The Ultimate Wedding Photography Timeline


September 4, 2021

Do you know what can feel extremely intimidating to plan? A wedding timeline! This may not be the most exciting aspect of the wedding day, but it is vital to ensuring your dream photographs are captured. Below I will outline an ideal wedding day working off of a 6 pm ceremony timeframe. This timeline is also based on a wedding day that includes a first look. Many of my couples choose to do a first look for a number of reasons. Remember that each wedding day is a little different, and your timeline may differ due to travel times and unique situations. Hope you find this helpful as you are planning!

10 hour Timeline

Three Locations + First Look + Late Sunset

Getting Ready Location

(45) 9:45am – 10:30am Rachel Photographs Bride’s Details, Final Touches of Hair & Makeup

Every bride loves to have at least a few shots of their bridal details. This time allows me to get warmed up for the rest of the wedding day. I like to dedicate at least 45 minutes for these photos. While I’m photographing details, I will also be capturing images of the bride & bridesmaids getting ready. If the groom and groomsmen are ready & nearby, I will also photograph them around 40 minutes before the First Look.

(45) 10:30 – 11:15 Rachel Photographs Bride Getting Into Dress & Groom & Groomsmen Getting on Ties & Coats

After the details have been photographed, it’s time for the bride to get into her dress! This is a big moment. I usually ask the mother of the bride and all of the bridesmaids to be dressed by the time the bride is ready to get into her dress. After the bride is in her gown, she can put on her jewelry, veil, shoes, etc. This is a great time to do a few solo bridal portraits.

(15) 11:15 – 11:30 Walk to First Look 

(15) 11:30 – 11:45 First Look 

This is one of my favorite parts of the wedding day! I will find the perfect location for my couple’s First Look prior to the getting ready portion of the day. Don’t stress about that one bit! I will make sure the location is private and as secluded as possible.

(30) 11:45 – 12:15 Bride & Groom Portraits and Bride & Groom Individuals

After the bride and groom take their time with the 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 can’t decide on portrait locations until your wedding day. As we shoot these portraits, the bridesmaids and groomsmen can start making their way to us for Wedding Party portraits.

(15) 12:15 – 12:30 Bride with Bridesmaids

(15) 12:30 – 12:45 Full Bridal Party 

(15) 12:45 – 1:00 Groom with Groomsmen 

Now it’s time for Wedding 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 wedding party portraits is to have someone put the boutonnieres on the guys BEFORE they arrive for portraits. During this time, I will make sure to take some great shots of the guys and girls both separately AND together!

After wedding party portraits are complete, the bride will go into hiding so that early guests don’t sneak a peek, and the ushers will begin their duties.

(30) 1:00 – 1:30 Drive to Ceremony Location

Ceremony Location

(30) 1:30 – 2:00 Bride & Groom Hide, Rest & Retouch while Rachel Photographs Ceremony Decor 

If the reception is in the same location as the ceremony, I will use this time to shoot the reception decor 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 laying down purses and coats on their seats!

(60) 2:00 – 3:00 Wedding Ceremony 

Now it’s time to get married!! Most ceremonies are 30-60 minutes long. If your ceremony is longer than 60 mins, we’ll make adjustments to the timeline. Cherish these moments—your ceremony will pass by so quickly!

(15) 3:00 – 3:15 Drive to Reception Location

Reception Location

(30) 3:30 – 4:00 Immediate Family Photos 

Family formals normally take place immediately following the ceremony. It’s best to save all of the family formals until after the ceremony because ALL family members will be present at that time and we don’t have to worry about tracking down Uncle Joe or the three-year-old cousin. 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.

(60) 4:00 – 5:00 Bride & Groom Join Cocktail Hour while Rachel Photographs Guests & Reception Decor

(15) 5:00 – 5:15 Guests Seated & Grand Entrances

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

I include (one average) around 10 hours of coverage so that I can be present for the main events of the reception and about an hour or so of dancing. If you’re interested in having your exit photographed, there are several options for this. You can either add additional coverage or plan a faux exit with just your bridal party! I have more details in the coming pages about this in case you’ve never heard of it. Email me if you’re interested in learning more!

(30) 6:15 – 6:45 Husband & Wife Sunset Portraits 

Around 6:15 is the BEST time of day for portraits in the late spring, summer, and early fall! This is when the sun is glowy and golden. This is when your heirloom art images are captured. You don’t want to skip this golden magic!

fox meadow barn reception decor

7:00 Sunset

7:45 Sparkler Exit

Approximate Times:


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