Wedding photograph of a couple from their wedding day timeline with a 4pm ceremony
|

Secret Tips to Plan the Perfect Wedding Day Timeline

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 pictures they would have loved. Which 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.

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: Its less pressure on your partner, you spend more time together during the day, and it will massively calm your nerves.
  4. Take bridal party photos earlier in the day, its more fun and your bridal party less likely to be… over-served.
  5. Budget extra time for transitions, things go off time and thats almost a guarantee if you don’t have an extra few minutes here and there in the schedule.
  6. Limit time on speeches and people giving speech.
  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 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 includes 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 in 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 the details as you finish hair and make up.

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 is 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, makes it easier to be more genuine when you see each other for the first time, its usually the only alone time you and your partner will have, and it 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 less 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.

Ceremony

15-60 minutes

You should ask the officiant or church official how long to expect and base this off of 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 that 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 portrait, most often referred to as golden hour. This is the best natural light on your wedding day, so take advantage of it!

Reception

60-180 minutes

From the first dance all the way until 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 1pm ceremony

  • 1030a Details/ photographer arrival
  • 11a Getting ready
  • 12p Portraits
  • 1230p Ceremony details
  • 1p Ceremony
  • 130p family portraits & full bridal party
  • 230p seperate 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 start of portraits
  • 730p bookend images
  • 8p exit
Form not working? Reach out.
219.405.0385 | info@royserafin.com

Let’s talk about your wedding day.

All fields required.

Similar Posts

5 Comments

  1. This is really great info, awesome write up. Definitely going to help a lot of wedding couples and photographers alike.

  2. What a thoughtful and valuable piece you put together here.
    Everyone who reads this will be thankful for your Roy. Your photography timelines for wedding and even more so, your candid advice, is on point. Thank you!

  3. My spouse and I stumbled over here coming from a different web address and thought I may as
    well check things out. I like what I see so now i am following you.
    Look forward to finding out about your web page yet again.

  4. Aw, this was a very nice post. Finding the time and actual effort to create a top notch article… but
    what can I say… I procrastinate a whole lot and never manage to get nearly anything done.

  5. Having read this I believed it was very informative. I appreciate you
    finding the time and energy to put this content together.
    I once again find myself personally spending a
    lot of time both reading and posting comments.

    But so what, it was still worthwhile!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.