This Queenstown Wedding Day Timeline will walk you through what happens when photo-wise on your wedding day. After all, you’ve probably never been married before or had Wedding Photos taken before. So how the hell are you supposed to know what happens when and how it all works?
In this blog post, I’m going to walk you through a full day wedding step by step, including;
- Getting Ready Photos
- Ceremony at Venue A
- Family & Group Photos at the Ceremony Venue
- Bridal Party Photos at the Ceremony Venue
- Bridal Party Location Photos
- Reception at Venue B
Hopefully readin this will give you a much better idea of how your wedding day and wedding photography might go down on the day.
Ok, without further ado, let’s get stuck in!
Queenstown Wedding Day Timeline
The Totally Fake Wedding
For the sake of this blog post I’m going to make up a totally fake wedding scenario. Here are the details for our Totally Fake Wedding;
- Bride & Groom’s names are Bob & Betty (B&B from here on out).
- Wedding Date is Saturday 6 April 2021.
- Wedding Party is 60 including the entire bridal party.
- B&B have 4 brides maids including the Maid Of Honour and 4 groomsmen including the Best Man.
- Girls are getting ready at Jewel On Speargrass next door to Thurlby Domain.
- Boys are getting ready at Colonial Settler’s Motel in Arrowtown.
- Ceremony Venue is Thurlby Domain (at the ruins).
- Reception Venue is Stoneridge Estate.
- B&B have booked my 10 Hour Wedding Photography Package
- Ceremony starts at 3pm.
- Bride & Groom are scheduled to be welcomed as Man & Wife by their guests at 6pm.
- First meals are served at Stoneridge Estate at 7pm.
- True sunset on Saturday 6 April 2021 is 726pm. However, we will lose sun at Coronet Peak (location for location photos) around 530.
A good photographer will often take photos well before you even see them on the day. I often take one or two shots not long after sunrise so that I can tell the full story of the wedding day. For example, let’s just say that it’s pouring with rain first thing in the morning on B&B’s wedding day. So I pop out to get some landscape photos that show how bad the weather is early that morning. Photos like this are important to tell the story of the wedding day. Imagine it’s raining cats and dogs in the morning. By the time B&B’s Ceremony rolls around it’s all blue skies and sunshine. B&B will feel incredibly lucky and this will be a big part of their wedding story. So, they will definitely want that part of the story told in the wedding photos.
The Getting Ready Photos
Based on the 3pm ceremony time, I have told B&B that I will turn up at Jewel On Speargrass by 1230. 2 Hours is a pretty standard amount of time for me for Getting Ready Photos. There are actually a tonne of important photos I can tick off during this part of the wedding day. (We have agreed not to do getting ready photos of the boys. This is because the 15 minute travel time to and from the boys will mean I will miss a lot of shots of the girls getting ready. If they really had their hearts set on photos of the boys getting ready, there are a couple of options.
- I could get a Second Shooter for the wedding.
- Alternatively, we could just ask somebody with the boys to take a few snaps as they are getting ready).
So here is how Betty & Bob’s Queenstown Wedding Day Timeline shaped up in the end…
1200 pm – Before I even turn up at Jewel On Speargrass, I take a couple of dramatic landscape shots. In this case photos from nearby Coronet Peak showing the iconic Queenstown mountain and lake views.
1215 pm – I will also take some photos of Speargrass Flat Road with its stunning autumn colours. (Speargrass Flat Road is the tree-lined country road that both Thurlby Domain and Jewel On Speargrass are located on).
1225 pm – Before I knock on the door, I will take some photos of the location and any interesting details.
1230 pm – When I first turn up, I spend a couple of minutes introducing myself to all the girls and chatting. This is to make sure that they feel relaxed and comfortable with me.
1235 pm – Usually by the time I turn up many of the bridesmaids have finished their hair and makeup already. I will start the Getting Ready Photos with photos of any girls who are still having their makeup done. Then, in the interim while I’m waiting for the girls to get dressed I will shoot the following;
- Shots of the girls/family before they get dressed. (Eg a shot of all the girls in their kimonos/robes).
- The rings (if they are around).
- The flowers.
- Jewellery and other accessories (eg garter, notes from FH etc).
- The Brides’ Dress & Shoes. If the bride’s dress is a long one it can be difficult to find a spot that (a) looks good and (b) is tall enough to hang the dress. I always carry a suction cup hook for this purpose. Luckily, the old stone stables of Thurlby Domain are right next door to Jewel On Speargrass. And the stables make an unbeatable spot to take photos of the Wedding Dress for a Thurlby Domain Wedding.
- The Bridesmaids’ dresses.
200 pm – As the ceremony is 3pm but is right next door at Thurlby Domain, the girls probably won’t slip into their dresses until around 2pm. When it’s time for the girls to get dressed, being a male I am not in the room. Once the girls are dressed, I will then shoot the finishing touches of the wedding dress – usually the MOH or bridesmaids doing up the buttons/laces on the back of the dress, helping with shoes, that kind of thing.
225 pm – I walk over to the ruins at Thurlby Domain so I am there half an hour before the ceremony starts.
230 – 245 pm – I will get shots of the ruins showing the seating, guests and a nervous Bob waiting at the altar. At this point I will usually chat with Bob & the Celebrant and offer to help them coordinate timing of music when the bride is walking down the aisle. The way I usually help coordinate things at this part of the day is as follows;
245 – 255 pm – I wait at the gates of Thurlby Domain on Speargrass Flat Road to get shots of the bridal car arriving. (With autumn colours on the treelined road this is usually an AMAZING photo). I will make sure the bridal car gets as close to the ceremony as possible but parks somewhere that the bride can’t be seen by guests or groom. At this point, I will then get shots of the bride getting out of the bridal car and a quick shot of all the girls and Betty’s Dad with the bridal car (or without if it’s a boring car). I will give them a few minutes and then check that they’re good to go.
255 pm – Once the girls tell me they are good to go, I ask them to wait there for a few moments. Then I pop back up to the altar, check with the Celebrant, groom and whoever is hitting “play” on the music that they are all ready. If the wedding party are good to go, I explain that the girls are all good to go and once I walk back out to them, I will be coming back in with them literally 10 seconds behind me. I get the thumbs up from everybody there and then return to the girls.
S#*t Is About To Get Real!
258 pm – I double check the girls area all still good to go and tell them to start walking to the altar in their predetermined order 10 seconds after I walk in ahead of them. I remind them at this point to walk slowly and leave a decent gap (but often this doesn’t happen because of nerves/excitement).
259 pm – I then race straight to the altar end of the aisle and crouch down low by a chair so I’m out of the way. (Usually there are front chairs vacant for the bride’s dad, flower girls etc but I always make sure I’m not too close to anybody or blocking anybody’s view).
300 pm – the girls start making their way down the aisle and I get shots of all of them. (If they forget to leave a big enough gap or any of them are walking too fast I might not be able to get shots of all of them. It’s also important for family and guests that the girls leave a decent gap and walk slowly. People want to see all of the girls walk down the aisle and if there aren’t big enough gaps or somebody walks too fast family members don’t get a good view of their loved one.
300 – 315 pm – with most Queenstown outdoor/non-religious ceremonies they typically only take around 15 – 20 minutes. This depends on your celebrant and the vows you choose however. I have been to one outdoor non-religious ceremony that went on for ages but usually they are pretty short and sweet. (It’s not uncommon for church ceremonies however for them to last 45 minutes to an hour).
315 – 320 pm – Betty & Bob and their 2 witnesses sign the marriage licenses.
320 – 325 pm- Betty & Bob walk back down the aisle as Man & Wife.
325 – 335 pm – Betty & Bob walk to a clear spot and their bridal party and family approach to hug and congratulate them. I will shoot this part of the day totally candidly with a long lens. I will especially try to capture the moment Betty & Bob are hugged by their parents.
340 pm – After capturing some hugging & congratulations photos I will let either Betty, Bob or the Best Man or MC know I’m walking the short distance to my car to grab my ladder. I do this so they don’t suddenly look for me for a photo and freak out when I’m not there. I leave my ladder in the car because otherwise it’s an eye-sore that might accidentally be visible to the guests.
345 – 400pm – I will find a spot for the Wedding Party Photo with a great view of the ruins that won’t require people moving too much. At this point I will get everybody in position for the group photo, directing everybody into position from my ladder so I can ensure I can see everybody. With larger or noisier wedding parties I may enlist the help of the Best Man or MC or use the musician’s mike to wrangle everybody into position. Note; 15 minutes may seem like a lot of time for one photo and it is. But any time you are taking a photo of 60 or more people it’s going to take a while to get everybody in position and arranged so you can see every face. The photos themselves take about 30 seconds.
400 – 430 pm – Right after the Wedding Party Photo I will ask everybody to stay nearby and explain that we’re going to fire through the family photos. I will explain the order we will take the family photos in. Before the wedding I will have requested a list of family photos from Betty & Bob. I will usually tweak this list so that the photos are in the order I think will be the most efficient so we can get the family photos done as easily and quickly as possible.
430 – 445 pm – We walk to the old stone stables at the other end of Thurlby and start our Bridal party photos there. This is because at this point there will be guests everywhere still at the ruins and they will accidentally photo-bomb all our photos. We might walk down to the old stone stables and do some dark, moody and romantic shots in the stables.
445 – 500pm – For an autumn wedding like Betty & Bob’s, I would definitely do some bridal party photos on Speargrass Flat Road itself. It’s a quiet country road, it has no road markings and it is overhung and treelined with poplars that turn amazing gold and red colours at the height of autumn.
500 – 515 pm – I pop Bob & Betty into my car and we drive up the nearby Coronet Peak Ski Area Road. (We might take the bridal car instead if it’s cool or is important to them). Note; 515pm is getting super close to the time we will lose direct sun at Coronet Peak where we have agreed to do our location photos. For this reason, we have agreed to do location photos of Bob & Betty only and not take the Bridal Party with us.
515 – 540 pm – Photos of Bob & Betty at Coronet Peak and Skipper’s Saddle area. (My conservative estimate is that we will have direct sun in this area until around 530pm but I would scout it shortly before the wedding so I know to the minute when we will lose sun. I also always bring a fair amount of lighting equipment with me so it’s not the end of the world if we lose sun at the location while we’re still shooting – as long as there is some sun on the mountains in the background).
540 – 600 pm – we drive from Coronet Peak to Stoneridge Estate for the Reception.
540 pm – Once we arrive at Stoneridge Estate, I will ask Bob & Betty to wait in the car. That way, I can;
- Make sure all of the guests are at the reception and ready for the bride & groom’s arrival, and
- Get my camera gear ready for their arrival.
600 pm – Bob & Betty walk into the reception and are welcomed by their guests as man and wife.
615 – 10 pm – I will use any free time between speeches, Cutting The Cake etc for other photos. Eg shots of the venue, the nighttime landscape, details shots like the food and table arrangements etc.
700 pm – Mains are served.
800 – 830 pm – Photos of the various people giving speeches. This includes moments like the guests raising their glasses for toasts, Bob & Betty/others laughing or reacting to speeches.
900 – 915 pm – Cutting of the cake.
915 pm – Dessert is served.
945 – 1000 pm – Photos of the First Dance.
1000 – 1015 pm – Photos of guests starting to boogie/cutting loose.
1015 pm – At this point, I thank Betty & Bob and let them know I’m heading home. If they want me to stay longer we can arrange it. But otherwise I call it a night at this point.
After the wedding…
1015 – 1100 pm – I drive home after the wedding. (I live 45 minutes from Stoneridge Estate so it will take me a a while to get home).
1100 – 1115 pm – I spend 15 minutes downloading and backing up all the wedding photos. I back up to multiple local hard drives and also the cloud. This way the data is stored in 3 copies on 2 different mediums with 1 offsite backup. This means the data is as safe as it can be. If you want to know, here’s my data backup workflow;
- The first copy of the images are stored on a 10 Terabyte Drobo 5d. This Drobo has built-in redundancy and contains multiple hard drives. Even if one of the hard drives dies, I only need to replace that drive and all the data is restored without data loss).
- The second copy of the images is created automatically via Time Machine from the Drobo to a Thunderbay. (The Thunderbay is another multi-drive hard drive enclosure). Time Machine makes a copy of all the data on the Drobo and updates it every hour. Any file deletions/changes that happen on the main image library on the Drobo can be undone using the Time Machine. Eg say I edited a photo on the Drobo but later decided I preferred a previous edited version. I could use Time Machine and travel back in time until I found the version of the file I preferred. And likewise for file deletions . (Except I never delete any files so this isn’t really relevant).
- The third copy of the data is an automatic sync of all data to the cloud using Sync.com. Any changes on the main image library are automatically synced to Sync.com. So this cloud backup is always up to date and the data is stored off-site.
1115 – 1145pm – At this point I would choose 2 – 3 of my favourite photos/the most important moments from the wedding. I’ll give them a quick edit and send them attached to a thank you email to Bob & Betty. That way they have something to post/share with people straight away.
Long Story Short
So there you have it, that’s a run-down of a pretty typical 10 Hour Wedding Shoot for me. I hope you find this Queenstown Wedding Day Timeline helpful. If you have any questions or need any advice, feel free to get in touch with me here.