Wedding Day Timeline: A How to Guide

January 31, 2020

Let’s talk about your wedding day timeline! I love helping my couples build the perfect photography timeline for their wedding day. If you have a wedding coordinator, they will be one of your biggest allies in building the timeline, but when you don’t, you’ve got me!

There are definitely some things to consider when planning the start time of your ceremony, when portraits are happening, etc, but the biggest factor is light. This is especially true if you plan to have an outdoor ceremony. Time of day really effects natural lighting. A ceremony that starts too early in an area with dappled shade or an unevenly lit location can drastically hinder the look of a photos with a 2pm ceremony.

When scheduling family group photos, I have found it extremely helpful to do these right after the ceremony. This way you don’t have to worry about anyone being late and throwing your timeline off earlier in the day, when it’s the hardest to catch back up. Make sure to give your family members a reminder at the rehearsal dinner when family photos are taking place so we don’t have to do hunting Uncle Bob down at the cocktail hour. I also ask for family groupings with names that way I can plan a shot list for them and have my second photographer get the next group ready while I am photographing. It makes the family photo portion go very smoothly!

I also advise my brides to tell the hair and makeup makeup team that they need to be ready 20-30 mins before they actually do. In my experience I have found that this is what usually ends up running late. When you have that extra window built in it really helps for a stress free morning.

To first look or not? There are definitely advantages to a first look in terms of wedding timeline. Especially if you are going with a shorter coverage amount. It allows a lot of the bridal party portraits out of the way prior to the ceremony, which in turn gets you to that awesome cocktail hour you planned.

Additionally, I have had couples opt to forego the first look and just get ready together! How sweet is it to share in your excited nervousness with your soon to be spouse the whole morning leading up to your vows. Having your bae help button your dress and your fixing their bowtie, always so romantic & sweet. More couples recently are choosing to wait until that aisle moment as well and that’s incredibly special too! Seeing a the emotion spread across your love’s face is such a beautiful moment and I would never tell you to not do that if that is what you have always envisioned.

Below I’ve laid out a sample timeline to help in your planning journey. Please note that there are situations that won’t apply to all couples’ wedding days such as a wedding exit, first look, etc, as well as the time of year you are getting married.

Sample Timeline
  • 9:00 am – Bridesmaids Hair & Makeup Begins
  • 11:00 am – Bride’s Hair & Makeup Begins
  • 1:45 pm – Groom & Groomsmen Begin Getting Ready
  • 2:00 pm – Wedding Details are Photographed (have these gathered ahead of time so important items aren’t missed)
  • 3:00 pm – Bride puts wedding dress on
  • 3:30 pm – Bridesmaids / Dad First Look
  • 3:45 pm – Bride & Groom First Look
  • 4:00 pm – Bridal Party Photographs
  • 4:45 / 5pm – Bride is Hidden
  • 5:30 pm – Ceremony
  • 6:00 pm – Family Photographs
  • 6:30 pm – Couple Photographs
  • 7:15 pm – Sneak out for Sunset Photographs
  • 7:30 pm – Reception Grand Entrance
  • 8:00 pm – Dinner Begins
  • 9:00 / 10:00 pm – Dancing & Reception Events
  • 11:00 pm – Bride & Groom Exit

So what about hourly coverage? If you’ve looked at my wedding collections you know that I offer 3 different packages with different hourly coverage. How do you choose what parts of the day you apply those hours? Well this really is a personal decision concerning what parts of the day are most important to you. Typically for my La Perle Blanche (6 hours) couples opt for coverage between 2 pm – 8 pm. La Perle Rose (8 hours) the typical coverage hours are from 1 pm – 9 pm. And for La Perle Noire (Full Day) the typical coverage runs from 12 pm – 10/11 pm.

I am always happy to help in anything you need to set up the perfect timeline for your wedding day!

Bride and Groom exit with family tossing fake snow.

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