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Wedding Day Timeline Estimates (8 Hours)

The hardest part of planning a wedding is creating a timeline! In this blog post, I have listed sample time frames and estimates for each part of your wedding day, so you can plan a little more accurately! We love to help our clients plan out timelines, and these are our basic suggestions.

As a wedding photographer, capturing the most precious moments of your special day is my main priority. You deserve to get the most out of your wedding day, so it’s important to plan a well-thought-out wedding day timeline. With 8 hours of photography coverage, we can capture all the events we need to, without you feeling rushed or hurried (aka, joy killers).

Here are some photography-friendly estimates you can use as you’re planning your wedding day timeline.

Getting Ready & Details (1 Hour – 90 Minutes): Allow an hour for photography during your getting ready time! Invite mama, grandma, and the bridal party, and celebrate these once-in-a-lifetime memories. I like to have 30-45 minutes to photograph your bridal details, and 30-60 minutes to photograph the final stages of getting ready. The more time you add ahead of the ceremony, the less rushed you will feel, and the more joyful and candid these photos will be.

mother of the bride helping bride get dressed

Optional First Look and Couples Portraits (1 Hour): Consider arranging a “first look” before the ceremony. This intimate moment allows you to share excitement, bask in your pre-wedding joy, and let go of any nerves. My favorite bonus of sharing a first look ahead of the ceremony? The option to start early on family/group portraits, and get extra portraits of the two of you on your wedding day! If you’re opting to wait to share your first look until the aisle, be sure to plan at least 30 minutes of portrait time later in the evening for the two of you!

bride and groom first look in rose garden

Ceremony (1 Hour): Plan your ceremony for an hour, including the processional, vows, ring exchange, and recessional. Ceremonies usually end sooner than an hour, but it’s great to have extra buffer time!

Family and Group Portraits (30 Minutes): Following the ceremony, allocate around 30-45 minutes for family and group portraits. We chat with all of our couples ahead of time and build a custom family portrait list to make sure this goes as quickly as possible.

Cocktail Hour (30 Minutes): Cocktail hour is a perfect time for grabbing quick details of your reception set-up. This timeframe also provides an opportunity for any last-minute adjustments, if needed, or to take couples portraits if we didn’t do a pre-ceremony first look.

Reception (3-4 Hours): With the majority of your wedding day focused on the reception, this time includes your grand entrance, speeches, toasts, cutting of the cake, first dance, and any other special moments you decide to plan. Receptions are a great time to get candid images of your guests, and of course, PARTY DANCING!

Sunset Portraits (Optional – 30 Minutes): Consider slipping outside to take advantage of the golden hour and capture breathtaking outdoor portraits. This can be an intimate moment for the couple to reflect on the day and create some magical images.

Grand Exit (Optional – 15 Minutes): If you plan a grand exit, allocate 15 minutes towards the end of the reception for your photographer to capture the farewell moments. Whether it’s a sparkler send-off or a whimsical departure, these images will serve as a memorable conclusion to your wedding album. Many of our couples choose to plan a fake exit, to head back in and get started with the after party, but still incorporate the fun exit images!

Your wedding day timeline is key to maximizing your photography coverage. By strategically allocating time for each aspect of your day, we can ensure that no precious moment is missed. Be sure to discuss your preferences with your photographer and other vendors, keeping in mind the unique elements of your wedding, such as venue, lighting, and desired shots. Together with our couples, we create a seamless timeline that guarantees stunning photographs while allowing you to fully relax and enjoy yourself on your wedding day.


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