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I’ve gotten so many questions from brides about their wedding photography timeline. Questions about what time they should have their ceremony, how much time they’ll need for their bridal party portraits, when to take family photos – the list goes on! And I totally get it! There are moments when you feel like everything should be coming together, but nothing is set in stone because you don’t know where to even begin. That’s flippin’ frustrating!

So I’m here, not to give you your specific timeline, but to show you a sample timeline that has worked for me in the past (and I continue to use it as a template!)

*Before we start, know that you’re photographer will be instrumental in helping you plan for this. Most photographers have a system for creating the best images for you and they need a certain amount of time to make that happen. Many factors can also change depending on your venue, ceremony time, and time of year that you’re saying “I do” (we photographers love our sunsets!), so definitely trust your photographer when building your timeline. We’ve got your back!

I know this isn’t the most exciting aspect of the wedding day but this is the one thing that can make or break your photography (and your sanity)! The timeline below is an ideal wedding day schedule working off of 8 hours of coverage and a 6pm ceremony.  This timeline is also based off of a wedding day that includes a first look, which most of my couples choose to do!  But don’t worry! If you’re set on that aisle reveal – you know, big doors opening, and his face lights up at the sight of you – keep scrolling! I’ve got a sample of that just under this one! 

the timeline with a first look

I always start my day with the details! One thing you can do that will help out your photographer is gather all the details that you want photographed (your jewelry, shoes, dress, veil, all three rings, invitation suite) and keep them together in a bag or box. Right when I arrive, I’m able to grab that bag and get to work! This will also makes sure your photographer captures all the details you cherish!

This timeline does require your photographer to start a little earlier because we do need more time before the ceremony to do your first look and portraits. However, it gives you more portraits than if you were to not have a first look! Plus, who doesn’t love seeing their best friend and love of their life as soon as possible??

There is an endless number of reasons why we photographers love first looks and why our couples love to do them (you can read all about that here!), but that doesn’t mean that you have to change your way of thinking if you’ve always imagined walking down the aisle and seeing your new husband for the first time. That moment is special, and it’s a favorite moment for a reason!!

So don’t stress or feel like your missing out huge if you choose for an aisle reveal over a first look. If you’re photographer’s a pro, you’ll still get great images at the end of the day that bring all of those memories back to you!

a timeline with traditional aisle reveal

I’d say about 40% of my couples still choose an aisle reveal…and that’s okay!! If that’s how you imagined your wedding day, then go for it!

One thing to note within this type of timeline is that you will have to keep an eye on all of the portraits that need to take place after the ceremony but before you’re introduced at the reception. Most couples who choose an aisle reveal plan to have a cocktail hour right after their ceremony so their guests have something to do while they wait for dinner.

But don’t worry! Your guests know that pictures are taking place, so they’re more than likely going to be patient! If you need to, you can also trim this time down and keep portraits a little shorter, but that will mean you’ll lose out on some pictures.

Another way to shorten this time is to keep family formals for immediate family only.

I know it’s tough to say no to extended family, but we can always take those photos at the reception! It’s possible to keep immediate family portraits down to 15 minutes…or as long as no one runs away…

Timelines do not need to be stressful! In fact, they’re incredible tools that can keep the stress away. It is important to prioritize what you’re most looking forward to on your wedding day, and delegate the most time and focus to those portraits. If bride and groom portraits are what you’ll hang in your home for years, be sure to give yourself more time for those!


What an 8 hour wedding photography timeline looks like (and how to plan yours!)


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