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A Guide to Planning Your Wedding Day Photography Timeline

I’ve put together a general wedding day timeline guide to help you plan out your wedding day and allocate the time needed to each part of the day so that your photographer can capture the best images of you and your guests!

When I photograph a whole wedding day from prep right through to the reception party, this is generally how I plan out the day. This is of course just a guide and many weddings vary so if you’re doing something totally different, that’s great! Let your photographer know your plans and they can help you plan out the best times for each component of your day.


Dress, suits, rings, shoes and all other details

Allow 20 minutes for the details to be captured.

Once the photographer arrives to the bride and the assistant shooter to the groom, they will collect all details (rings, dress, flowers, belts, shoes ect) and photograph all these details prior to the wedding party getting dressed. Therefore, hold off getting dressed early so the photographer is able to get these detail shots.

Bec Zacher Gold Coast Wedding Photographer

Bride and groom preparations with bridal party

Allow approximately 1 hour for groom prep to be photographed.

Allow 2 – 3 hours for bridal prep as hair and makeup takes longer. Allow additional time if you have a large bridal party. 

For the bride – Make sure that you leave yourself enough time for hair and makeup. Schedule in your hair and makeup artists to arrive early and finish up an hour prior to you leaving your location for the ceremony. This will give you some buffer time in case things get held up a little (which does happen!) and will also give your photographer time to capture all your small details, bridal portraits, group photos and fun candid shots of you all getting ready.

For the groom – The photographer will arrive about 1-1.5 hours before the groom is scheduled to leave for the ceremony. I suggest that everyone is showered and that all the items are together in one room so when the photographer arrives they can choose a nice bright area in the house that the boys can all get ready in and capture this.

When everyone is ready, if there’s time it’s great to capture individual portraits and bridal party shots as well as candid images before everyone heads to the ceremony.

Bec Zacher Gold Coast Wedding Photographer

The first look

Allow 30 – 60 minutes.

If you’re incorporating a first look into your day, allow time after the bridal party is all ready for the you both to meet. The first look only lasts for a few minutes but if time permits, the photographer may take some time to do some couple photos before the ceremony.

Ceremony details and venue setup

Prior to guests arriving, the photographer will arrive to the ceremony to capture the whole completed set up.

Bec Zacher Gold Coast Wedding Photographer

The ceremony

Allow approximately 30 minutes.

Ceremonies average around half an hour depending on what elements you have chosen to include in your ceremony.

Bec Zacher Gold Coast Wedding Photographer

Guest mingling and couple congratulations

Allow 15 minutes.

When the ceremony is finished, the photographer will capture the congratulations and exit of the bride and groom as they come back down the aisle. This is the perfect time to incorporate items to toss around as the bride and groom walk out.

Bec Zacher Gold Coast Wedding Photographer

The big group shot

Allow 10 minutes.

After the congratulations, the photographer will gather the entire wedding party and all the guests together for a group shot. The location will usually be very close to the ceremony area so that guests don’t have to go far.

The Family photos

Allow 20-45 minutes depending on the length of the family photo shot list.

The family photos will then take place at the ceremony location. If you’re able to allocate someone to assist that knows all the family members well then this will greatly help the photographer in gathering the family groups for images with the bride and groom.

The location photos

Allow 1-2 hours for location photos if time permits.

Having an hour or two after your ceremony for the bridal party photos and also the bridal photo session is ideal, especially if you have a large bridal party.
This allows time to travel to another location if you wish and for whole bridal party photos to be done and then for the couple’s session to follow. It’s best to do the couple’s bridal photos closer to sunset when the light is beautiful and golden.

Bec Zacher Gold Coast Wedding Photographer

Bec Zacher Gold Coast Wedding Photographer

Bec Zacher Gold Coast Wedding Photographer

Reception venue setup and details

Prior to guests arriving, the photographer will arrive to the ceremony to capture the whole completed set up.

Bec Zacher Gold Coast Wedding Photographer

Bridal party arrival to reception

Once your guests have all arrived at the reception, the bridal party will arrive and the photographer will capture the arrival of all the bridal party.

At the reception

The photographer will capture guests throughout the night, the food that is served, the speeches and the first dance.

Depending upon your chosen wedding package and the hours included, you can arrange the events of the reception so that your photographer is there to capture them.


All images in this post were taken by Bec Zacher for Figtree Pictures Wedding Photography. 


Got a question? Jump in and ask me a question below in the comments.  

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