An Overview of a Wedding Day Timeline

The timeline is a huge part of your wedding day! It is important for your hair and makeup artists to know when to start, when the florist should be dropping off the bouquets, when the DJ should start setting up, and when the caters should have dinner ready! In this post, we’re discussing the photography timeline and all that goes into having a well thought day with plenty of time for photos!

We know it can be confusing when it comes to how things should happen and how much time is really needed! Whether your planner makes a timeline for your wedding day, you create one or your photographer puts one together, you’ll need to know what the order of events is! In this blog post, we’ve broken it all down. We will go step by step through the wedding day, covering everything from getting ready, to the reception, along with some tips and things to consider when creating a timeline! We want you to know what “details” and “getting ready” means from a photographers stand point, and we hope that through this post you will have a better understanding of all the different parts of a day that we photograph to tell the story of your day!

1] Arrive

We will arrive where you are getting ready (whether it’s a hotel/airbnb or at the venue!), and will scope out the location for where we plan to do photos and then come in and say hey to everyone!

2] Photograph details & Bride getting ready | 1 hr

Once we have picked out all our locations and photos spots for the day, we will start photographing your details. We always suggest gathering your rings, shoes, invitations, earrings, perfume, and any other jewelry together the day before, that way we can get started on details right away without anyone having to hunt to find everything! We like to take detail photos right by a window so they are bright and clean! So if you see us hovered by a window, that’s what we’re doing 😉 One of us will also grab some shots of you getting your hair and make up done. Once everyone has their hair and make up finished, we will also do a robe photo if you and your bridesmaids having matching robes/shirts!

3] Bride gets dressed | 30 mins

At this point, we will have you slip into your dress and leave a few buttons undone for photos. You obviously don’t want photos actually getting IN your dress, but once you are dressed we will have your mom or a bridesmaid finish the remaining buttons (or zip you up!) for photos! We may have them reenact it a few times as well 🙂 You will then put your earrings and shoes on, and have your mom or a bridesmaid put any other jewelry on or get your veil secured!

TIP: If you have a lot of bridesmaids and you think hair and makeup might take longer than expected (which happens often!) we suggest that you start the hair and makeup process in the middle of everyone, not at the end. This allows us to go ahead and get you in your dress even if some of the bridesmaids are not ready, which is a GAME CHANGER for keeping things on schedule!

TIP: If you’re doing a bridesmaids first look, add an extra 10 mins to the timeline! We will get you hidden away, line up your bridesmaids and then have them all turn around/open their eyes for the big reveal!

4] First Look | 15 mins

Some of our couples choose to do a first look, and others choose not to! Either way is totally fine with us and we respect your decision either way! If you have chosen to do a first look, it gives you extra time for portraits of the two of you and allows us to get all the bridal party photos done before the ceremony.

Once you are ready and in your dress, we will get your groom set up and bring you up behind him. Once we’re in position, we will give you the go ahead and he will turn around to see you for the first time! You can either say his name and tell him to turn around, or walk up and tap him on the shoulder. Whichever you feel the most comfortable with!

During the first look we try to stay farther away to give you both some space and time together. You can take as long as 30 seconds or 10 minutes together to talk and have a moment together!

5] Bride & Groom Portraits | 20 mins

For those who do a first look, we will take portraits of the two of you right after. This allows you to have half of your portraits done, and it is always special because you get to spend more time together and realize that you’re about to get married!!

6] Bridal Party | 30 mins

Then it’s time for photos with your bridal party! We will do a variety of poses with the entire group, as well as taking photos of just the bride and bridesmaids, the groom and groomsmen and individuals of the groom with each of his groomsmen and the bride with each of her bridesmaids!

*If you are not doing a first look, we will do bride/bridesmaids and groom/groomsmen photos separate prior to the ceremony. Typically we can do full bridal party photos in 15 minutes after the ceremony!


7] Bride in hiding | photograph ceremony & reception decor |45 mins before ceremony

Our goal is always to have the bride hidden away 45 minutes before the ceremony! This way early arriving guests don’t see you and it allows you to refresh before the ceremony. At this time, we will photograph the ceremony and reception space as well!

8 ] Ceremony | 15-30 mins

Time to get MARRIED! We have been to ceremonies that were an hour long and we have also witnessed 7 minute ceremonies! 😉 We will capture everything we can and do our best to get all the angles and photos in whatever amount of time we have.

9] Family Formals | 20 mins

Immediately following the ceremony we will take family photos, either outside or at the front of the ceremony space. 8 weeks before your wedding we send out a questionnaire that has a space for you to list out your preferred family combinations. We also have you list out names so we know exactly who to is who and can call out names!

TIP: If you have elderly family members, we suggest having you officiant instruct them to stay seated at the front of the ceremony so that they don’t have to do any walking!

TIP: Save your large extended family photos (aunts, uncles, cousins) for the reception. This way we can focus on getting photos of your immediate family (grandparents, parents, siblings, and their spouses) and everyone can get to the reception faster!


10 ] Bride & Groom “Just Married” Portraits | 15-20 mins

We may have already taken a bunch of portraits of the two of you beforehand, but you still need those photos of the two of you right after your ceremony with those rings on!!

*If you didn’t do a first look, we like to have 30 mins of portraits right after the ceremony, and 10-15 minutes of sunset photos!

11 ] Enter the reception!

We will photograph everything from the first dance, father/daughter dance, mother/son dance, toasts, party dancing and the exit! Typically our 8 hours of coverage allows for us to be there from the beginning of the day until the exit. If you are planning to party later then we will be there, you can either add on extra coverage or we can plan a staged exit. For a staged exit, we will have your DJ announce a short break and have your bridal party step outside for a photo. We will have your bridal party line up with sparklers, bubbles, or whatever exit prop you have planned. We will have you walk through and photograph it and it will look like the real deal! No one will ever know it wasn’t the actual exit!

Bookmark this and save it for whenever you and your planner are talking about your timeline or if you want to draft one up yourself! For our brides, we will draft a timeline for you after we receive the pre-wedding questionnaire back from you, typically 4-6 weeks before the wedding! We hope this was helpful as you are planning your wedding day!

More blog posts for brides:

Invitations: Where to Get Samples & The Power of Florals | Enhancing Your Invitation Suite Photos

The Importance of Videography on Your Wedding Day

The Benefits of Doing A First Look


Recent weddings on the blog:

Green Valley Country Club Wedding | Hunter & Nichole

Edinburgh West Wedding | Ilse & Luis

Heyward Manor Wedding | Amber & Daniel


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June 25, 2021


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