Wedding timeline tips

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 their frustration 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 co-ordinator 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. I want you 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 chosen vendors. It also assists in letting your service providers know when their job needs to be completed by.

Courtney Dale Photography - Wedding Photography

Best time for photos

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 | 30 - 45 minutes

Guys getting ready | 45 minutes – 1 hour

Girls getting ready | 2 – 2.5 hours

Ceremony | 30 - 45 minutes

Family photographs | 30 minutes

Bridal party photographs | 30 - 45 minutes

Couple's creative photographs | 45 minutes – 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.

Courtney Dale Photography - Wedding Photography
Courtney Dale Photography - Wedding Photography

Sample timeline

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!

Courtney Dale Photography - Wedding Photography