Planning your wedding day is about securing venues and vendors but this blog talks about a planning must-have that will help organise your day.
I’m referring to a Wedding Day Timeline.
Creating a tailored timeline is a simple way to have the vendors, wedding party and close family on the same page.
And whilst this blog prioritises wedding photography, you can include every vendor in your timeline too.
Below I’ve covered off my best wedding day timeline planner advice (based on a more traditional wedding). You can easily adapt this plan for a not so traditional wedding too.
A guide to your wedding photography timeline planner
When you’re planning your day, it might be hard to see your future self holding a finished wedding album….
Allocating time for photography at each stage of the day is key to creating a wedding album that tells the story of the day you said ‘I do’.
How do you ensure the narrative of your day is captured? It’s about breaking the day into stages.
There are 8 key wedding photography stages on your day:
- Before the ceremony- Preparation
- First Look (Optional)
- The Ceremony
- Group Photo
- Family Photos
- Bridal Party Photos
- Newlywed Photos
- Reception Photos
Before the Ceremony
Allow 1 hour for Partner 1 (Groom) and 1.5 hours for Partner 2 (Bride)
Your day begins with preparation (getting ready). This is where I capture details (shoes, accessories, invitations, rings etc) and the wedding party with their closest family.
I usually spend 1 hour with Grooms and 1.5 hours with Brides.
Alternatively, some couples choose for the Groom to have photos at the ceremony location 45 minutes before the ceremony.For the Bride- Hair and make-up needs to be completed 2 hours before you will leave for the ceremony. This allows half an hour for dressing before I arrive.
Photographer Tip- Allow extra time for dressing. This includes guys because bow ties, cuff links and suspenders can be fiddlier than anticipated.
Allow 1-2 hours
A first look photo shoot is perfect for couples who wish to glimpse each other before the ceremony.
Some couples choose this option due to timing restrictions ie limited time between ceremony and reception.
Some couples just want a more intimate setting to lay eyes on each other for the first time.
The wonderful thing about a first look is it can happen anywhere and as most venues don’t allow pets to attend the ceremony, this is an ideal opportunity for pet lovers to include their furry friends on the day.
Photographer tip- Organise the timing with the car company.
Allow up to 1.5 hours
Photo coverage of your ceremony includes the setting, close ups of styling, the waiting wedding party, guests, walking the aisle, being given away, vows, exchange of rings, the kiss, signing of the register and leaving as newlyweds.
Religious ceremonies usually run from 1-1.5 hours with a typical ceremony conducted by a celebrant running for around 30 minutes (including signing documents).
Photographer tip- To help plan your timeline, ask your marriage officiant how long your ceremony will run.
After the Ceremony
Group Photos- Allow up to 30 minutes
A group photo is something a traditional wedding usually includes.
Photographer Tip- Consider how many guests you have and logistics for elderly guests ie are they mobile and/ or can they access the group photo location.
Allow up to 1 hour
Weddings mean so much to loved ones and especially family. This time is for family members who weren’t part of the preparation photos and I also photograph the couple with each of their immediate families.
Photographer Tip – The process is more efficient when there is a list of important family groups that need to be photographed.
On the day, the list can be managed by a friend or family member who:
- Knows most guests
- Will effectively communicate to family members who need to hang around
- Prepare and group families according to the list
Whilst you might want to run this part, it’s your day off so give the role to someone. (Trust me).
Once you’ve created your family photo list, I’ll happily review it and provide an idea of how much time to allocate.
Wedding Party Photos
Allow 30 mins – 1 hour
This is where the wedding party can enjoy each other’s company. I curate a combination of moments- from more structured photos to relaxed and candid shots.
Photographer Tip- If moving to a new location, remember to add extra time for transport.
1 hour minimum
This is often the first chance to look each other in the eye and enjoy one another’s company. I guide but also allow space and distance for you to be with one another. These shots are natural, intimate and will become some of your favourites.
Photographer tip- Book your cars for 30 minutes after the reception start time. Extra time provides a buffer for things like traffic and eliminates the pressure of being charged more by the hire company.
I’ll capture the reception venue along with styling details like table settings, the wedding cake and guest favours.
Depending on the time the reception begins, I may steal you away for more photos. I love to make use of golden hour (when the sun is going down and the lighting makes for very romantic photos).
Photography Tip – Find out the reception finish time, then work out the most important moments to capture ie newlywed entrance, cutting the cake, speeches, first dance, father-daughter dance, dancing with any children you may have and leaving the reception.
An extra note about Melbourne Wedding Photography
– If you are planning a wedding in Melbourne consider the following:
Traffic and parking in Melbourne CBD- Moving about as a wedding party often means having an entourage. It’s a great idea to arrange reserved parking for the wedding cars, photographer and videographer.
Melbourne weather- We all know Melbourne weather is unpredictable so depending on the time of year, remember to bring umbrella’s (white or clear is best).
The power of an esky- If your hire cars won’t be supplying food, I recommend packing an esky full of food and drinks. A fed bridal party is always a happy one.
Once you’ve sorted all the details and created your wedding day timeline, you can relax and have fun on the most wonderful day of your life.
If you need help or advice bringing your wedding day timeline together, I would love to hear from you. Say hello to me here.