12 Timing Tips No One Ever Told You
By Esther Dawson

13 December 2015

Putting together the timeline for your wedding day can be a daunting task. As wedding photographers, we've been a part of nearly 100 weddings from beginning to end, and we like to think we've learnt a bit about what works and what doesn't. So we've put together this list of little timing tips that will help your day run without a hitch so you can spend more time having fun with the people you love.

Morning Preparations:

·      Plan for make-up time to go over. I want to be clear, this is not because you’re styling team is slow; but with all the people coming and going, asking you everything from how you’d like the cake topper positioned, to when the cars will arrive, the potential that the makeup will run overtime is very high. Build a 30-min buffer into the morning just in case. And if you don't end up needing the extra time, you can have another champers!

·      Get your bridesmaids and mother ready first. While you are finishing up your hair and makeup; start your bridesmaids and mother getting ready, so they are free to help when it comes time for you to get into your dress. Plus it can make for photos you will love to look back on.

·      Delegate someone to watch the clock so you don’t have to. There are few things that can suck the fun out of your big day more than worrying if everything is running on time. Delegate this task to someone you know who can keep things on track, with a smile of course.

wedding preparations


·      Receiving lines take a long time. If you've ever been trapped at the back of an airplane unloading, you know what it is like to be inching along a receiving line. The solution here is pretty simple, step an extra 20m from the church exit and let the guests come to you.

·      Make time after the ceremony to be with your guests. There will always be a couple of people who are just bursting with excitement for you on your wedding day (and so they should be!). Make some time for them so their infectious bubbliness has a beautiful outlet. A good half-hour before the family and group portraits should do the trick so they have time to give you a squeeze and share in the celebration with you.

wedding ceremony

Photo Shoot:

·      Consider a shortened photo shoot with bride and groom only. 99% of couples have the same concern when it comes to the photoshoot – “we don’t want to be away from the guests for too long” (aka, “the guests will get bored”). You can arrange a dozen lawn games to keep them entertained, but that doesn’t get to the heart of the issue – your guests have come to celebrate this day with you. Our advice, ditch the bridal party for the photoshoot, they will feature in the morning prep, at the ceremony, and the reception – instead, make it a special moment between you and your new wife/husband. The shoot will be half the length (we typically spend 45mins) with less cheesy ‘fun’ shots and more genuine love and tenderness. And you will be back with your guests before they even realise you left.

wedding photoshoot

·      Allow time for travel between venues. 5 mins in the car, 5 mins to get everyone in the car, 5 mins to touch up the lippy/hair – bit by bit, it all adds up. Overcompensating where you can for these in-between logistics will help your day go from stress station to serene central. 

·      Be aware of sunset times. The best light of the day is known as the golden hour – the light starts to turn magical roughly 2 hours before sunset in the peak of summer. This is a great time to pop out with your new husband/wife and catch those final rays while watching the sunset together. There are lots of websites that will give you the sunset times for your particular month and location; we usually use sunrise-and-sunset.com because it’s dead easy to use.


·      Photos of the decor. If you have put a heap of thought and planning into your décor then it’s worth working with your photographer to find the best time for them to dash out and capture those details for you. The best time to do this can vary a lot depending on when tables will be set, flowers arrive, if you have 2 photographers or 1, and whether you are having the ceremony and reception at the same venue.

wedding reception

·      Break up speeches into groups of 2-3. You have the whole night, so make the most of it and split your speeches into smaller groups interspersed between the meal courses. It will also help people keep engaged in the beautiful stories that are being shared instead of thinking about their rumbling stomachs!

·       Let your photographer eat before the guests. Even suggesting this can get some dirty shade thrown from the wait staff, but your photographer is there to capture the best memories of your day – and arguably the least important memory to capture is of your guests stuffing their face with food – so make sure your photographer is fed early so they are eating at the same time as your guests and are ready to capture some candidness as soon as your guests have finished eating.

·    How to wrap-up the formalities. Traditionally, the cake was cut last to signify that wedding formalities were over – anyone who left after this could be confident that they wouldn’t be missing any important ceremonies. In modern weddings, the first dance now usually fills the same role. Whether it’s cutting the cake, a dance under the stars, or you’ve planned a sparkler exit to your get-away car, make an event out of wrapping up the most incredible night of your life – have fun and good luck!

wedding photos