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planning your wedding day timeline for photography

One of the most important things to consider when planning your wedding day timeline is your photography schedule for your big day. Especially in the busy city of Melbourne.

You can definitely ask for advice from wedding planners, wedding coordinators. In fact, you can ask your friends and family members that have already experienced the hectic day as well. Bear in mind, everyone has their own specifications on how a wedding day should go.

The information I provide are based on my own experiences. Considering wedding photographers are quite literally present with you, every step of the way. From the beginning of the day (getting ready), to the wedding ceremony, all the way to the end of the reception.

Here is a guide to help structure your wedding timeline, and allow sufficient time to allow for photography. Remember, this is a guide through the eyes of a photographer. And as photographers, our goals are different to all of the other wedding vendors. So, it may differ slightly to the other timelines and schedules you see on Pinterest, Google, wedding blogs etc.

When providing advice and suggestions on how your wedding day could look. My priority is to ensure that there is enough time for you to enjoy and celebrate your day with your family and friends (without the rush). Whilst documenting and capturing the beautiful moments of the day with your friends and family.

The last thing we want to do is not give you the time to savour the moments with your bridesmaids, your groomsmen. If you are in a rush, or stressed because you can't find your veil (hopefully not!). How you feel at that moment in time will show physically in your photos, and it is the last thing we want.

This guide is based on an afternoon ceremony start. It can always be adapted to the schedule you hope to achieve.


Goldings Winery Candid & Rustic Wedding Photography


What we photograph during a wedding day

Generally, we photograph everything. Like, EVERYTHING, from the jewellery, the earrings, the wedding dress, the suits, the shoes, the smiles, the tears, the first kiss, the family photo...you get the idea right?

As a guide, here is an idea, of the events that can occur during a typical day.

Wedding day timeline for a 2pm ceremony


Melbourne Wedding Photos Album: Bridal Portrait


Just as a reminder, this wedding photography schedule template is only a guide. If you were to start from scratch. What I would do is begin from your wedding ceremony start time, consider travel time (I typically allow for 15 minutes of travel time from location A to B. Sometimes 30 minutes if the locations are far apart). Then work backwards.

This will give you an idea on how early and what time your hair and makeup artists need to start and all the other things that need to be considered.

Normal wedding day schedule example:

9am - Hair and Make- up artist (if you have 3 bridesmaids, 1 bride)

10 am to 11:30 am - Grooms getting ready coverage (with first look with family and/or with bride)

11:30 pm to 12:00 pm - Travel to bride & bridal party location

12:00 pm - 2:00 pm - Bride getting ready coverage (with first look with Family and/or with groom)

2:00 pm - 2:30 pm - Travel to ceremony

2:30 pm - 3:30 pm - Ceremony

3:30 pm - 4:30 pm - Group photo and family photos

4:30 pm - 6:30 pm - Photography with wedding party and Bride and Groom.

5:30 pm - 6:30 pm - Cocktail hour for the guests

6:30 pm - 12:00 am - Reception (cake cutting, first dance, wedding games, speeches)

As a photographer, a likely estimate on the amount of time to document and cover a full day wedding is approximately 8-12+ hours.


Factors to consider that may delay your day

Even though I am conscious of being present in the moment of your special day, and celebrating it with your friends and family. From my observations, the wedding schedule will always be in some way, shape or form, late. It is inevitable.

Because I am based in Melbourne, traffic can be horrendous on a weekend. With such a diverse multicultural society, wedding customs may differ to traditional weddings as well. But we’re human, we can only our best to organise and prepare and not over extend the delays that can happen.

  • Hair stylist (on average time of 40 - 45 minutes/person)
  • Make up (on average of 30 - 45 minutes/person)
  • Flowers, bouquets or boutonnieres may not arrive on time.
  • Formal wear gets dirty or is not ready before hand.
  • Family or friends may be late to your getting ready photos or even the ceremony
  • Packing up everything needed for the wedding ceremony
  • Traffic especially in densely populated cities
  • Distance between getting ready locations, ceremony location and reception venue.
  • Parking
  • Cultural customs which I explain a little more below...


Candid Melbourne Cultural Wedding PhotographyCultural wedding customs to consider

When it comes to ethnic or asian weddings, there are quite a few customs that are completely different to the typical Australian wedding.

Chinese Wedding Door Games

In chinese tradition, the Groom is expected to pick up their bride at her family's home. It is one of the most important chinese wedding traditions and is still being conducted today.

Chinese Tea Ceremony

Once the Groom has received the bride, the Chinese tea ceremony is normally conducted at the Grooms house first, and the Brides house second. The purpose of this is to pay respect and gratitude to their parents (also relatives and in-laws). Welcome the bride and groom into the respective families and in return receive blessings from the parents and relatives.

From my experience, these ceremonies are typically held on the same day as the wedding. It usually starts first thing in the morning (6am) and continues all the way until the ceremony itself and then the reception.

Indian Weddings

Indian weddings in general are huge. But one of the most recognised is the Mehendi, which is where Henna is conducted on the hands and feet of the bride.

And then there is the Haldi Ceremony, where the families gather and bless the couple by spreading oil, water and turmeric over the couple.

Questions to consider when planning your wedding that could save you time

  • Will I be getting ready at the wedding ceremony venue? or will I book a hotel room, get ready at that location and hire wedding cars to take you to the ceremony location?

  • Will I have my first look wedding photos?

  • Will the ceremony location be the same as the reception venue? (i.e. Am I going to get married at a church and then have your reception at a vineyard?

  • Will transportation be provided to my guests if the location of the ceremony and reception are significant different?

  • Will I have a first look with my family when I am getting ready? or will I have time to have a first look with my significant other? or both?

  • Will I want to have your Bride/Groom portraits before the ceremony? or after?

  • What time will I start my reception? When will speeches start? When will I have my first dance? Will I dance with my parents?

  • Will I play wedding games at the reception?

  • What time will I cut my cake?


Let's face it, we're not born to know how to plan a wedding, but with my experience, and these are just some things to consider when planning your wedding. It's better to be prepared and be aware of the things you may not have thought about.

Photography services

The biggest problem for any timeline checklist is time. For us photographers, time is a key factor to ensure all the aesthetics and details you chose for your special day. This includes capturing details of your flowers, bridesmaid dresses, wedding venues, wedding cakes. So it can all be immortalised in your wedding album.

As part of my services, I assist you and can provide suggestions on how your wedding day timeline can look to ensure there is enough time for you to be present and enjoy your day. And of course, enough time for photos.

Full day wedding photography coverage

Many photographers will provide a collection or package with a wedding time line of 4-8 hours coverage. At Houng Taing Photography, the collections we provide are a full day coverage (up to a point). This normally starts from 10+ hours. If you are looking for coverage between that starts at around 4 hours. Please check my elopement photography services.

Why do I do this? A full day wedding coverage is provided because I want to take time out of the equation. By taking time out of the equation, this will allow you to focus more on the day. You won't have to worry about me having to charge you extra (unless of course it goes beyond midnight). You won't have to worry about me rushing to take your photographs. And the best part is, you won't have to worry about where we should be going. Everything will be planned well in advanced at the pre-wedding meetings.

The only problem you'll have is knowing you'll get to enjoy your day with your family and friends. The biggest problem of all is knowing that you're going to be given so many amazing photos. And they'll look natural (because you're no longer stressed out), look authentic (because everyone is having fun), and look like a fairytale (because you got to live and experience the wedding of your dreams).

As the saying goes: "a wedding lasts a day, but a marriage lasts a lifetime".

What is it about your marriage you want to remember on hold onto on this significant day?

Ready to plan your wedding day?


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