Wedding Day Timeline Tips


Before you get too far in the planning process you may want to take a second and read some tips about wedding day timelines. The last thing you want is to get a month out from your wedding and realize you only have 30 minutes to take all the pictures. Let me help you determine your ceremony time, reception time, whether you want to do a first look or not, how much time is needed for pictures, etc.

I hope it will be helpful for you in making big decisions about your wedding day!


  1. Sunset - Check the sunset time for your wedding day! Simply type into google “sunset time, {Wedding City} {Wedding Date}”. Use this as the center of your timeline. If you’re having an outdoor ceremony, schedule your ceremony start time to be anywhere from 30-60 minutes before sunset time for optimal lighting conditions. This is known as golden hour and your pictures will be dreamy and gorgeous!! If you’re doing an indoor ceremony and not doing a first look, make sure you give your photographer at least an hour to complete Bride and Groom Portraits, Family Formals, and Wedding Party Formals before heading to the reception.

  2. First Look - If you are doing a first look, it’s a great idea to do ALL your formal pictures before the ceremony begins so you can go and enjoy your cocktail hour! Ideally, 2 hours of picture time is necessary to get all the magical moments and ensure a stress free portrait time! 2 Hours includes Bride and Groom, Family, and Bridal Party photos TOTAL.  If you have a large bridal party and a large immediate family, add 30 extra minutes.

  3. Schedule - hair and make-up to start two hours before you think you need to and if you have a large bridal party, make sure you have more than one hair and make-up person. Giving yourself ample time in the morning is ESSENTIAL. Plus, if you’re done early there’s more time for mimosas and dance parties, right?!

  4. Getting Ready Details - Keep ALL your details in one place in the morning for when your photographer arrives. Provide your Maid of Honor with a list of everything I will want to photograph and it saves a TON of time in the morning if it’s all ready to go to start the detail shots!

  5. Travel - Keep in mind how much time it takes to travel between all your venues (Getting Ready, Ceremony, Reception) and account for this in your timeline and your hourly coverage. If you have an hour of travel, add a few extra minutes in case there is traffic.

  6. Reception Details - Give your photographer time to capture the Reception details untouched! If your portraits are all happening during the cocktail hour, make sure you give your photo team enough time to go into the reception space before your guests do to capture the details and set up their lights. 15 minutes is usually sufficient!

  7. Steam Dresses - Make sure your dress and your bridesmaids dresses (and this goes for the guys too I suppose) steam your dresses BEFORE the day of the wedding. Nothing worse than trying to steam with an up-do and panicking the morning of!

  8. Hire a day of wedding coordinator - to help keep all vendors on time and ensure the day runs smoothly. They also take care of any and all hiccups that happen such as but not limited to: your bouquet not being the right flowers and needing to be redone. Having the wrong lipstick color and needing to make a Target run, Providing flip flops for you to wear because you forgot to bring them and didn’t realize how much heels SUCK, Buying extra champagne when you miscalculated how many mimosas would be drank in the morning, the list goes on. Don’t let this fall onto your bridal party or family members to fix, they’re here to enjoy the day.

  9. Reception Timing - If your photography and video only cover a set amount of hours make sure all your important reception events fall into the time that they are there.

  10. Relax. Seriously, at the end of the day, no matter what tiny details go wrong, you are still marrying the love of your life. And in reality, it’s not the wedding that matters, it’s the marriage.