This way we don’t lose any time waiting for makeup or hair to be finished.
Ask your bridesmaids to help clean up the room a bit; cluttered spaces don’t give a nice feel to the photos. Bathrooms are usually a good place to store extra bags or stuff that will not be needed for the actual getting dressed.
Make sure to have all your detail that you want to be photographed ready for the photographer, for example, your dress (make sure you have a nice hanger for the photos), shoes, any jewelry, flowers, garters, perfume, etc. I usually do this first while you are still busy with the last touch-ups of your make-up or hair.
If the bride and bridesmaids have special gowns of shirts that they would like to be photographed in before they get dressed, this needs to happen quickly so that everyone can get dressed and help the bride into her dress. If mom has to help with the dress, make sure she is dressed as she should be for the photos.
Up to here shouldn’t take me more than 15 minutes. Less would be even better.
Once it is time for the bride to get into her dress, I will give you some privacy and let you pull up the dress up till where you are decently covered. I would like to capture that buttons or ribbon being laced up.
Next will be jewelry, shoes then garter. If you want someone specific to help you put on any of these, they should already be dressed for the photos. It makes a very pretty picture if all the bridesmaids are finished and stand around helping the bride.
Hopefully, by now only 30 minutes have passed since I arrived.
A few portraits of the bride will then be taken without the veil. Once that is done we can put on the veil and take a few more portraits with the veil on. I usually ask for the flowers to be here for a few photos as well, so make sure we have something to towel the flowers dry. We don’t want to make the beautiful wedding dress wet.
Once the bride’s portraits are done and there is still more time left, we do a few with her and her girls.
If dad comes to fetch her we love to take that first look of total amazement from dad as he sees his beautiful daughter in her wedding dress.
I like to add in an extra 15 minutes after my photos are done, I do not charge for these 15 minutes. This I call the breather minutes. This is to take a breath, you’re dressed and almost ready to go. Take the time to make sure you have everything you need. If we are a little behind and want more photos for portraits of didn’t get some with the girls, this is the time to do that as well.
The Ceremony is what the entire day is all about! It is also the part of the day where we as photographers have the least control in the sense of posing or telling you how to stand or how to look. So this is all basically up to you… but do not fear we have total confidence that you will still be amazingly beautiful and truly handsome while you tie the knot.
Typically I will always try to arrive at the ceremony before the bride. I will try and get a quick photo of the groom with his groomsmen as they stand at the altar waiting for the bride.
I usually ask the bride to wait for me in the wedding car. This way I know you won’t catch me off guard and miss you entering and we can also get a few photos of you in the car.
Once the Ceremony is over the MC or Preacher would ask everyone to get their confetti ready while the register is being signed.
Usually, everyone wants to congratulate the newly wedded couple and this can sometimes take up a lot of time. I will always let you have some time with your friends and family for that, but please bear with me if I start to hurry it along after a while.
Some tips and tricks
Once the bride starts walking down the aisle, I will be at the front, photographing the bride as she walks as well as tries and gets the groom’s reaction. To help me get both if the bride has a very short aisle to walk down, try not to run down that aisle. Give everyone time to look at your beautiful gown and appreciate the moment. Also, ask your bridesmaids to look up as they walk down the aisle, I get so many photos of bridesmaids who never look up and all you see is hair and no face.
When the moment comes to put on the rings, please don’t just slip it on to get it over with, keep your hand on the ring for just a few seconds longer to make sure I have that very special moment. The same with the kiss… this is your moment you have been waiting for, finally, you belong to each other and you may kiss each other with no restraint, forget about the spectators for just a min and enjoy that first kiss.
Most of the time Couples will tell me 30 minutes is too long, they don’t have that many family members. I would rather have enough time than accidentally too little.
Getting everyone to be in the right place usually takes time. There is always someone who didn’t know they were supposed to be in the photos. Or one member has another idea of who needs to be in a quick photo as well.
Try and make a list before the wedding and either send it to me to take along on the wedding day or give it to your bridesmaid or someone who might know most of the people on the list, to make sure they are all present.
Big group photos of all your guests are usually also taken here before we start with the smaller groups of family members.
If there is time left, we can either start earlier with the bridal party photos and have a bit longer for more fun or you can decide to mingle with your guests for a little bit.
This could be the time where we have the most fun.
Your bridal party is usually chosen with a lot of consideration. Close friends, family members, in other words, people that you know well and know you well. So let’s kick off those shoes (only if you want to) and have some fun.
This is the part where the magic happens! This are the photos you would want to brag with or even show your children one day. This are the photos that people will talk about. The newly wedded couple will spend an hour alone with me where we capture those romantic photos of just the two of you. We usually try and do this as late as the sun will permit us, for that soft golden hour glow.
I will usually help with posing but that magical romantic look into his/her eyes is all up to you. Create your own magic, kiss if you want to kiss, laugh if you want to laugh. I will strive to make you feel as comfortable and as much you, as I can 🙂
I spend as much time as the package allows at your reception. Ideally, I would like to get all the important parts on camera, but the layout of how the evening proceed is usually out of my hands and up to the co-coordinators, the food, and the speeches.
Some couples make the most of the time I’m there, by cutting the cake when they do their walk-in or walk straight to the dance floor and do their first dance. With this, all done the speeches can take their time and people can enjoy their food. The reception is, after all, supposed to be the fun and party part of the day!
Few tips that I have learned over the years, to get that nice flow of things, plan the evening as follow (this is if you haven’t already done any of these things with the walking) : Cut the Cake, Throw the flowers and the Garter and then open the dance floor. Once the people started dancing and having fun they don’t like to be stopped and usually, precious time is wasted by just getting everyone to sit back down for another event to happen.