Planning Your Perfect Timeline

This is a guide to help you plan a timeline for your amazing wedding day!  This is an uber important step in assuring that your wedding day runs smoothly.  My goal is to help you balance your vision of your wedding day experience with your dream  photography.  To achieve this, we need to give the time and space to what is important to YOU so that you can enjoy it.  Every couple is unique, and what you want out of your day may not be the same as someone else.   I am here to help you plan your day’s time structure that will also work with your photography goals.


Step 1:  Read through this important information and use the guideline to structure your day.

Step 2:  Use this document to start your timeline.  I start with the ceremony, and work backwards to the start of the day.  Then I work forward with the end of the ceremony forward to the important parts of the reception.  Then I count out the total hours, and start trimming down where needed. 

Step 3:  Email it to me for review and schedule a phone consult to go over it in detail.  We will make adjustments as necessary.


Pick & choose & add what is important to you.  It’s your day!

Getting Ready Preparations:  Typically this takes about 90 minutes total depending on what you have planned.  When the second photographer and myself arrive, we will start right away,  so have them all ready and the room picked up (nothing kills the look of a beautiful photograph faster than clutter!).  If both bride and groom are in the same building, one of us will starts in on photographing the details & guys, and the other will photograph makeup and putting on that dress.

Pro Tip:  EVERYTHING takes longer on a wedding day.  There are many people to corral (who all are trying to get ready too!), little things that you don’t plan for happen, and it take longer to move in that wedding attire.  Also,  hair & makeup are infamous for running late, so plan accordingly.  

Photographing Details (30 minutes, photographer #2) : Rings, flowers, invitations, shoes, jewelry, dress, garter, anything special.  Flowers should be delivered to your getting ready location.

Toasts or prayers (10 minutes):

Tail end of bridal makeup (15 minutes, photographer #1):

Putting on bridal dress, veil, shoes, garter, jewelry  & bridal portrait (45-60 minutes, photographer #1 or both):  Everyone who will be helping with this should already be dressed, hair & makeup done,  and ready to help.

Guys room (20 minutes, photographer #2) :  putting on jacket, cuff links, ties, etc.  The guys should have pants and shirt on….and save the rest for us to photograph.  That was we don’t have to make him stage it.

Dad’s First Look or Bridal Party First Look (15 minutes)

Boutonnieres (20 minutes):  Make sure who ever you choose to pin the boutonnieres is there and dressed.  I suggest a mother, grandmother, or sister…it’s a special moment and a great photo opportunity.

Gift exchanges (20 minutes)

Pro Tip:  Don’t forget to plan times to eat throughout your day!

blog bar 1



First Look:  (30-60 minutes) If you are seeing each other before the ceremony, this is the moment where you see each other for the first time.  Simplicity trumps location for this special moment.  We will find a spot for you at the getting ready location.

blog bar 2



Pro Tip:  Don’t forget to allow for travel time…and remember that it WILL take longer than on a normal day.  Think about gathering bridal parties, bathroom/supplies breaks on a trolley ride, or your one friend who is MIA.  Most couples travel between getting ready and portraits, then again to the ceremony, and again to the reception.

Portraits of Couple (30-90 minutes):  Most of my couples feel that these images are the most important photographs of the day.  These and the bridal party fun are often combined for the best of both worlds.

Bridal party fun:  (30-60 minutes) :  Capturing the personality of your bridal party is the purpose of this timeframe.

Pro Tip:  The time it gets dark as well as the golden hour (or the two hours before the sun sets) is important to your day’s photography.  We LOVE the last few hours before sunset….it’s pure magic!   Click here to find out when the sun sets on your big day.

blog bar 3



Set up for Formals (15 minutes): You get to touch up your makeup and sit down for  a breather, while we set up any lighting to make your formals perfect.

Formals: (45-60 minutes):  This is dependant on your shot list, but an average is 4 minutes per grouping.  I highly encourage you to keep this list to immediate family and grandparents.  Nothing makes your day hectic like extended family groupings.   If we don’t use the allotted time, it’s a perfect spot to take a relaxing break and enjoy the moments before you get married.  I normally suggest this is the same location as your ceremony for simplicity.

Pre-Ceremony Calm (30 minutes):  You all go hide while your guests arrive and we prepare to photograph your ceremony.


Receiving Line:  One of the top sites online for wedding etiquette advice says that realistically, one should allow 30 minutes for every 100 people in the line.

Ceremony Grand Exit:  (15 minutes):  It only takes a few moments to walk out under a sea of bubbles, but it does take time to get your crowd ready…and time to pull you away from them!



The “we just got married” Portraits (I’ll take whatever time you give me!!!):  This is where more magic can happen because the light is often beautiful and you have the just married glow.  Great times to steal you away can be right after you get married and before your grand entrance,  during the golden hour, at sunset, or for a night shot.  Even just 10 minutes can work.

blog bar 5


Pro Tip:  If you have two photographers, we can be split up at certain times.  Other times, you may wish for us both to be there for different perspectives.

Cocktail Hour:   If you have put a lot of planning into decorating your reception, you may want this photographed before guests arrive.  Do you want to be present at your cocktail hour or use it for some additional portraits?  Some couples want this photographed as it can be a great time for candid images of your guests, others choose to have both photographers with them during couples portraits.



Photographers Arrive (15 minutes):  We need some time to park and haul our gear into the venue and set up lights for your reception.

Grand Entrance (5-15 minutes):  Is your entire bridal party walking in announced or just the newlyweds?

Dinner (30-60 minutes):  We need to eat too (shaky hands from no nourishment all day is not a good fit for your photography!), so please plan on us sitting down and eating while your guests are.  We ask that you provide us a meal or allow us 60 minutes to leave site and eat.

Pro Tip:  A sit down dinner takes more time than a buffet, but no one like photographs being taken while they are eating


Toasts, Cake Cutting, First Dances (45 minutes):  Your DJ will be the expert in this arena, so be in touch with them too.  Many couples prefer to do this in a fairly compact timeframe.

Open Dance (30-60 minutes):  It’s time to capture the party!

Reception Sneak Out (10-30 minutes):  We know you want to be at your party and a good host, so we have everything prepared and sneak you out to capture some great night shots.

blog bar 4