Setting Up Your Photography Wedding Day Timeline

Help Us Set Up A Timeline For A Stress-Free Day!

Setting up a timeline is one of the most important things you will do with your photographer. As your photographer, we want to make sure we utilize all the time you have purchased in your package the best we can, and get you all the images that will create special memories for years to come.

In order for us to set up your timeline, we need your help! Here is a list of events that happen throughout a normal wedding day, and what information we need from you to make it go as smooth as possible.

Getting Ready Shots: 

Your getting ready shots are some of the most important photos your photographer will take on your wedding day. Its the beginning of your story on your wedding day. Its also the time that the photographer uses to photograph all of your personal details ( Rings, shoes, dress, invitations, jewelry, flowers, etc ) Often times, setting up these shots are the most time consuming. Its important to keep in mind that we are artists and like to allow for enough time to be creative an unique for each wedding. On average it take us about an hour to photograph all of the details.

Keep in mind that the other part of your “getting ready photos” we capture your finishing touches on hair and or makeup, photos of you and your wedding party have a toast, jumping on the bed, etc.

If you and your fiancé decide on a “First Look” (and we strongly suggest that you do) we schedule your photographer to be there 4 hours before your ceremony starts.

If you have chosen not to do a “First Look” your photographer will be scheduled to be there 2.5 hours before your ceremony starts.


Here’s why…. When your photographer arrives they go directly to the bride. During the first hour they will photograph you and your bridesmaids getting your hair and makeup done. Having fun in your robes, maybe having a glass of champagne to take the edge of. They will also be taking photos of your dress, rings, shoes, jewelry, bouquet, etc. These photos need to be set up, the area needs to be cleared (you don’t want a bunch of junk in the background) and this takes time!

After all this is finished we schedule about 45 min for the bride to get into her dress. I know what you’re thinking, “that’s crazy! 45 minutes to put my dress on?” Well, this isn’t any ordinary dress, its your WEDDING DRESS! The undergarments alone could take you 10-15 minutes to get into, and don’t forget about the bathroom break right before you step into your dress.

We want you to have the images of your mother, or bridesmaids zipping you up. You putting on your jewelry, adding the veil. Maybe you want the picture of your first look in the mirror after you put it all together. Maybe you want to have a first look with your dad. All of this has to be set up in the right lighting and the room needs to be prepared for the perfect shots.

During this time while the bride is getting ready your second shooter (if you hired one) will head over to the groom and take about 30 minutes to shoot the guys getting ready. After that they will return to the bride to help finish up.

It is very important to take all of this into consideration when deciding on your getting ready locations!

The very best way to get the most out of this time, is to get ready at the same location. When photographers have to drive around to different locations, it chews up a lot of time when they could be taking photos. Also, if you only have one photographer, and you are at the same location, it is still possible for them to capture bride and groom getting ready photos. When you are in two different locations, it is less likely the groom will get these photos with one photographer.

Next up… The First Look:

*Very important you tell us where you would like these shots captured! Getting ready location, church, venue, etc? Plan on including driving time.

We set aside about 30 minutes for your first look. (this does not include getting you out of the room and down to the first look location)

You and your photographer will have to come up with the best spot for this to take place. Will you come up from behind the groom? Maybe come out through a set of doors? Lighting. Where is the sun? Behind you? In front of you? All things that need to be considered and set up, in order for your photographer to get you those images you will love.

*If you have chosen not to do a “First Look” the following photos will be taken after your family photos, after the ceremony. 

Following the first look… Wedding Party Photos:

This takes about 30 minutes depending on how big your wedding party is and how well they listen and cooperate with the photographer. Also you want to consider which locations you would like these photos taken, how big is the venue property, how far do they have to walk to each location.

Then The Bride and Groom Photos: 

We set aside about 30 minutes for these. After all, you are the main attraction for the day.

-Now we are down to about 30 minutes before your ceremony is about to start. Here are some things you need to think about…

*Do we need to drive to a different ceremony location? How long will that take? Do we need to wait on valet parking to retrieve our cars? Wait on limos for transportation? All these things need to be considered for the timeline.

* If your getting ready, ceremony, and reception are all at the same location, would you like to do immediate family photos before your ceremony? If so then we typically will schedule these either right after the wedding party photos or right after the couples portraits.

After the Ceremony: 

Immediately after the ceremony we will take all of your family photos. This takes around 15-20 minutes depending on family size. After family photos, If you have chosen to do a first look, your photographer will take this time to capture all the details of your reception while you and your guest are enjoying cocktail hour.

If you chose not to do a first look we will need to do wedding party photos, and then bride and groom photos after your family photos are finished. The same times would apply as above. But you will need to tell us where you would like these photos taken.. at the church? Reception location? Different location? Please consider loading everyone into cars and driving time when making these decisions.



Important times photographers need to know…

*Bride and Groom intros. and First dance

*Dinner – When the photographers will be served. Its really important to ask the catering manager to make sure the photographers are fed AT THE BEGINNING of dinner so that they are finished and ready to start taking photos once you and your guests have finished. You would be surprised how many venues do not feed the photographers until after the last guests are fed… we get it, they want to make sure your guests have all eaten and are taken care of. We want that too BUT… we have to eat to keep working and if they are serving us when everyone is finished eating, we wont be finished in time for dancing or any other formalities.

*Cake Cutting

*Bouquet/Garter Toss

*Special exit, for example mock sparkler, or lanterns  (our photographers typically do not do sparkler or lantern exits with all of your guest because it is hazardous for them, but we will set up a controlled mock exit if that is something you are interested in)

It is not necessary for your photographer to stay all the way to the end of your reception. Usually after the bouquet/garter toss or mock exit they have gotten everything they need.

Here are Two Timeline Examples to give you an idea. One with a First Look , one without…

First Look

Based on an 8hr wedding, with two photographers

2PM – 3PM: Getting ready photos including detail shots (rings, invites, flowers, personal item etc.)

3PM – Second shooter goes to Groom

3:15PM – Bride puts dress on

4PM – 4:30PM: First Look

4:30PM – 5PM: Wedding Party

5PM – 5:30PM: Bride and Groom

5:30PM – 5:45PM – Immediate Family photos ( if you decide before ceremony )

5:45PM – Bride and Groom freshen up for ceremony

6PM – 6:30PM: Ceremony

6:30PM – 7:30PM Cocktail Hour

6:35PM – 6:55PM Family Photos (please factor in time if you are having a receiving line, this could take up to 45min.)

( Sunset photos – depending what time the sunset is, we try out best to take a few photos during sunset for about 10 min )

7:45PM – Bride and Groom intros and first dance

8PM – Dinner/speeches

9PM – Cake

9:30PM – Bouquet/Garter Toss

10:00PM – Photographers Scheduled to Leave

Without First Look

Based on an 8 hr, wedding with two photographers

3PM – 4PM: Getting ready photos including detail shots (rings, invites, flowers, personal item etc.)

4PM – Second shooter goes to Groom for prep shots

4:15PM Bride puts dress on

4:30PM – 2nd shooter – Groomsmen photos

5PM – Bridesmaids photos

5:30PM – 6PM: Bride and Groom Freshen up for ceremony

6PM – 6:30PM: Ceremony

6:30PM – 7:30PM: Cocktail Hour

6:35PM – 6:50PM: Family Photos (please factor in time if you are having a receiving line, this could take up to 45min.)

6:50PM – 7:10PM: Full Wedding Party

7:10PM – 7:30PM: Bride and Groom

7:30PM – Bride and Groom intros and first dance

8PM – Dinner/speeches

9PM – Cake

9:30PM – Bouquet/Garter Toss

10PM – Photographers Scheduled to Leave