fine art digital & film wedding photography

How to build your wedding day timeline


February 12, 2020


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There are a million ways to build your timeline for the day of your wedding. Regardless of how you schedule the day, don’t stress we will make it work, and we can always rearrange things on the fly the day of your wedding to ensure you make it on time to the scheduled parts of your day  that really matter (aka. Ceremony & Reception Dinner.)  Know that we put buffer’s in our example timelines to help incase we do indeed get behind. 

General rule of thumb is it takes 15 minutes for us to do details, 45 min to take getting ready photos (girls), 20 minutes getting ready (guys), 15 min per first look,  we’ll want 30-45 minutes for family formal portraits, 45 minutes for bridal party portraits, and 15 minutes for sunset.

Here are some tips that I’ve learned along the way to help build a “perfect” timeline and keep things running smoothly on your wedding day. I’ve also included some example timelines to be a thought-starter as you begin to build:

Tip #1 – Communication is key! If you want someone specific to be in certain photos at a certain time be sure that message is relayed early on so that they can make that time. If they’re habitually late, tell them 15 min earlier. 

Tip #2 – Don’t forget to include drive times. If your getting ready in one location, ceremony is another followed by a different location for photos and then your reception space those drive times need to be included, and depending on timing and/day you might way to keep in mind traffic, construction, and potential game day road closures. Since we don’t neccesarily travel with you on your bus or limo, know that we have to also park! 

Tip #3 – Plan for us to take reception detail shots BEFORE people enter the area. Sometimes the reception space might double as the cocktail area prior to your arrival if that is the case lets consider having my second shooter head to the reception area so she can capture the details prior to guests entering the area. Adding to this, if the reception space doesn’t double as the cocktail area some of my favorite photos are of the couple seeing the reception space prior to guests entering too! I promise it’s worth it! 

Tip #4 – If you’re getting married during a time of year where it gets dark by 5pm and you’re hoping for those dreamy outdoor photos that are light and airy, you’ll want to consider doing a first look so that we can capture you and your bridal party early in that light. If you’re absolutely against doing a first look, then consider an indoor space that might be available for portraits like a public library. 

Tip #5– Sunset photos are the BEST! However, sunset photos aren’t really always at sunset. Depending on your location and the tree line surrounding the venue, the sun might set at 9 but realistically to capture the glow might need to be 8pm. That said, put a place holder in your timeline for sunset photos, but know that it might be earlier or later pending the perfect light. We usually try to grab you after you’ve eaten dinner but before dances have begun. It doesn’t take that long and bring your drink!

Tip #6– Don’t forget we get a break! During dinner both my second and I will take a quick break to rest our feet, eat a quick bite, and ensure our memory cards are safely stored. Since at this point we’ve been running around like crazy for about 6 hours non-stop, we hope that’s ok!  If it’s a really hot day, you might also see us take a quick break prior to your ceremony to recharge, drink water, etc. 

Sample Timelines:

4pm Ceremony + First Look

1pm Photographers Arrive

1-1:45 Getting Ready (Bride+Bridesmaids) + Details

1:45-2:15 Getting Ready (Groom+Groomsmen) + Details

2:15-2:30 First Look (Bride + Father of the Bride) 

2:30-2:45 First Look (Bride + Groom) 

2:45-3:30pm Bride/Groom + Bridal Party Portraits

3:30-4pm Bridal Party Hides & Touchups

4pm Ceremony 

4:30 Marriage Signing 

4:45-5:30 Family Portraits

6pm Grand Entrance

6:10-630 Toasts/Speeches

630 Dinner 

730 Cake Cutting & First Dances

9pm Photographers Depart


6pm Ceremony + First Look

2pm Photographers Arrive

2-2:45pm Getting Ready (Bride+Bridesmaids) + Details – Mallory

2-2:45pm Getting Ready (Groom+Groomsmen) + Details – Second Shooter

2:45-3pm First Look (Bride + Father of the Bride) 

3-3:15pm First Look (Bride + Groom) 

2:45-3:30pm Bride/Groom + Bridal Party Portraits

3:30-4pm Bridal Party Hides & Touchups

6pm Ceremony 

6:30pm Marriage Signing 

6:45-7:30 Family Portraits

7:45pm Grand Entrance

7:50-8:10pm Toasts/Speeches

8:10 Dinner 

730 Cake Cutting & First Dances

9pm Photographers Depart


4pm Ceremony – No first look

2pm Photographers Arrive

2-2:45 Getting Ready (Bride+Bridesmaids) + Details

2:45-3:15 Getting Ready (Groom+Groomsmen) + Details

4pm Ceremony 

4:30 Marriage Signing 

4:45-5:30 Family Portraits

5:30-6:45pm Bride/Groom + Bridal Party Portraits

7pm Grand Entrance

7:05-7:25pm Toasts/Speeches

7:30pm Dinner 

8:15pm Sunset Photos (Bride/Groom) 

8:30 Cake Cutting & First Dances

10pm Photographers Depart


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