Timing your Wedding

Need some help working out how to time your wedding? Not sure how much time to allocate to things? Read on…

The last thing you want on your wedding day is to feel rushed and flustered and, as it is probably the first time you planning a wedding you are most likely unsure of how long things take. Below is an average time guide to help you put your timing into perspective. Allocating enough time to the various parts of your day will go a very long way to making your day slow down and feel just that bit more relaxed:


1.Hair and Make up -

As an average guide, it normally takes around 40 minutes per person for make up and 40 minutes for final hair style. We recommend that all hair and make up be completed 1 1/2 to 2 hours before the ceremony as this will allow you time with your bridesmaids to relax and organise final things before getting ready. Give the "finish make up" time to your make up artist and she will give you an approximate start time in the morning, depending on number of bridesmaids, mother of the bride etc that need to be done. The brides make up is normally completed last.


2. Getting dressed -

Start getting dressed about 1 to 11/2 hours before the ceremony, depending on the complexity of your dress. Your bridesmaids should be dressed before this time. This will allow for these final preparations to be relaxed and for you to enjoy the moment! You will be surprised at how quickly this time flies and there are always "little things" to attend to: fixing veils so they don't fly away, fiddling with earring butterflies, saying a quick hello to a guest, etc. It will also leave plenty time for some relaxed bridal portraits as well as some pics with your bridesmaids, mum, dad's arrival etc.


3. Ceremony -


Depending on the type of ceremony, allocate between 30 minutes to 1hr. After your ceremony, allow time for people to congratulate you and for you to spend some time with them. Don’t be too hasty to rush off for your Couple's creative pics: relax, have a drink, enjoy the moment. Allocate normally around 30-40 minutes for this depending on the size of your wedding. Some couples choose to cut their cake during this time.

As a guide, a relaxed amount of time between the start of the ceremony and the start of the reception should be around 3 hours.


4. Family Photos -

These images are the ones your family will most likely frame and keep and so it is a good idea to plan the groupings before your wedding. As a guide it normally takes around 5 minutes a picture. (clicking the camera button is the easy part!). 6-8 groupings is normally a good number. Family/group pics normally happen just before you go off for your creative shoot, and we recommend having them done close to where your guests are so you still feel part of the action.


5. Couples creative Photos -

The creative shoot should not take longer than 45 minutes and can be done at any time of the day depending on the style of your wedding and the type of photos you are looking for. The last 1-2 hours before sunset will give a very romantic "soft light" feel to your photos but the bright light earlier in the day can provide for more vibrant colour in your images. Some couples opt to have their couple's shoot before the wedding, others after. Discuss your ideas with your photographer and they can provide you with a good start time for these photos.


6. Reception -


Allocate a time for the “formalities” that you wish to happen, i.e: speeches, cake cutting, bouquet toss, games etc otherwise they may become an afterthought. Photographers normally have an “end time” so you want to make sure that everything you want documented happens before this time. We often get asked about when to do the Garter and Bouquet and we recommend doing it before opening your dance floor. It can kill the dancing vibe to stop the music for the garter etc and by that time guests are scattered everywhere. Use it as something leading up to the opening of the dance floor. It is also a good idea to know beforehand how long each speech will take as this can impact on the serving of your meals.


7. Travel -

If your wedding includes travel, make sure you have included the time it takes from one place to another, allowing extra time for traffic congestion etc.


8. Where to start ?

The best place to start your "Time Plan" is by writing down all the things you would like to happen at your wedding. Decide which part is the most important to you in terms of the time it has to happen, for eg: an afternoon picnic, a sunset reception etc and allocate that first. Then place the rest of the events around that. Sit down with your photographer and go through the timings with them. They will be able to guide you in terms of timing it correctly, based on the number of guests etc. Another good person to talk to is the co-ordinator at your venue. They will have a good idea of the general weather patterns in that area and will be able to advise you, for eg: Kzn midlands spring can be quite misty late afternoons making it darker/cooler earlier.

Once your timeline is drawn up, give it to the various suppliers and your bridal party and then you can relax and enjoy your day without needing to worry about it!


The timings mentioned above are an average guide to help you plan your day. If you have some unique ideas, chat to your photographer. With their experience, they can assist you in building a unique time frame. It really does go a long way to helping your day feel relaxed and that nothing gets left out.






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