The Importance of a Wedding Day Timeline

Weddings are amazing events! From the time you begin your hair and makeup to the grand exit at the end of the night, there are so many moving parts to make sure the entire day runs smoothly.  That’s why it’s SO important to make sure that everyone is on the same page.  A detailed wedding timeline is your best friend! 🙂

A timeline will help you time your hair and makeup, let your bridesmaids know when they need to be ready, have the family prepared for portraits by a certain time, and so much more!  By doing our homework early, everything can run smoothly and we’ll make sure we don’t miss anything or keep anyone waiting.   (Make sure to share this with their wedding coordinator so that they know the plan as well!)

Below is an example of a detailed wedding timeline, to help you plan for a successful wedding day!

Sample Wedding Day Timeline

Details: 2:30-3:15

Every bride loves having those beautiful shots of her bridal details. It’s an important part of the story and I love having time to shoot the dress, shoes, jewelry, invitations, etc. These shots also allow me to get warmed up for the rest of the big day, and are something I normally like to allow at least 45 minutes for.  While I’m shooting details I’m also capturing some shots of the bride and her girls getting ready!


Bridal Prep: 3:15-3:45

After the details have been photographed, it’s time for the bride to get into her dress! This is the big moment! I usually ask the mother of the bride and all the bridesmaids to be dressed by the time the bride is ready to get into her dress. This ensures that everyone will look great in those images!  After the bride is in her gown, she can put on her jewelry, shoes, veil, etc and I will shoot some additional bridal portraits!


First Look: 4-4:15

This is one of my favorite parts of the whole day! I will find the perfect location for my couples’ First Look prior to the getting ready portion of the day, so don’t stress about it one bit! I will make sure the location is private and as secluded as possible for you to have a special moment together.


Portraits: 4:15-4:45

After the bride and groom take their time with their First Look, I will begin taking a few romantic portraits of the two of them while the initial excitement is still present! I will find the locations for these shots as well. Remember, the LIGHT determines where we shoot and so I usually can’t decide on portrait locations until the day-of.  As we shoot these portraits, the bridal party can start making their way to us for Bridal Party Portraits!


Bridal Party Portraits: 4:45-5:20

Now it’s time for Bridal Party Shots! I buffer in extra time throughout the day just in case we have some unexpected things that hold us up! One way to make sure we stay on schedule for bridal party portraits is to have someone put the boutonnieres on the guys BEFORE they arrive for portraits. During bridal party portraits I will make sure to get some great shots of the guys and girls both separately and together. After these photos are complete, the bride can take this time to sneak away so that early guests don’t see her!


(Bride in Hiding 5:30-6:00)

Reception details: 5:30-5:45

If the reception is in the same location as the ceremony, I will use this time to shoot the reception décor UNTOUCHED . If the ceremony and reception are in different locations  I recommend having a cocktail hour outside of the main reception area if possible – so that I can grab some great shots of your reception before the night begins and guests start lying down their purses and coats on their seats.


Ceremony: 6:00-6:30

It’s time to get married!! Most ceremonies are about 30 minutes long. If you ceremony is longer we will make adjustments to the timeline. Cherish these moments! Your ceremony will go by so quickly!


Family Portraits: 6:40-7:10

Family formals normally take place right after the ceremony. It’s best to save all the family formals until after the ceremony because all family members will be present at that time. We’ll need about 30 minutes for family formals and I will send a questionnaire before the wedding where you can list out the shots that you want. I recommend shooting portraits outdoors if possible, so that they resemble more natural family portraits especially if the ceremony location is dark.


Extra Romantic Portraits:

7:00 is the BEST time of day for portraits during the late spring, summer and early fall!  This is when the sun is glowy and golden. I love having a few extra minutes with the bride and groom to take a few “Just Married” portraits right after family formals!


The Party Begins: 7:30

This is when the bridal party lines up for the introductions and the party begins! By this time of the day, my timeline isn’t as strict. I work off the natural light and so after the sun is set, my portrait time is over and I begin to focus on the reception events!


Exit: 10:30

Depending on how long you have hired me for you may not have me until the very end of your reception and that is ok! I usually recommend about an hour or so of dancing shots, but by the end of the night everyone is. . . (lets just day if you’re throwing a PAR-TAY, everyone isn’t looking their absolute best any longer!).  If you’re interested in having your exit photographed, but do not have me until the very end there are ways to go around it! We can plan a faux exit with just your bridal party! The party never has to stop and no one would ever know the difference! Email me and we can chat about it!


When you book your wedding with me, we’ll go through the entire day together and see if we need to make any adjustments for things like the ceremony time and length, special gifts, or anything else that you want included in your special day.  I’ll be here for you every step of the way!

Happy wedding planning! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

catch the latest

on instagram

Site design by Palm & co.

sarah hill photography |