Wedding Timeline Suggestions

Weddings, Engagements

Wedding Flower Bouquet

Yay, Congratulations you’re engaged! Now comes the task of creating your wedding day timeline to see how much time you need your photographer for and how your wedding day is going to run. One of the number one things I always sit down with my couples is a wedding timeline. This is to ensure I can capture everything that is important to my couples. Wedding timelines can be overwhelming and intense. There are a million different things you have to think about including in your timeline and about your wedding in general. One of the main focuses of your wedding timelines is the photos. You want to make sure you give enough time to your photographer to capture all the important details of your big day. Now how much time does a photographer need?

Detail and Getting Ready Photos

A typical amount of time for your photographer to capture your bridal details and getting ready is 45 minutes to 1 hour. If you only have only one photographer you may need more time since they would be capturing images of you and your future spouse. All the details should be in the bridal suite. This will make it easier on your photographer and they will be able to maximize their time since they won’t need to search around for the items you want photographed.

Getting Dressed

Now it is time to get dressed. You will want to allow approximately 45 minutes. During this time you will want to make sure your photographer knows if you want pictures in your getting ready robes/outfits prior to getting in your dress. This also allows time if something happens while getting in your dress or if you are wanting to add a first look with your dad or mom.

donkey at wedding

First Look

If you are opting for a first look then you will want to make sure you have plenty of time for this special moment between you and your future spouse. I will be explaining what a first look is and why it can be beneficial to you on your wedding day. If you want a first look you should set aside approximately 45 minutes. This allows for time to walk to the location of the first look and set it up. We want to ensure neither of you see one another until the time is right. This will also give time to take portraits together before your ceremony.

Bridal Party Portraits

You will want to allow at least 45 minutes for all bridal party portraits. You will want at least 15 minutes for brides and bridesmaids, 15 minutes for groom and groomsmen and then 15 minutes for the entire bridal party together. This timeframe may look slightly different if you choose not to have a first look.

Ceremony & Reception Decor

When you are done with bridal party portraits you will hide away. This allows time for retouch of make-up, grabbing a quick snack, etc. This also is the perfect time for your photographer to capture some ceremony details before guest start arriving. It also allows for your photographer to capture candids of guests as they are arriving to your wedding. You should allow at least 30 minutes for this portion of your images.

Donkey at Wedding

Wedding Ceremony

Unless you are having a specific type of ceremony or traditional religious ceremony. Your ceremony may only be about 30 minutes long. This is typically the average.

Family Formals

Your family formals will follow immediately after your ceremony and will be approximately 30 minutes depending on how big your wedding is. One thing I make my couples do is create a shot list. This ensures I get all of the groupings they want as well and flow smoothly and efficiently through their family portraits.

Husband and Wife Portraits

Husband and Wife portraits will follow your family formals. You will will to have about 30 minutes for these portraits. Once these are completed you will either join in on your cocktail hour if you are having one, or go straight into introductions of your bridal party into your reception.

Ring Detail Shot


Reception coverage will typically be about 2 hours. This is going to include dinner, first dances, cake cutting, toast, etc. Depending on the time of year you have your wedding, if sunset is later in the evening you will want to set aside 15-20 minutes for sunset photos. These can be the most dreamy images. If sunset is earlier you may actually be taking sunset photos during the time of your husband and wife portraits.

Sample Timeline

This timeline is based on a 5:00pm ceremony that includes a first look:

  • 1:00pm : Photographer arrives and starts shooting details
  • 2:00pm : Get Dressed
  • 2:45pm : First Look with Bride and Groom Portraits
  • 3:30pm : Bridal Party Portraits
  • 4:15pm : Hide away before guest start arriving & photographer shoots ceremony decor/reception decor
  • 5:00pm : Ceremony
  • 5:45pm : Family Formals
  • 6:15pm : Husband and Wife Portraits
  • 6:45pm : Dinner
  • 7:00pm : Sunset Photos
  • 9:00pm : Photographer leaves

This timeline is just and example and my adjust depending on the time of year you have your wedding and if you are not having a first look. I hope this helped and let me know what other tips and tricks you would like to see that will be helpful to you 🙂

Pictures were taken at The White Ranch Wedding Venue in Chico, CA

Flowers from Flowers By Rachelle in Chico, CA

Detail shots at wedding


Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *