This is probably the most important planning that the photographer can help you with for your big day. The reality is that you only have so many hours to get a LOT of stuff done.
You have to keep a lot of people happy plus you have to work with Mother Nature as well. Guests don’t want to wait long but you also want to get nice pictures. It is indeed a fine
balancing act to keep everybody happy.
It’s crucial to work out a realistic timeline. It’s no use to have one and then totally get it wrong on the wedding day. You are then going to put a lot of pressure on the venue (hot food),
guests, other service providers and most importantly yourself.
You must decide what parts of the day are really important and what parts aren’t. Before you send out invitations with ceremony starting time have a look at the following:
This will depend on your make-up artist/hairdresser and drive time. I normally like to have the bride dressed and ready 45min before she needs to leave for the church. This gives enough time for bridal portraits and the bride will still get a few minutes alone to get her thoughts together.
Ceremony – 45min
On average it takes about 45min. This will normally include the signing of the register. Obviously, if the bride is very late this will also run late.
Pre-dinks vs. Starter
This is probably one part where I have a bit of a different view than the rest of the photographers. The pre-drinks is such a nice part of the day and it’s always sad if the couple misses out on this because they are taking photos. My suggestion is to rather join in the fun and miss out on the starter later. While we are busy with the couple shoot, the guests can enter the reception, find their seats and enjoy starters. This means our light will be better (softer) and you don’t have granny standing outside in the early evening cold because we are taking photos. People can take their seats, eat, drink and be merry. This means you will enjoy the couple shoot much more.
Group shots – 30 min
It’s great to do the group photos during the pre-dinks. This means it’s much more fun and it does not feel like waiting time. I prefer not to do table photos later on. That never work properly. If we have a list here you can get everybody somewhere on a photo. This normally takes 1.30min per photo. 30 min in total is normally enough.
Couple shoot (Sunset) – 1 hour
For the photos, it is crucial to know what time the sun sets. I love to start the couple shoot 40min before sunset. I normally shoot 20 min into sunset. This means an average of 1 hour.
There are a few websites that you can check the times for sunset. www.timeanddate.com is one of them.
I always block out the couple shoot during this time and then fit everything around it. Winter weddings are easy as the couple shoot will probably happen right after the ceremony. Summer weddings I have done part of the couple shoot after the main course (I am not joking!). It all will depend on what time your ceremony starts where we fit in what.
Speeches – 40 min
On average it takes 5 min per speech. And the groom’s speech is about 10-15min. A total of 40min should be enough
Main course – 45 min
This takes between 30-45min depending on the size of the venue, guests etc.
First dance, Garter + Bouquet + cutting of the cake
It works well to open the dance floor and then 30 min later to do the cutting of the cake. Right after that, you do garter and bouquet. This means you are only stopping the music once.
The MC can then also say what time desert will be served.
A Typical October Wedding in Cape Town where everything happens on the same venue will have the following timeline:
15:00 – Bride finished with make-up/Hair/Getting dressed
15:00 – Riekert Arrives at the Bride/a few Prep photos/Bridal Portraits/Bride with Bridesmaids
16:30 – Ceremony start
17:15 – Confetti + congrats + pre-drinks
17:45 – Group photos during pre-drinks
18:15 – Couple shoot start
18:40 – Guests enter venue
18:50 – MC – Welcome/Admin
18:55 – Starter served
19:05 – Tables cleared/Sparkling wine
18:49 – Sunset
19:10 – Couple shoot finished
19:15 – Couple makes grand entrance
19:20 – Speeches
20:00 – Main course
20:45 – First Dance
21:30 – Cutting of the cake/Bouquet/Garter
22:00 – Desert
My packages are all 7 hours. This is normally more than suitable to fit everything in and not rush it. Certain times couples may book an hour or 2 extra depending on their needs.
Although crucial to the day don’t stress out too much on the actual day. The MC needs to watch the clock, not you. Relax and enjoy the ride!
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