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Wedding Day

THE ULTIMATE 

 SCHEDULE 

HAVING A WELL-THOUGHT-OUT WEDDING DAY TIMELINE PLAYS A CRITICAL PART OF HOW RELAXED (OR HOW STRESSED) YOU WILL BE ON YOUR VERY SPECIAL DAY!

PLANNING YOUR WEDDING DAY TIMELINE

Where Do You Start?

One of the trickiest things about putting together a wedding is figuring out your wedding day timeline. I know this isn’t the most exciting aspect of the wedding day, but this is the one thing that can make or break your photography!

The last thing you want on your wedding day is to feel rushed! There is enough emotion already, and you don’t want any stress and panic by not having a proper timeline in place! Now depending on the time of year you are getting married, these times will change. 

Even though most couples know that wedding photographers role is to take photos most don’t realize how big a role your photographer will play on your wedding day. We love to work with our clients to help them get the most out of their wedding photography investment, and one of the most important tasks is the timeline. 

 

Wedding Timeline Breakdown

Let’s walk through the list of key points of your wedding day. Here you decide what additional points you need to add, such as a first look, or additional wedding games. The key points of your wedding day timeline include:

  • Couples Prep

  • Ceremony

  • Bridal Party Photos

  • Family Formal Wedding Photos

  • Couples Formal Portraits

  • Reception

     

Wedding Day Schedule and Timings: How long should everything take on your wedding day?

I wanted to give you all an overview of the timings of a typical wedding day in the Western Cape. This is a suggestion from the weddings I have attended and been to ask to photograph. Not all Cape Town weddings will be the same but this is a good foundation to start with your wedding timeline writing.

 

HOW LONG DOES HAIR AND MAKEUP TAKE?

All together you should set aside about 2-2.5 hours for your hair & makeup.

Having your hair and makeup timings just right is really important. This is where you can really upset your wedding schedule if you get behind. Brides normally allow about 2 - 2.5 hours to get ready for hair and makeup for their bridal party and themselves.

Typically bridal prep can vary depending on different reasons, such as:

  • the size of your bridal party

  • the complexity of the hairstyles and makeup for each person

  • travel time between where you get ready and where the ceremony will be held.

All of these can contribute to the timing for getting ready, which is why it is really important to plan well in advance.

 

HOW WILL MY PHOTOGRAPHER USE THE BRIDAL PREP TIME FOR PHOTOS?

Typically the photographer will arrive about 60 minutes before the end of this time and start photographing details and candid getting ready shots.

IDEAL PHOTOGRAPHY TIME NEEDED - 60 minutes

IDEAL LOCATION – Bridal Suite or Hotel Suite or another location chosen by the couple.

This first part is focusing on getting as many details shots as possible (such as photos of the dress(es) and/or suit(s), rings, shoes, stationery, flowers) and then document the getting ready process (hair, makeup, dressing, etc.)

TIPS TO HELP THE PROCESS GO SMOOTHLY:

  • Tidy the environment (make beds, pick up objects and garbage, hide the suitcases and bags, etc…).

  • Have all the detail items out and together. Remember to keep ALL the rings together. We will help coordinate to get them back in time for the ceremony.

  • Get ready in a room with as much natural light as possible – artificial light produces strong yellow tones that are hard to Photoshop out. Try not to mix artificial and daylight as these light sources are two different colours and can affect if you look grey or orange in your photos.

  • If you are getting professional hair/makeup, plan for longer than the stylist says, as this part of the day is most likely to run behind schedule. It will happen, so build a buffer into your timeline.

  • The getting ready time can be broken down into parts (these are all average, but this is typically how it plays out)

    • Details and general candids: 30 minutes

    • Bridesmaids together in robes: 5-10 minutes

    • Bride getting dressed and finishing touches: 20 minutes (wait to put on earrings, jewelry, and shoes until after you’re dressed)

    • First look with dad/parents: 5-15 minutes (this can be faster if it happens and coordinated in the same room. If you have to find another place it will take longer as you will have to move all the participants and tidy the environment.

If you have two photographers, the men will be photographed at the same time.

This is usually as simple as putting on jackets, pocket squares, and boutonnieres. If you have one photographer and the men are getting ready elsewhere, have them wait to put buttonholes on until the buffer time before the ceremony begins.

Decide whether you will have someone come to the hotel or house where you’re getting ready to do hair and makeup, or whether you’ll all go to a salon. What happens if there is traffic? How long does it take to get from one place to another? 

It is easier to have the makeup and hair stylist to come to you and order food in. This will save a lot of time and headache. Many couples who get ready at home will have a family or friend pick up coffee and sandwiches and set out the food while everyone gets prepared together.

How long does the wedding ceremony take?

POINTS OF WEDDING TIMINGS FOR THE CEREMONY

THE WEDDING CEREMONY TIMINGS DEPENDS ON THE TYPE OF CEREMONY YOU HAVE.

When considering how much time you should plan for the ceremony, you need to look at several variables including:

  • if there is a fixed time your ceremony venue has to hold the service

  • what time all the guests will getting to the ceremony

  • travel time to and from the ceremony

The ceremony itself might already be set by the church or venue such as a registry office. Therefore the ranges below are rough guidelines, but I would always schedule a little bit more time as a cushion just incase the ceremony runs overtime or late because of any reasons.

  • Non-Religious Ceremony – 30 to 45 minutes.

  • Civil Wedding Service – 30 to 50 minutes.

  • Religious Ceremony – 60 to 90 minutes.

 

HOW WILL MY PHOTOGRAPHER USE THE WEDDING CEREMONY TIME?

 

IDEAL PHOTOGRAPHY TIME NEEDED – 30-60 minutes (depending on the ceremony as above)

IDEAL TIME OF THE DAY – Late Morning, Afternoon or early evening depending on the season

ADVICE - The amount of time you need for your ceremony will differ. Depending on the type of ceremony and service, the time can vary greatly. Most civil ceremonies are around 30 minutes, but if you have a church service, this can take 45-60 minutes.

Make sure that you have some extra time in the timeline after the service for people to give their good wishes and congratulate you. This would also be a good point if you would like a confetti photo as you exit the ceremony venue. This can take another 10 minutes to set everyone up to throw their confetti.

 

A NOTE ON TIMINGS FOR CEREMONY DETAILS

 

IDEAL PHOTOGRAPHY TIME NEEDED – 20-30 minutes

IDEAL TIME OF THE DAY – Morning or Afternoon

ADVICE– This is one of the parts of the timeline that most often gets left out, the ceremony details, and venue. We know that you have spent a long time picking out your venue and planning all the little details, they need to be photographed. The second shooter typically arrives at the ceremony location about 10 minutes before the main photographer. They will generally grab photos of the venue & details before guests arrive. Before you have the guests take their seat,  we must be able to capture the complete set up of your ceremony so we can capture the scene at its best. Sometimes guests come in early and leave their bag or jackets on the seats, which makes it impossible to Photoshop out.

 

Developing a Killer Wedding Timeline | Step-by-Step Instruction   

If you're beginning to plan your wedding day timeline, follow think about several steps

 

1 | TIME OF THE WEDDING CEREMONY. 

We like to start at the ceremony time and work our way through the remaining timeline, using the ceremony as a starting point. You typically add about 30 minutes before the ceremony for a rest, refresh and touch time also known as the time the bride is in “hiding”. 

 

2 | TRAVEL TIME 

If you are in a different location for your ceremony and reception, make sure to add some cushion time for travel.  You will want to put an extra 15 minutes in the schedule and consider all travel from each location just in case an emergency comes up or there is traffic.

 

3 |  TIME OF SUNSET

As with most photographers, we base our timelines off of the sun. We like to include sunset couples photos, since this is some of the best light of the day. We recommend looking for the time the sun will set on your wedding day and add about 30 minutes before sunset to ensure that you will get some epic couples portraits.

 

How long does the formal wedding photos take?

POINTS OF TIMINGS WEDDING PARTY PHOTOS

 

IDEAL PHOTOGRAPHY TIME NEEDED – 30-45 minutes

IDEAL LOCATION - Venue, Gardens, Lobby ext.

ADVICE - Wedding Party Photos should be around 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the size of your party.  During this time, we get a variety of shots. The photos start off with more formal images & lighting then we can have more fun and creative images. We also like to have pictures with you and each one of your bridal party.

 

POINTS OF TIMINGS FAMILY PHOTOS

 

IDEAL PHOTOGRAPHY TIME NEEDED – 30-45 minutes

IDEAL LOCATION - Same as Wedding Party Photos

ADVICE – Formal Family Portraits should take another 30-45 minutes. It’s essential to have additional images with your parents, grandparents, and siblings within different variety and groupings. Make a list of relevant pairing/groups so that we can run through them quickly and efficiently. Plan about 3-4 minutes on average. We all know how much weddings mean to the immediate family, and we want to make sure we’re capturing enough pictures with them.

Family photos are a separate category of their own and can be fit in your schedule. You can put them either before the ceremony (if you’ll see each other) or just after.  

 

 

POINTS OF TIMINGS PORTRAITS COUPLES SESSION

IDEAL PHOTOGRAPHY TIME NEEDED – 30-45 minutes

IDEAL LOCATION – Venue Garden, Beach, Hotel Lobby, Park

ADVICE – Couple session should be around 1 hour  and should take place ideally about 1 hour before sunset. The is the best time in terms of lighting as the light is often softer and produces stunning images. This time also gives you a chance to have a small moment together during your wedding day. Since golden hour is such an important time, you can either schedule that couples portraits are right before the reception begins or about 20-30 minutes into dinner (that way you can have time to eat then sneak away for your portrait session).  

 

How long does the wedding reception take?

RECEPTION DETAILS & VENUE

IDEAL PHOTOGRAPHY TIME NEEDED – 20-30 minutes

IDEAL LOCATION – Reception Site

ADVICE – It is a good idea to allow for about 20-30 minutes for the photographer to photograph the reception details. As with the ceremony details, this would be the only opportunity that we can capture the beauty of the reception room before guests start coming in.

 

RECEPTION

IDEAL PHOTOGRAPHY TIME NEEDED – Varies but generally about 30 minutes after the first dance.

IDEAL LOCATION – Areas with interesting lights, fountains, or landscape. This can include anything giving a reflection, including mirrors or windows.

ADVICE – As above, plan your reception to coincide with sunset. You can plan the rest of your evening to include cake cutting, toasts, games, and other key points you wish.

 

Wedding Photography Timeline Example

 

WEDDING DAY TIMELINE ONE LOCATION

 

1:00 - 2:00      Primary Photographer Photographs Bride’s Details

                         Primary Photographer Photographs Hair & Makeup 

2:00 - 2:45      Primary Photographer Photographs Bride Getting Into Dress

                        Second Photographer Photographs Groom & Groomsmen Getting 

                       on Ties & Coats

When our couples choose not to do a first look, we do two things to adjust: first, we do as many photos as possible before the ceremony; second, we recommend a longer cocktail hour so that we have 30 minutes for immediate family and full bridal party portraits, 30 minutes with the bride and groom, and 30 minutes for cocktail hour and reception details.  

2:45 - 3:00      Bride Portraits     

3:00 - 3:30      Bridal Party Photos Bride & Bridesmaids / Groom & Groomsmen        

3:30 - 4:00      Bride & Groom Hide, Rest & Retouch - Photograph Ceremony Decor

4:00 - 4:30      Wedding Ceremony

4:30 - 5:00      Immediate Family Photos           

5:00 - 5:30      Bridal Party Photos

5:30 - 6:00      Husband & Wife Sunset Portraits 

6:00                Sunset 

6:00 - 6:30      Bride & Groom Join Cocktail Hour - Photograph Guests & Reception Decor

6:30 - 6:45      Couples Enter Reception Area

6:45 - 7:00      Wedding Couple, Bridal Party & Family Grand Entrance 

7:00 - 7:30      Toasts & Dinner Is Served

7:30 - 8:00      First Dance & Family Dance

8:00-9:00        Dance Floor Opens Up

Bouquet Toss, Garter Toss, Grand Exit all happen within the last hour of the schedule.

 

There it is, your basic timeline template to work from.  If you have any questions feel free to reach out!

Interested in more helpful wedding photography tips? Check some of these great resources below!

12 MONTH PLANNER

Download the ultimate 12 month planning template which includes budget,table planning,service provider details and a whole lot more

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This COMPLETE wedding photography guide is packed full of ideas on how to take ... Without a wedding photography checklist, you will inevitably miss something out ... combinations of portrait shots you could capture during the wedding day

WEDDING SURVIVAL KIT

A Wedding Survival Kit is a must for your big day. As much as we would love to believe that every wedding will go exactly as planned, that is simply not reality! I

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nikolai@nikolaip.com  |   072-223-3805   |  9am-5pm mon - fri

11 kei apple road , seapoint , cape town, south africa

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