If you’re in the early stages of your wedding planning process, you might ask yourself how to plan your wedding timeline. During the past years of photographing weddings all over Australia, I have gained helpful insights into how different days unfold during different seasons and in different locations. It’s a crucial part of your day to get your timeline straight and stress-free, and whilst lots of weddings are structured in a similar way, that doesn’t mean that you need to stick to this procedure. In this post I will give you some general tips and tricks on how to plan your wedding timeline, along with some example timelines for different scenarios and seasons around Australia and New Zealand.
Always keep in mind – this is YOUR day and you are getting married for yourselves, not other people. Give yourself the time to make this experience fantastic and cherish every moment. As your wedding photographer, I will always create a custom photography timeline with you to get the best out of your day and your wedding images. It’s important to keep in mind that no day is ever 100% the same and timings change for every location and month, but here are a few important things you should be aware of:
When planning your day, make sure you leave some wiggle room and keep things flexible.
Add an extra 10-15 minutes to every activity, because often things take a little longer than you first thought. That’s normal and shouldn’t be a reason to get stressed out. Instead of spending your day chasing down your own schedule, give yourself some breathing space so that you can relax and enjoy every moment.
For example, you might plan to duck out for some sunset photos later in the day. But your wedding day might end up being cloudy or rainy, and if all you have time for is the 20 minute slot around sunset for your portraits, I can’t create the best possible images for you outdoors as it gets darker much sooner and we might not be able to escape the rain. An alternative could be to take some photos using flash indoors in the evening, if this is your jam! However, if you leave some spare time earlier in the day, we can flexibly take your portraits when the rain eases and the even light on a cloudy day creates beautiful even skin tones.
Another way to loosen up the timeline on your wedding day, is to do a First Look with your other half. I have written a whole other blog post about benefits of doing a first look, which you can check out here. In short, by doing a first look prior to your ceremony, maybe even followed by some family or bridal party photos, or even your portraits, you free up much more time later in the day to hang with your guests.
From a photography standpoint, light is a key factor and will greatly influence the mood I am able to capture during the ceremony, the bridal portraits, the reception etc. Simply keep that in mind, especially for everything taking place outdoors, and feel free to hit me with any questions that may come up. Again, this is material for a whole other blog post, but here are the basics you need to keep in mind for how to plan your wedding timeline:
When choosing the perfect place and time for your ceremony, keep in mind that light will greatly influence the mood of the setting. A time later in the day is ideal for outdoor ceremonies, when the sun is already a lot lower in the sky. This obviously changes throughout the months, so my advice would be to do a quick check and keep in mind when the sun will start to set on your wedding day. I have linked the best website for this here for you.
I can also assist you with this of course, since I have a program that allows me to exactly see when the sun might dip behind a mountain or trees surrounding your venue, which is generally much sooner than the actual sunset time on the day. Let’s make sure we can catch that golden light in your photos! I highly recommend to have your ceremony as late as possible in the summer months, whilst still allowing for family photos and bridal portraits to be captured in the daylight.
How to plan your wedding timeline is important, but so is planning the setting. If you are set on having your outdoor ceremony around noon, potentially on a sunny and hot day, make sure you position yourself in a way that you are backlit and provide some shade for your guests, too, e.g. with trees or parasols in nude colours. Otherwise this can create really harsh shadows in your faces. Feel free to ask me beforehand or on site if you are not sure about how to set everything up. Where possible, I’d also be happy to come to site visits with you and discuss the best setting.
I highly recommend you plan more time for the things that are most important to you. Don’t forget to create moments throughout the day that you can just enjoy between the two of you. Also, make sure you plan for some downtime to have a bite to eat – this might seem like a no brainer, but trust me, it’s easily forgotten in the course of the day.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself, in order to create a realistic wedding photography timeline for your day:
Every photographer works differently and it’s important to check with yours how long they might need to capture each part of your day. Personally, I like to allocate the following times:
To finish this post on how to plan your wedding timeline, I have created some example wedding photo timelines for different times of the year. For these, I have assumed that all parts of the day unfold at the same venue/ location. Keep in mind that you have to factor in travel times for yourself and your vendors, in case your locations differ. You will notice that I have also planned with additional buffer times for some parts of the day, as photographers and videographers generally aim to be at the ceremony location 30-40 minutes prior to your wedding, to set up and capture guests arriving and the styling. As your wedding photographer, I will always take the time to plan a day entirely customised to you and your plans though, so you don’t have to do this yourself.
Hey, I’m Caro, a hopeless romantic, dog mum and nature lover, and the creator of the images and words you’ve just absorbed. I found my passion in wedding photography and shoot destination weddings all over Australia, New Zealand and Europe. I hope you found this blog post about how to plan your wedding timeline helpful! If there are any questions you have whilst planning your wedding, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I have photographed over 100 weddings for couples just like you, so I am always here to help! You can check out more of my work here or get in contact to have me photograph your wedding or elopement here.