How To Create A Detailed Wedding Day Timeline!

What you need to know BEFORE you can create a detailed wedding day timeline!

You might be unaware, but a wedding photographer does so much more than take photos. From the second you email or call them asking for guidance, they begin to help you plan your wedding to make sure it goes smoothly. One of the most important parts of planning your wedding is creating a timeline for each part of the day. Before you begin, here’s a few questions and decisions you need to keep in mind.

Start with Locations and Components of the Day:

  • Where will you get ready? (Both bride and groom)
  • Will you get your hair and makeup done?
  • Will you do a first look?
  • Where will the ceremony take place?
  • Where will the cocktail hour occur?
  • Where will your reception happen?
  • Will you have a formal exit?


Determining the Time

  • How many people are getting their hair and makeup done? For each person, estimate a little more than two hours.
  • How much time does it take to travel from one location to another? Don’t forget to include a few minutes for gathering belongings and getting on/off your method of transportation.
  • What pictures will happen before the ceremony? If you are keeping the groomsmen and bridesmaids separate, plan for 30 minutes. If you are having a First Look, add 15 minutes. If you will also do pictures of the entire wedding party together add another 15 minutes.
  • When will the ceremony start? Give yourself a 30-minute buffer before the ceremony with no planned pictures. Most ceremonies are 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  • When will cocktail hour start? It usually lasts for 1 hour to 1.5 hours.
  • What pictures will happen after the ceremony? Family Pictures typically take place immediately after the ceremony followed by romantic newlywed portraits and any wedding party pictures that did not happen before the ceremony.
  • How many Family Pictures do you want? You should estimate two minutes for each family grouping.
  • When does the sun set? If you are hoping to capture some gorgeous newlywed portraits against a colorful sky, set aside 15 minutes at sunset. This may mean sneaking out of your reception while your guests are eating or dancing.
  • Will your first dance be immediately after you are announced at the reception? If so, your photographer may need 15 minutes to set up lighting to capture some stunning pictures.
  • What time does everyone need to be out of the reception space? If you want to do a formal exit, it should be at least 20 minutes before the reception ends so your guests have time to go back and collect their belongings.


Final Thoughts

The rest of the reception will be largely dictated by your vendors, such as the caterer and DJ or band. The fact that all your friends and family are in one location allows me as a photographer to capture everyone as the celebration continues throughout the night.

Something to keep in mind is that “More Time Allocated = More Unique / Beautiful Shots”. When looking at our website you see (hopefully!) some jaw-dropping images. Always remember, these took time – and the more time you give us to create this level of artistry, the more spectacular images you’ll have to remember the day. A good photographer works quickly – but the best images happen when everyone is relaxed and not focused on rushing around to beat the clock.

Clearly, this is just a taste of what to keep in mind for your detailed timeline. Don’t stress out, after you have your locations and ceremony time planned out, we will work with you to help you create the perfect timeline.!

*Note: If you hire a wedding planner/coordinator, they will also help finalize your timeline! And SO much more. They are seriously irreplaceable throughout the wedding process!


Want more planning tips? Check out these blogs!

1.  Preparing Your Wedding Details

2. Ceremony light: Why It’s SO Important!

3. What’s the Ideal Time for Your Photo Session?

4. Do This Instead Of A First Look


Gonzalez J. Wedding Photography

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Marked fields are required.