Staying on schedule can be a challenge, things can happen that set you back 20-30 minutes and there is nothing you can do about it but try and make the best of the situation. I always assist my clients in compiling a timeline that is customized to their day and allocates time slots in accordance with what is important to them. The timeline is a great tool to keep everyone (vendors, bride, groom, bridal party and family) on track but it's not set in stone and is a guideline. Things more often than not run a little late at almost every wedding so make sure to set aside some extra time for every part of your day.
You hear it time and time again, guests complaining that the photographer has kept the newly married couple away for hours on end. I fully understand where they are coming from having been a guest myself and waiting for what can feel like forever, from being a service provider trying to ensure everything runs according to schedule as well as being a bride myself and hoping that my photographer captures every special moment.
Timelines can be the #1 cause of stress at weddings. It's difficult to plan something that you've never done before. That's why, if your budget will allow, investing in a wedding coordinator to manage everything on the day can be so beneficial. If this isn't an option, there are some things you could keep in mind to make everything as stress free as possible. You should be able to enjoy your day and not worry about a thing.
Having a clear idea of your timeline will help you decide how many hours of coverage you would need from your service providers. It also assists in letting your service providers know when their job needs to be completed by.
From a photography point of view I work back my timeline from sunset. The last hour before sunset is usually the PERFECT time for your couple photos and we want to utilize this time for some beautiful photographs of just you two.
As mentioned above, things might run a bit late on the day so I always like to allocate a little extra time than necessary. Sometimes depending on the location of your venue and where you are getting ready, we may need to factor in additional time to allow for travel between the two.
I’m always flexible to adapt to changes and circumstances on the day but my timing would usually look more or less like this:
Venue & Decor 45 mins - 1 hour
Guys getting ready 45 mins – 1 hour
Girls getting ready 2 – 2.5 hours
Ceremony 30/45 mins
Family photos 30 minutes
Bridal party pics 30/45 mins
Couple shoot 45 mins – 1 hour
Reception 3 - 4 hours
A GREAT TIP is to make sure you plan 10-15 minutes after returning from the couple shoot, before you walk into your reception, to freshen up; top up with some perfume, touch up your make-up and hair or simply to go to the loo before entering your reception. Usually you'll get straight into the formalities for the evening and there won't be time for those things then. It's also the perfect opportunity to spend a few moments together, on your own, with your brand new husband/wife.
Depending on which package you choose and what time of the year your wedding is, your timeline may look something like this. For this example let’s say sunset is around 18:00 and you’ve booked 12 hours of coverage:
09:50 - I arrive at wedding venue
10:00 – 11:00 Photograph groom & groomsmen getting ready
11:00 – 12:00 Photograph decor & venue
12:00 – 12:45 Photograph bride's details & casual photos
12:45 - Hair and make-up to be complete
13:00 - Bridesmaid to get dressed
13:15 - 13:45 Bride gets dressed
13:45 - 14:15 Photos with bridesmaids, parents and siblings
14:30 – 15:00 Ceremony
15:00 – 15:30 Canapes & mingling
15:30 – 16:00 Family photos
16:15 – 17:00 Bridal party photos
17:00 – 18:00 Couple shoot
18:00 - Guest enter reception
18:15 - Couple walk into reception
18:30 - Speeches
19:30 - Dinner
20:30 - First dance
21:00 - Father/daughter dance
21:30 - Garter & bouquet toss
22:00 - I say goodbye
Should you prefer a custom package, we can work out the hours slightly different, depending on whether you would like me to capture more of you getting ready or rather have me stay a bit longer at the party. I usually stay for at least 30 minutes after the dance floor is open to capture the dancing.
I will always be flexible on the day. This sample timeline is a mere guideline for some peace of mind that all important individuals know what is supposed to happen and when. I hope this helps to give you a bit of an idea of what most weddings look like photography wise. Also remember, you can plan your day exactly as YOU would like it to be. If you would rather have a morning ceremony, a lunch time reception and skip the whole garter/bouquet toss, that is entirely up to you!