wedding day sample timelines

We’ve photographed a few weddings. And while we’re not expert wedding planners by any means, we think it could be helpful to share from a photographer’s standpoint what we see normally. We want your day to be as stress-free as possible! Being organized with a well planned timeline helps the day run much more smoothly. 

These samples are intended to be a starting point, and are based on 8 hours of coverage. The listed times are for purposes of organization, and can be altered to fit your wedding. What’s important to us is making sure there is enough time to get all of the important photographs that you’d like to have!

Typical wedding day timeline
12:30- we arrive to cover bridal prep
1:30- leave for ceremony location
2:00- ceremony
3:15- formal portraits with family at ceremony location
3:45- leave for on location bridal party, and bride and groom portraits
5:15- completely done with portraits, head to cocktail hour & reception
6:15- grand entrance/first dance/toasts and blessing
6:30- dinner begins (if included, photobooth sets up)
7:30- cake cutting/parent dances
8:30- open dancing, our day is complete!

With a first look session
12:30- we arrive to cover bridal prep
1:30- leave for first look location (you look your best for pictures with a first look!)
1:45- first look, bride & groom portraits
2:15 family portraits, bridal party portraits
3:15- all formal portraits completed
3:30- ceremony
4:30- cocktail hour
5:45- grand entrance/first dance/toasts and blessing
6:00- dinner begins
7:30- cake cutting/parent dances
8:30- open dancing, our day is complete!

Important things to consider:
- When planning your “getting ready” schedule for the morning, count backwards from the time you will start portraits (depending on if doing a first look) or the ceremony. Make sure to plan plenty of time for hair, make-up, eating lunch, getting into your dress (sometimes up to 30 minutes, brides often underestimate how long this can take!), and transportation.

- Be sure to know when sunset is, for the purpose of outdoor photographs. If you want to incorporate the sunset into your photographs, let us know!

- Don’t forget to account for travel time between locations into your timeline.

-It’s always better to plan in more time than not enough. Often, each element takes longer than you expected, and you should also leave room for the unexpected too! Talk with us about it, we can make recommendations to help make your day run smoothly.

formal portrait tips

Weddings are a gorgeous combination of posing and candid shots. Putting the fun in formals is what we’re all about. Even in flurry of excitement, we can offer a few tips to help wedding parties strike the best pose yet: 

Festooned and fabulous: Make sure all flowers and boutonnieres are delivered on time and affixed to family members and to the wedding party in advance. Have hair and makeup teams arrive extra early since those tend to cause a delay more than anything else.

On time and terrific: We prefer to shoot the formal shots when everyone is available and easily accessible. This is usually before the ceremony (if doing a first look) or directly after the ceremony.  We recommend that you communicate with each member of your bridal party or family ahead of time.  Make sure that they are aware that they should be available for the formal portraits. Tell them, what time and where to be, depending on your unique timeline. Since our most important goal is helping you keep your wedding on schedule, we allow 5-7 minutes for each desired grouping to ensure maximum results with minimal time. 

Formal then fun: Because we prefer to keep the number of groups to 12 or less for more intimate group shots, we always start with the largest groups and family and break it down after that to allow for mingling. If time permits, we love to include a picture of the bride with each of her bridesmaids and the groom with each of his groomsmen.

The Portrait List: Every family is unique, so we encourage you to provide us with groupings you would like included in the formal portrait portion of the day.

If there’s a special photograph you want with Aunt Nancy, we need to know ahead of time. We’re more than happy to do it, but if we don’t know about it, we won’t know to take it, and often you’ll be so swept up in the happiness of the day that you won’t remember each portrait grouping you want photographed.

So please provide us with a well thought out, written out list. To keep your wedding on schedule, don’t go too crazy with it. Think of why each photo is important to you to have, and what you will do with it when you have it. Try to keep the maximum number of photos to 12, to keep your day running smoothly!

A quick list of formal photographs we recommend:
- Bride & Groom with Bride’s immediate family (parents, siblings, grandparents)
- Bride & Groom with Groom’s immediate family (parents, siblings, grandparents)
- Bridal Party with and without kids
- Bride and Groom

Optional Variations:
- Bride & Groom with all parents
- Bride & Groom with grandparents
- Bride & Groom with all siblings
- Bride & Groom with officiant

MOST IMPORTANTLY: Communication before the wedding is key! If everyone does their part it will help to avoid the heartache of missing a cherished portrait of a loved one on the wedding day.

As always, if you have any questions AT ALL, please don't hesitate to contact us. We're here to help you!