Wedding photograph of a couple from their wedding day timeline with a 4pm ceremony
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A well-designed wedding day timeline is an important part of planning your wedding day. The need for one can often be underestimated by couples, leading to feeling rushed or stressed on their big day and missing out on pictures they would have loved. This is why I work with all my couples to craft a perfect plan that ensures you get everything captured without feeling rushed or bored throughout the wedding day.

As a wedding photographer, I know a good wedding day timeline can reduce stress, increase the number of great photographs, and allow enough time for things to go slightly off plan. Read on to see sample timelines, tips, and time estimates.

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Don’t worry about awkward poses or feeling weird in front of a camera.
No pressure in the moment photography for laid back couples.

Tips for better photographs & a more relaxed wedding day:

  1. Set a ceremony time first and work your schedule around the ceremony.
  2. Most weddings need 8-10 hours of coverage, 12 for larger parties or weddings with tons of travel. Personally, 10 hours is what I most recommend because it allows for a more relaxed flow of the day and can lead to more time in reception for fun photos on the dance floor.
  3. Do a first look: It’s less pressure on your partner, you spend more time together during the day, and it will massively calm your nerves.
  4. Take the bridal party photos earlier in the day, it’s more fun and your bridal party is less likely to be… over-served.
  5. Budget extra time for transitions, things go off time, and that’s almost a guarantee if you don’t have an extra few minutes here and there in the schedule.
  6. Limit time on speeches.
  7. Have an aisle exit or do a fake exit before all your guests have been to the bar too many times.

Reach out for your no-pressure complimentary wedding photography consultation call now! Click here.

How to plan your day of wedding timeline:

wedding day details: wedding ring and flowers

Wedding Details

30 minutes

Details are typically the first thing on the schedule and include things like the wedding dress, shoes, and rings. Invitations, bouquets, perfume, and gifts from your partner are also good things to consider having nearby. I recommend putting all your details in a single area for your photographer to grab easily so they can be photographed quickly.

Prep & Getting Ready

60 minutes

Getting ready is one of the most important storytelling parts of the day because a lot of candid moments happen during this time.

Plan to have your hair and makeup finished about 30 minutes after the photographer is scheduled to arrive. That way your photographer is working on the details as you finish your hair and makeup.

Protip: You should have your hair and makeup finished before any bridesmaids. If you are late, it can throw off the schedule. If a bridesmaid is late, not much is typically affected.

Bride & Groom Portraits

20 Minutes

After your hair and makeup are complete and your wedding dress or suit is on, I recommend taking a few solo portraits. This is a look both you and your partner will want to remember years from now.

Groom cries at the sight of his bride during the first look on their wedding day timeline.
a first look photograph from a wedding timeline with a first look

First Look & Portraits

20-30 minutes

A first look is great for many reasons. It reduces your nerves and makes it easier to be more genuine when you see each other for the first time, it’s usually the only alone time you and your partner will have, and results in about 40% more photographs of you together.

Tip: If you decide to skip the first look make sure your ceremony is earlier in the day or you won’t spend much time together with fewer photographs together.

Bridal Party

30-45 minutes

You need about 30 to 45 minutes or more for bridal party photographs depending on the size of your bridal party and if you prefer a more heavily posed style instead of a mostly candid style.

Ceremony Details

15 minutes

Having a few minutes of the venue before guests show up allows time for detailed photographs of all the things you decorated for your wedding day.


15-60 minutes

You should ask the officiant or church official how long to expect and base this on that answer. If you are having a non-religious ceremony, it is typically under thirty minutes.

Family Portraits

15-60 minutes

Depending on the size of your family and who you want included this could go very fast or need a little more time. If this time is meant to include the bridal party, immediate family, and your extended family then planning a little closer to an hour is probably best.

Reception Details

20 minutes

This is usually done during cocktail hour if that is held in an area separate from the reception. You spent a lot of time planning and pinning the perfect reception decor and it would be a shame to miss these details. For weddings with a second photographer, this is usually what they do while the lead is with guests at cocktail hour or vice versa.

Sunset/Evening Portraits

30 minutes

About an hour prior to sunset is the best time for a portrait, most often referred to as golden hour. This is the best natural light on your wedding day, so take advantage of it!


60-180 minutes

From the first dance all the way to the ChaCha Slide on the dance floor, these will be the most relaxed photographs of the day. You’ll want to have the songs with the most guest interaction right after dinner so that guests that leave early make their way into reception photographs.

photograph from Wedding day timeline that included a champagne spray.
A champagne spray exit

Example Wedding Day Timelines

Don’t want to plan this? Send me an email, and we can craft a custom photography collection & timeline to suit your wedding day!

Wedding Day Timeline 1 pm ceremony

  • 1030a Details/ photographer arrival
  • 11a Getting ready
  • 12p Portraits
  • 1230p Ceremony details
  • 1p Ceremony
  • 130p family portraits & full bridal party
  • 230p separate bridal party
  • 315p bride & groom portraits
  • 4p cocktail hour
  • 440p reception details
  • 5p reception
    • Bridal party entrance- Speeches- Dinner- Cake cutting- First dances- Open dance floor
  • 7p sunset or evening portraits
  • 730p open dance floor – chacha slide
  • 815p send off /bookend images
  • 830p photographers leave

First look Timeline

  • 1030a details/photographer arrival
  • 11a getting ready
  • 12p portraits
  • 1230p first look
  • 115p bridal party
  • 2p ceremony details
  • 230p ceremony
  • 3p family portraits / full bridal party formals
  • 4p cocktail hour440p reception details
  • 5p reception- Bridal party entrance- Speeches- Dinner- Cake cutting- First dances- Open dance floor
  • 7p sunset or evening portraits
  • 730p open dance floor – chacha slide
  • 815p send off /bookend images
  • 830p photographers leave

Elopement Timeline

  • 4p details
  • 430p getting ready
  • 530p first look/portraits
  • 615 prep/ceremony details
  • 630p sunset ceremony
  • 7p group photos or the start of portraits
  • 730p bookend images
  • 8p exit

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(a.k.a. Ask my Rates & Availability).

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