I need a wedding timeline! HELP!! Advice from a wedding photographer

Where Do I Start?

Wedding timeline: it leaves tons of confusion and anxiety in its wake. While there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution, sitting down and planning out the various aspects of your big day needn’t be a nightmare.

So, make yourself a cup of tea (or get a glass of wine ready), sit in your favourite comfy chair, keep a pen and paper handy and ask yourself the following:

Before the Ceremony

  • What time can you arrive at the venue and what time do you need to leave?This is a good place to start as it will form the frame for the entire day.
  • How far apart are the locations where you will be getting ready, the ceremony and the reception?Travel times are often forgotten if these three venues are some distance apart and it does eat away at the daylight hours
  • How many hours do you have the services of your photographer  and/or videographer for?Be sure to confirm with you service providers. It should be sufficient to have them arrive ±2 hours before the start of the ceremony but adjust this as needed.
  • How long will hair and make-up for the entire bridal party take?Makeup takes about 30 – 40 minutes per person and hair 40 – 60 minutes. Therefore, this part of the day will greatly depend on the size of the bridal party, the number of stylists and available working space.

During and After the Ceremony

  • When does the sun set?An especially important consideration if you want those dreamy golden hour photos from your bridal couple session. Liaise with suppliers, but your couple photos can take anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes. Just keep in mind that you have guests waiting for you.
  • How long will the ceremony be?Depending on the kind of service you want or which religion you belong to, ceremonies last an average of 45 minutes, check with your officiant. Also remember to leave about 15 minutes after the ceremony for guests to congratulate you and your new husband.
  • How many family formal photos will you want to be taken?A short shot list with the most important people in the bride and groom’s lives and someone to organise the groups will help keep this part of the day to about 20 minutes.

The Reception

  • How many people will be giving speeches? And how long will each last?Each family is unique and while it would be fantastic to give everyone a turn to speak, it’s advisable to keep it to only the most important people and allow each no more than about 5 minutes. A clever idea is to have the speeches take place while guests are having their starters.
  • Will you be doing a first dance? Parent’s dance?These dances work well right after the starters and speeches. Following which, allow the guests to loosen their joints to a few numbers and then go straight into the main course.
  • Will you be cutting the cake and do the bouquet and garter toss?Try and fit them in one right after the other as soon as possible after the main meal. Do the bouquet and garter toss, followed by cutting the cake. Then it’s time to announce dessert and the dance floor officially open. Try to keep idle time between the formalities of the reception to a minimum, as guests tend to become restless and drift off in different directions.

But remember…

No wedding ever runs 100% on time. As a result there will be delays. Just relax, breath in deeply and don’t allow a small hiccough to turn your special day upside down. Most of all, enjoy every moment of this magical day as it tends to fly by at the speed of light.


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