Tips to keep your wedding planning on time and stress free.

Your wedding day timeline is a critical part of your wedding planning.

Among all the fussing, flowers, food and festivities there are 2 people at your wedding day that are the most important, the wedding couple! Your wedding planning should be centered around this single fact.

The advice I would like to give to you, the bride and groom, is that you need to decide what are your most important priorities and plan accordingly. After all, your wedding day centres around you and celebrating the lifelong commitment you are making to one another.

In South Africa wedding schedules have become as standard as Getting Ready | Ceremony | Family Shoot | Bridal Party Shoot | Couple Shoot | Reception. Although this works I have seen how many times my clients get stressed and flustered when things start to delay. Here are some ideas and things to think about that you can use to make your wedding day schedule a little more flexible, enjoyable and stress free.

Great photography requires time

After years of doing wedding photography, we have learnt to adapt to tight schedules and fit portrait sessions into crammed time-slots. This however is not ideal when working on a creative and enjoyable photography experience. Almost anything can be done on a wedding day to create beautiful, elegant and creative photographs. The biggest limiting factor however is time. All of our packages allow for a typical wedding day to be captured should you follow our suggested timelines. If your ceremonial or social activities require more than 8 hours you can purchase additional time for your wedding without having to take a larger package. With that said we always recommend allowing as much time for photography as what your budget allows, the more time we have to snap away the more we are able to photograph for you.

I encourage all of my clients to take the timing of the day into consideration when building the expectations for your photography. Your wedding day only happens once, let’s do it right.

Before I give you some suggested timelines, here are some points that you should take into consideration:

Tips to keep you on time.

The number 1 reason for being late – Hair and makeup.

I would say that only 10-20% of weddings that I attend have hair and makeup run on schedule. In my experience letting the hair and makeup crew know that you have to be in your dress and ready to go 30-60min before the actual time alleviates tons of stress on the day. If for some amazing reason they finish on time (and every now and again there are some that do) then you will be able to relax with your friends, sip on a drink and take it all in.

The number 2 reason for being late – The Dress, Veil & Suit

No Dress = No wedding. If someone else is bringing your dress or suit and they run late, then so do you. The rule that I recommend is that the dress, shoes, veil and other apparel goes wherever the bride and groom goes. I have seen on more than one occasion someone driving more than 50km to fetch a veil or dress last minute.

You don’t have to conform to the norm

Have your couple photo session before your ceremony! Here is why I confidently suggest this to my clients:

I have seen how many times it actually makes my client’s day much more enjoyable.

To illustrate the above, let me ask you this question…. The minute you kiss as a married couple for the first time and walk down the aisle to meet your beloved guests how are you going to feel and what are you going to want to do? … Celebrate and enjoy your marriage with family and friends.

Although a photo session with us is fun and exciting, it still cannot compare to hanging out with all your loved ones as a newly married couple straight after you have tied the knot.

Here are a few benefits of a pre-ceremony photo-session:

  • When you see each other for the first time we can photograph the bride and grooms reaction in a place other than the opposite ends of the isle, which is often a better perspective.
  • You don’t have to wait till after the ceremony to talk to each other after seeing each other for the first time.
  • Family images are easier and quicker to organize before the ceremony than after.
  • You get to enjoy the cocktail hour with your guests and family.
  • If the ceremony runs late there is no stress about the lack of light.
  • Images of cocktail hour with your guests.
  • Allows photographers to photograph your venue during your cocktail hour – The way it will look just before your guests enter.

Further to all the above, if you would like a sunset shot it would mean that we could quickly nip off for 15 to 20 minutes just before the sun goes down. By this time you have spent time celebrating with friends and family, and had the time to enjoy a drink yourself.

Sunset & weather cannot be changed

When setting the timings for the day start off with the fixed elements and work backwards or forwards until all the pieces of the jigsaw fall into place. Decide if you want a sunset shot (Weather taken into consideration) and work backwards from there.

Ceremony duration

I’ve had the pleasure of attending many different types of ceremonies from a variety of religions. Be sure to check with your respective officiant how long they expect the ceremony to be. Different ceremonies will have required different amounts of time. A civil ceremony could range between 15 to 30 minutes whilst an whilst traditional or orthodox ceremony could easily exceed an hour.

When planning the ceremony duration please keep in mind the time spent before the ceremony as well as the congratulations and signing of the register after the ceremony. This would also be an ideal time to decide if you would like a large group shot of all your guests. Please allow an additional 10 minutes for this.

Formal Group & Family Pictures

Family pictures and group shots by far take the most amount of time due to the fact that you are dealing with many different people. If you’ll be having your family images before the ceremony I would allocate about 15 – 20 minutes. If you will be having them after your ceremony working out the time to allocate for family photographs will be hard but as a rough guide allocate 5 mins for the first family photograph and then two to three minutes for each family photograph after that.  I would allocate about 30 – 40 minutes after the ceremony depending on how many family images you want.

A VERY GOOD suggestion is to appoint your Master of Ceremonies or other able family member to co-ordinate the people required for the formal family photographs. Compile a list and have this person round up the required people and to have them readily available. Remember, your photographer in most cases does not know who is family and who are friends. By having someone co-ordinate, the process goes faster and allows more alone portrait time with the photographer.

Suggested wedding timelines (8 Hours – Couple session before ceremony):

  • 12:30 – Groom/Grooms-men get ready at hotel
  • 13:30 – Bride/Bridesmaids get ready at venue
  • 14:30 – Bride and Groom (Portrait Session)
  • 15:15 – Group and family formals
  • 16:30 – Ceremony starts
  • 17:30 – Cocktail hour (Photographers photograph venue)
  • 18:30 – Couple sunset shots
  • 19:00 – Dinner is served
  • 19:30 – Toasts
  • 20:00 – First dance – followed by dancing
  • 20:20 – Bouquet/Garter toss (optional)
  • 20:30 – Photographers pack up

Suggested wedding timelines (8 Hours – Couple session after ceremony):

  • 12:30 – Bride details and venue shots
  • 13:30 – Groom/Grooms-men get ready at hotel
  • 14:30 – Bride/Bridesmaids get ready at venue
  • 16:00 – Ceremony Starts
  • 17:00 – Formal group and family portraits
  • 17:30 – Bride and Groom (Portrait Session)
  • 18:30 – Couple Sunset Shots
  • 19:00 – Dinner is served
  • 19:30 – Toasts
  • 20:00 – First Dance – Followed by dancing
  • 20:20 – Bouquet/Garter Toss (optional)
  • 20:30 – Photographers pack up

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