Oh, timelines! Without a doubt, this is the #1 thing that inquiring brides need help with when they are in the process of booking. If you don’t have even a rough timeline in your head, it can be hard to make sure you are getting enough photography coverage. I get it: a lot of times, wedding days are 12-18 months away when clients are booking me, and at that point you might not have a clue what your day will look like (but you’ll need to buy a certain number of hours of photography coverage!). Below I’m giving tips on how to build your wedding timeline, as well as showing some sample timelines that past brides have used.

Timeline Rules of Thumb

Before you do anything, you’ll need just two times: 1) What time will your ceremony start and 2) What time will dinner begin. You can design a rough timeline just based off of those two times! Other hints and tricks are:

  • Allot ~30 minutes for bridal party portraits. This would include everyone together, just girls and bride, just guys and groom, and individuals of each bridesmaid + bride and groomsman + groom at ONE LOCATION. If you have dreams of bridal party photos happening in 2+ locations, you’ll need to add travel time + 15 more minutes.
  • I usually budget about 40-45 minutes for a ceremony length. Most ceremonies are 30 minutes long, but it’s always good to add in buffer time incase we start late or if you opt for a receiving line afterwards. If you are having a Catholic Mass, I’d say 60-75 minutes is customary for length.
  • Receiving lines (or the like) ADD TIME!!! Allot 15 minutes if you plan on seeing guests immediately following the ceremony
  • I try to get all family formal shots done after the ceremony in 30 minutes (or less if possible!)
  • Dinner usually lasts about 1-1.5 hours long. If the timing with sunset is right, it’s great to plan on using some downtime here (once you’ve eaten, of course!) for sunset portraits outside. This happens while your guests are finishing up and plates are being cleared.
  • You really only need about 15-30 minutes of reception photography once dancing has started. In this amount of time I can capture the joy of the night without needing to send you 500+ pictures of the same people dancing and making funny faces! Any longer than 45 minutes of dancing photos will get slightly repetitive, but guarantee you to have many blackmail shots of your friends 😉

Sample Timeline: Doing a First Look

1-2pm: Bridal Details

2-2:30: Bridal Prep/ Portraits in Dress

2:45: First Look

3-3:30: Bride and Groom Portraits

3:30-4:15: Bridal Party Portraits

4:30-5: Bride in Hiding

5-5:40: Ceremony

5:45-6:15: Family Formals

7-8:15: Dinner

7:45-8: Sunset Portraits

8:20: Cake Cutting

8:30: First Dances/ Dancing begins

9: Christi Leaves

Sample Timeline: No First Look

12:30-1:15: Bridal Details

1:15-1:30: Bridal Prep/ Portraits

1:30-2: Bride w/ bridesmaids; Groom w/ groomsmen

2-2:30: Bride in Hiding

2:30-3:10: Ceremony

3:15-3:45: Family Formals

4-4:20: Bridal Party Portraits

4:30-5:30:  Bride and Groom Portraits

6: Grand March

6:05: Cake Cutting

6-7:30: Dinner (Sunset Portraits 7:15-7:30)

7:45: First Dances/ Dancing begins

8:30: Christi Leaves


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