I find the beauty in genuine moments from an editorial perspective, bringing a mixture of fine art, portraiture, and photojournalism to every wedding I capture. My aim is to tell a timeless and beautiful story that not only takes you back to that time and place but that will transport you to an even more romantic and softer version of it.

The Wedding Playbook

Welcome to The Wedding Playbook!

I designed this blog to be a ‘go-to’ exclusively for our couples – some are calling it their ‘Wedding Bible’. It covers a bunch of wedding day questions because we get it, it’s not every day that you plan a wedding.

Allowing enough time for all the different parts of your wedding day will ensure you get the absolute most out of your wedding team. This guide should help you plan your day as best as possible. These tips and time frames below are meant to serve as a starting point.

I am of course always available to help you with your timeline and ideally, we should work on this together so that I can give you the best possible memories.

Tocal Homestead Wedding


1 hour with the groom (‘Groom Prep’)
1.5 - 2 hours with the bride (‘Bridal Prep’)
20 - 30 minutes pre-ceremony
30 minutes for a civil ceremony (please allow longer for church ceremonies)
30 minutes post-ceremony for congratulatory hugs + family portraits

1-1.5 hours for bridal party photos (please add travel time if you plan on heading off-site)
Reception coverage is completely up to you but we usually recommend about 30 to 60 minutes of dancing is enough time to capture all of the formalities and your wicked dance moves to complete your wedding day story.

*Please note that you will have to add in travel time between locations if necessary.

Voco Kirkton Wedding


Generally, we will arrive at the guys getting ready first (as the girls are often working to a stricter timeline with hair and makeup and the guys are more flexible). The ideal scenario is that the guys are showered, hair done, suit pants, and shirt's on, this allows us to capture them hanging out casually. Then we will capture the finer details: the groom doing cufflinks, ties, mum helping with the boutonnière, the best man helping the groom with his jacket, etc. Once everyone is fully dressed, we may still have time for a couple of portraits with the boys and any family members that are there at the time.


Speaking from experience, if you are looking to keep things relaxed and stress-free, try keeping the groom and bridal parties close in proximity to each other. Having the Bride closest to the venue will also be a godsend on the wedding day. If you have a large bridal party and need more than a hotel room, no worries, you can find some absolutely amazing places on Airbnb, they will not only look beautiful in photos but you could make a whole weekend of it with your friends and family.


You might think I’m being overly pedantic but you’d be surprised how much clutter can impact the final images. While I don’t expect you to be getting ready in a spotless room, it is always helpful to remove extra clutter that is not needed (empty water bottles, clothing, and underwear lying around, used packaging and wrapping paper, etc).


If possible, I prefer you to get ready near large windows – the light is much better than it is in a dark room which makes the colors pop and it also evens out skin tones.


We will then head over to the girls getting ready and ideally hair and makeup is in the final stages. We like to capture a few ‘makeup’ shots to help tell the story of your day.

One quick note, when planning things with your hair and makeup team we suggest you ask them to be finished no later than an hour and a half before we have to leave for the ceremony. This will allow us time to capture the story of your prep as well as photos of you with your bridal party and any family members that might be present.

We also highly recommend hiring a professional HMUA team who are familiar with weddings and who use quality products. We can’t stress this enough, hiring professionals will always yield a better result. Your face will thank you.

We also love to capture all of the pretty details, for example, your wedding dress hanging, shoes, perfume, rings, love note from your groom (basically anything that is important to you). If you would like those things captured, we ask that you have everything together, set to one side, and ready to be photographed prior to our arrival. This streamlines our flow and allows us to get straight to work.

When we arrive, the girls will often be in matching PJs or robes, and that gives us a chance to capture those candid moments - maybe popping some champagne, etc. This is also a good time to give any planned gifts to your bridesmaids/parents. We ask that you try not to give those out before we arrive - some of the nicest, most genuine reactions and moments can happen during this time.

Once the bridesmaids are dressed, it will be time for the bride to get into her gown. This is a good time to get your mum/sister or that special someone involved. (Making time for your loved ones will always yield the most precious memories). We capture the final stages of getting dressed then shoes, earrings, veil, and everything in-between. Depending on your preference - now would be the time to do a reveal to the girls/mum/dad and then we may still have some time for a couple of portraits with the bridesmaids, any family members that are with you, and hopefully some stunning bridal portraits.

Our aim is to leave for the ceremony 20 - 30 minutes prior to the start of your ceremony - that way we are set up, and ready to go for your arrival. It may also give us a chance to capture your ceremony details and your guests arriving.

Tocal Homestead Wedding


Our best advice, embrace it because one thing you can’t control on the day and thats the weather! Just think to yourself that you are going to be with all of your amazing family and friends drinking and eating like kings and queens. I can take great images in crazy weather too.


These are the family photos that are done straight after the ‘post-ceremony congratulations’. We will send you a detailed email one month prior to your wedding day outlining how to plan these portraits but in short, we gather a list of your combinations and we systematically run through the list.

Note: if your family portraits are not organised effectively during this time it can quickly descend into chaos. We also suggest keeping this time for close family members. Remember that there will be time to shoot various friend groups during the reception.

We ask that you allocate a loud helper who knows the majority of the people on the list and who can assist in rounding up the various family members. On average, it takes about 2-3 minutes to gather and shoot each combination, we recommend about 8-12 combinations is the perfect amount to cover the important family members - This method really works in creating beautiful family portraits in a short amount of time.

*Tip: asking your celebrant to make a small announcement about the family portraits prior to your exit back down the aisle can be helpful too!


This isn't a shot that we usually include as standard, as we feel the time taken could be better spent on small groupings. Trying to take a well-composed, evenly lit image where 80-200 people are all visible at once takes time to organise (about 10 minutes) and for some venues, it's near impossible to capture effectively as we require elevation, however, if this is important to you, let us know before the wedding and we will do our best to make it work.

Hunter Valley Photographer


It is so important to allow yourself (and me) plenty of time to do this part of the day without rushing. After all, you are not hiring a professional photographer with all their skill and creativity to take a handful of photos and call it a day. When couples say to me that they just want one or two good photos of the two of them together and then allow 5 to 10 minutes for this they don’t realise that beautiful and natural photos don’t happen in 5-10 minutes.

You need time to stop and breathe, time to go for a wander with your new husband/wife, and time to just be in each other’s presence.

Please allow some good time for this part of the day. You might think I’ll be constantly shooting the whole time but that’s not the case – I like to use this time for us to explore our surroundings, chat, and have a laugh and for you to relax and have some alone time with your partner.


These are the photos taken with the bridal party after the post-ceremony congratulations & family portraits.

Generally, we will do the photos with all of the bridal party for about 30 minutes or so, then spend a little time with just the newlyweds.


The best time of the day for photography is during ‘Golden Hour’ (about one hour prior to sunset). We try to avoid shooting when the sun is at it’s highest in the sky so planning portraits in the middle of the day or early afternoon will not yield the best possible images.

Now, we certainly don’t have to plan all of your portraits around this time, that’s not usually possible (unless you’re getting married in the cooler months when we don’t have daylight savings).

During the warmer months, when daylight savings is in full swing, we recommend planning a little bit of extra time (on top of your Bridal Portraits allocation) to pop out during your reception to grab some sunset photos - we find that 15 minutes in that beautiful golden light is enough time and will yield some incredible images.

We highly recommend building some sunset portraits into your reception timeline. Keeping in mind that the weather and available light will play a big part in the success of these images but we can advise on the day what is going to work best.

You can calculate what time the golden hour will fall on your wedding day via google, search 'Golden Hour Calculator'.

Raquelle Loraine | Hunter Valley Wedding Photographers | Best Wedding Photographers in Hunter Valley


Music is so important, we can’t stress this enough!

We think some people really underestimate the importance of music at a celebration... music can make or break the vibe of a wedding reception!

An awesome band or DJ will get some great tunes going early on in the night, resulting in everyone tearing up the dance floor - resulting in some epic moments!

We have a little saying… if the music is good and the bride and groom are on the dance floor - Everyone is on the dance floor!

We are blessed in Newcastle and the Hunter Valley as we have some amazingly talented musicians locally. Some of our personal favourites are Tre Soul, UpTown, Kylie Jane, Jackson Broadway, Silent Shout & XYDJ.

Hunter Valley Wedding Photographer


If nothing else, PLEASE make time to interact with your loved ones during your wedding day!

Every photographer/videographer wants to capture something special - but we aren’t in the business of manufacture these moments, we rely on you to create these opportunities.

Taking a moment to go over to those special people in your life doesn’t guarantee an incredible, tear-jerker image but it certainly helps us to capture something special.

We hope this helps as you plan for the biggest day of your life :) Email anytime with additional questions, we are always happy to help!

Happy Wedding Planning!





It’s industry standard for us to be fed at the reception and we really do appreciate a meal and quick sit down. We do have one special request, we sincerely appreciate it if we are fed at the same time as the bridal party. This is the only time of the day that we don’t shoot (while guests are eating). Instead, we use this time to refresh, recharge and have a bite to eat. We don’t have any dietary requirements either :)




Unfortunately, we don’t use photoshop. If there is something that would naturally dissipate with time, such as a pimple or small blemish, we can remove that in the closer portraits if you wish.

However, in regards to body contouring, removing wrinkles or fine lines, straighten teeth, enlarging a booty etc, this is not a service we offer.

If you want beautiful wedding images like what you have seen on our website then we recommend lots of cuddles, laughing, playing and staying connected - basically if you forget about the camera, leave all the stress behind and just enjoy being married… you will have some beautiful memories that will be timeless and treasured forever.




Yes!! It is the most wonderful feeling to hold your wedding photos in the palm of your hands. Sitting with your friends and family and reliving all of those little memories. It’s a feeling that can’t be replicated! Viewing your images on a screen will never quite do photos the same justice as print does.




To ensure you get that beautiful soft light I recommend your location photos be done about an hour or so before sunset. I understand that sometimes this is not possible due to daylight savings so in these situations I will always suggest to you that you allow a 15-minute break during your reception (around the time the sun goes down) for us to sneak outside and get some photos in that magical light.