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How to plan your best wedding day!

New Zealand Wedding & Elopement Photographer | Mount Cook - Jinal Govind Photography


So, you’ve begun planning your wedding day. 

What an exciting time it must be. Here are some tips and things to think about on the day!


A wedding timeline is a biggie, but don’t worry, and it’s not as stressful as you think! I’m here to help! A timeline is your game plan to make and create your special day. A wedding day can run by you quickly, and you don’t want to rush the day. Your wedding is unique! So when creating the timeline, think about what you want to get out of your day. Is it hanging with your fav people? The party? Beautiful photos of you? Make time for those things!

 Key Times


 Generally, in summer, a later ceremony (3 – 4 pm) tends to be suitable for guests, temperature and especially for lighting. Try to avoid anything midday! For winter weddings, the sunset falls around 5 pm, so make sure all pre-reception events are before then.  


This is the best time for those dreamy golden hour photos that you have probably seen scattered over Pinterest. I don’t need long, around 10-20 mins to capture the magic. It’s a nice way to sneak away from what is usually dinner or between speeches. Bonus it gives you both a little quiet time away from the limelight to enjoy each other.

Find out the sunset time for your wedding day here. (Sunset photos occur 30mins before the actual sunset time. If required to travel to the photo location, then allow for additional time!) 

 Vendor Check: 

It is best to check in with all your wedding vendors as they may need a specific amount of time to do their job. Especially your caterer to see when dinner is being served etc. 

Additional Tips: 

If you’re usually ‘fashionably late’, then cater for this in your timeline. The last thing you want is running 30 mins late, which isn’t fair on your guests or the rest of the vendors. 

Once you’ve got your key times, start from when you want to do your first dance and work backwards. I like to recommend this only because you might plan to have a chill morning and then realise mid-way through planning that you’ve got dinner at 9 pm.

Make sure ALL your vendors have your final timeline. I can’t stress this enough, because everyone needs to know what’s going on!  Even put in key moments, surprises or untraditional things because the last thing I want is to miss an important moment. 

 Some loose timings! 

Groom Prep Coverage – Typically spend 30 mins to 1 hour

Bride Prep Coverage – Typically spend 1 to 2 hours

Hair & Makeup – Usually allow 1 hour per person

Ceremony – 15 to 30 minutes for non-traditional 

Group Photos –  Usually between 15 to 30 mins. Check out ‘Family Photos’ below, where I’ve touched on this more.

Bridal Party/Couple Photos – 1 hour. Usually, around 15-20 mins for the bridal party followed by couple portraits. If we’re going off the venue, then allow for travel time. It doesn’t take an hour always, but good photos take time. I want you to enjoy, have some fun as newlyweds and let those emotions roll. (This time is usually cut, especially with the day running late etc) 

Speeches – The perfect time is about 5-7 minutes each.

What my typical wedding day looks like: 

  1. Groom Preparation
  2. Bridal Preparation
  3. First Look (If you choose to have one) 
  4. Reception Details (Venue/set up detail shots dependant on location)
  5. Ceremony
  6. Family Photos
  7. Bridal Party Photos
  8. Reception (speeches, cake cut, sunset couple photos, first dance, dance floor baby woo!)


A bit of a contemporary trend! A first look is seeing one another for the first time before the ceremony. There’s a few pros and cons around this one. Pros: Have that intimate moment to yourself in a beautiful setting. It might help those nerves, especially when it’s all eyes on you at the ceremony. Typically, bridal photos are done after, which gives you more time later in the day with family and friends. Cons: Time! Everyone is getting ready earlier, possible travel time to a photo location, and things run late. The dress will get dirty, and it’s bound to pick up twigs and dirt that won’t show in the photos but is something to consider. It’s usually the worst time for photos with the sun right above you too.


Lighting is probably one of the key things that make photos go from bland to WOW. You’ll see that I love the natural light in all my photos. Think about where the sun will be on the day, how you will be standing at the ceremony. Try to avoid setting up with the sun coming in from one side. Ideally, either everyone is in the shade, or everyone is in the sun. The same applies when you are standing at the ceremony. It’s very hard to make photos look good when one of you is in the sun, and the other is in the shade. 


I’m happy to look over Pinterest mood boards to get an idea of what you like and what we can recreate with my own spin, but please don’t send a shot list you found off Google. Trust me; I’ll capture the standard things anyway. Now, if there are important people I need to know about, then point them out. 

A great way to get comfortable being in front of the camera is to book an engagement session with me. You’ll get a feel of what to expect on the wedding day. Come away with memorable photos or to use on wedding stationary/save the date’s. Find out more here


While sparklers, smoke bombs, confetti and confetti cannons are fun to use on the wedding day, please be aware of the risks. Smoke bombs can heat up and spark. There’s a chance it may stain your dress. Sparklers are super fun but organising it can be tricky, especially after everyone’s had a few beersies. You’ll need several trigger lighters for this and get the giant sparklers that last more than 10 seconds. You can only purchase them during Fireworks (Nov 2nd – 5th) in New Zealand. Please check with the venue and the fire ban in the area before planning this! Confetti is great to use but try to look for bio-degradable options! 

LiveFX – Smoke Bombs 

These happen just after the ceremony. So give yourselves around 15 mins after walking down the aisle as your guests will want to congratulate you etc. When it’s time, we will kick into the family photos. I’ve put together a standard template below to follow. Please no more than 10 – 12 combinations so that it doesn’t take up too much time. You can pass the list onto the MC and get a few people to help round everyone up. The quicker we get through these, the more time you’ll have with friends and family. 

Standard Family Shot List (supply to MC)

  1. Full Wedding Group Shot
  2. B+G + B Extended Family (aunties, uncles, cousins etc.)
  3. B+G + B Immediate Family (brothers, sisters etc.)
  4. B+G + B Parents
  5. B+G + BG Parents
  6. B+G + G Parents
  7. B+G + G Extended Family
  8. B+G + G Immediate Family
  9. B+G + B Friends Group
  10. B+G + G Friends Group


Please feed me as it’s the only real break I get in the day. A full tummy means better photos! Yay! Usually, the caterer will have a vendor meal option. I don’t have dietary requirements or allergies. Also don’t feel the need to seat me at the table. Please let the caterer/venue know to serve me when the head table gets served. Doing this ensures I’ve eaten and am ready for the rest of the evening or can take you away for sunset photos! 


When choosing locations for the morning prep, try and make sure they are within close vicinity to the venue. Anything more than 20-30 mins away will make it stressful on the day if things are running late. Airbnb makes for great morning prep locations over small hotel rooms. They are spacious and have plenty of natural light coming through. Try to keep the space clean where you are getting ready. It makes it hard to photoshop out drink bottles etc. Morning prep is a time you want to feel relaxed and get hyped for the wedding day. You don’t want any negative energy so keep only  immediate family and your bridal party around. Tell everyone else you will see them at the ceremony. 


Brides worry about this too often. If you want those epic photos walking in tall grassy fields, your dress will get dirty. It will pick up twigs, bugs, grass marks, so you’ll just need to come to terms with it. It won’t show up in the photos anyway!! 


Things can happen! Especially with the recent global pandemic, there are things out of our control. Taking out wedding insurance will cover your costs if you have to cancel the big day. Unfortunately, my deposit is non-refundable, which may be the case for your other vendors too!


 Your wedding day is a great big party where all your favourite people come together. Try not to stress about little things as there’s bound to be something that won’t go to plan. Instead, soak in ALL the moments, make memories and most importantly, enjoy being Mr & Mrs together! 

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