We left it to the very last minute. Who needs to create a perfect wedding day timeline when you are laid back and relaxed and so is your family?
So we sketched a vague schedule with the time for our important bits of the day and left the rest out. Bad decision.
A wedding day timeline is so essential and even necessary if you are planning an elopement. Heck, a timeline or a checklist is required to do day to day tasks, so a wedding day where so many vendors, family and friends are involved, it’s even more crucial.
So after we learned our lesson and quickly studied what some of our best couples were doing and works out the best for everyone involved including your photographers, we took notes.
We are putting together 6 years of our experience as wedding photographers in this one Blog Post so you can create a working timeline.
No pressure here Sirjana and Ben – says the crazy voices inside our heads.
Breathe in aaaaand here we go:
How to create a perfect wedding day timeline
Start your planning form the non-negotiables for a perfect wedding timeline. Here are some parts of the day that you can flesh your timeline around.
The Family Portraits
Wedding party Photos
Your romantic photos of the two of you
Let’s start with these least flexible parts and we will work our way from there.
Ceremony (20 – 30 minutes): Barring the lengthy religious or ethnic ceremonies an average wedding ceremony takes around 20 to 30 minutes.
First things first, before you decide the time of your ceremony make sure you have considered 2 things:
If you are having an outdoor wedding, the position of the sun is very important for you, your guests and your photos. The best time to have a wedding ceremony if you an outdoor wedding in a summer month is to have it later in the day when the guests can sit comfortably without squinting their eyes or wishing for a cool breeze so they can enjoy and participate in your beautiful ceremony. We have seen guests pass out during a hot summer mid-day ceremonies. It also works out beautifully for your photos as you won’t have any sharp shadows on your face.
Secondly, make sure that you have at-least 30 minutes before the ceremony as a buffer room to breathe and relax before your moment.
It’s good to take some time to centre yourself, get all the hugs and fondly think of your favourite human you are going to see at the end of that aisle.
Family Portraits (30 minutes) – Make sure you send the names of your photo groupings i.e. different groups of people you want your portraits with on your wedding day to your photographer and your MC ahead of time.
Ready to earn some bonus points?
Let these people know in advance that you would like a photo with them after your ceremony and then let your celebrant announce that there will be family photos after the ceremony so that people stick around.Bada bing – bonus points are yours and you get your big group photo and your family photos were taken hassle and stress-free. You win more time with everyone at your wedding actually celebrating your beautiful day and not hustling.
Wedding Party Photos and couple photos (1hr and 30 minutes). We suggest our couples allocate an hour and a half for these photos.
Now, these are the gorgeous photos that couples generally get printed to hang on their walls so it’s important that light is perfect for them.
Which is why a late afternoon ceremony works wonders for these photos as you will get them just around the golden hour of the day.
If you are, however, intending to get these photos done before your ceremony and are planning a first look (a great decision, you won’t regret it – more about it in our next blog), there is a work around the light situation!
For the weddings that have a ‘first look’ + wedding party and couple portraits done before the ceremony – we always make sure to steal our couples for that first sunset of their marriage.
You get to witness your first sunset as a married couple together and we document that very emotional and romantic moment for the two of you. Its the best of both worlds and you can factor 10-15 minutes for this.
Reception (3 to 4 hours) – Who does not like to part-ay eh?!. This is such a happy part of your day.
As photographers we absolutely adore listening to the fantastic speeches, capturing the reactions on everyone’s faces and generally photographing the vibe of the evening and the love and nostalgia in the air.
Our advice here is that everything will go smoothly if you plan these key details:
1. Make a grand entrance (allow 10 minutes) and then you can opt to go straight into cutting the cake which generally indicates that the party has started – plus it keeps the applause going.
This also means that after dinner there will be no waiting around for the cake. (allow 10 minutes for the cake cutting)
2. Speeches – Divide the time for speeches before and after the dinner to keep the variety alive, everyone entertained and allowing for toilet breaks. You don’t want people to walk out as the speeches are in progress.
3. After your first dance ( allow 10 minutes) immediately open the floor up for everyone and dance your night away.
The unplanned moments for a perfect wedding timeline
Some moment are simply unplanned. These include time for multiple hugs, power shortages, missing perfume bottles, traffic jams, your and your loved one’s overflowing emotions on the day. You cannot plan for these and you shouldn’t have to. These are the moments which you will look back on for years to come and will give your day its unique flavour. Which is why we always suggest our couples to have the non-negotiables immaculately planned with plenty of buffer room in and around them.
The often overlooked moments for a perfect wedding timeline.
Getting into the wedding dress(20 minutes): The dresses that tie up beautifully at the back are notoriously known for taking longer on the day than what you experienced at the bridal shop.
We suggest taking your time and not rushing through these moments. Even if your dress slips in effortlessly – take some time to twirl in it and soak in all the gasps and compliments. You are worth it.
Last minute touch ups: The stress is high on the day. Sometimes we miss some things. We had a bride once accidentally lock her mother in at home before leaving for the ceremony.
Yes! Crazy things happen – that’s why we suggest leaving in a buffer for 5 – 10 minutes for everything you plan before the ceremony. After your ceremony, things start to flow like water cause the nerves are not standing in anyone’s way anymore.
Receiving line (20 to 30 minutes): Most couples forget to factor in the line at the end of their walk after the ceremony.
There will be people waiting to give the two of you hugs and kisses and congratulatory pats and high fives.
So pass on your bouquet to your bridesmaids and soak in every bit of beautiful wishes coming your way.
So there you have it! Helping out people in love who are planning their wedding day is our heart. If we can help in any way make your wedding just a bit more special- let us know.
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Also if you want help with planning your own personalised timeline don’t forget to ask your photographer or just subscribe below and we will send you a standard day wedding timeline.
Our couples will tell you that having their photographer help create a timeline for their day is real stress-buster.
Stay rad xo,
Sirjana and Ben
Wedding photographers for couples who are madly in love.