Unbridely are thrilled to welcome Kate Pardey - a photographer with soul and substance - as one of our growing team of expert contributors. She is an accredited and award winning member of the Australian Institute of Professional Photographers, and also volunteers her time and skills to the amazing organisation, Heartfelt.
We asked Kate to weigh in on the (sometimes) contentious issue of wedding timelines; to get her take on how to plan your day, to make the most of natural light and maximise the opportunity for kick-ass photos.
Take it away, Kate!
Timelines are a bit like snowflakes, they’re all totally unique.
I’d like to preface my advice by saying that the best person to help you plan your timeline is YOUR photographer. I like to be very involved in helping my couples to plan timelines that suit their needs and mine!
Your photographer will have the best idea of how long they need to make things work for you. Some photographer's styles dictate that they need 1-2 hours to travel and setup an epic image, others (like me!) prefer to capture stolen moments throughout the day.
To begin timeline planning, your first step is to find out what time the sun will be setting on your wedding day.
You can find this out at http://www.sunrise-and-sunset.com/; just pop in your wedding location and date.
The ‘best’ light of the day will generally be in the hour before sunset and the 15 minutes just after (unless you’re in a valley, then move everything 15 minutes earlier). I’m always slightly inconsolable if we end up being indoors, with no windows, having speeches during this part of the day!
For outdoor ceremonies (especially in the Summer months), the earlier in the day it is, the harsher the light will be. In Summer, I highly recommend having your ceremony at 4pm or later to avoid harsh lighting, squinting and sunglasses.
From there you can choose which part(s) of the day is most important to you.
Do you want dreamy, sun-kissed ceremony images or a portrait of your secret first dance as the sun sets? Your preferences towards what you want to capture most, will dictate where you allocate your time for other tasks.
A ‘typical’ summer wedding timeline would be:
2:30pm Groom Getting Ready (30 mins)
Add in travel time
3:00pm Bride Getting Ready (60 mins)
Add in travel time
4:00pm Arrive at Ceremony location
4:30pm Ceremony (30 mins)
5:00pm Hug time (30 mins)
5:30pm Family photographs (8-10 images = 30 mins)
6:00pm Portraits with the Bridal Party (30 mins)
Add in travel time (if required)
7:00pm Entrees served (45 mins)
7:45pm Sunset Portrait time (15 mins)
8:30pm Mains served (60 mins)
9:30pm Speeches (30 mins)
10:00pm First Dance
10:30pm Late-night Portraits (15 mins)
If you’re super keen to use the best light for your ceremony, you could also opt for a 'first look' (when you see each other before the ceremony) to take some portraits and family photographs.
It’s always a great idea to be generous in your estimates and timing for the day. For example, allowing a half hour of ‘hug-time’ after the ceremony leaves a buffer if things run later than anticipated.
You’ll feel (and look!) more relaxed when you know you’re running on schedule, or even (gasp!) ahead of time.
There are also several other things you can do before the day to help it to run more smoothly:
- Sharing and going over your timeline with your bridal party and family before the big day is always a great idea.
- Having a locked-down list of family photographs (with each individual’s name) prepared (with your photographer’s help) and ensuring everyone who is listed knows when and where they need to be can also save you a bunch of time!
- Nominate a photo captain - someone who knows all the major players in your lives, who loves organising people and has a big voice to help round up all of the people on your photo list.
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We'd love to hear your opinions on creating the perfect wedding timeline. Let us know in the comments.