If you’re wondering how to make a wedding timeline, you’ll love today’s post. If you hire a wedding planner (recommended), they will complete this task, meaning you don’t have to worry about it! Even so, I think it’s important for couples to understand the logistics of the photography timeline. If you ensure that your photographer has all of the time they need, you’ll have the best photos! To begin, I’ll start with the getting ready portion of the day. I love getting ready photos, especially when brides have chosen the perfect getting ready room. I personally love to have 90 minutes to photograph the getting ready portion of the day. That gives me time to photograph the bridal details and create beautiful getting ready images.
You might not be think your shooter will need this much time, but they need whatever they say they need. Consider it their warm-up time! Give your photographer what they request and they’ll be able to create their best work! The rest of this post will be divided between two types of weddings scenarios: first look and no first look. Of course, my preferences for timing might differ from other photographers’ preferences. Always ask your own photographer what they recommend!
Wedding Timeline with a First Look
*This information applies to weddings with one venue. If you have multiple venues, you will need to add in time for travel*
I prefer to arrive to the venue 4 hours before the ceremony. I begin with about 90 minutes of detail and getting ready photos. The bride should get in her gown 2.5 hours before the ceremony, meaning that hair/makeup must be completed by that time. I always allot 30 minutes for the gown, just in case hair/makeup runs late or the bride needs to use the restroom or take care of anything else. Padding the timeline can absolutely save the day!
The first look begins 2 hours before the ceremony, followed by bride/groom (30-40 min), bridal party (25), and family portraits (25). I prefer to complete all portraits about 20-30 minutes before the ceremony to give everyone time to relax and prepare.
For the reception, schedule your “events” (i.e. cake cutting) for the time you have left with your photographer. Ensure that the events you want photographed are scheduled before their coverage ends.
Wedding Timeline Without a First Look
For weddings without a first look, I arrive 2 hours and 15 minutes before the ceremony. This gives me plenty of time to capture the details, getting ready, and environment. I prefer that the bride gets into her gown no later than 45 minutes before the ceremony. Ideally, we will have enough time to take portraits of the bride with the bridesmaids before departing for the ceremony. This gives us more time to focus on bride/groom portraits during cocktail hour.
During cocktail hour, I absolutely must have the entire hour for portraits. You will have fewer portraits of you and your spouse because this hour is shared with other portraits. You also are unlikely to enjoy any of your cocktail hour. Do be prepared for that.
I spend 15 minutes on family, 10-15 minutes on bridal party, and then 30-35 minutes on bride and groom portraits. If you consider bride/groom portraits a priority, keep your family and bridal party photo requests short. The more time you spend on those, the less time you have for yourselves.
For the reception, ensure your “events” (i.e. cake cutting) occur during the time you have left with your photographer. Schedule the events you want photographed before the photographers’ coverage ends. Now you’ll have the perfect wedding timeline!