Wedding Time Line - the road map to success

Your wedding day timeline will make or break the flow and feel of your wedding. With all the very unique & personal aspects of weddings, it's difficult to prepare the perfect wedding day timeline template. However, the wedding timeline is something to consider when planning your day. Some of these times may seem long but keep in mind that the day will fly by & most weddings run slightly behind schedule. Also we like to make these various parts of the wedding day fun.

Wedding Photos Timeline

If you only do one task to insure the best wedding photos possible, it would be create a thorough wedding day timeline. Your wedding day will zoom past. And each part of the day has its own unique challenges. We also advise having one person dedicated to driving the wedding day timeline. Some wedding planning includes this and some venues include this. Do not overlook the importance of this key person.

Want a template for our Wedding Photography Timeline? Click the Timeline Helper button below to get a Word file you can edit. NOTE: One click automatically downloads the file.

Before the Wedding Ceremony

These are the moments to consider BEFORE the ceremony. These include details, hair & make up, getting into your dress, and, first look or dress reveal. These may occur in a hotel room or a bridal suite.

Wedding Details: (30 mins) Rings, shoes, wedding dress, marriage license, wedding invitation and other wedding artifacts. Best time is early morning. Best location is the bridal suite or bridal prep area.

Bride's hair: (60 mins) This gives enough time to get it right and make any tweaks or changes from the trial run. If you aren’t doing a trial run, add 30 minutes. I strongly recommend a trial run.

Bride's makeup: (45 to 60 mins) Depending on the makeup style the bride selects. Again, a trial run helps shorten this process.

Bridesmaids' hair: (30 mins) per person.

Bridesmaids' makeup: (30 mins) per person.

If you're traveling to a salon, double the travel time you anticipate — better to have too much time than not enough.

When should the photographer arrive? One and half hours before the bride is ready gives us time to capture some preparation moments as well as the wedding venue and wedding details.

Into the Dress: This is where I like to start telling the story of the wedding day.

Put on your veil after the dress. Consider asking your stylist to stick around until then to make sure your veil is secure. 

Pre-wedding ceremony photos: (30-45 mins) Bride with her family as well as the groom with his family. Also consider punctuality of each group. Possibly cushion the schedule to allow for unexpected delays.

Bridesmaids Photos: (30 mins)

Groomsmen Photos: (30 mins)

First look or Dress Reveal: (15-30 mins) Even if you don’t see each other, I recommend a few minutes for you to hold hands around a corner or stand with a door between you. Those few intimate moments alone may be all you get all day.

Groom and groomsmen dressed and ready: Two hours before the ceremony. Guys always run late and loose stuff. Extra time helps them be on time.

Bride and bridesmaids dressed and ready: One hour before the ceremony.

Ceremony Location: (15 mins) We like to photograph the ceremony location with no guests and when every last detail is set perfectly.


Wedding Ceremony

These events include guests gathering, bridal procession, ceremony and wedding recessional. These photos will occur at the wedding ceremony site. Be sure to let the photographer know special people on the guest list.

Guests Gathering: Guests & family members as finding their seats.

Bridal Procession: This is a must have series of wedding photos. This is the peak of suspense and emotion for everyone.

Wedding ceremony length (standard): (20-30 mins) This is enough time to have meaningful readings and music to make your ceremony unique and memorable.

Wedding ceremony length (custom): (35-90 mins) This is for weddings that include a Catholic Mass, multiple performances, additional religious observations, etc.

Wedding Recessional: You did it! You're married!!! We love all the relaxed expressions of relief.


After the Wedding Ceremony - Reception

These events include formal wedding party photos, family photos and all the events of the reception. They will happen at the ceremony site, other more private locations and the possibly the reception site.

Cocktail Hour or Drinks and Hors d'oeuvres: (60 - 90 mins) You must provide snacks, drinks and entertainment for your guests. This is the perfect time for guests to have fun with a photo booth or at least props and space for a “selfie booth” with your wedding hashtag on display – this is the latest “must have” for your guests.

Formal Bridal Party and Family Photos: (5 mins per grouping) This is the family portraits portion and it happens during the gap between ceremony and reception. Be prepared. Know the shot list and make sure your photographer knows your wishes. Once folks are no longer need for photos, ask them to join the reception.

Couple's Photo Session: (30 mins) We find a quiet spot for just the two of you. This can be an intimate out of the way spot or an epic overlook or pretty much anything that is an extension of the two of you.

Wedding Reception: (3-5 hrs) "This allows time for cocktails, dinner, dancing and all the “wedding reception events.”

Order of events (these can vary on your preferences):

Introducing Mr and Mrs . . . (3-10mins) Woo hoo! Celebrate!

First dance: (3-5 mins) Immediately after the bride and groom enter the reception.

Father/daughter dance: Immediately following the first dance.

Mother/son dance: Immediately following the father/daughter dance. Or, sometimes, this dance is shared with the father/daughter dance.

Welcome toast: (5mins) Given by the father of the bride or by the bride and groom. The first course is served or tables are released for buffet.

Toasts: (15-20 mins) Ladies first! Start with the maid of honor, followed by the best man. For more formal receptions the 2nd course is served a this time.

Cake cutting: (10 mins) A great DJ often adds a little game or distraction for the guests while the cake is being cut and plated.

Bouquet and garter tosses: (15-20 mins)

ALL DANCE: This is when and where your guests get to let it all hang out and sweat out the drinks and work off the sugar.

Send Off: This should start about 30 minutes before the end of the reception. Have guests start lining up about 15 minutes before you plan to exit.

Faux Send Off: Many couples stage a fake send off for various reasons. Have guests line up about 15 minutes before you plan to exit.