Most wedding ceremonies seem effortless and beautiful, a genuine moment of love between two people. However, to have a gorgeous ceremony that flows perfectly, you need to first spend some time organising your ceremony timeline.
Weddings are all about planning, so we encourage all of our couples to create a
wedding ceremony timing guide to help things run smoothly – and as your photographers, we’re always glad to help with it!
So what is a typical wedding timeline? Generally, this will be a guide to the start and finish times for each component of your wedding day, including the ceremony, reception, and photography. Working out how to plan around your wedding ceremony can be tricky, but to make life easier, here’s our wedding ceremony planning guide to help bring your dream day to life.
Base your timings off your ceremony start time
It’s normal to feel overwhelmed when making a wedding timeline. From private moments with each other to that epic toast your dad has promised to give, there’s so much to fit into your day!
Here’s a top tip, though: organise all of your timings for the day based on the ceremony start time. From there, you can work backwards and forwards to figure out the timing for everything else. If you know your ceremony is kicking off at 2 pm, for example, that’s the best way to work out timeframes for your hair and makeup, transport arrival, and reception venue.
Keep in mind that your photographer will need to arrive at the ceremony about 30 minutes early to ensure everything is ready.
Work backwards to arrange your ‘getting ready’ plans
Once your ceremony time is confirmed, you can book your makeup and hair, and arrange with your bridal party as to when they should arrive. Most brides tend to take around two hours to get ready, but that totally depends on the vibe and style of your wedding.
You’ll also want to arrange with your photographer so they can come by your venue, snap some fun getting-ready shots, and then head over to the ceremony location. If possible, it helps from a photography perspective if the bride and groom get ready in the same general area, so we can easily take photos in both places.
What is the order of a wedding ceremony?
How do you organise a wedding ceremony? It all depends on your preferences. Your celebrant is the best person to answer all of your questions about this. But generally, your guests will be seated and the processionals of your bridal party will begin. Then, the big moment: the bride walks down the aisle and the vows are exchanged.
Most ceremonies last around 30–45 minutes, but this is completely up to you. Remember that wedding traditions like walking down the aisle or having a huge church ceremony aren’t for everyone, so know that you can design your wedding in whatever way works best to celebrate your love.
Next, plan your photography needs
Usually, we’ll gather everyone right after the ceremony for a group shot, if you want one. This is always a great photo to have, as it’s often the only time all of your guests are in one place.
Then, your guests can mingle and grab a drink before the reception while we take the key family and friends photos. To help this go faster, prepare a list in advance of who you need in these photos and let them know to stick around after the group photo finishes.
It helps to enlist a friend or relative to help manage this part of the process, gathering people together so they’re ready for the shot.
Don’t forget to eat!
When planning your timeline, leave some gaps between events, giving you time to look after yourselves. In all the excitement of the wedding day, it’s easy to forget to eat or drink, leaving you dehydrated and tired. This is especially important on hot summer days when the South Australian heat can make your wedding more challenging.
Plan in some time for food and consider organising a breakfast or lunch spread for your getting-ready venue, so that no one arrives on an empty stomach.
What is the best time of day to get married?
Your ceremony should represent who you are and what you love, so if you want to say your vows at sunrise, go for it! There’s no right or wrong time to tie the knot.
However, from a planning perspective, mid-afternoon tends to work well. After the ceremony, we’ll have gorgeous lighting for wedding party photos, then we can maximise the golden hour for bridal portraits before the reception.
We can’t emphasise enough how amazing golden hour lighting is! Even if sunset occurs during your reception, plan to sneak away for about 15 minutes so we can take your couples’ portraits.
How to plan a wedding reception timeline
If that wasn’t enough to think about, you also want to think about the order for your reception! Good news, though: this part is much easier. Your reception venue can help with this and will organise all of the tricky bits for you, like working out when to serve meals and cut the cake. Or, if you’re planning a BYO/DIY reception, we are very glad to help you plan your timeline.
The wedding ceremony itself is so magical and will be one of the memories you treasure the most from the day, so it’s worth taking the time to plan everything out well in advance. As your photographers, we’ll do the hard work for you, capturing all of the tiny moments and details in photos that you can treasure for years to come.
If you need advice, we’re always so glad to help. We know how tough wedding planning can be and we’ve helped many couples plan their dream South Australian wedding. We’d love to have a chat and get to know more about your relationship and wedding goals. Then, we can help create a tailored timeline that ensures your wedding day will be completely unique and special – just like you!