Having a wedding day timeline really helps your wedding photographer

We need to know who will be where and at what time to make sure we catch all the action. As photographers we’re great at anticipating events and reactions but us documentary photographers also love the unexpected!

Wedding days NEVER run to schedule.

You may wake up in the morning and feel like you have all the time in the world, which is great, but it soon goes. Hair and makeup ALWAYS takes longer than you think and something usually goes astray and someone has to go and find it. Little things you thought would go smoothly might not; the trick is not to stress. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect and run like clockwork in order for you to have an amazing day you’ll treasure for the rest of your life.

But having a basic timeline so we can see how things will pan out during the day is essential – even if it doesn’t pan out that way! The venue or your wedding planner will help you create a timeline. It’s worth bearing in mind how the time of day will affect your wedding photos and bear this in mind when building your timeline.

A general timeline might look something like this;

  • Hair and makeup arrival time (always leave extra time for these guys!)
  • Time of arrival of guests and groom
  • Any transport arrival time
  • Time of dad going to collect the bride
  • Time of ceremony
  • Time of wedding breakfast
  • Time of cocktail hour
  • Time of speeches
  • Time of cake cutting
  • Time of 1st dance
  • Anything inbetween that is important to the day

If your ceremony and reception are in different locations

It’s even more important to have these if the ceremony location is different to the getting ready and reception locations as we need to plan in advance the time it takes to get from one location to another. Inbetween you will also need a few minutes with the registrar, so always allow time for this too.

Group photos

If you are wanting group photos, these are best done immediately after the ceremony while everyone is still around; start with the big group shot and then release people who are no longer needed in the photos. Group photos are another part of the day that sap the time – keep them to a minimum and your guests will thank you for it. You will also need to have decided on at least 1 or 2 people who will help round people up on the day so your photographer can concentrate on getting the photos right and not looking for people in the loo. It’s a good idea to forewarn them before the day arrives so they’re prepared (and not drunk).

How long do we need for photos?

An hour may seem like a long time for photos but it soon goes, and if you’re wanting lovely portraits of you as a couple and candids of people congratulating you and having fun then it;’s best to keep group portraits to a handful at most. I recommend between an hour and a half to two hours for photos. Although if you’re happy to pop out with me in the evening when the light is at its best then this could be less.