Chicago Muslim Wedding Photographer

Anatomy of Wedding Timeline

IMG_0003Not quite sure how to plan out your wedding day? As wedding photographers, our team at Saiaf Films has been a part of countless weddings! We are here to share our tips and ideas for planning the most efficient wedding timeline!

Getting Ready:

  • Bride’s hair, makeup and dress: 2 1/2 – 3 hours. Depending on the hair and makeup style that the bride has chosen, two hours will give adequate time to make sure everything is perfect and to make any changes if necessary. This also gives time for any extra adjustments that may need to be made to the wedding dress or veil.
  • Bridesmaids’ hair, makeup, and dress: 2- 2 ½ Hours per person. Again, depending on the selected style of hair and makeup, this will provide enough time for any changes if needed.


  • If you have more than four people getting their hair and makeup done, it can be a good idea to ask your stylist to bring an assistant to cut back on time. Or, if you plan to travel to a salon, be sure to add extra time for travel.
  • Have the bridesmaids go first when the hairstylist arrives. That way, when the wedding photographer arrives, they have the opportunity to catch those last minute getting ready shots.
  • The bride should start with makeup. She can have the opportunity to relax and enjoy the last couple hours of styling, knowing that her makeup is applied and she is picture ready for when the wedding photographers arrive.
  • The wedding photographers should arrive about an hour before the bride is ready to go. This will give an adequate amount of time for them to capture the details (the gown, the shoes, jewelry, important heirlooms, etc.) The exciting and sentimental atmosphere between the bride and her bridesmaids and relatives are an ideal moment to capture on film.
  • If your wedding photographer has a male and female team, like Saiaf Films, they will have the opportunity to capture memorable moments while the groom and his groomsmen are preparing for the wedding as well.

Optional: Pre-ceremony photos & First Look: If you decide to take pre-ceremony pictures and share a First-Look, it is a good idea to allow around 2-3 minutes per shot or more if there is a large crowd. Here, you have the option to have pictures taken of the bride and her family, or the groom and his family, etc. The First Look can be anywhere around 15-30 minutes, depending on how many shots are taken. Also take into account whether or not your crowd is normally punctual or if there may be unexpected delays.

IMG_0268Ceremony & Post-Ceremony Photos:

  • Arrival of groom and groomsmen: This should normally take place around an hour before the ceremony begins. That way, there is time for setup and any final preparations.
  • Arrival of bride and bridesmaids: This should also take place around an hour before the ceremony if the bride plans to take photos at the church. It is important for the bride to stay as hidden as possible to prevent any onlookers from seeing the gown beforehand. Otherwise, if no pre-ceremony pictures are planned, the bride and her party can arrive right before the ceremony begins.
  • Ceremony: An ideal length for a ceremony is around 30-45 minutes. That provides enough time to have meaningful readings shared and any other events to make your ceremony unique and memorable.
  • Receiving line: If you plan to have a receiving line, the time can range depending on the amount of guests. For 100 guests or less- around 15-20 minutes should suffice. With 125-150 guests- around 25 minutes is average. Anymore than 150, you may want to consider holding off on the receiving line and saving the visiting for the reception to cut back on time.
  • Post-Ceremony Photos: If there wasn’t an opportunity to take photos beforehand, post-ceremony photos can be taken in a few variations (Family photos, bridal party, groom and groomsmen, friends and classmates.) You should allow around 2-3 minutes per picture depending on how organized the crowd is. Whether you did or didn’t have a First Look, allow 20-45 minutes for bride and groom pictures.


  • Save group or large photos for during the reception. You can have your DJ make an announcement to gather everyone together for a picture instead of trying to locate each person after the ceremony.
  • It is important to be prepared for the amount of photos or specific types of photos you may want. Discuss your options and desires with your wedding photographer to make sure they are on the same page and know which key moments you would like to have captured on your wedding day. Anticipate where you would like to have your wedding photos taken and plan it ahead of time with your wedding photographer that way there is no confusion in the moment.

Reception Order of Events

  • First dance: This event normally takes place after the bride and groom enter the reception. Although, you can always waitIMG_0794 and perform the first dance following the end of dinner.
  • Father & daughter dance: Usually follows the First Dance.
  • Mother & son dance: Here, you can choose to perform this dance following the father and daughter dance. Or, you can choose to do it simultaneously with the father and daughter dance.
  • Welcome toast:  These can be given by the father of the bride or by the bride and groom.
  • First Course Served: (Salad and/or appetizers)
  • Toasts: This can be a good time to begin the toasts. You can start with the maid of honor, then to the best man.
  • Second Course Served: (Main Dish)
  • Toasts: If desired, this can be a great time for the bride and groom to give a toast.
  • Let the Dancing Begin: Get the party started by opening the dance floor and allowing guests to begin dancing!
  • The Cutting of the Cake: You usually want to do this about two hours before the reception ends. That gives adequate time to ensure everyone gets a piece and enjoys watching the cake cutting moment.
  • Bouquet & Garter tosses: At least two hours before the end of the reception.
  • Late-night Snacks: This can be a good idea to help refuel your guests if you are planning a longer reception.\
  • Farewell: If you plan to grand exit, have your DJ or Band Leader make an announcement to have everyone line up at least 10 before the reception end. This is a good time to do a sparkler farewell. If you’re doing a sparkler farewell, for example, have guests start lining up about 10 minutes before you plan to exit.

Six hours is an ideal length for a reception. This allows time for a cocktail hour, about two hours for dinner and toasts, than about 3 hours for dancing. Any longer and you may have people needing to leave early, causing them to miss out on important reception events. Any shorter, and it may feel hurried or rushed.

Enhance Your Wedding Photography Experience

IMG_1358After months and months of planning your perfect wedding day, when it finally arrives, it may feel like a whirlwind of details and events zipping by. The ceremony, the cake, the flowers, the music- but the photos and wedding videography are the sole reminder of what happened on your special day. You owe it to yourself (and your family!) to do whatever it takes to make those reminders fabulous. Here at Saiaf Films, we have the honor to capture those moments for our special newlyweds and we would love to share our best wedding photography tips to ensure your big day is captured flawlessly.

Set a wedding day schedule and follow it the best you can!

Having a set wedding day schedule can be a huge advantage in capturing the perfect wedding photography scenes. Time of day can play a major factor in natural lighting, so planning your timing in advance can help guide your wedding photographer to capture ideal photos at specific times.

Share your vision and don’t forget the details.

Everyone has an idea of how they would like to look in photos. If you have a certain angle or a moment you don’t want photographed, let your wedding photographer know in advance. If you have a particular detail (an important heirloom, special wedding favor, etc) or event you would like special focus on, let us know. We want to make sure we capture all the angles you love most.

Have fun and don’t try to hard to make it “perfect!”

As seasoned wedding photographers, we have an enormous amount of experience capturing those perfect moments. Don’t stress yourself out trying to pose certain ways or act in a particular manner because you are being videotaped or photographed. The best thing to do is act naturally, relax and don’t look at the camera the entire time! Savor some of the most important moments of your life and enjoy being hopelessly in love with each other. Instead of stressing about posing correctly or looking perfect, let your wedding photographer capture the story of your day while you live it.

Consider having a “First Look.”

A First Look is when the bride and groom have the opportunity to see each other before the ceremony. This is an ideal way for them to spend a few moments alone and have their wedding portraits done ahead of time. The private moment alone can really calm the nerves and set the tone for the rest of the day. It can also free up time after the ceremony to enjoy friends and family instead of rushing off immediately to take pictures.

Let your friends and relatives relax and don’t let them get in the way!

Occasionally, there may be a friend or relative that wants to show up with their own photo equipment and help out by taking ‘unofficial wedding photos.’ Of course, they may be thinking that they are doing you a favor by capturing more wedding photos. Yet sometimes- they can get in the way and cause your wedding photographers to miss their shots. Unless you prefer to have the additional help, tell them to just relax and enjoy the wedding.Wedding Photographer

It’s not just our job to capture the best wedding portraits; it is our passion! Every little detail counts and our team at Saiaf Films is exceptional at securing those memories. Following our wedding photography tips will ensure you enjoy your special day to its fullest. Remember to relax, and just keep smiling!

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