January 27, 2021

Sample Wedding Timeline

One of the most common questions I get asked is “What collection should we go with?” It honestly depends on what your day is going to look like! Thinking about your timeline can absolutely be overwhelming, but it’s important to think about when deciding which collection is for you.

Below is a sample timeline for a bride and groom with 8 hours working off of a 5:00 pm ceremony time frame with a first look. This timeline will also let you see why I am such a fan of a first look.

PLEASE remember that every single wedding day is different, and your timeline may look different! Different ceremony times, travel times, unique situations, will all have an impact on your timeline! My hope is that this gives you a starting point.

1:00 – 1:50: Wedding Accessories and Details

Your details are a major part of the story and I love having some time to shoot your dress, shoes, jewelry, invitations, etc. I normally like to allow at least 30 minutes for this part of the day. While we are shooting details, we might also capturing some shots of the venue if that’s where you’re getting ready! We love to photograph these details: the dress, veil/hair pieces, wedding bands, engagement ring, shoes, bouquet and boutonniere, jewelry, perfume, invitation suite and your old, borrowed, blue.

1:50 – 2:10: Groom Prep

After the details have been photographed, we head over to photograph the guys! We always do them first because it’s easier for them to get dressed and they can peel layers off in the downtime leading up to the first look! I usually ask the guys to get dressed except for their coats, ties, and accessories. We will also do boutonnieres at this time! Those are the pieces we will photograph.  Depending on time, I might also do a few group shots!

2:10 – 2:45: Bridal Prep

It’s time for the bride to get into her dress! AH This is a big moment! I usually ask whoever is helping the bride get into her gown and all of the bridesmaids to be dressed for this. This makes sure that everyone will look nice if they’re in the background of an image or step in to help with your necklace! After the bride is in her gown, we photograph all the final touches like her jewelry, veil, shoes, and we will shoot some additional bridal portraits!

2:45 – 3:00: The First Look

This is one of my favorite parts of the wedding day! I will find the perfect location for your First Look prior to the getting ready portion of the day! If you’re doing a first look with anyone else (for example, your dad), that will happen before the First Look with your significant other. After the First Look, I will take a few portraits of the two of you while the initial excitement is still present! Remember, the light determines where we shoot and so we can’t decide on portrait locations until the day-of.

3:00 – 3:30: Bridal Party Portraits

Now it’s time for Bridal Party shots! I buffer in extra time throughout the day just in case we have some unexpected things hold us up which is why times don’t butt up to one another for everything! During Bridal Party portraits, we will make sure to take some great shots of the sides both separately and together!

3:30 – 4:15: Bride and Groom Portraits

After Bridal Party portraits are done, we will work with just the couple for some portraits of them together These are some of my favorite portraits from the day and so much fun.

4:30 – 4:45: Ceremony and Reception Details

We buffer time before this for you to safely arrive to your ceremony venue if we were off property for portraits, give you guys time to use the restroom and freshen up, and then lets you hide away from guests! If we are already on property, we can add more time to your portrait time! We will photograph the ceremony space and any details before your guests arrive. If the reception is in the same location as the ceremony, we use this time to shoot the reception decor untouched. If the ceremony and reception are in different locations, we will grab these as soon as we arrive at your reception venue!

5:00 – 5:30: Ceremony

It’s time to get married! Most ceremonies are about a half hour long. If your ceremony is longer than that, we’ll make adjustments to the timeline! Cherish these moments! Your ceremony will pass by so quickly!

5:30 – 5:50: Formal Family Portraits

Family formals will take place immediately following the ceremony. It’s best to save the family formals until after the ceremony because all family members will be present at that time. We’ll need about 20-30 minutes for family formals and I send a questionnaire before the wedding where you can list out the groups you want. I recommend shooting portraits outdoors, especially if the ceremony location is dark!

6:00 – 6:30: “You Time”

I leave this half hour completely up to you. If you want to do some “Just Married” portraits, we can do that! If you want to enjoy your cocktail hour with your guests, you can go do that! As important as photos are for your day, it’s also so important to take time to enjoy your day! It goes by so fast and giving you this time to enjoy it how you want is something I think is so important.

6:30: Reception Begins

This is when the bridal party lines up for introductions and the party begins! By this part of the day, my timeline is now in the hands of your DJ. When I arrive to your reception I always meet with the DJ first to make sure anything we have discussed before as far as their timeline goes is still correct!

9:00: Exit and Photographers Leave

I include eight hours of coverage in our Opal Collection so that we can be present for the main events of the reception and about an hour of dancing. If you’re interested in having your exit photographed, there are several options for this! You can either add additional coverage or plan a faux exit with just your bridal party! We have had great success with this and the party never stops!

The Basics:

At the very least, here’s what we like to make sure we have built in to any timeline!

DETAILS & PREP: 1.5 Hours


BRIDAL PARTY: 30-40 Minutes

FAMILY FORMALS: 20-30 Minutes

EXTRA PORTRAIT TIME:  As much time as you’ll give me!

Like I said, every single wedding is different, which is why some of this might not apply to you! But don’t stress! Your photographer is there to help you with planning out your timeline!

Did you know we offer free timeline planning in every wedding collection?! Contact us today for the perfect wedding timeline!

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