“The more time you have, the less stressed you are, the better the photographs”

How to manage time on a wedding day

Many of the wedding questions I get from couples are around wedding day timings. As planning progresses, you’ll be building up a picture of the day (pun intended!) and it will be really helpful to know the typical durations of various parts of the day to help you plan things.

I include a virtual planning meeting with every couple where we’ll go through timings and I can share advice, but if you’re in the early stages of planning, this guide should give you a rough idea.

When it comes to photos, it’s best to consult with your photographer as there are many different approaches. I specialise in largely informal, natural documentary photography, combined with creative and artistic photos. The photo timings shown below will reflect that mix.

I’ve included a sample schedule below to help you with your planning.

South African Award Winning Wedding Photographer Darrell Fraser
Darrell Fraser Fatherland Wedding Venue Photographer
Darrell Fraser Garden Route Wedding Photographer

First up, Bridal Preparations & Detail!

Best advice I can give any bride is to PLEASE GO FOR A TRIAL for both your hair and make-up. I have heard of too many brides after the wedding being very unhappy and not what they expected. You cannot expect to look like a Pinterest photo if you haven’t gone for a trial.

Some of my wedding packages include a bridal boudoir photoshoot and it is a perfect time to do your makeup and hair trial. A word of warning, if your makeup artist does not colour tone your foundation to match your neck line and chest, I will unfortunately have to charge you an additional R350.00 per photo for colour toning and correction per photo.

It’s always best to check with your chosen make-up artist/hairstylist, but as a rough guide, allow 45 minutes for make-up and 45 minutes for hair per person. Usually, the bride has her make-up done last but remember to allow time to get your dress on. Bridesmaids usually help with the dress so it’s best that bridesmaids and your Mum all have their dresses on before they help you in to your dress. If your dress has a zip with buttons, have a crotchet hook handy as it’s easier to do up. If your dress is a lace-up style, ensure the person who’s helping with that on the day has attended your dress fitting.

I will start off by taking photos of all your detail which include your wedding rings, shoes, garter, wedding dress, jewellery and your wedding stationery. Please make sure that all of these are grouped together so that I can do this first at my arrival. This includes the groom detail.

I will take photos while you are getting ready during your hair and make-up session. Please make sure your room is tidy at all times. I normally suggest that the venue assigns a staff member to be available at all times to make sure everything is neat. You do not want your photos with clutter and mess in the background. If I make use of a 2nd shooter, he/she will attend to the groom getting ready photos, otherwise I will pop out briefly (+- 30 minutes) to visit the groom’s room.

Next up, Bride and Groom Portraits!

If you have too many people in your room while you are getting ready, believe me, it will just add to the stress levels … it gets very busy!


By this time I allocate 30 minutes to do the groom portraits and then 1 hour for the bridal portraits. So please plan ahead and be ready an hour and a half before you walk down the aisle.

As a seasoned Wedding Photographer, most Grooms I’ve ever come across don’t particularly want or think they need Groom photos. BUT … the reason I do this job is to create a visual story of your day to help you remember it from start to finish. And a wedding is about the marriage of TWO people.

At this time I will ask everyone to leave the room so that the bride/groom can be relaxed ensuring I have the lead to start capturing their portraits. I will guide and pose you and will do a lot of talking, ensuring we get the most out of your portrait session.

Brides … hopefully you have a big enough room with ample natural light, as well as a big enough outside area to have a variety of bridal portraits. I know you don’t want to get your dress dirty, and during the session outside one of your bridesmaids can assist with holding your dress off the ground while we walk around for the various bridal portraits.  Don’t be afraid to ask your hair and makeup artist for touch up samples. It is always nice to have that lipstick touch up in the middle of your photos to keep things fresh! This way you are able to keep your lipstick color consistent instead of adding your pink from home over your red from the salon!

South African Award Winning Wedding and Portrait Photographer Darrell Fraser
Darrell Fraser Tsekama Wedding Venue Photographer Theodore Jantjies Tammy
Pot de Val Riverside Escape Parys Wedding Photographer Darrell Fraser
Darrell Fraser Pretoria Wedding Photographer Castello Di Monte
South African Award Winning Wedding and Portrait Photographer Darrell Fraser

Couple Session

The couple session should be around 60 minutes and should take place ideally about 1 hour before sunset. This is the best time in terms of lighting as the light is often softer and produces stunning images. This time also gives you a chance to have a small moment together during your wedding day. Since golden hour is such an important time, you can either schedule that couples portraits are done just before reception starts or about 20-30 minutes into dinner (that way you can have time to eat then sneak away for your portrait session).

I normally suggest to the venue to appoint a staff member to accompany us during this time with some snacks and refreshments as I tend to make you walk quite a bit to the various spots. You can also ask one of the groomsmen to take on this task.

Brides, I love the fact that you invested in a pair of stunning high heels, but for your couple session please have a handy pair of flat shoes ready for the walk.

My typical working timeline for your wedding day

THE WEDDING DAY TIMELINE (if the sun sets at 7pm – Garden Route):

– My Arrival (anytime between 10h00 and 11h00 depending on your package and timeline)
– Decor: (30min)
– Bride and Groom accessories: 30 – 45 min
– Groom (portraits/getting ready): 45 min
– Bride (portraits/getting ready):  45min-1hr
– Ceremony (this includes signing, confetti – some ceremonies are longer):  45min-1hr
– Family and group photos: 30min
– Bridal party: 10-15min
– Couple: 1hr (sunset time Garden Route: 19h00 – sunset time Gauteng: 18h00)
– Reception Starts
– Couple enter and cut the cake
– Starters
– Toasts & Speeches
– Dinner
– Opening dance floor
– Garter & bouquet toss
– Night Shoot (please make sure you make yourselves available for at least 15min – I will call you once I have done my setup)
– Photographer coverage ends: 21:00 (if 9 hours booked)
Please make sure that all the formal things fit into the time left. It is best to get these done early, with not a lot of breaks in between. Then you and your guests can enjoy the evening)

I hope this timeline helps when you plan your wedding day - now let's Celebrate Your Love Story!