Wedding Day Timelines

How much time do YOU need to capture what is important to YOU?

QUICK TIP: You need more time than you think.

Wedding timelines are always one of the first things that I discuss with my brides. I believe they are one of the first things you should start planning once you have your photographer and venue.  I encourage you to even start planning it before you set the time of your wedding! Most people do not understand the importance and length of time needed for each area of your big day. I was listening to a podcast the other day and the photographer (Derek Chad) talked about having a page on his website that discussed timelines and the amount of time needed for each area! It was genius! So I looked it up and decided to also share the incredible information that he put together.  I appreciate the resource and altered it to fit how I recommend breaking down a wedding day timeline.  The original contents can be found on his website here

Wedding Timelines are one of the most important things to start on from the beginning of your wedding planning.  They break down your day and highlight the parts that are important to you. This page is designed to help give you an idea of how to break down your day by time in order to receive the best

My photography is a documentary and editorial style which means I document you in a relaxed and interactive manner. With this style, it is important to relax, be patient and schedule more time for everything than you think you will need, so those natural moments can happen naturally. 

All the YASSSSes to this statement by Derek:  "More time will give you the opportunity to capture some relaxed portraits of the two of you on your big day in a fun, creative and artistic way. And let’s be adventurous with the location...Your wedding day is going to be INCREDIBLE! You will be looking your best and surrounded by your favorite people in the whole world. It will be an entire day celebrating the two of you and the love you have for each other. This is why your wedding day will be... THE BEST DAY OF YOUR LIFE!

It is always a good idea to create a good timeline. I’ve photographed so many different types of weddings and no two have ever been the same. It is a challenge to say exactly how much time will be needed on your specific wedding day, but here are some recommendations and suggestions. Your wedding day is going to fly by, and a good timeline is essential for photography. Keep in mind, most weddings run a bit behind the timeline/schedule, so it is always a good idea to plan some extra time for that."


Time Recommendations on Wedding Day

These descriptions are from Derek Chad, I simply altered the time to fit MY personal recommendations for time needed & time of day.


Rings, Shoes, & Details 

Time Recommended: at least 45 mins - 1 Hour
Best Time of Day: In the morning, while you are beginning getting ready

Think about all the time you are putting into planning and creating your special details, you are most likely going to want to schedule time to allow for some good photos of them. Many people want photos of just the dress hanging somewhere outside or nearby, or by itself somewhere in the hotel room. These photos take time than you'd expect.  Getting the right photo takes time... moving the dress and photography gear around to find the just the right spot for the photo. If this is an important photo to you, make sure to allow for additional time.

“Getting Ready” Photos

Time Recommended: 1 hour
Best Time of Day: preferably in the morning / early afternoon

Examples include photos of makeup and/or hair being done and/or getting into your wedding day dress/suit/attire. 

This is usually started near the end of hair and makeup.



Individual Portraits (Bride by herself \ Groom by himself)

Time Recommended: 30-45 mins
Best Time of Day: morning or early afternoon

Individual portraits are often favorites of my couples and they are absolutely my favorite photos to take. I recommend portraits near a well lit window in a hotel suite or decorative room.  Out doors in a shaded area. It is always nice spend extra time around a hotel lobby, garden, or other nearby location. The more time for these photos the better!

The groom only needs at most 30 minutes since we don't have to fluff his dress ;) 

First Look

Time Recommended: 30-60 minutes
Best Time of Day: morning or early afternoon

You will need at least 30 minutes if you just want a first look. If you want any additional portrait(s) after the first look, plan at least an hour. This moment is when you see each other for the first time on your wedding day. If you want a nice and relaxed looking, you won’t want to be in a rush.



Wedding Party Photos

Time Recommended: at least 45 minutes
Best Time of Day: morning or afternoon

If you want creative and fun shots and not the classic and basic posed shots, be sure to leave the time for it. Creativity takes time!  Also, decide if you would like individual shots with each member of the bridal party, that will be about 1 minute per person. 

Time permitting, I do my best to capture classic and creative wedding party photos. Like with the other shots, time is of the essence, so I recommend setting aside an hour for these photos. 

Ceremony Detail and Venue Shot

Time Recommended: 30 minutes
Best Time of Day: when there are no guests or vendors in the area but after all the setup has been completed.  It is best to be able to do this the hour before the wedding, but the venue must be completed and set up.  If this time is not planned for, these shots will not be possible. 



Family Formals

Time Recommended: 30 minutes
Best Time of Day: Early afternoon or after the ceremony

Wrangling up family members can take some work...which means it takes time. I always recommend the couple select at least one person on each side of the family to help as wedding day “wrangler” of family members. Assigning a point person that that knows names and faces helps ensure we include everyone you want to be included in the photos. You can plan on about 2-3 minutes per shot, so time adds up fast for multiple groups. 

Prior to the wedding day, I have you create and deliver a family shot list that we will use on the day of the wedding. We will go through the list and check off as we take the shot.  I recommend sticking to immediate family shots and if desired, one group shot including all relatives/cousins/friends.

Couples Session
Time Recommended: 1 hour
Best Time of Day: 45 minutes before sunset

99% of the time these are the photos that you are going to remember and cherish the most. Plus, they are incredibly FUN to take! You might notice a theme by now, time is important. A couples session requires time, but the best photos require the proper timing. The correct time of day makes a huge impact on available light and often affects what scenic shots we can capture. Like most couples, you have most likely chosen your special venue because of the environment or location, so we want to make sure we capture you, at that venue, in the best light possible.

I am ok breaking this up to some prior to the wedding if you are doing a first look or if the wedding is early then we do some after the ceremony and then SNEAK OUT during the reception for SUNSET pictures!  I am known for my sunset portraits, so you will want to plan for these!



Reception Detail and Venue Photos

Time Recommended: 30 minutes
Best Time of Day: early afternoon before the wedding IF THE VENUE IS SET UP. If not, the last 20-30 minutes of Cocktail hour will need to be designated to this or you will not be able to have reception detail pictures. 

This is the only opportunity I will have to take the photos of the reception area. I know a lot of time gets put into the décor and details here so you will want to make sure to leave time for these photos. It is best that no guests nor vendors are in the area at this time.

Once the guests enter the area, it is not possible to take detail shots of table setups and reception details where the guests are.  It is best to plan this prior the wedding or last resort would be cocktail hour, but the time would be limited during cocktail hour.

Table Visit Photos (Upon Request)

Time Recommended: 1 hour
Best Time of Day: during reception

Snapping a photo with each of your guests at their table is a good way to include most of your guests in a photo with you. You'll want to budget about 5 minutes per table to get the shot you are hoping for. This translates to about an hour to cover 10 tables.

This takes you away from visiting, dancing and having fun so I recommend just requesting group shots as desired throughout the reception.



Do not forget the amount of time it takes to travel between locations. Remember, traveling to a location means you'll most likely need time to travel back (ie. Hotel suite to ceremony. Ceremony to reception). I am a strong gal, but it takes some time to move gear and physically get to different locations.