Wedding Timeline Tips

It’s your wedding day, not a photoshoot. However, if you want lots of beautiful family/wedding party/couples pictures, you’ll  need to allow and plan for photography. Here are some tips we’re come up with to help you complete your wedding itinerary that you will receive about a month before your wedding date. Some of these times may seem long, but keep in mind that 1) the day will fly by  2) most weddings run behind schedule, and 3) we’ll make these photo sessions fun, so it won’t seem like a long time.

Detail Shots

Ideal Time Allotment – 25 minutes
Acceptable Time Allotment – 15 minutes
Minimum Time Allotment – 10 minutes

Advice – Have all of your details in one place ready for the photographer: rings, dress, shoes, invitations, garter, and jewelry to save time. Sometimes “hunting down” rings or a garter can eat up valuable wedding time.

Getting Ready/Individual Portraits Photos

Ideal Time Allotment – 45 minutes
Acceptable Time Allotment – 30 minutes
Minimum Time Allotment – 20 minutes

Advice – Not all brides want “getting ready photos”, but if you do this is the timeline we suggest. These photos are the only way the couple will be able to share with each other the moments they spent getting ready for the big day.  We recommended starting your package when you think your makeup will be done. Not many brides want a bunch of photos before their makeup is complete. Also, remember to relax. Sometimes brides in the stress of getting ready and talking with others can have a “frown” or “angry” face. This will translate to your photos. We’ll remind you if we think a smile is due, but keep your expressions in mind when getting ready. Also, be mindful of the environment. If your hotel room is very cluttered with food wrappers, purses, laundry and towels for example. that will all be in the background of your photos.

Tip: Try to keep all clutter to one area to make it easy for your photographer/videographer to avoid it. 

Tip: Do not get your makeup hair done last. If things run late, YOU will be the one being rushed.

Tip: Most times, hair and makeup are what causes wedding delays. We’ve seen this throw off a wedding timeline by up to THREE HOURS. 

Tip: Bridesmaids should be fully dressed before bride puts on her dress, so they are not wearing tanks and yoga pants when buttoning you up.


Bridal Party Photos

Ideal Time Allotment – 45 minutes
Acceptable Time Allotment – 25 minutes
Minimum Time Allotment – 15 minutes

We’ll start off with the basic, classic photos focused on great expressions and lighting. Then we move into a set of fun and creative shots. Finally, we know how much your wedding party means to you, so we are sure to get pictures with you and each one of your bridesmaids or groomsmen individually if you would like to.

Family Photos

Ideal Time Allotment – 30-60 minutes (depending on size)
Acceptable Time Allotment – 30 minutes
Minimum Time Allotment – 20 minutes

The time needed for family photos can range depending on the size of your family. Families with immediate parents and siblings will take less time than family photos with divorced parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, spouses, children and extended family.  Grandparents that use wheels chairs or canes by take additional time to come in and out of photos. Babies and children may need time to settle if crying. Plus, keep in mind the larger the family, the more time it may take to get everyone in one place. Also, keep in mind time for posing.

Tip: If family pictures are scheduled for 4:00 pm, tell them to arrive at 3:30 pm to ensure everyone is on time and ready. Even if they are late, they’ll still be on time.

Tip: Consider writing down all the family photos you want to follow the date of the wedding. 

Couple Portraits

Ideal Time Allotment – 60 minutes
Acceptable Time Allotment – 45 minutes
Minimum Time Allotment – 30 minutes


Here is a common schedule used by many brides for an 8 hour package:

  • 1:00-1:45 Getting Ready Photos
  • 1:45 – 2:30  First Look and Couple Portrait Photos
  • 2:30 – 3:15 Bridal Party Photos
  • 3:15 – 4:00 Family Photos
  • 4:00 – 4:30 Ceremony
  • 5:00 – 6:00 Cocktail Hour
  • 6:00 – 9:00 Reception – Cake

Here is a common schedule used by many brides for a 10 hour package:

  • 11:30 – 12:15 Getting Ready Photos
  • 12:15 – 1:15  First Look and Couple Portrait Photos
  • 1:15 – 2:15  Bridal Party Photos
  • 2:15 – 3:15 Family Photos
  • 4:00 – 4:30 Ceremony
  • 4:30 – 4:45 After-Ceremony Photos at Alter
  • 5:00 – 6:00 Cocktail Hour
  • 6:00 – 9:30 Reception – Cake

Tip: You can easily upgrade at $150 per additional hour

Other Considerations:

First look vs Ceremony:


  • Ability to get couple photos and family photos taken care of before the ceremony so you do not miss your cocktail hour
  • You get to spend more time with your spouse on your wedding day
  •  See each other for the first time in privacy, not surrounded by hundreds of people
  • If your wedding ends up running severely behind, your photos won’t be rushed after the ceremony
  • There are no distractions so we can move quickly (example: no trying to find people from a very crowded cocktail hour)
  • We highly suggest it!


  • Some brides don’t want to be seen before the aisle
  • Some family members may not support the decision to see each other before the ceremony

End Time

Many brides opt to have their photographer/videographer leave after cake-cutting (normally around 9 pm, but ask your venue). This is because by the time you have cut your cake, we already have a couple hours of dancing captured. After cake, is just more dancing. Unless you want a TON of party photos, you can save time by ending your package right after cake.


Keep travel times in mind. If it takes 15 minute to get from your hotel to the church, double it in your timeline. Often times it may take you 10 minutes to get down the elevator to the car in the first place. Someone may forget something and need to run back into the room. Plus, you may hit traffic or every red light on the way there. We’ve even seen someone get car sick in the car and vomit on the bride (seriously!) Plan for the unexpected.

Rain Plans

Plan for rain. Chances are that you won’t need them, but be sure to figure out where you would want your photos taken if outside isn’t an option. We suggest the inside of your reception room as a nice backdrop for photos.

Receiving Line

Receiving lines after the ceremony are a great way to welcome everyone so you can fully enjoy the cocktail hour and reception. If you don’t do a receiving line, you will most likely spend your cocktail hour doing all of your greetings and it will be almost impossible to eat. Keep in mind though, if you plan to do all over your photos after the ceremony, a receiving line (which can take 30 minutes) will eat up the time available to take photos.

First Dances

Many couples are opting for shorter first dances (for example just the first chorus) but keep in mind this will limit the amount of first dance photos you will receive. We suggest a full first dance song, if possible.

Staying on Schedule

We suggest assigning one person to be the “time keeper”, for example a bridesmaid. This person should make sure timing is flowing appropriately. This person can also be the wedding coordinator, if you have one. For instance, if makeup was supposed to be completed by 1 pm, this person should warn the makeup artist to hurry if its running behind. Tip: Give them a laminated copy of your wedding timeline. Also, consider giving your entire bridal party a copy.