A Complete Plan, For How To Work Out The Wedding Day Agenda, 100% Fit Your Wedding, From an Experienced Melbourne Wedding Photographer.
A perfect wedding day timeline, I believe this is a popular search topic when Melbourne engaged couples try to plan and organize their weddings by themselves.
Yet you could find plenty of blogs published online about this topic such as “The Best Timeline for Your Wedding Day” or “Planning the Perfect Wedding Day Timeline”. However, you could fairly easily tell these are written by generic freelancing copywriters or even by the AI blog writer like Chat GPT or Jasper AI.
For Example, on Easy Wedding’s “How to plan the perfect wedding day time” blog, the first tip they gave is “start as early as possible”. Well, on the reality wedding day, this does not work for sure. The couple need to cooperate with the makeup artist, hair artist, photographer, and videographer to work out the pre ceremony schedule together. From the perspective of a wedding photographer, I always prefer my couple have enough sleep and have a stress-free wedding day morning. Wake up too early could cause the couple start with serious stress and bad stamina for the whole, long wedding day. The couple will be looked exhausted very soon from almost every angle in photographer’s cameras. This is certainly not what we wish for a wedding.
List of Contents
On some other famous wedding planning websites such as “brides.com” or “onefabday.com”, you may see some fixed generic wedding day timeline guides like below in their version for wedding day timeline blog.
You could see they have put in some efforts in this detailed guide. However, everyone’s wedding is different. Thus, the fixed time schedule won’t perfectly fit every couple’s need.
To solve this, we have developed this custom and trial version of automatic wedding day timeline calculator as shown above. Choose the time for your wedding reception and ceremony, and confirm the time for travelling between each location on your wedding day. Then, You will have an automatically generated wedding day timeline for your guests and bridal party members to use.
In my city Melbourne, you could see heaps of different cultural weddings will break the above schedule. Asian’s weddings normally have a tea ceremony add in at the getting ready place or in the reception. Middle eastern guys love to have the drum play and dancing at the preparation and the bridal entrance of the reception. Greek and Macedonian guests definitely won’t be happy if we only left them around 60 minutes for cultural dancing. All these above formalities will significantly change the wedding day timeline plan for newlyweds.
To include these functions in our automatic wedding day timeline generator, the programming work is a bit huge. Currently, these functions are under developing. You are welcome to revisit this blog from time to time to see if we have a more recent version of this wedding day timeline calculator been updated.
To me, a wedding photographer shoots more than 500 weddings in a country with hundreds of thousands of immigrants, the current blogs about the wedding day timeline do not really help the engaged couples or even worse. They are providing misleading information to get your wedding service suppliers in trouble.
So today, I am writing a blog myself about how to work out a personalized wedding day timeline to 100% fit your wedding. What I can promise you is that the below content will be authentic advice from a wedding photographer who captured at least 60 weddings a year in the recent 7 years except during the Covid-19 lockdown time.
“A good start is half the battle won.” Your wedding planning journey should be started with finding the right reception after the engagement. Your other arrangements will be heavily affected by the time and location of your wedding reception choice. Plus, for most weddings, the reception cost will probably take the largest portion of your wedding budget. When you try to lock other things first and come back to wedding receptions later, you may have to increase your budget significantly due to overspending on other wedding vendors.
Your choice of wedding reception will be subject to quite a few things. The followings are something in my mind which you should consider at this first step for an organized wedding day agenda: your preference for wedding style, the wedding date, the size of the invited guests, your wedding budget for the reception, the availability of reception function room, the food and drink quality and diversity, the travelling distance for elder guests and your previous experience to attend your friends’ or relatives’ wedding.
To perfectly organize your wedding day schedule at the beginning stage, I believe you should be a bit more patient and make an enquiry to at least 3 receptions, which share some similarities from the above perspectives. Have a conversation with each reception’s client manager, talk about the details of your dream wedding and see what they could offer. Don’t rush yourself to make the decision, as the conversation keeps going, you should have more and more information and some comparisons among them.
Make sure you book a site visit, ideally on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. So, you probably will see how they run other weddings here for the preparation stage and check how they organize the wedding reception timetable for other couples. This will help you to have a clearer and more detailed picture of what they could offer for your wedding.
Once you locked your wedding reception, the next step of planning a wedding day agenda is to decide where and when your wedding ceremony is.
At Melbourne, where I captured most of my weddings, couples could be from different cultural groups and different religious beliefs. They may tie the knot with a civil celebrant, or get married in an Orthodox church, or walk down the aisle at a Catholic cathedral, or organize their own cultural wedding ceremony. Occasionally, I have captured weddings with two wedding ceremonies at different times and locations. For planning a proper wedding day timeline, some of the wedding ceremonies I have attended are definitely complex ones.
Chat with your parents before you confirm the location to tie the knot. Your parents’ advice and suggestions are important for running a smooth wedding day. Most of the time, they will have an idea of the guests who you need to invite to the ceremony, the location where you will get married and the attire or dress you should wear for your wedding.
Leave a bit of flexibility for your time schedule around the wedding ceremony. Your wedding ceremony is the first time you and your wedding squad show up in front of all the invited guests. When working out the timeline for your wedding day, it is always good to leave some extra time such as 20-30mins compared to what google map says. The long limo or the old vintage car your hire is in a stylish mode. However, they are slower than we normally drive. Moreover, your wedding photographer and videographer need to get ready before you arrived. It takes about 20-30mins to set up and capture some environmental shots as well. When you arrived, they will focus on you and won’t have an opportunity to do these preparation work.
Prepare a plan B when your try to tie the knot outdoors. Weather on the wedding day is always the factor you couldn’t really control. It is important to think about what you need if bad weather is on for your wedding day. You may need to prepare large, solid and stylish umbrellas or an indoor alternative place for your wedding ceremony just in case. Add some extra time to your original schedule when the weather is bad as you may need to clean up your dress or do a retouch before you show up in front of your fiancée, family members and best friends.
Discussing with your wedding photographer for the pre-ceremony, post-ceremony and after-ceremony pictures will smooth your wedding ceremony organizing for sure. In most scenarios, your wedding photographer will shoot in a candid and quiet mode during the whole ceremony. So, make sure you have some tips from your wedding photographer for both stunning photos and smooth wedding day timeline organizing purposes. Preparing a photo list for your family photos will benefit your wedding day schedule as well.
Wedding Day Timeline Formula for Your Wedding Ceremony:
TTGC + Extra 30 mins + WCST+ 5-10 mins Mingling + 5-10 mins Group Photo Organising and Shooting + 10-20 mins Family and Friends Photo Time
TTGC: Travel time from the getting ready place to the ceremony location on Google Map
WCST: Wedding ceremony service time. Civil celebrant normally will spend 30 mins, while the priest in church normally will spend 45-60 mins
We have seen plenty of weddings that would organize the photo shoot session straight after the wedding ceremony. Undoubtedly, this is still the most popular approach to organizing a wedding photo shoot. Normally your wedding photographer and/or wedding videographer Melbourne will head to the first location after the family photo session.
Alternatively, some couples prefer to have photo shoot sessions before the wedding ceremony when they plan their wedding day schedule. In this approach, the photo shoot session will normally start with the “first look”, This is a special moment when the bride and groom could see each other for the first time on their wedding day. It’s usually done in a private place, and it is an emotional and meaningful experience for the couple. Some couples choose to do this “first look” to calm their nerves or to have a quiet moment together before the chaos of the ceremony and reception. Talk to your wedding photographer when you decide to run your wedding day photo shoot in this format. Your photographer will be the person to direct the whole a lot such as which way the groom facing, which route the bride coming, where the other bridal party members need to stand, and which side of the shoulder should be tapped.
Utilize the time for the photo shoot, not for travelling. Depends where and when your wedding ceremony and reception are, your wedding photo shoot session could be really arranged with great flexibility. However, heading to some landmarks too far away is generally not a good idea for your wedding day organizing. You could hire a photographer for an engagement or pre-wedding photo shoot during the quiet season or middle of the week. From my perspective, 60 mins driving is absolutely the limit we could spend on wedding day photo shoot sessions.
Considering both outdoor and indoor options for location photos. To make your wedding day planning more invulnerable to the bad weather and grab more stunning photos for your wedding day memory, it is important to have a plan B for indoor photo shooting. In most cases, we won’t be able to head somewhere with an entry fee or booking required. So, you need to find out somewhere with a scenic perfect place with long eaves or a covered terrace.
Wedding Day Timeline Formula for Your Photo Shoot Session:
Travelling Time to the location of photo shoot + Photographer Parking Time + Shooting Time + Travelling Time back to the reception + Couples refreshment and retouching time
Creating a wedding day timeline is crucial to ensure a smooth and stress-free wedding day. The morning of your wedding day is typically reserved for the getting ready part. Based on what I have seen for the past weddings I have captured; it could be both exciting and nerve-wracking for this getting ready section. So, preparing a clear timeline will definitely help ease any anxieties for the couples.
The bride and her bridesmaids will usually spend several hours preparing for the ceremony, which can involve getting their hair and makeup done, putting on their dresses and accessories, and taking photos to capture the memories of the day. The boys’ side is normally simple. The groom and his groomsmen often spend time chatting, laughing, and taking pictures as well.
It is crucial to factor in enough time for getting ready and any unforeseen things that may happen. A proper wedding day timeline will help the couple to ensure that everyone knows when they need to be ready and where they need to be. You also need to allow time for your wedding service suppliers such as photographers to travel between different get-ready locations if necessary.
From a wedding photographer’s perspective, I would always love to see the bride already finished her makeup and done her hair when I showed up. Leaving your wedding photographer to stay in your getting-ready room and with the bride and bridesmaids unready for photos is generally not a good idea. Additionally, most photographers love to take accessories and wedding dress photos. Prepare your accessories ready in one spot, and your wedding dress with a mannequin or good-looking hanger always helps us. For the photographer’s shooting time, we normally spend 60-90 mins at the bride’s place and 45-60mins at the groom’s place. Any dancing, drumming, traditional cultural or religious sections need to have their own time. When you also hired a videographer to film your getting-ready sessions, it is better to allow a bit extra time. Some of the best angles won’t allow both photographer and videographer to stand close together to each other and be captured at the same time.
Wedding Day Timeline Formula for Your Preparation
Girls Getting Ready: Makeup time + Hair time + Accessory and Wedding Dress Setup Photo Time + Robe/ Pyjamas Photo Time + Wedding Dress Changing Time + Bridal Party Formal Dress Photo Time + Parents and Sibling Photo Time + Bride’s Solo Photo Time + Any Cultural or Religious Events Time at Bride’s Getting Ready Place
Boys Getting Ready: Shower, Shaving and Hair time + Accessory and Groom’s Attire Flat Lay Photo Time + Boys formal Attire Changing + Bridal Party Formal Dress Photo Time + Parents and Sibling Photo Time + Groom’s Solo Photo Time + Any Cultural or Religious Events Time at Groom’s Getting Ready Place
When it comes about 1 to 2 months before your wedding day, your wedding vendors will normally start chasing you with the detailed schedule for your wedding reception. Some of them may have their own suggestions on the schedule for their own perspectives to smoothly run the show. So it is better if you could grab the wedding reception’s default schedule and start modifying that together with other wedding vendors.
The wedding reception starts with a canopy or cocktail section in general. It is normally a 30 mins section for your family and friends to mingle and socialize with each other and enjoy snacks and drinks at the same time. The newlyweds are normally in the bridal suite, having a bit of break time.
After the canopy, the MC will organize your guests to walk into the reception room. When they are ready. There will be a grand entrance, starting with the newlywed’s parents, then flower girls and page boys, bridal party members, and lastly groom and bride. Sometimes, the grand entrance could last a bit longer like 15-20 mins as the couple combined it with their cultural dancing and/or celebrations.
The arrangement of the formalities during the wedding receptions such as the cake cutting, couple first dancing and speech normally blend in before or after the entrée or main meal. However, these formalities could be arranged at any time according to the couple’s own preference. I have seen some couples get all these formalities done in a 30-40mins bracket, then enjoy the party for the rest of the night. While other newlyweds prefer a more organized sequence such as formality number 1, entrée, formality number 2, main meal, formality 3, and dancing.
The farewell is better to be organized 10 mins before your official finish time. It could be combined with either the sparklers exit or the gusts line up making the arch exit.
Wedding Day Timeline Formula for Your Wedding Reception:
30 mins canopy time + 10-15 mins guest seating time + WRIT + 2-5 mins cake cutting + Speech Time + 2-5 mins first dancing + 2-5 mins father-daughter and/or mother-son dancing + entrée serving time + Main serving time + other game or dancing time + 10 mins farewell
WRIT: Wedding reception introduction time. This could really different from wedding to wedding. Sometimes, there will be an intro dancing bracket with drumming and/or cultural music. The time for it could be anywhere from 5 mins to 30 mins.
For humans, images are always easier to read and understand than text. So here we spend a while to learn programming a custom time calculator for the wedding day timeline. It is the essence and upgrade of the above text content.
It has generally two parts in this wedding day schedule calculator. The first part is “Input Area.” Here we need some key timing information to work as the key points. Then we can calculate the other sections’ timing for your wedding, which has been shown as the second part with the monument color background. This part is what we called “Output”. It includes most of the key time points of a wedding day.
As we have already shown above, the first and second time points we need are the reception package staring time and the official bride walking into the aisle time. These are normally booked firstly after you start planning your wedding day.
After you confirmed where you will be prepared and how many wedding photographer and videographer you will book, we also need the traveling time between the getting ready places and the ceremony location. For a wedding day memory team with 1 of photographer and 1 or 2 videographers, these guys will head to the groom’s place firstly and then the bride’s place. So, what we need is the travelling time from groom to bride and from bride to the wedding ceremony.
Depends where we will get married, your wedding ceremony time will be a bit different as well. For a civil wedding ceremony hold by a civil celebrant, the whole wedding ceremony time is expected to be around 30 mins. To tie the knot in a church, no matter it is a Catholic one or Orthodox one, it is roughly 45 mins for a short service and around 1 hour for a full service.
For the output, what we have here is the groom’s getting ready starting time and bride’s getting ready starting time. These starting times are generally for photographer and/or videographer. The boys should get showered and shaved before that. And girls need to get makeup and hair done before photographer arriving.
We also include the guests, the groom and groomsmen arriving for the wedding ceremony, just in case you may need it printed or shown in your paper based or email-based wedding invitations.
The group photo, family photo and location photo starting time have been shown. So your ceremony guests, your immediate family members, the other relatives, and your bridal party will know when they are needed for photos.
For the celebration in the wedding reception, all the formalities could be arranged with great flexibilities. You could adjust the speech, the cake cutting and the couple first dancing with your MC. However, we still need to point out the time point for the couple to get formal introduction. All the guests will be seated and/or get ready for the celebration.
As a wedding photographer who stood together with the newlyweds and captures the best of them for 7 years, I got a bit of knowledge about every piece of the weddings. If you still have any questions about your wedding day timeline or just anything related to planning your wedding, do not hesitate to contact me. Always like to give you my suggestions.