Planning Your Wedding Day Timeline
Where Do You Start?

The Ultimate Guide to Wedding Day Prep

If you’re in the midst of wedding planning, you know there are a lot of things to consider and keep track of. On the day of your wedding, everything needs to come together perfectly. To ensure that your special day is captured with beautiful photos that bring back all the emotions, here are some tips on wedding day prep from a professional wedding photographer.

Timing Is Everything

For bridal prep, I like to arrive 2-2.5 hours before the ceremony. This gives me enough time to photograph all the details like the dress, as well as capture everyone getting ready, laughing, having a glass of bubbly, or dad crying. It also builds a bond between me and the bridal party which helps us get even more natural photos throughout the day!

Any hairdressers and make-up artists will usually already be there and will have organized their own timings depending on how many of your party they are doing hair and make-up for that day.


Ideally, I would advise that you are ready 40 minutes before you are due to leave for the ceremony. Also, take into account how long your outfit takes to put on – some take longer and are fiddlier than others! Especially as I will need to leave before you to get to wherever the ceremony is being held. I won’t leave for the ceremony until you’ve got your dress on though.

If I am doing groom photos, I usually arrive 1 hour before the ceremony starts. That way we can capture all those candid moments without feeling rushed and still have plenty of time for formal shots with family members and friends! 

TIPS TO HELP  “GETTING READY” TIME SMOOTHER ON YOUR WEDDING DAY!

NATURAL LIGHT

Make sure there are plenty of light sources – no one looks their best in poor lighting!   Natural light is the key to beautiful getting-ready photographs.   When searching for a getting-ready space make sure that your location has plenty of windows.

TIDY UP!

To get the lovely, fun getting-ready photos, I ask that any clutter in the areas you’ll be using is removed – ask a bridesmaid or groomsman to do a quick five-minute tidy up every so often, so things like empty water bottles don’t end up in the background!

PREPARING THE BRIDAL DETAILS

Gather your bridal details together before the wedding day. Having everything grouped together (with tags removed from jewelry!) will save a lot of time.

Dress + Veil
Florals
Shoes
Invitations
Extras: Silk ribbons, ring boxes, antique trays, and other special heirlooms can really add another personal element to your detail photos.

CEREMONY-   How Long Will It Last?

The person conducting your ceremony will advise you of how long it’s expected to last. This obviously depends on whether it’s a religious or non-religious ceremony and whether you have hymns or readings. Getting an accurate estimate will help ensure you’ve built enough time into your timeline for taking group shots and family portraits after your ceremony has finished.  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.

ENTRANCES & EXITS

Confetti is guaranteed to provide some fun-filles photos of you as a newlywed couple!

Get ready to be showered in love and confetti! Celebrating your special day with the perfect confetti photo is a must. The action of confetti throwing really helps even the shyest couples get properly happy and exuberant photographs, almost without trying. LARGE (and often colorful) confetti looks best in wedding photos, hands down.

TOP TIP

Who buys the confetti? The answer is simple…you.

Years ago, guests did bring it with them, however now couples want confetti to match their wedding theme to ensure it looks great in their photographs. With petals being natural, you have a wide variety of colors and petal types to choose from.

BUBBLES

Great for venues that won’t allow any other type of confetti, and no mess left behind. You generally need loads of bubbles to show up nicely in photos. Traditional children’s bubble pots produce bigger and better bubbles than the smaller pots made specifically for weddings. For shedloads of super epic bubbles, consider bubble guns! (also loads of fun to be had with those at the reception)

STREAMERS

Super fun and the best part is they were SO EASY to clean up! Streamers provide a fantastic rainbow of colour or simple white, similar to that of a pyrotechnic effect but without all the fuss and they are very easy to clear up.
Great for venues that won’t allow any other type of confetti, and no mess left behind.

GROUP / FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHS

If your ceremony and reception venue are different, it’s up to you whether you would like your group photos at the ceremony venue, or once you arrive at the reception. Some couples opt for a reception if it is at a nicer location or has more space, and others opt for the ceremony venue to save time.

Formals should take around 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on the size of your family and the number of guests. Plan on 3 minutes per group on average.  For example, if you have 10 groups, schedule in a 30-minute time slot.

Couple Portraits on your Wedding Day

Capturing special moments between two people in love is a unique and magical experience. On your wedding day, you will be surrounded by friends, family, and loved ones. However, it is important to take some extra time alone together to celebrate the connection between you two. That is why couple portraits are so important. Let’s explore what couple portraits are and how they can benefit you on your wedding day!

After you’ve said “I do” and spent time taking photos with your wedding party, it’s time to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the day. Pretty much straight after the groups, we’ll go for a wander around the grounds for 20-30 minutes. It’s really relaxed, and casual and there’s minimal posing. Basically, I’ll let you two catch up and have a cuddle away from everyone.
Please do let me know if there are any places you would particularly like pictures, and if you want to bring pets or props, go for it. I like my couples to have some time alone together as the day is so busy. These elegant yet natural poses help create beautiful images that perfectly reflect who you are as a couple. 

MEAL AND SPEECHES

It’s completely up to you when to have speeches, although I’d suggest either before or after each course rather than in between. Some like to get the speeches out of the way at the beginning of the night so they can relax and enjoy dinner.
Timings for your meal and speeches vary depending on what you’ve organized for catering and how many guests you have – a three-course sit-down meal often takes much longer than a buffet/informal meal. Your coordinator or caterer will be able to advise you in more detail about how long they expect the meal to take. From my own experience, mealtime – not including speeches – takes 1.5-2 hours on average.
During the wedding breakfast itself, I take an hour’s break to rest, recharge my batteries and get something to eat. I won’t take pictures while people are eating, as nobody wants to see that!

BETWEEN THE CEREMONY AND RECEPTION

During the daytime drink’s reception, we’ll be covering group photos and couples’ photos. Because you’ve hired me as a documentary photographer, I also use this time to shoot candid photos of guests chatting, having fun, and playing games, if you’ve set them up.
It’s a wonderful opportunity to capture you and your guests taking the day in and enjoying yourselves. I love the natural moments when you’re all mingling and clinking glasses, hugging and kissing.

EVENING / TURNAROUND TIME

Often there is an hour or so after the meal and speeches before the evening reception starts and any additional guests arrive. As I said before, if the light is beautiful, I may quickly grab you for a few photographs this time, and it’s also another chance for guests to relax after eating before the night-time celebrations begin. Usually, unless there is a separate space for your evening reception, this is when rooms will be ‘turned around’ for the evening – meaning that tables and chairs will be moved to create room for dancing, and bands and/or DJs will be set up.

To all the brides out there: Don’t forget to have fun on your wedding day! Seriously. It happens more than you think. Brides tend to focus on having the ‘perfect’ day. Loosen up and really take it all in.

This is your day!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *