Wedding Timeline Guide
This Wedding Day Timeline is best for the couple looking to make the most out of their time with the photographer/videographer.
The morning of the wedding is the most important part of the day. This sets the momentum for the day and its very important to try and schedule your hair and makeup in such a way that you are not late for your ceremony. Maximum amount of time that any bride can be late is 20 minutes.
Where are you going to get ready?
If your ceremony is taking place at the venue, it’s always best to try and book a room at the venue. This ensures that should your morning run late, you don’t still have a 20 or 30-minute drive to the venue. If a room is not available, please make sure you are getting ready as close as possible to the groom or venue. The bride and groom need to be getting ready as close as possible to each other for the photographer to be able to get to both parties within a short period of time. If you are getting ready 30 minutes apart it ads 1 hour driving time between locations for the photographer to drive, which means its an hour where he could be shooting those little moments in between. So, keep the distances between you short. The same hotel with different rooms are ideal, or 2 guesthouses that are only a few minutes apart. (5 – 10 minutes at best)
When should the bride’s makeup be done?
The bride’s makeup is always done last.
Let’s say for example your wedding starts at 16:00, your makeup and hair should be done at 15:00. Please be sure to be done with makeup and hair ONE hour before the ceremony. Once makeup for all bridesmaids and the bride is done, please allocate 15 minutes for gown shots. These are the fun photos with all the girls in their branded gowns/t-shirts/slippers etc., 15 minutes for all bridesmaids to get dressed. Once all the bridesmaids are dressed they can now assist the bride with getting dressed. This should not take longer than 10 minutes. (5 minutes would be even better) The bride should NOT put on her shoes, jewellery or veil at this time. Once the bride is in her dress and ready to be zipped/buttoned up, please call your photographer back in the room to shoot the zipping/buttoning up of the dress. Its always nice to have your mom/grandma or maid of honour do this.
Now that the dress is on you can start with your shoes, followed by earrings and any other accessories that you wish to wear. Leave the veil for last.
There should now be about 25 – 20 minutes left before the ceremony. Now is the time for formal portraits of the bride by herself, photos with each bridesmaid and whomever is present. Fun group shots are also possible.
You are now ready to head to the church/venue/ceremony area.
P.S : Please remember to eat throughout the morning as you most likely will only eat much later in the day.
Groom Getting Ready:
Unfortunately, due to time restrictions, the groom and groomsmen need to be showered and ready to get dressed 1 hour and 45 minutes before the ceremony. As the photographer needs to be back with the bride one hour before the ceremony time is very limited for the groom and his groomsmen. This gives the photographer 20 minutes to shoot the getting ready and 20 minutes for portraits and fun photos (drinks/cigars/underwear/sexy socks etc)
If the groom is getting ready more than 10 minutes away from the bride, they would need to be ready earlier to allow traveling time for photographer to get back to the bride. (Getting ready close together is again ideal)
Once the photographer arrives at the groom, please have all the shoes, belts, cuffs, gifts and anything that might be important ready to be photographed first.
Everyone can then get dressed, accept for shoes, ties, cuffs and jackets. What makes for good photos are guys helping each other with ties, cuffs etc. Pinning flowers on each other etc.
Again, the groom will do his shoes, cuffs, tie and jacket last.
Once this is done, its time to do some shots of the guys either having a quick drink, smoking some cigars or just a couple of fun group shots. Thereafter formal portraits will also be shot. (if everything ran on schedule)
The groom needs to leave for the church/venue now to greet guests.
When should the venue/tables/decor be ready?
It is important to have your tables and décor 100% ready and complete at least 3 hours before the ceremony. The photographer only has the morning to shoot the table details and décor shots. Your cake does not need to be present then, but everything else should be complete to shoot. If your reception venue isn’t complete during the morning its really hard for the photographer to get another chance to shoot it in detail. There might be a few minutes later in the day to shoot it, but that’s not always the case. Its best to let your photographer shoot the tables in the morning and then use that 10 minutes later to shoot the tables with the candles lit if possible.
The Ceremony: (30 – 45 minutes)
Chat to your minister/pastor/dominee/officiant before hand about how long the ceremony will be. Most tend to be between 30 minutes and 45 minutes. Once you have decided on a duration it’s important that your minister/pastor/dominee/officiant understands that he needs to stick to that timeline. Some get carried away and preach for 20 minutes longer than allocated and this delays the rest of the days events or even cuts the couple shoot shorter by 20 minutes.
When planning your timeline, allocate 30/45 minutes for ceremony and 15 minutes for confetti and congratulations. Believe me, its not easy to get away from the crowd after confetti. Everyone wants to congratulate you and take a selfie, so best to allocate the extra time for this.
After confetti and a few minutes of hugs and kisses its time for the most dreaded part of the day. Family Photos.
Family Photos: (15 – 20 minutes)
This part of the wedding can be either really fun, quick and easy or painful, long and chaotic.
Its very important to make a list of who you want in your family photos. As the photographer has no idea what the extent of the family is or who is who.
Have someone present who knows everyone as well is not shy to get a group under control. Master of Ceremony is always a good pick to rally the family together for photos. Basically, which of your friends or family has the loudest mouth. Use that guy!
Family members tend to scatter after the ceremony, so keeping them together can sometimes (almost always) be a mission. So, speak to them ahead of time so that they know they will be needed for photos.
Only taking photos of immediate family and friends are always a good idea, to keep it short and sweet. Table/Group shots can always be done later during the night again.
Wedding Party Photos (15 – 20 minutes)
After family photos gather all your bridesmaids and groomsmen for some fun entourage photos. This is usually fun and quick. Just remind them that they will be needed soon after the ceremony for these photos.
Couple Shoot: (30 minutes – 45 minutes)
Finally, we get to the best part of the day, the first time you and your wife/husband get a moment to breath and just enjoy each other’s company. All you need to do is relax and enjoy the fact that you are now husband and wife. We will give instructions and give locations to shoot.
Please add time for travelling should you want photos at a different location as to the venue/ceremony area.
Its always good to bring a bridesmaid along to the couple shoot to help with your dress, veil or just hold your flowers.
A good idea is to bring some waters/champagne or snacks along for yourselves. Comfortable shoes are also great should there be some walking or climbing involved. We sometimes like to get our couples on a cliff, down in the sand or deep in a vineyard.
Hairpins and elastics are also advised to pin hair up, especially if its windy. Let your bridesmaid also keep lip-gloss or a small makeup touch up kit ready should the bride need a quick touch up during the photos.
The best time for photos is ONE hour before sunset. So, if the sun sets 19:00, the couple shoot would need to be from 18:00 – 19:00. This offers the best light for photos and skin tones.
So, when planning your timeline for the day, this is where you start. First you look at what time the sun sets and then work backwards from there.
Mid Summer Weddings (Western Cape Weddings)
For summer weddings (October to March) the sun tends to set late, anything from 19:00 to 20:00. This usually creates a problem. You don’t want to start your reception at 20:00, as you don’t want your guests to sit around and wait for 3 hours.
We therefore advise that the reception start early. Just after the Wedding Party Photos.
Let’s say for example you got married at 16:00, ceremony ended at 16:30, confetti, congratulations, family photos and wedding party shots all done by 17:30.
Its advised to start the reception at 17:30 – 18:00, have starters served or if no starters, begin some speeches. Once it then gets to the last hour of sunlight, we slip away and go do the couple shoot while your guests can mingle, have starters and grab a drink. Perhaps have a photo booth to keep them a little occupied. Your guests then are sitting and relaxing, they won’t have to wait very long. After the shoot, supper can be served, or speeches can continue.
The party starts now.
As with all receptions there are quite a few formalities to get out of the way. We therefore advise to do so as quickly as possible. Keep the list of speakers short and tell your guests to keep the speeches limited to 5 minutes each.
A few options to start the reception is: Do your first dance as you walk in or as you walk in cut your cake. Followed by speeches and then dinner.
Try and open the dancefloor by 20:30, Garter and Flower toss at 21:00 and if you haven’t cut the cake do so by 21:15 or 21:30.
By doing all these items early you can now focus on having fun and partying. Most of the older people will leave shortly after this time as well so you don’t want them missing anything.
By finishing all formalities by 21:30 you also allow you photographer enough time to shoot your guests dancing and having fun for at least a good 30 minutes.
- Groom and groomsmen be ready for photos 1 hour and 45 minutes before ceremony.
- Bride and bridesmaid’s makeup and hair done 1 hour before the ceremony.
- Keep the ceremony under 60 minutes. ( 30 – 45 minutes)
- Allocate 15 – 20 minutes for family photos and make a list of which family you want photos off.
- Allocate 15 – 20 minutes for Wedding Party Photos.
- Allocate 30 – 45 minutes for the couple shoot. Check what time the sun sets and allocate the shoot one hour before the sun sets.
- Have all reception formalities done by 21:30