The Best Wedding Day Timeline for Photography
An 8hr to 9hr hour timeline is the most ideal from a photographers standpoint.For us, this works best to ensure all the key moments of your wedding day are captured and no special moments are missed. Here is a rough draft and sample of an 8 hour wedding day with the ceremony starting at 5:30 PM. This timeline can be adjusted to your specific needs,but should be a good starting point for you when planning your day.
This timeline below is designed for Brides doing a First Look which we highly recommend!
1:30 PM: (3 hrs before Ceremony Start time)Photographers arrive for getting ready photos.
Capturing the details of the entire day help to tell the complete story of your wedding. We tell our brides to be in the finishing stages of hair and makeup when we arrive, but not in the dress yet. While you and your bridal party are in the finishing stages of hair and makeup, your photographer should arrive to photograph the details of the wedding that you are going to want to remember. These details include your dress hanging, shoes, jewelry, and bouquet.
PHOTO TIP #1: The bride should have the wedding rings along her engagement ring for these detail shots.
PHOTO TIP #2: Always tell your hair/Makeup artist you need to be ready 30 minutes before the actual time. We love our stylists, but if they are running late, the whole timeline is affected for the rest of the day.
2:30 PM: Bride Gets Dressed
An hour might not seem like a lot, but depending on your schedule you should be finishing getting ready around this time. If the bridesmaids have robes, it’s fun to do a champagne toast now. Many brides request that we capture the moment of them getting into their dress while others ask us to come in after they are dressed. Either way is fine with us as this is just a matter of personal taste. If MOB is around, it’s nice to have them help you get into the gown along with your bridesmaids.
2:30-3:00 PM: Bride with Bridesmaids can include casual photos including a champagne toast
1:30-2:30 PM: Groom and Groomsmen Preparation
On the groom’s side of things, the men should be finishing up getting dressed as well. We send over our 2nd photographer to take some fun shots of the guys getting ready and then if there is time, some fun shots of them as well all hanging out together.
3:00 PM: First Look
This can be an emotional part of the day and it’s always one of our favorites! Once the location is set up by your photographer, the groom will be placed in position and the bride will surprise him. Usually, this is just a moment between the bride and groom and the photographer or videographer on hand.
3:15-4:00 PM: Bride and Groom Portraits
During or after your first look, you will want to take some Bride and Groom portraits as well after your photographer or videographer captures the moments of the first look. We’ll pick out a special location with nice lighting and help direct you to ensure you both look your best for these fun and romantic photos.
4:00-5:00PM: Family Photos and Wedding Party Photos
Once you have your first look and bride and groom portrait session, the rest of the family can join in on the fun. During this time, the rest of the wedding party will come in to take formal wedding photos with the bride and the groom. Make sure that everyone in the wedding party and immediate family is there on time so that no time is not wasted scrambling to get everyone together. Groomsmen should have their buttoners pinned and Bridesmaids should have their bouquets in hand. If there are children in the wedding party, they should be ready as well.
PHOTO TIP #3: Send in a Shot list to your photographer! We send all of our couples our Wedding Worksheet to fill out before the wedding so that we know whose who and can accommodate your photo requests.
5:00-5:30 PM: Preparing for the Ceremony
Ok now that the formals are out of the way, everyone has a few minutes to just relax, get a drink, and recompose themselves and get ready for the ceremony as guests begin to arrive. One photographer usually photographs the ceremony location and all the details before guests are seated. The other photographer is usually taking candids of guests as they arrive.
5:30 PM: Ceremony
Here comes the bride! All eyes are on you as you walk down the aisle. This is perhaps the most special moment of the big day and we cover it from multiple perspectives. It’s always nice to see your expression as you are walking down the aisle with all eyes on you…but let’s not forget about your groom! We make sure to capture his reaction as well and these are some of our favorite photos from a wedding day.
PHOTO TIP #4: Look at the Groom! Bridesmaids and Bride need to look up and SMILE as they come down the aisle. We know you are just thinking about not tripping and falling, but try not to look down at your shoes! Lol!
6:00 PM: [Extended] Family Photos and Cocktail Hour
Now that everyone is together, you can choose to take some extended family photos with other members of your family. Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Sorority Sisters, etc. Depending on how big your family is, there could be a huge line of family members wanting to get their picture taken with the couple.
For the other guests, there is usually a cocktail hour where refreshments and Hors d’oeuvre are being served. After the family photos are taken, the family can also get in on the cocktails and refreshments before going off to the reception venue.
We give the B&G a choice here to either venture out and take more fun couples shots in nice sunset light or if they wish to enjoy the last half of their cocktail hour, they can.
6:50 PM: Reception File In
Around this time guests should be arriving at their reception spots and should begin filing into the area. There may be a sign-in book or Photo GuestBook like we produce for guests to leave a note as well.
7:00 PM: Reception Begins
When the reception officially begins, some music will start being played and your MC will then do the Grand Entrance with your wedding party. Now it’s time to have some fun!
7:10 PM: First Dance
All eyes are on you so take it all in and just have fun! The first dance will begin.
7:30 PM: Dinner is served
7:30 PM: Toasts
(Talk with your coordinator, but doing toasts during first course is a great time saver!)
8:15 PM: Special Dances
During this time, whatever special dances you have planned for the night can ensue. This may include Father/Daughter, Mother/Son, etc.
8:30 PM: Open Dancing
9:00 PM: Cake Cutting
9:15 PM: Bouquet Toss and Garter Toss
9:30 PM: Photographers Exit. It’s rare for us to stay to the end of a reception unless there is a grand exit planned in which case more hours can always be added to the day.
• Of course, not every wedding (or culture) can fit into this timeline and we certainly can customize a package to fit within your needs.
To inquire about our wedding photography services, please email us here.