Say ‘I Do’ to a Hassle-Free Day: 7 Timeline Tips Every Couple Should Know.

Wedding Day Timeline Tips

Being one of Adelaide’s top-tier wedding photographers, I hear one question again and again: “How do I craft the perfect wedding day timeline?”

Let’s be real, organising your big day can feel like piecing together a beautiful puzzle. Maybe it’s your first time orchestrating such a grand event, and hey, even seasoned pros need a hand every now and then!

Picture this. You’ve just sealed your vows. The world stopped when you locked eyes with your partner. Maybe you even spotted a hint of a tear in your dad’s eyes for the very first time. Just when you thought things couldn’t get more Aussie, a cheeky kookaburra decided to join your ceremony right before that magical ring moment. And as if on cue, a rainbow heralded your first kiss as a married couple.

Yet, amidst this magic, you suddenly realise the sun’s slipping away, and you didn’t carve out those golden moments just for the two of you and your photos… Oops!

Timing is everything, and while it might slip down the priority list, that’s okay. Remember this: “Extra time for photographs never hurts!”

Keep scrolling and let me guide you through crafting that flawless wedding day timeline.

Firstly, here’s a little secret: two popular ways to time your day revolve around the “Golden Hour” and the “First Look”.

GOLDEN HOUR With this approach, anticipation builds as you and your partner avoid seeing each other until that pivotal ceremony moment. Visualise the exhilarating feeling, the collective gasp of everyone present, and the sheer emotion of the moment – akin to how I felt when I first glimpsed my wife, Laura. It’s an experience that’s both profoundly touching and, trust me, a memory cherished by all. And who knows, it might just become one of those epic, fun, and emotive shots Time With Alex is renowned for!

The “Golden Hour” isn’t just a poetic name; it’s a photographer’s dream. It’s that magical time of day when the sun nestles low, casting a warm, gentle glow that brings out the best in every frame. This soft luminescence elevates your wedding photos from memorable to absolutely breathtaking.

Now, once the vows are exchanged, it’s usually time to assemble the family for those cherished formal shots. You know the ones I’m talking about: the photos that’ll find their way into family albums and be shown to generations to come. Pro tip from Time With Alex? Get these shots in right after the ceremony. It’s the one time you’re almost guaranteed to have everyone in one place. And trust me, rounding up Aunt Judy later in the evening after she’s had a few might be a task!

Once the family snapshots are secured, it’s on to the bridal party. Share a few candid moments, some hearty laughs, and create memories that’ll last a lifetime. And then? It’s your time to shine, just the two of you in front of the lens, basking in the golden Adelaide sun, enjoying your first time together a newly married couple!

Meanwhile, your guests are probably indulging in delightful canapés and toasting to your newfound marital bliss. After your own brief respite, perhaps with some tasty treats and a drink or two, it’s time to make your grand entrance into the reception. Ready to dance the night away under the South Australian stars? Time With Alex has got every moment covered.


In my humble perspective (with a sprinkle of bias, of course), this segment of your day stands out as the golden pause. It’s that sliver of time when you and your partner can genuinely absorb the gravity of your union, free from the delightful chaos of loved ones. Just two souls in the midst of boundless joy, holding onto each other, reliving the memories freshly etched.

While planning your timeline around Golden Hour is no stranger to Adelaide weddings, it isn’t without its nuances.

  1. A Classic for a Reason: There’s something undeniably timeless about this strategy. Perhaps you’ve always yearned for that dreamy aisle-walk, locking eyes with your fiancé amidst a setting sun. Believe me, it’s every bit as magical as you’d imagine.
  2. That Enchanting Light: Photography, at its core, is about capturing light. And what better light than that of the Golden Hour? Think 1-2 hours before sunset when the sun gracefully bows, draping the world in soft, forgiving hues. Unlike the piercing midday sun, this gentle glow is every photographer’s muse.
  3. Keep in mind Adelaide’s seasons. Winter can see the sun waving goodbye by 5 pm.
  4. Summer might have it lingering till past 8 pm. So, craft your timeline accordingly.
  5. Serenity Now: The formalities are wrapped up. The emotional whirlwind of the ceremony, now a cherished memory. It’s time to take a breath, enjoy the moment, and revel with your bridal entourage and, most importantly, your partner.


  1. Know Your Sunset: A quick trick to keep up your sleeve – Google “sunset time [your location] [date]”, and voila! You have your sunset hour. But remember, sunset doesn’t instantly translate to darkness. Post-sunset, we get this lovely 15-20 minutes window of what photographers fondly call “Blue Light”. Trust Time With Alex, this ethereal glow can lead to some genuinely captivating shots.

  2. Reverse Engineer Your Day: Let’s say the sun sets at 5 pm. With that in mind, kick off your ceremony around 2-3 pm. This gives us a generous hour or so to capture the magic with your bridal party and, of course, the star couple.

  3. Family Comes First: Right after you’ve exchanged vows, reserve about 20 minutes for those evergreen family photos. And if you hail from a big family, perhaps allocate a tad more time to ensure everyone gets their moment in the limelight.

  4. The Grand Group Shot: Dreaming of that grand photo with everyone? A delightful keepsake, no doubt! Set aside roughly 10 minutes for this one. A gentle heads-up: make sure everyone sticks around post-ceremony – we don’t want Uncle Bob missing because he’s off for a quick smoke!

  5. Embrace the Clouds: If the day turns out to be overcast, fret not. While the sunset might play hide and seek, the late afternoon still promises a soft, diffused light, ideal for those candid, emotive shots that Time With Alex is celebrated for.


While the allure of the Golden Hour schedule is undeniable, it does come with its set of challenges.

  1. Time Crunch: The most prominent issue is often the tight timeline. With some weddings only granting an hour’s gap between the ceremony and reception, we’re looking at squeezing in formal family photos, bridal party moments, and the cherished couple portraits. This could be a tad overwhelming unless your venues are in close proximity and you’re content with a concise photo session.
  2. The Hustle: A compressed schedule might mean things feel hurried. Wanting diverse shots with all your friends and extended family? It might be a squeeze.
  3. Cocktail Hour Conundrum: With the focus on capturing those moments, you might miss out on mingling during cocktail hour. It’s a precious pause to rekindle with long-lost buddies, beloved relatives, and essentially, all the folks who adore you.

Your Golden Hour Blueprint

Consider this a sample timeline for a wedding planned around the Golden Hour, with a sunset at 5.44pm on a sprightly September day in Adelaide. The couple, ceremony, and reception – all share a single locale.

  • 1 pm – Getting Ready: Preparations with both parties
  • 3 pm – The Main Event: Ceremony begins
  • 3.30 pm – Group Photo & Family Photos: Capturing moments with family and friends
  • 4 pm – Time to Unwind: Cocktail hour
  • 4.30 pm – The Best of Both Worlds: Bridal party and the couple’s session
  • 6.00 pm – The Festive Feast: Reception kicks off
  • 10 pm – Adieu to the Lens: Photography wraps up
  • 11 pm – The Grand Farewell: Reception concludes

All in all, you’re looking at a wholesome 9 hours of photographic coverage, ensuring every laugh, tear, and dance move finds its way into your wedding album.


Tom seeing Peta for the first time!

The “First Look”: What’s the Hype?

Imagine a moment where time pauses, and it’s just the two of you – taking in the realization that you’re about to embark on the most beautiful journey together. This is the essence of the “First Look”.

In layman’s terms, the “First Look” is a heartfelt, private rendezvous between the couple before the ceremonial pomp and pageantry kick off. Instead of the traditional aisle reveal, you get to see each other in an intimate setting, sans the watchful eyes of the wedding congregation.

Gaining traction over recent years, the “First Look” is no longer a novel concept. I have been privy to numerous such moments, and trust me, they’re pure magic. From tearful smiles to giggles to overwhelming emotions – it’s raw, genuine, and incredibly touching. Though it might call for a quick makeup touch-up, many couples I’ve worked with often list it as one of their day’s top highlights.

The scene usually plays out in a secluded spot, ensuring utmost privacy. While it feels like just the two of you in your own world, trust that your photographer (hello from me!) will be there, discreetly capturing these fleeting moments from a distance.


Six Gentle Whispers for Considering a “First Look”

  1. A Sheltered Embrace: If the thought of countless eyes on you feels overwhelming, this private moment offers a respite. It’s just you two, away from the world’s gaze.
  2. A Balm for the Nerves: Standing in front of a sea of guests can escalate those butterflies. The “First Look” can be a soothing prelude, ensuring that when you walk down the aisle, it’s with a heart that’s a tad more at ease.
  3. A Photographer’s Dream: Beyond giving ample time for capturing your day, the “First Look” brings with it raw, untapped emotions. These are the photos, bathed in authenticity, that you’ll hold close for years to come.
  4. More Moments with Your Beloved: This intimate rendezvous means more time spent with your partner on this monumental day. And isn’t sharing moments with your confidant the most significant win?
  5. Seamless Transitions: No more waiting in limbo between ceremony and reception. Post “First Look”, you’re free to glide into cocktail hour, mingling and creating memories.
  6. Embracing the Evening: Especially during winter’s shorter days, this approach ensures you make the most of the natural light, paving the way for a leisurely, joy-filled evening.

Why the “First Look” Might Not Be for Everyone

  1. An Earlier Start: Opting for a “First Look” means recalibrating your wedding day schedule. It beckons an earlier morning, with preparations beginning sooner than they might traditionally.
  2. Chasing the Light: Ideally, photography thrives in the soft embrace of the Golden Hour, close to sunset. A “First Look” happens earlier in the day, and while the light might not be as enchanting, rest assured, a seasoned photographer can still craft beautiful memories. It’s essential, though, to set expectations.
  3. Honoring Traditions: If your heart has always been set on the age-old tradition of that first gaze down the aisle, the “First Look” might feel out of tune with your vision. After all, traditions resonate deeply and are cherished for a reason.


Crafting a “First Look” Timeline: A Glimpse into the Day

For those enticed by the idea of a “First Look”, here’s how a typical wedding day might unfurl, especially with an anticipated sunset at 5.44pm on a delightful 10th September, springtime in Adelaide:

  • 11.30 am – The Prelude: Both sides begin their preparations, immersing in the buzz and anticipation.
  • 2 pm – The “First Look” Unveiled: A private rendezvous for the couple, followed by a lively session with the bridal party.
  • 3 pm – The Main Event: Ceremony commences, setting the stage for promises and heartwarming moments.
  • 3.30 pm – The Group Chronicles: Time to gather with family and friends for those timeless snapshots.
  • 4 pm – An Encore for the Couple: With the “First Look” behind, this session allows for more relaxed, candid captures.
  • 4.30 pm – Time to Unwind: Dive into cocktail hour, savoring conversations and creating memories with loved ones.
  • 5.30 pm – The Grand Gala: Reception kicks off, heralding an evening of celebration, dance, and merriment.
  • 10 pm – Adieu to the Lens: As the clock strikes ten, the official photography coverage draws to a close.

All said, this timeline maps out a comprehensive 11-hour photographic journey, capturing the essence of every pivotal moment.


Guiding You Through Wedding Day Preparations: Time With Alex Tips

1. Location, Location, Location:
Opting to prepare at the same or nearby locations comes with many advantages. It minimizes travel, reduces stress, and ensures smooth transitions. Making this choice can set the day off on a comfortable and timely foot.

2. Home Sweet Home or Hotel Elegance?

Both options offer distinct perks so let’s run through those here.

A hotel exudes a streamlined elegance, often free from the clutter that homes naturally accrue. It’s a flexible space and can comfortably accommodate both sides of the bridal party. However, getting ready at home introduces a sense of familiarity and narrative depth to the photographs. Despite potential clutter, it can lend a genuine touch, reflecting your personal story. Any time I’m in a family home I often find myself seeking out household items or specific examples that showcase a couples personalities and values too. Getting ready in your home is the best way to add an extra special storytelling element to your day.

3. Embrace the Glow of Natural Light:

Lighting stands as the cornerstone of photography. It breathes life into every snapshot, bestowing a distinct charm that’s unparalleled, enhancing every image.

Natural light, with its innate beauty, not only flatters but adds a depth and quality to photos that’s sure to elicit joy.

Midday, with its blazing sun casting sharp shadows, is often considered a challenging time for capturing moments. It’s best to sidestep this period for ceremonies, preventing guests from squinting into the bright light.

To navigate this, plan your wedding day timeline thoughtfully before finalizing any bookings. This ensures you’re clear on the ceremony’s start and the reception’s commencement, allowing for ample photography sessions in between.

4. Gifts and Letters: A Touching Gesture:
A budding tradition amongst modern couples is the exchange of heartfelt letters, often accompanied by a thoughtful gift. Shared just before their first look, this gesture is not obligatory but offers a delightful element of surprise to the festivities. These intimate moments, frozen in photographs or filmed, become treasured keepsakes.

Reflect for a moment – when did you last receive a handwritten note? The wedding day provides a beautiful occasion to pen down your feelings for your soon-to-be spouse.

5. Sharing the ‘First Look’ with Loved Ones:
Another popular idea in the world of weddings is the heartfelt “first look” with parents. It’s a moment where they see their child, all dressed up, ready to embark on a new chapter. Speaking from a father’s perspective, the day my daughter says her vows will undoubtedly be a whirlwind of emotions for me.

Imagine the depth of love your parents hold for you. The sheer joy and pride they’ll feel watching you step into marital bliss. Why not bestow upon them this unforgettable experience, a memory etched in their hearts forever?

6. Stay True to You/Be Adventurous:

When the day comes for us to present you with your wedding album, our deepest wish is to hear you exclaim, “WOW WOW WOW!” Not just because the photos radiate beauty, but because they resonate with your essence, painting the tale of your day precisely as it lives in your memory. Prioritise moments that tug at your heartstrings and craft moments for yourself that will bring you the most joy.

If a visit to your grandmother at her nursing home is what you desire, because she can’t attend your wedding, make it happen. If you want to go for a skate on your skateboards while chowing down on an ice-cream cone, let’s do it! If capturing moments at that cherished local cafe, where you had your first date, feels right, then embrace it.

I urge you to look beyond mere aesthetics. Reflect on what truly matters to you, and let those emotions guide your choices so that your photographer can capture who you are on every other day that’s not your wedding day.

7. Embracing the Unpredictable:
Sometimes, despite our best intentions, unexpected twists find their way into wedding days.

Plans might veer off course, or certain moments may not play out as envisioned. But you know what? It’s all part of the journey and it’s perfectly okay!

The day is all about you, so if you’re late, then everything else will have to wait until you’re ready!


Thought we were done? Not quite yet! Over the years, a common query I receive is regarding the duration allocated for each segment of the wedding day. Drawing from my experience and understanding what works best, I’ve crafted a guideline to assist you in planning your schedule.

Keep in mind, these durations are foundational suggestions. For a more relaxed and seamless flow, consider adding a bit of cushion time to these estimates. Let’s dive in!

Girls Getting Ready – 1.5 hours

Boys Getting Ready – 45 mins

Ceremony (depends if its a civil or church) – 30 to 2 hours

Family Photos – 15mins to 30mins

Large Group Photo – 10mins

Bridal Party Photos – 30mins

Couple Photos – 60mins


We’ve journeyed to the end of this piece, and I genuinely hope you found value in the “7 Simple Wedding Day Timeline Tips” from Time With Alex.

Still grappling with the intricacies of your wedding planning? No worries. With over 200 weddings under my belt (and having navigated the whirlwind of my own big day), I understand the challenges.

For further insights, dive into these additional articles I’ve crafted. They’re tailored for those tying the knot in Adelaide, and I’m confident they’ll offer you more clarity and guidance. Cheers to making memories!

25 of the Best Adelaide Wedding Venues

Planning your honeymoon? I’ve got something for you here too

5 Tips to Get the Best Getting Ready Photos on Your Wedding Day

Here’s an extensive deep dive into 10 of my very favourite wedding venues.

A Deep Dive into 10 of My Absolute Favourite Wedding Venues.

And one of my favourite weddings in the Adelaide Hills at Glen Lea Homestead.

Kale & Hannah’s Wedding

If you would love to chat more about your wedding photography, I’d love to hear from you. Just reach out to me here and we’ll make it happen.

October 9, 2023

Alex Szczesniak







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