Anatomy of a wedding day.

Every wedding is different; the right way to structure a wedding day is the one that best suits you. Planning a wedding should be fun! But it can all to often be stressful. Here is a guide to help you through and to give you things to consider to make the day the most memorable, both on the day and in the future when you have a look back through your gorgeous photos.


Typically couples and their celebrant will have a walk-through the day before. The videographer may get a voice-only recording of the bride and groom saying their vowels. The photographer will likely confirm locations that you will be visiting over the course of your wedding day e.g. for the group photos and it's a good way to ensure everybody is on the same page.

It's helpful to plan your rehearsal to be at the same time as your ceremony as it gives you some information about the lighting and it's good for mental preparation. Get a good night sleep if you can, but don't worry if you don't - you'll be buzzing the next day regardless.


A run sheet is a written plan of how your wedding day will flow with time stamps, contacts and locations. Vendors like your photographer, videographer will want this, as it helps them to plan how to best capture your day. Consider an on the day coordinator to help organise the day, they may be able to help you create a run-sheet. Seldom do weddings keep to the time specified on a run-sheet, but it's nice to have some time-frame in mind. I've attached an example runsheet in the link below (and you can copy and paste it into your own Word document and adjust as you need). It's worthwhile remembering that the anatomy of the day is flexible to your wishes, but generally it starts with a getting ready phase and ends with a reception. Somewhere in the middle (and most is most important) is the ceremony. Some couples prefer to have their bridal and newlywed photos before the ceremony, others plan this around golden-hour at the risk of the weather changing and sunlight diminishing. In this post, I've listed the most traditional order of events.

Getting Ready

First look captures the reaction of the groom or father of the bride (or bridesmaids... any one or group of people can have a first look) of seeing the bride in her dress for the first time. It's usually a moment of anticipation followed by raw emotion and it's best captured on video (but photo is equally good). First looks between bride and groom can be a nice way to ease the nerves before the ceremony, or start a bridal/newlywed photo session if they're planning to have it before the ceremony. A first look would otherwise happen at the ceremony when the bride comes into view or down the aisle..

Flat lay photos provide a great snapshot of the small wedding themed bits and pieces all displayed together. It could include a copy of your invite, a letter you've given to one another, jewellery, rings, tie, perfume, bouque etc can make for a nice detail shots. The boys may want to have some quirky but personalised items e.g. themed socks, ties or cuff links.

Mock-dress up photos with the boys will give you the other perspective that may otherwise be missed if there is only one photographer or a shorter photography package is opted for - often a few mock photos can be taken just before the ceremony.

For a mock 'getting ready' at the boys location, the photographer usually meets the boys earlier in the morning, the boys dress up - this prompts them to remove tags off clothing, realise that they've forgotten a shirt or shoe and find it (or race out to purchase another). The boys have some teamwork figuring out how to do up their tie or put on a boutonnière or pocket square.

Perhaps get your man to have a look and practice before the big day.

Arriving to the Ceremony

Consider transport, a vintage car perhaps?... it can make for nice photos and can be put to use after the ceremony.



  • Pick a ceremony location that is either in a open space or a shaded area in summer.
  • Plan the ceremony with the sun position in mind.
  • For best photos, pick the time of day when the sun is lower in the sky, or when there may be forecasted cloud cover. When the sun is high in the sky, it casts a shadow under the eye (like a panda) and if the sun shine is strong and front facing it runs the risk of having squinty faces.
  • Be mindful that if the ceremony is in the late afternoon and the sun is lower, the guests will be squinting. A photographer will always prefer to have your guests squinting instead of the bride and groom.
  • If the sun is low in the sky and off to one side of the bride/groom, say a winters morning or late afternoon then there is a risk that either the bride or groom with cast their head and shoulder shadow onto the others face or chest of the other. This is easily avoided by slightly altering the standing position of the couple.
  • You may want sunscreen on or to maximise time in the shade to reduce risk of sunburn or excessive sweating!
  • If the ceremony is inside, test the lighting to ensure it strikes a balance between being too dim and the right atmosphere.


  • Arches help to frame the couple. In photos, the aisle can be a beautiful way to lead the viewer toward the couple. Ensure the aisle is of good spacing and guests don't enter the aisle once the ceremony begins. If a videographer is hired, there may be a tripod positioned near the front of the aisle.
  • Trees and barrels with symmetry or a vast mountain/landscape look exceptionally good too.
  • Real flowers always look best, however artificial flowers can be deceivingly realistic from a short distance away.
  • Have celebrant standing slightly in front of the arch, and the couple slightly further away again.


  • Check if the venue has these or how many can be seated. Some guests may need to stand at the back or outside of the seating.
  • Some outdoor seating is best left to be set up until it's almost ceremony time, just in case it may get wet with rain or dew.

From where about will the bride enter to walk down the aisle? Will the bride be given away by her father?

What music are they walking to, how many bridesmaids will be walking down the aisle before her?

  • Walk down the aisle with relaxed and natural rhythm, your steps will be natural for you - only with a slightly slower stride and stride length a little shorter. There is no need to do a strange bobbing and pause after each step. Please wear a smile (everybody).

If the groom hasn't already seen the bride in her dress, the photographer will aim to prioritise this moment as a 'first look' photo opportunity regardless of whether you request it.

When it comes to putting on rings, we love it if in the moment by some miracle you remember to pause with the ring half-way on your partner's finger (at the first knuckle / distal interphalangeal joint) while you're reading your vowels, with a little push of the ring into position when you finish. All the while, having the ring visible to the audience. If you get caught up in the moment though, don't stress - what matters most is that it is a genuine heart-felt vowel.

Wet weather options? Need I say more.

Does it have a facilities for the reception?

Sound - will you need mics / speakers. For video coverage, a wireless mic will be placed discretely on the groom and marriage celebrant.

Group 'Formal' Photos

This is often the most 'clunky' part of the wedding day as guests are ready to move away from the group to drink, nibble, socialise or use the loo. Obviously bringing everybody back together is a little time consuming, so getting this photo ticked off directly after the ceremony is being time efficient. This big group photo is similar to a school class photo except people will have sun glasses, hats, purses, perhaps a bottle of bear or a glass of champaign to hide. Short people find themselves hidden, and often when they can see us, we can only see half their faces. It takes a little bit of time to orchestrate. The photographer will get up a ladder if there is one available (check with your venue) or if conditions allow, a drone may be used to gain a better vantage point. Decide early if you would like a 'horray' shot, and for that shot what you might pose or do. Sometimes a kiss goes really nicely with the guests celebrating behind you.

For the formal group photos, keep this list short. I've given an example below. For other group photos, these can usually be done as you mingle with guests later in the day. For time efficiency, start with the big groups and whittle it down to keep guests from getting frustrated about listening and waiting for their next photo. The closest family are usually very happy to wait until the end to get a photo with you.

Hot tip: The photographer always appreciates a guest with a loud voice to announce the next group of people and bring them together ready to go. The celebrant is also a good person to help the flow between the ceremony and formal group photos if they announce it in their introduction or outro speech.

Group photo list

1.      Full group shot

2.      Close Friends (large group only)

3.      Both Families

4.      Both Parents

5.      Brides Extended Family / Family / Parents

6.      Grooms Extended Family / Family Parents

7.      Bride & Groom with Bridal Party

8.      Bride & Groom with Celebrant

9.      Bride & Groom Only

Bridal & Newlywed Photos

The bridal party are your 'run around' crew, fetching you a glass of bubbly or carrying a picnic, fixing make-up, holding bouquets, beers, the veil and positioning the dress.

The photographer will generally guide you through the process, guiding you to think and feel genuine emotion in the presence of one another and the camera. If you've seen some poses that you would like to replicate, let your photographer know and perhaps send them a copy of the inspirational picture.

Keeping your guests entertained

While you are away with the photographer your guests will mingle, perhaps play some lawn games. When you return from photos it's nice to mingle and play a few games with them too.


From a photographer's perspective, at this point we are mostly concerned about the available light - knowing that dim lighting may require a flash or to accept that photos will be somewhat of a lesser detail due to grain.

Here are some things you have likely considered already as a feature of the reception:

  • MC announcing the bride and groom to the reception
  • Cake cutting
  • Bouquet toss
  • Speeches and toasts
  • Dinner and desert
  • Shoe game
  • "how well do you know the bride and groom" last person standing
  • First dance
  • Bride and her dad first dance
  • Party!

Golden & Blue Hour

Save some time for sunset photos if you haven't got photo fatigue at this stage. This time typically makes for the best photos, but the window of opportunity is usually very small. And when the light is almost gone, you may want some sparkler shots, or some off camera flash 'artistic' silhouette shots.

Feeling a little anxious or overwhelmed?

There are only so many variables you can control on the day. What happens, happens. The important part is arriving safely to the ceremony and signing the wedding documents. Prepare well but be flexible to any last minute changes.

If public speaking is not your forte, then your celebrant may have you read from cards, whisper to one another, or have you verbally repeat the words, sentence by sentence.

Breathe. If in doubt, breathe out! Nerves are normal and everybody understands that the day is important to you. Know that the nerves are a sign that you are ready, you are excited.

Re-frame any unhelpful thoughts, throw in some positive affirmations, visualise how well the day will go, find that inner-knowing and kindle that belief that all will go to plan. Know that, at the end of the day you are surrounded by people who wish you every bit of happiness humanly possible. Talk to friends, family and your partner about it - they will likely have very helpful advice (or otherwise to throw some humour in to lighten the load).

We hope this has been helpful.