Wedding Photography Timeline

Having a well designed wedding photography timeline for your day is an important part of planning your wedding. Often, many couples will underestimate how much time each part of the day will require. This can lead to them feeling rushed, stressed, and missing photos they would have loved to have. This is why I work with all my couples to craft an amazing timeline for their wedding day.

How do I Create a Wedding Timeline?

I recommend that you start your timeline planning by working with your photographer. Wedding photography is probably going to be one of the services that’s most important to you on your day. So it’s important to ensure that your photographer has enough time to create the level of work you hired them for.

Some photographers, like myself, will start this process for you and completely coach you through the process. This makes the most sense since we’re the professionals with dozens or hundreds of weddings under our belts. If you’re photographer doesn’t automatically start this process reach out them and ask them to create one for you.

Since your photographer will be with you the entire day, the photography timeline will act as the underlying structure of your wedding. You can then layer on top of that the rest of your wedding timeline included time for floral deliveries, hair and makeup, etc.

When Should I Create a Wedding Timeline?

I recommend starting to put together your wedding day timeline as early as possible. Have a timeline early on will help make coordinating with other vendors easier and keep everyone working off the same assumptions. It’s okay if times shift and change along the way, that’s normal, so don’t feel like it’s ever too early.

How Much Time Do I Need For Wedding Photos?

Every wedding is different so times can very, so below I walk you through each of the main photography events of the day. I provide suggestions on how much time is needed for ample coverage and to not feel rushed. Some of the times allotments may seem longer than you expect, but I explain each part of the day and talk through why that time is needed.

Wedding Details


I recommend setting aside thirty minutes on your wedding photography timeline for getting ready details. When I first arrive I usually will start by taking photos of all your details and wedding day items. This includes your wedding dress, wedding shoes, and flat lays of your rings. It can also include your bouquet, invitations, perfume, and any other meaningful accessories. Having this time allows me to arrange everything beautifully and get those magazine ready shots of all your important items. It also allows extra time in case we need to move the dress outside or to another room to get that perfect hanging dress photo.

Pro Tip: Have all of your details grouped together and ready to go before we arrive. This saves a ton of time by not having to hunt down each individual item.

Getting Ready


This is one of my favorite parts of the day. The anticipation is in the air, everyone is full of energy and having fun. During this time I’ll be able to capture the last moments of hair and makeup as well as get some great candids of the bridal party and family having fun. I always recommend having your hair & makeup scheduled to be finished about a half an hour after I arrive. This way, after hair and makeup is finished we can take a few minutes to get photos of you and your bridesmaids in your matching robes, enjoying a glass of champagne, or just having fun together before you get into your dresses.

After this you’ll all get into your dresses and I’ll photograph last moments of someone special helping button or zip you into your dress. Once you’re all in your dress we’ll use the rest of this time to set up a first look for your bridesmaids and/or your parents to see you in your dress for the first time. We’ll also get some group photos with you and your bridal party before you leave for your first look or ceremony.

Pro Tip: I always recommend having your hair & makeup scheduled to be finished about a half an hour after I arrive.

Bride & Groom Portraits


As soon as each of you finishes getting ready, it’s the perfect time for some individual portraits. You’re both looking amazing and feeling fresh and energetic so we’ll get those perfect portraits right there in your hotel room or bridal suite.

First Look & Couples Portraits


We’ll use this time to get both of you in position and ready to go so that we can document that perfect reaction. Once the first look is completed we’ll jump into couples portraits. Again, you’ve both just finished getting ready and feel and look your best so this is a great opportunity to get beautiful portrait of the two of you together for the first time on your wedding day.

Pro Tip: Don’t rush the first look. This is one of the few moments during the day you’ll mostly have to yourselves. Enjoy it and be in the moment.

Bridal Party


Now it’s time for photos with you and your bridal party. We’ll use this time to work through various different locations and poses, some more formal, some artistic, and some more fun! This is also the best time to get photos with each of your bridal party members individually as well.

Immediate Family


Similar to the bridal party photos, this is a great time to get some beautiful photos with yourselves and your immedate family. We again work through various grouping as well photos with individual family members.

Pro Tip: Provide a bridal party member or family friend who knows everyone a list of your family grouping you would like. They can help us organize the family groupings much more easily and quickly and allows your family an opportunity to relax before the ceremony.

Ceremony Details


Having a few minutes at your ceremony venue before the bulk of your family and guests arrive allows us to capture beautiful wide angle photos of your venue at it’s best.



How much time you set aside for this portion of the day really depends on the kind of ceremony your having. If you’ll be having a religious ceremony, you can ask your church how long the ceremony wil be if you’re unsure. For non-religious or secular weddings, it will depends largely on the types of activities you plan to include, but most tend to be under 30 minutes.

Family Formals


Now is when we’ll get formal photos of you with your immediate and extended family, as well as your bridal party. We’ll usually do this right at the ceremony site since everyone is already nearby.

Pro Tip: when deciding how many and which groupings of family members you would like, take into account that it takes about 2-3 minutes per group to get everyone arranged, smiling, and looking at the camera. To get an idea of how long formals will take, multiple your number of family groupings by 3.

Reception Details


Once the staff have finished setting up and before guests begin to take their seats, plan to set aside about 30 minutes for myself or my second photographer to capture all beautiful details of your reception venue. You’ve spent so much time curating all the beautiful details and decorations of your venue and this is our chance to document how amazing it looks without any staff or guests in the area.

Sunset Portraits


This when we’ll get those super perfect golden hour Pinterest ready couples portraits. Plan to set aside this time about an hour before sunset so that we have that amazing golden light. If there is one part of the day not to skip or skimp on, I’d this is the one.

Example Wedding Photography Timeline

Below you’ll find two full wedding day timeline examples. The first is a more traditional timeline without a first look and the second example includes one with a first look. If you’re unsure of what a first look is or would like my thoughts on them, I have an entire blog your can read, The Wedding day First Look: What and Why.

Traditional Wedding Photography Timeline Example

12:00 – 12:30 pm: Wedding Details (Shoes, dress, invitations, ect.)
12:30 – 1:30 pm: Final hair & makeup, getting into dress
1:30 – 2:00 pm: Last touches, portraits, candids

2:15 – 2:30 pm: Photos of ceremony space before guests arrive
2:30 – 3:00 pm: Photos of guests as they arrive for ceremony
3:00 – 3:45 pm: Ceremony
4:00 – 4:30 pm: Family formals

5:00 – 6:00 pm: Couples portraits & photos with bridal party
5:30 – 6:30 pm: Cocktail hour
6:30 – 6:45 pm: Reception Introductions & cake cutting
6:45 – 7:30 pm: Dinner with speeches during first course
7:45 – 8:00 pm: First dances
8:00 – 11:00 pm: Open dance floor, celebrations

Example Wedding Photography Timeline with First Look

11:00 – 11:30 pm: Wedding Details (Shoes, dress, invitations, ect.)
11:30 – 12:30 pm: Final hair & makeup, getting into dress
12:30 – 1:00 pm: Last touches, portraits, candids

1:15 – 1:30 pm: First look
1:30 – 2:00 pm: Couples portraits & photos with bridal party

2:30 – 3:00 pm: Photos of guests as they arrive for ceremony
3:00 – 3:45 pm: Ceremony
4:00 – 4:30 pm: Family formals

4:45 – 5:15 pm: Couples portraits & photos with bridal party
4:30 – 5:30 pm: Cocktail hour
5:30 – 5:45 pm: Reception Introductions & cake cutting
5:45 – 6:30 pm: Dinner with speeches during first course
6:45 – 7:00 pm: First dances
7:00 – 10:00 pm: Open dance floor, celebrations

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