How to Build Your Wedding Timeline

Wedding Tips

OH MAN! Could I write a novel about building timelines. But for the sake of brevity, I’ll keep this one short. When I work with my B&Gs, I use a worksheet and some good ol’ experience to help craft a timeline that works for my people. Timelines are the skeleton to an incredible wedding day. Knowing the flow of events and how much time we have for each of them allows all vendors to work seamlessly. It’s an orchestra of moving parts and all great things need great foundations.


When putting this to paper, I suggest starting with the ceremony time and working forward into the reception and then backwards into the getting ready. Since your ceremony time is probably already printed on your invitations, it’s best to let that be your guiding point.


Timeline Breakdown

Here is the break down for the typical events and how much time I have found is best allotted for them.

Getting Ready Photos 
60-90 minutes
If both the B&G are getting ready at the same locations. About 1-1.5 hours is great to bounce between rooms to capture all the beginning details (rings, flowers, dress, suit etc).

First Look
30 minutes
It takes about 15 minutes to set everyone in place and about 15 minutes for the actual event and some time to enjoy.

B&G Portraits
60 minutes
Throughout your day, I like to space out a 60 minutes with my couples. 45 minutes in the beginning (15 first look, 30 B&G portraits) and perhaps 15 minutes at sunset.

Bridal Party
30 minutes
For an average sized bridal party (4-8 on each side) a half hour is a perfect amount of time to get all those fun shots!

Family Photos
30 minutes
This is a great amount for families (I have a method). Add an extra 15 if you have extensive extended family.

30 minutes
For decor and venue photos, this chunk of time allows us to get all those details that make the wedding yours. This is typically done right before the ceremony after the bride has gone to hide out!

30-45 minutes
Depending on religion or ceremony length.

Cocktail Hour
45-60 minutes
Depending on guest count and event program.

30 minutes
For an average of 5 toasts. Add extra time here if you have some chatty Kathies 😉

5 minutes
It’s pretty short and sweet 😉

First Dances
10 minutes
For all three traditional dances (First dance, Mother/son, daddy/daughter).

Open Floor Dancing
20 minutes
This is alllll your photographer REALLY needs. Then your guests don’t feel pressured while I run around shooting their wickedly awesome moves. But you can continue to dance the night away to your heart’s content!

5 minutes each
Most of the time is eaten up by pulling people on to the dance floor for these events!

10-15 minutes
If it includes sparklers or a large crowd. By the end of the night it’s like herding cats!

Sample Timeline

Here is a sample of what this timeline would look like for a summer wedding with a first look, sunset at 8:30pm.

2:00pm – Photographer Arrives//Getting Ready Photos
2:45pm – Bride into Dress
3:00pm – Place Groom for First Look
3:15pm – First Look
3:30pm – B&G Portraits
4:00pm – Bridal Party
4:30pm – Family Photos
5:00pm – Hide the Bride//Decor Photos
5:30pm – Ceremony
6:00pm – Ceremony Ends//Sign the License//Cocktail Hour
7:00pm – Grand entrance into dinner
7:45pm – Sunset Photos
8:00pm – Toasts
8:30pm – Cake Cutting
8:35pm – First Dances
8:50pm – Open Floor
9:30pm – Garter//Bouquet
10:00pm – Grand Exit

And there you have it! It’s a lot to sit down and think about, so when you book with me, we do it together! Also, get that Day of Coordinator, they are rock stars when it comes to this AND getting all your vendors on the same page!


Here are some more tips and tricks I think you LOVE, check ’em out!

Why You Need a Day of Coordinator

Should We Do a First Look

read & Leave a comment


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