Your Wedding Timeline: How to Plan the Picture Perfect Day
By Esther Dawson

18 May 2016

When a bride is asked what time her ceremony will be, most will nervously giggle and chirp, “Good question!” Figuring out a timeline for your wedding day can ensure it runs smoothly, so you and your partner can enjoy those special moments – free of stress.

One of the first things to consider is how you will structure your day - there are a few options. You could take the traditional route and have your ceremony before your bridal photos, or maybe break from tradition and have a first look with your bridal portraits before your ceremony. Here is a photographer’s take on pacing out the big day.

Image by Alex de Freitas

Brides Preparations: 3-5 hours

Anticipation is at it’s highest and the atmosphere is at fever pitch!  All the girls are looking gorgeous and the bride is having the last touches of hair and makeup attended to. During this time all the little details are photographed, the dress, the shoes, any jewelry you will be wearing, what perfume you’re wearing, and the items you’ve set aside for your “something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue”. Your hair and makeup will be finished shortly so the final touches will be photographed. An overall view of the room and its atmosphere will be captured for you to look back on and remember with fondness. Usually your bridesmaids and family members will be dressed before you, and then time will need to be taken for you to put your dress on! This can take a while if you’ve chosen a lace up dress, so make sure you set some time aside well ahead of leaving for the ceremony. If time allows, you’ll have photos with your bridesmaids and parents before leaving for the ceremony.

Ceremony: 30 minutes

The most important part of your wedding day – the moment you make it official and pledge your love to one another. For most weddings the ceremony is roughly 30 minutes long, however this can obviously be adjusted to suit.  

Congrats: 15 minutes

Everyone is going to be in the mood for celebrating your love!  You might like to allow 15 minutes in your timeline to say hello and mingle with your guests, or help yourself to a glass of champagne. You’ll be shown all the love in the world with lots of hugs, smiles, and ladies wanting to see that massive ring of yours!

Image by Alex de Freitas

Family/Group Photos: 30 minutes

Compiling a list of group photos you’d like and sending it to your photographer before your wedding day is essential. It pays to have your celebrant or pastor announce that family photos will be following your ceremony so that everyone is aware and they don’t disappear for any reason after the ceremony. Also give a copy to your MC or someone who is familiar with most of the people so that they can help gather people together and announce who is in the next photo.

Bridal Party Photos: 1.5 hours

Once the official part of the day is finished, it’s time to relax! While having your photos taken probably isn’t what you had in mind in terms of relaxation, it is nice to make sure that you allow yourself some time to breathe, take in your day and have some laughs with each other and your friends. This period of time will include some fun photos with your bridal party, along with some more romantic and quiet moments of just the two of you. It’s a great way to reflect on the day so far and have a bit of time together before enjoying the rest of your evening.

Image by Alex de Freitas

Reception: 1 hour upwards

Finally - Your chance to sit down! Now is the time to revel in the atmosphere, take in the speeches and cut some serious moves on the dance floor! The timing for this section of your wedding will obviously differ depending on how you structure things, so it’s best to discuss this with your chosen photographer. But it could be anything from covering your arrival and the details of the reception space, right through to your first dance, or in some cases you might like your photographer to stay the entire evening and photograph you and your partner leaving the venue, running off to enjoy your honeymoon!​