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South Asian weddings are full of vibrant traditions and rituals. It’s important to have a predefined timeline of the day so the events can run smoothly as you envisioned it. Here is an example of a South Asian wedding timeline that incorporates all the big moments and their allocated ideal times required for capturing them beautifully.


Dress & Details Allocated Time: 30 minutes

Photographers like to show up early, possibly half way through your make-up/hair so they can create perfect photos of the dress, jewelry, shoes, bouquets and any other details of the day. These details are a nice touch to start the story of your wedding day. Tips: Have your dress, jewelry and details ready for the photographer before they arrive. If possible, try a special wooden hanger for your dress/lengha.

Bride & Groom Prep Allocated Time: 60 minutes

During this time, The photographer will capture close ups of the makeup and hair being done, as well as candid moments of the bridesmaids, groomsmen and immediate family members getting ready. It’s always special to include immediate family to help with your finishing touches. For example, having your mom/sister draping your dupatta on you or your dad/brother helping you with your Sherwaani. The prep time can have some of the most fun and emotional moments – enjoy it with those special to you and don’t cut it short! Tips: Having a nice clean, uncluttered and well-lit room with white/grey walls is essential to beautiful prep photos. If possible, get ready in a room with a large window that allows the most amount of natural light in. Try to have a minimum amount of people present in the prep room. Having a large, clean mirror is a fun way to get creative getting ready shots. Lastly, use a high chair when doing makeup. A high chair provides an upright posture for the bride, ideal for portraits.

Individual Portraits Allocated Time: 30-45 minutes

Once the bride and groom are completely ready, allocate this time for first look with family/friends, individual portraits and immediate family photos. Tips: Have all your immediate family/friends ready before you.

First Look Allocated Time: 30 minutes

Depending on South Asian traditions and how much time you have in your wedding day, the first look is a really special moment to see each other for the first time as Bride and Groom. Although the first look is 5-10 minutes, the remaining time is spent on some basic portraits of the Bride and Groom. The full bridal photoshoot is usually later, after the ceremony. Tips: Depending on how the day is planned, if this is the only time for a couples photoshoot, allocate 60 minutes for the shoot. Another 45 minutes, if you would like to include a shoot with the bridal party. To save time, ensure you have a designated driver with door to door service to the first look location and to the venue.

Ceremony/Venue Details Allocated Time: 30 minutes

Once the setup is complete, allow 30 minutes for the photographer to take photos of the ceremony site and details. This usually takes place as guests arrive to the venue prior to the Baraat/Milni. Tips: To capture the scene at its best, ensure your photographer asks guests and other vendors to clear the area.

Baraat/Milni Allocated Time: 30-45 minutes

The Groom and Groom’s side dance their way to the ceremony site in a procession. Photographers follow along and capture the celebration as the Groom rides on his white horse or a special vehicle. At the end of the Baraat, the Bride’s family is there to greet the Groom’s side. Depending on the traditions, the immediate family is introduced from both sides of the family.

Tips: Ensure the Baraat walks together and slowly, dances in celebrations. The Bride’s side of the family should already be assembled and waiting for the baraat. This ensures there are nice photos of the family watching the Baraat. During the milni, have family pose for the camera as they meet each other.

Wedding Ceremony Allocated time: 2-3 hours

Depending on the culture/religion, South Asian weddings have several different traditions and rituals. Walk through the entire wedding ceremony with your photographer to ensure all traditions and details are captured.

Tips: Perform all the activities in a slow, deliberate pace to ensure you are present in the moment and it’s beautifully captured. During entrances, walk slow and leave enough space in between bridesmaids and other family members walking in before you. For the best photos, smile, enjoy being present in the moment, and don’t fight the emotions!

Family/Guest Formal Photos Allocated time: 45-60 minutes

Once the ceremony is over, this is the best time to take formal photos with your family and friends. Be sure to make a shot-list of exactly who you want to take photos with. Have your coordinator/point-person work with the photographer

Tips: Have a point-person from each side of the family gather everyone for photos. To stay organized during this time, It’s always a good idea to announce the next family photo on the mic.

Vidaai/Doli Allocated time: 15-45 minutes

Depending on the culture, the Bride’s family says their goodbyes to the Bride as she rides away with her new husband. This is done either at the venue or at the Bride’s home. This is a very important moment for the Bride and her family and usually filled with emotions.

Tips: Keep the negotiations short but fun! Incorporate games and challenges for the Groom.

Bridal Photoshoot Allocated time: 60 minutes

This is an opportunity to get some beautiful and timeless photos as newlyweds. This time will allow the photographer to utilize the location and get the most creative shots from the photoshoot. This also gives you a chance to take a breath and take in this day with your partner for the first time.

Tips: Choose a location that makes sense logistically for the time allowed (usually 10-15 minute radius). Add variety to you photos by choosing a location that has a different look and feel then your engagement and reception shoot photos. Take this time to be with each other, reflect the day, and enjoy the moment.

Bridal Party Photoshoot Allocated time: 30-45 minutes

The allocated times may vary depending on the size of your bridal party. Use this time to not only take group photos with your bridal party but also individual portraits with each of your bridesmaids and groomsmen. Make sure to have fun and celebrate with your bridal party. The best shots are when you’re having fun with your squad! Get creative with your photographer by Being GQ, striking a pose, or simply popping some bubbly!

Tips: It’s always best to keep the bridal party number even. Give yourself enough time, as rounding people up for photos may take time.


Reception Decor & Details Allocated time: 30 minutes

Once the setup is complete, allow 30 minutes for the photographer to take photos of the reception decor, cake, table settings and details. This usually takes place as guests start to arrive for the cocktail hour. Tips: To capture the scene at it’s best, ensure your photographer asks vendors and venue staff to clear the area.

Reception Photoshoot Allocated time: 45 minutes

The reception photoshoot is another opportunity to take photos as the newlyweds in your reception attire. Allocate additional travel time along with respective getting ready schedules if you like to do this shoot at another location. Depending on the time available, work with your photographer to choose which location works best logistically. Couples usually find it simpler to do the shoot at the venue with the reception decor. This will also give you variety in your shots and you get the opportunity to add reception decor details to your photoshoot!

Tips: When doing the photoshoot with the reception decor, plan to arrive at the venue before guests arrive so you’re not seen.

Family Photos Allocated time: 35-45 minutes

This the perfect opportunity to have those formal photos with your immediate family in the reception attire. These photos usually take place during the cocktail hour after the couples photoshoot.

Tips: Have your point-person or coordinator bring immediate family into the reception hall from the lobby’s cocktail hour.

Cocktail Hour Allocated time: 1 hour

During this time, your guests arrive at the reception and start mingling with each other and your families. This is the perfect time for photographers to get candid and small group photos of your guests.

Tips: It’s up to the Bride and Groom if they like to join their own cocktail hour. If you do plan on joining the cocktail hour, this is the best time to get those group photos with family and guests out of the way so you can enjoy the rest of your night dancing away!

Reception Program, Performances and Speeches Allocated time: 2-3 hours

As you make the grand entrance, take your time walking in, enjoy the moment and allow your photographer to capture all the fun and celebration! It’s always a good idea to have an MC hype up the crowd before you enter. Depending on what you have planned, it’s always good to mix up the speeches and performances with cake cutting and first dance before the dance floor opens up.

Tips: Let family and the bridal party know to walk in at a good pace instead, and take their time when making their entrances. Let the photographer know ahead of time if you are planning any surprise elements so they can capture it.

Opening the Dance Floor Allocated time: 60-90 minutes

It’s time to enjoy the night and dance away! A great way to open up the dance floor is with a big group photo. This is the time to dance with all your family and friends and let the photographer capture all the fun.

Tips: Coordinate with your photographer, MC and the DJ ahead of time to allocate a time for the group photo and the dance off. This ensures all your fun memories from the dance off is captured.


Published in: Must Be Kismet

In collaboration with: Susan Ramroop from Beyoutiful Beginnings


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