Planning a wedding day can seem rather very confusing at the start. Dealing with so many suppliers and venues can feel like a crazy schedule puzzle, but it’s actually not that bad once you know what the day will look like. This blog will be about how much time you need to allow for each section of the day, and what a day will look like from a photographer’s perspective.
The time frames I’ve given are based on what I recommend for my clients, so even if you book another photographer, you’ll need to check with them on how they work. Everyone works differently, but it should be similar though, so don’t worry. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. That’s what we’re here for 🙂
Getting Ready (before the ceremony)
Groom and groomsmen – you’ve got it pretty easy. Do your hair and pull on the suit and you’re done. Sounds quick doesn’t it? Well, as a photographer, I need around one hour with the groom for these ‘preparation’ photos. I usually advise the boys on what to do next for the shots, so it’s relatively easy.
Best advice I can give is learn how to do up a tie and remember that the boys will need to arrive at the ceremony much earlier than most guests
Bride and bridesmaids – you’ve got a big morning. If you’re getting your hair and makeup done, then ask your artists/stylists how long they need to complete everyone, then work backwards. I usually need all the ladies to be finished with hair styling and makeup by the time I arrive.
The start time for your stylists will vary depending on how many bridesmaids you have. Some ladies have even started at 5am! For photos, I need 90minutes at the bride’s house/hotel before I leave for the ceremony. Getting into the dress is often what takes the most time (corsets anyone?) so allow time for different dress types.
Ceremony, Congratulations & Group Photos
While ceremonies can be straight forward, some couples don’t think about afterwards when your guests want to congratulate you. Ceremonies conducted by a celebrant will last around 30minutes. Now that’s from the time that you walk down the aisle – not from the time you put on your invitations.
If you plan to be 10minutes late, then add that to the time you’ll finish your ceremony. Church ceremonies will go for around 40-45minutes (Priests naturally tend to talk a bit more about God and religion – they are passionate about it after all!) and if you’re having a full mass then you’re looking at around 60-70minutes.
The most popular ceremony start times are:
(3) 1.30pm / 2.30pm
After the formalities are over and you’re now officially married, your guests will line up to congratulate you.
This is where the number of people attending will affect the time it takes for everyone to say something to you. In most cases, 60 guests will take around 10-15minutes, 100 guests will take more like 20-30 minutes and 150 guests may take closer to 30-40 minutes.
These are estimates based on my personal experience, as some families are very succinct with their love while others will stay to chat for a bit.
Now for the obligatory family photos. It’s not the most exciting part of the day to be sure, but you and your families will put these photos up on the mantle to treasure. I like to keep the list simple so that we’re not standing around for hours on end taking a stream of photos of every person attending the wedding.
Normally I recommend a large photo of everyone at the start, then immediate family; mum & dad, grandparents and siblings etc. We can always save extended family and friend photos for the reception when we have a bit more time. Normally I allow around 15-20 minutes for family photos.
These are my favourite but I often get asked; “How long do you need for location photos?” While it varies and I normally don’t get a choice of how long to do the location photos because the ceremony and reception times are already set.
But if you’re reading this and haven’t got that locked in yet, I’d recommend a minimum of 1hr for the location photos. The best time is in the 2hrs just before sunset (you can Google sunset time for your wedding day) and go from there. Two hours is better if you’re traveling to different locations as this time includes travel.
Ah the part of the day where you get to have an amazing night with your guests! Most receptions begin at 6pm. Pre-dinner drinks often start at 5.30pm and so bridal entrance will be around 6.15pm depending on what the venue requires.
What you do for the rest of the night in regards to serving food will be discussed with the venue. I normally recommend for all the formalities (speeches, cake cutting and dances) to be completed before 9pm so that you and your guests have a good amount of time to dance, chat and relax.
When I leave the reception is really up to you. Some couples like for me to get the first hour of the night, do a couple of staged cake and dance photos and then leave them to enjoy the night. The other is for me to stay for all the important events and leave just after the bridal waltz once all the guests start to dance. This is often around 9/9.30pm. You could get me to stay until you leave, but it’s really up to you.
1hr – Partner 1 prep photos
1.5hrs – Partner 2 prep photos
30mins – Ceremony
30mins – Congratulations and family photos
1.5hrs – Location photos
6pm – Reception starts
9pm – Speeches, Cake Cut & First Dance completed
Well that’s it! Above I’ve included a easy timetable for you to allow for your photography. Please note that this timeline doesn’t include travel in between areas so don’t forget to add that in. Your wedding day might differ slightly, but at least it gives you a rough idea on what to expect. If you have any questions just feel free to contact me.