Wedding Timeline Planning for Photography

January 23, 2024

One of the most important things (I believe, anyways) is the wedding day timeline. This will help determine how the flow of the day will go. It also helps all of the vendors, by keeping a schedule. Otherwise, you run the risk of different points of the day going over the amount of time you’ve planned. When that happens, the rest of the wedding day falls behind. It’s important to work with your photographer to create your wedding timeline, to ensure you have time everything!

My timelines are made in advance – I will hop on a connection call with my couples to nail down their “must-haves”. If it’s something that is flexible, we put that aside, until the foundations of the timeline have been created. Foundations of a timeline include the photographer start and end time, the ceremony start time, and the reception times. 

Timeline planning can’t really start until you’ve nailed down your ceremony start time with your officiant / ceremony venue. After all – the whole reason I’m there is to capture your union. This means we want to make sure we know when the ceremony happens! 

In the past, the timelines I’ve created for my couples helps my photography team with knowing what needs to be captured. This is extremely important because I will often have a second photographer working your wedding. I need to be able to count on them to photograph the things I can’t. Your timeline is a form of communication.

When we start planning the timeline, I schedule a phone consultation with you to start the basics. I’ll ask you what time the ceremony starts, if you’re having a cocktail hour, if you and your partner will be doing a First Look, etc. Once I have that information, I move on to the reception. I’ll write down some generic times for the special events during the reception (Cake cutting, toasts, first dances, etc.). I’ll also ask if you want me to stay until the reception ends. If you do, then we’ll need to shorten the amount of time I’m there in the morning. After the reception timeline is nailed down, we work on the timeline for before your ceremony. 

If there’s no timeline, I’m able to work with that as long as we know what time you want your coverage to start, if you’re doing a first look, what time the ceremony starts, etc. Everything after that, my photography team and I will work with the parties and photograph the day as it happens. 

Sometimes, weddings don’t go as planned. I am always flexible with the timeline – It’s a guide to help me stay on top of what comes next. If we need to, we can adjust the day as we see fit. If people are late or there’s not enough time for hair and makeup, that’s when the timeline can get behind. Luckily, there’s many opportunities throughout the morning that will help us catch back up to get back on schedule!

Sharing any timelines that the rest of your vendor teams have created with me is also super helpful. You want to make sure your vendor teams are all on the same page, so that way nothing is missed. I try to be the last person to make my timeline. That way I can build the photography timeline around the others! 

Here’s a sample timeline – this is just a generic timeline – but will help show you all that goes into your wedding day, and will help you plan out timeframes for each chunk of the day. 


1:00 PM: Photographers arrive

1:15 PM: Detail Photos

1:15 PM: Bride and Bridesmaids get ready

2:00 PM: Groom and Groomsmen get ready

3:00 PM: First Look with the Bride and Groom

3:15 PM: Full Bridal Party Photos

3:45 PM: Family Portraits before Ceremony (With provided Family Formal List)

4:00 PM: Couple Portraits

4:15 PM: Venue Photos

5:00 PM: Ceremony Starts

5:30 PM: Cocktail Hour

5:30 PM: Rest of Family Formals (List of Family Groupings)

5:45 PM: Sunset Photos with Couple

6:00 PM: Couple to join Cocktail Hour

6:25 PM: Line up for Grand Enterance

6:30 PM: Reception Starts with Intros

6:40 PM: First Dance, Father/Daughter dance, Mother/Son dance

6:50 PM: Welcome Speech

7:00 PM: Dinner

7:45 PM: Best Man and Matron of Honor Speeches

8:00 PM: Dance Floor opens

8:15 PM: Cake Cutting

9:00 PM: Photography Coverage Ends

Wedding Timeline Planning tips for your photographer
Planning tips for your wedding
Planning tips for your wedding
Wedding Timeline Planning tips for your photographer
Wedding Timeline Planning tips for your photographer
Planning tips for your wedding
Wedding Timeline Planning tips for your photographer
Planning tips for your wedding
Wedding Timeline Planning tips for your photographer
Planning tips for your wedding

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Meet Dana

Hey, I'm Dana Provo, RVA Photographer and author of this blog. I truly appreciate you being here and taking the time to read this post. If you're looking for a photographer who specializes in weddings and portraits, I'd love to chat. Head over to my about page to learn more about me and to find out whether we'd be a great fit.