How to Create a Wedding Day Timeline for the Best Photos (Getting Ready Edition!)

As your wedding day timeline coach, cheerleader and hype girl (I wear many hats and would walk around with pom poms if I could) – I’m here to help you get the most out of your snaps. So if you’re ready to plan the ‘getting ready’ portion of your big day and get the best pics from it, you’ll find my best tips all wrapped up in this juicy guide.

Rules. These bad boys were made to be messed with, and your wedding day timeline is no exception. It can be kinda daunting to know what a wedding day timeline even looks like — and if you’re doing it right. So, to help take the edge off the planning process, I’ve created this cheat sheet (it’s no whisky sour but hey – it’s pretty close!) 

There’s no ‘right’ way to get hitched. Think of your wedding day options like an all-you-can-eat bottomless brunch – the limit does not exist. 😛 And once you’ve cracked that traditional mould like a tasty crème brûlée, you’ll be free to do your wedding day your way. Not everyone else’s.

Location, Location

You know *that friend* who’s always there, holding your hair back when you’ve had, um, four too many visits to the open bar? Buffer time offers that same level of safety and protection, so do future you a solid and always allow for extra time for travel, traffic and parking. Weddings are rad. Being late to weddings, especially when they’re yours? Not so rad.

It’s also an excellent idea to triple-check any events your wedding day falls on. Take Punt Road in Melbourne, for example. It’s notorious for traffic jams during the Victorian AFL season and road closures can happen during marathons or parades (which seem to occur every weekend?) 

My tip: Book a cool Airbnb near your venue to avoid stress, disruption and forehead sweat. Bonus points if it’s a super-cute Airbnb with loads of natural light – that’ll make your photos even better.

Getting Ready

This portion of the day will gift you plenty of memorable snaps — especially if you’re getting ready separately. After all, it’s SO fun flipping through your photos after the wedding and seeing what your lover got up to. 

This is also that time of day when people are feeling excited, nervous or both, and are all normal feelings to have. So to settle those heightened emotions, here’s my cheat sheet for how to best navigate this time of day:

👩🏻‍❤️‍👨🏾For bride and groom couples:

The groom is usually up first, ‘cos brides *typically* have more details to photograph… but this isn’t always the case. 

👩🏽‍❤️‍💋‍👩🏼For two brides or two grooms:

Your photographer will make the executive decisions based on your plans, details, people and parties. 

👨🏾‍🤝‍👨🏽Getting ready together?

Allow 1.5 hours of wiggle room.

Yep, it’s a lot of puzzle pieces, and this why I love to create a tailored timeline for my couples. Fitting those tricky puzzle pieces together = my specialty!

Info overload? Here’s (another) handy cheat sheet:

🪩For the grooms:

Detail photos & hanging out (20 mins)
Getting dressed (15-30 mins)
Portraits (10 mins)

Total: 45 mins - 1 hour

🪩For the brides:

Detail photos & hanging out (30-45 mins)
Getting dressed (15-30 mins)
Portraits (15 mins)

Total: 1-1.5 hours

🪩For couples getting ready together

While this isn’t for everyone, it’s a super cute way to break tradition. Plus, if being around your partner the morning of your wedding makes you feel calm, why not spend more time together before the champagne is popped?

Total: Allow 1.5 hours

It’s All In The Details

Time needed: 20-45 mins

Photographers love a good story (I mean, who doesn’t?) and that’s why we LOVE to start with gorgeous detail shots. This is where I snap the flat lays and set the scene for the day. You know, your heirloom jewels, wedding cufflinks, epic bouquet – all that jazz! So when you’re flipping through the photo album long after your wedding day, you’ll have a story all laid out in front of you. 

Hot Tip 🔥I’d suggest gathering these items the day before for guaranteed chilled vibes. This includes any tiny details that you, or your photographer, might want to snap, like:

  • Wedding invite (if you have a physical one)
  • Shoes
  • Jewellery such as earrings, rings, cufflinks
  • Flowers (bouquets & buttonholes)
  • Perfume or cologne 
  • Special momentos

Hanging Out

When everyone is just hanging out in their cute robes or slippers, this is when I take those iconic snaps of the wedding crew. Whether you're all exchanging gifts, poppin' champagne, or doing final makeup touches with bouts of laughter, smiles and even happy tears,— these moments are made to be captured and defs need to be accounted for in your wedding day timeline.

Dressing Up

Next up? Time to de-robe and get dressed. This is also the time when your family or friends can help you with those final touches, like clasping a necklace or pinning a buttonhole to your jacket. Perfect opportunities for some perfect snaps.

In terms of logistics (oh, that fun thing?) you have a couple of options:

🥂If you’re getting ready with your crew:

Everyone will need to get dressed first, so they can give you a hand with your outfit. 

🥂If you’re getting ready solo:

Prefer some alone time while you suit up? You don't have to get ready together with your special crew. Instead, everyone can just rock up fully dressed with a smile and ready — then they can help you apply those final touches. Remember that there is no right way to navigate this. Always do you. 

Keep in mind, these pics don’t literally have to be of you getting dressed. Some people are more private and want to do a big reveal once fully dressed. Remember that anyone can help out, and be sure to have it in your wedding day timeline. And once that’s done?

Group Shots, Shots, Shots, Shots, Shots, Shots!

Time needed: 15 mins

To top off your ‘getting ready’ time, get your people together for some group shots and say a big cheers to the epic party that’s about to commence. These are the shots (the pics, not the drinks 😜) that your parents will print and turn into magnets – you’ll be immortalised on all the family fridges forever.

It’s also a good idea to snap some portraits of everyone before the party starts and the sweat takes hold. At this point, a photographer needs a bit of great window light, and the rest is storybook history. If you’re having too much fun with your besties, there’s no need to worry about getting all the shots right there and then. You can always get those group photos later in the day.

Lastly, an individual portrait might not be top of your list, but do it anyway. Pop it in that wedding day timeline! You’ll be glad you squeezed it in when you’re looking back at your photos, and so will your new husband, wife or life partner. 

A Little Extra Time

Time needed: 10-15 mins

Did you think I’d forget about ‘the reveal’? Never. If you haven’t heard of a first look, this captures the moment when a group of people see one another all dressed up on a wedding day, and it’s one of my fave moments to snap.

First looks aren’t just for couples — you can also have a special reveal with your parents, grandparents, siblings or friends. I wholeheartedly encourage you to make your day your own — just be sure to account for the time, or let your wedding planner know what you want. Waterproof mascara is a must, though, for obvious reasons …

Extra Time For Extended Families, Pets & Kids

If you have a large extended family or pets in attendance, consider adding some extra buffer time for group shots. The nature of having pets at your wedding means that they probably won’t behave. Not only are pets usually dressed in an unfamiliar outfit with a bowtie they HATE, but they’re also probably wondering where the heck their usual toys are… and why they’re not the centre of attention. 

And speaking of guests who might not behave, try to tick off the flower girl and page boy pics early — when they’re still angelic and well-behaved. After all, they don’t get to enjoy the alcohol that we adults lap up throughout the day, so get those pics in early before the tantrums arrive. 😜

Final Notes

Remember, the photographer will need to head off a little earlier to get to the ceremony 30 mins before the start time. This means you’ll have extra time to fluff around, make final checks and take three deep breaths in front of the mirror before making your way to the venue.

Amanda x 

Sounds like a lot of effort when you’ve got a squillion other things to do? As part of my wedding photography services, I provide a tailor-made timeline which you’ll receive during our first meeting (yep, before you’ve even locked me in!) so you don’t have to stress at all. Say hi here.