There’s no point planning things down to the exact minute
We all know how nice it feels to be stress-free, and getting married is a prime example of one of these times. The day goes past so quickly that any added stress will likely take you away from living and enjoying the present moment. As such, I’ve created a fun wedding timeline, packed full of stress-free wedding ideas that I use with all my clients to ensure that both of you get as much as possible out of your day without feeling overwhelmed.
It’s important to note that this timeline is completely adaptable to fit your plans for the day. We’ll talk a little more about that further down the article, but for now, let’s get started!
A Few Things to Remember
If you’re looking to create your own timeline, or adapt mine below, it’s essential to keep a couple of things in mind to make sure things play out the way you want them to. One of my best tips for a stress-free wedding is that you’re going to need to leave some ‘wiggle room’.
There’s no point planning things down to the exact minute, having a jam-packed timeline, and having to miss half of it out because something took longer than you expected. Instead, add five or ten minutes on either side or just know that you’ve got enough time to spare in case something takes longer than you thought. If you’re wondering “how can I make my wedding more fun?” scheduling everything down to the minute is not the way to go!
On the subject of extra time, another good idea is to have some sort of buffer on your travel to and from a location. Getting to a certain place might only take ten minutes, but that doesn’t account for getting in and out of cars, parking or even traffic. You shouldn’t need to add much time to your clock, but just don’t make things so tight that they’re unachievable.
Before kicking off with the timeline information, it’ll be essential to state that of course, not all couples include a bride and a groom. The below outlines what time is reasonable for both bridal prep and groom prep. The best and easiest way to build your own custom timeline is to take the below as advice, then if you’re wearing a suit and limited/no makeup for the day, follow ‘The Groomsmen’ and if you’re wearing a dress for the day follow ‘The Bride’ timings.
Preparations: The below timelines are created as a rough guide and include timings for both Groom preparations and Bride preparations.
Now, let’s actually get to the stress-free wedding timeline!
The Groomsmen: 45 Minutes
First up is the boys. Ideally, I like to arrive after you’ve showered, hairs done and you’re just chilling out with everyone before you get completely dressed. I would recommend being in your pants and a shirt but stop there, we'll do the details together. This way I can capture a more whole and authentic version of your day. It’s a time that’s filled with all sorts of emotions and so perfect to shoot on camera.
I start with the groomsmen before the bride because there are normally fewer moving parts, and fewer things to figure out. So by shooting the guys first, we can give the bride time for hair and makeup, dress, etc.
We'll allow for travel time between. I look on google maps how long it will take then always add 10 minutes. This is a great buffer for me and includes walking to parked cars, packing bags and getting out again on the other side.
The Bride: 1 Hour
Next up I’ll be visiting the bride. Once again, it’s great to arrive at the time when you’re just chilling out with your girlfriends before you’ve got the dress on. That way, I can capture an honest and authentic version of your day with all the emotions from start to finish. This is such a fantastic time to get photos because it really adds to the narrative of the day. When you look through your prints at a later date, these will be the first photos you look at and it’s this part of your wedding that will set the scene for everything else.
I spend a little longer here because, as I said above, there are more moving parts and I want to be sure I can capture all of them. Any areas with big windows that let in a lot of natural light are always great places to take photos, so keep that in mind when I turn up. It’s also important to make sure hair and makeup have arrived early enough so you can make it to the ceremony at the time you should. There’s nothing worse than falling behind on your own schedule due to someone else’s mess up!
Once I've arrived the timeline will go a little like this:
- Photos of you and your tribe pre-dressed stage. Have a Champagne, have a laugh, it's all about the energy. This is a great time for me to grab some photos of beautiful 'things' that are important to your day. Shoes, dress, jewellery... All those little details you spend a long time deciding on.
- Your bridesmaids / tribe will then get ready. It's important to give them a solid 10-15 minutes to focus on themselves. Give them that space and time, then afterwards it's all about YOU.
- Whilst they're getting ready, you / the bride can find a room and slip into her dress. It's awesome to get some help from somewhere here and I love having mum, a close family member or your maid of honour helping you to get in.
- If there is a father figure it's a beautiful moment to invite them into the room once you're dressed to have a 'daughter reveal'. This is genuinely such a beautiful moment to capture for a lifetime. Of course, every family is different and you may have someone else to invite in here, a sibling, parent or other important person.
- Time for your reveal to your bride tribe! I'll set them up somewhere outside your room and you can make your grand entrance!
- Once that's done, time for some photos of you all and I'm out of there to the ceremony
Before the Ceremony: Fifteen Minutes
I’ll arrive 15 minutes before the ceremony is due to begin which allows me to take photos of all your guests arriving. There are some fantastic opportunities for family and friends to see each other for the first time in ages that always make great pictures. I’ll also grab some photos of the ceremony venue, the reception area if it’s in the same place, and most importantly the groom realising what’s about to happen!
Note, if you've got a videographer booked for your day too then this will be more like 30 minutes, they need to set up all their audio equipment.
The Ceremony: Thirty Minutes
As a rough guide 30 minutes is standard for a civil ceremony. If you're doing a religious ceremony this may well take longer do something to keep in mind. As a wedding photographer on the Mornington Peninsula I’ve known them to be longer, and a lot shorter! It all depends on if everything beforehand has gone to plan or not. Things might seem extremely overwhelming at this point in the day, but it’s really important for you to take some time for yourself and ground yourself in the present moment. This is your day and you should enjoy every last moment of it.
So, go for it when you get told to kiss the bride! And when you’re walking back down the aisle, walk like the celebrity you are and take in every last drop of attention. Your photos will be full of happiness among other emotions and those will be the memories that will last a lifetime.
Ceremony Group Photo: Ten Minutes
Some people like big group photos and some don’t. The choice of whether you have one is entirely up to you. If the stress of funnelling everyone into a single location (ideally right after the ceremony) is too much to think about, give it a miss. Of course, you’ve got the best men and a whole host of helpers ready to lend a hand, but if you aren’t going to get any satisfaction from a giant group photo then don’t worry about it. If you’re running late on your timeline, this ten-minute section can be an absolute lifesaver.
Family Portraits: Fifteen Minutes
This is where you’ll get a chance to take some of the best photos of the day, but it takes a little bit of planning to make sure everything goes seamlessly. The first and most important thing to do, long before your wedding day, is write down a list of all the photos you want. Ideally, that’ll be as condensed as possible, but as long as you have a concrete list we’ll make sure you get the photos. This is a prime time to use some of your guests as helpers to round up those who need their photo taken. In fact, I’ve written an entire article about this, including having a dedicated guest wrangler!
Wedding Party Photos: Twenty Minutes
Wedding party photos are all about showing the connection between you all. Let’s make it funny, silly and as authentic as possible. A true representation of everyone’s relationship! Of course, we can still get the classic style photos as well, but starting off with the other type relaxes everyone and flows with the day a little bit better. Ill be playing music, we'll likely spray a bottle of champagne and really bring the energy! I suggest getting a couple of wedding party photos then letting them head back to the party. They're important to get, but time is precious so we should be very intentional with how we spend it.
Couples Portraits: 20 Minutes
Wedding days are A LOT. This is likely going to be the first time you and your (now!) husband or wife will have a moment to decompress. Finally, everything will begin to set in and you can start to think about the rest of your life. We’ll make this a really chilled-out shoot, almost like a mini retreat where you can relax a bit before the reception. If at any point you feel like you’re missing out or want to get back to socialising with your family and friends, just let me know! I suggest 20 minutes being enough time to get some gorgeous photos if we then have time for a sunset session later. If not (e.g. a winter wedding) then scheduling 30 minutes will be safer.
The Reception: Varies
It’s that time of day when everyone lets their hair down and you get to dance with your family and friends long into the night. My coverage of your reception in my 'All day Package' is 3 hours. This is enough time to capture your entrance, formalities, speeches and a bit of dance floor boogying and generally concludes around 9pm. If you're planning a later dance-floor or an epic sparkler sendoff you would like me to stay for then we can easily add on more hours at the end of the night.
Hopefully my guide on how to create a stress-free and fun wedding timeline has helped you figure out a plan in your head, and realise that with a little planning, the entire wedding day can be stress-free! Once again I must stress that your wedding day is yours. If there’s something you do or don’t want to be included on your timeline, just tell me and we’ll re-structure it to work around you.
If you’re still looking for a photographer or would like to discuss adaptations to this timeline for your own big day, send me a message and we can work together to plan a wedding without stress!