If you have ever been a guest at a wedding reception, and stood around waiting for the bride and groom to return from their photo session, you’ll appreciate the importance of a timing schedule for your own wedding.

No matter how organised you are in your everyday life, the logistics of a wedding day are little different. There are so many factors to consider and it can all get a little overwhelming. This is where a professional wedding planner and an experienced professional photographer will come into their own – they’re experts who organise weddings every day, and can offer tips and advice that will help make your day run smoothly.

Where you are staying the night before is the starting point for your timing schedule. This is usually where your hair and make will be done and where you get dressed. In most cases, your photographer will come to this location to capture the finishing touches and get those before shots with your parents and bridesmaids.

If you aren’t having your venue decorated by planners or the venue staff, ask friends as well as family members to help you and your bridal party with the collection and delivery of things to share the load. Getting it all sorted the night before is much better than having phone calls going back and forth on the morning. The morning should see you relaxed and enjoying the big day preparations.

One thing you should ensure is that everyone’s nails are done a day or so before – don’t be doing this last minute, frantically flapping your arms to dry nails before getting dressed!

If your dress has a lace-up back, ensure your mum or bridesmaids have practiced doing this. They take a little longer than a zip or button-up dress!

There is a whole discussion to be had about having your bridal party photos before the wedding, which changes up the schedule but allows a later afternoon or evening wedding with less traveling around. It gives you fabulous first meeting photos, you see your partner earlier in the day for longer, and you have the option of heading toa photo location further away. Plus, you get more time to spend at the venue with your guests. Speak with your photographer about this option.

Over my 15 years of photographing weddings, I’ve noticed that the main areas where timing falls over is when you don’t allow enough time for hair and make up, resulting in you rushing to get dressed, and possibly missing out of your beautiful portrait images as a bride. This can then also push the timing for the groom’s photos, and a snowball effect occurs.

If you arrive at the ceremony much later than intended, it has a fall on effect throughout the entire day. Your car hire may need to be extended or you might hit traffic you hadn’t considered. All things to keep in mind! Venues, and chefs in general, like to run on schedule so that canapés and dinner can be served as intended – fresh, hot and on time. If you are eating late, dessert may have to be skipped, plus the DJ or band you have booked will play for less time, cutting down your dancing party time. Just when you are ready to kick back and party, it’s all over!

So take some advice … plan well, stick to your schedule, and let time be on your side.

Checklist that should be on your photographer’s schedule:

• Time photographer is arriving & makeup is finishing (allow extra time here)

• Photographer leaves to meet the groom and groomsmen for their photos

• Bride leaving house/hotel for ceremony

• Guest arrival – we suggested guests arrive at least 15-minutes before the ceremony

• Ceremony start time

• Group shots – 30-minutes)

• Bridal party photos – 1 hour / 1.5hrs max – 1 or 2 locations at most

• Time guests are seated at reception

• Your entrance time at reception

• First course of meal served

• Speeches

• Main course served

• Speeches

• Cake cutting and dessert

• First dance by 9pm, then enjoy your evening with no more time restrictions.

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