Planning Your Wedding Day Timeline

So you’re a bride-to-be and the countdown is on! Your wedding day is quickly approaching and it’s time to start planning your wedding timeline. Where do you start?

There are several major factors that you need to consider and the most important factor is light. If you aren’t getting married in a church that has a set ceremony start time for you, then you need to think about when sunset is and if you will or will not have a first look.

The First Look

I’m personally not one of those photographers that heavily encourages my couples to do a first look. I didn’t do a first look for my own wedding and my husband and I bawled all the way down the aisle. However, if you decide that you want to do a first look then I recommend having your photographer start about 3.5 hours before your ceremony to ensure all pre-ceremony events are captured. If you don’t decide to do a first look then your ceremony needs to be early enough so your family photos, wedding party and all couples portraits are completed before sunset. Winter is the only time of the year that I will highly recommend my couples to do a first look since sunset is typically around 5:30 pm.

Hide the Bride + Groom Getting Ready

Most guests tend to show up about 45 minutes prior to the ceremony so all bridal related events should be completed by that time so she can be hidden away. Therefore, I typically utilize this window of time for the groom. If not captured earlier in the day then I will capture him and his groomsmen relaxing and hanging out, taking celebratory drinks or toasts, playing pool and getting ready for the ceremony to begin. I also make sure to capture some solo portraits of him during this time as well.


Most wedding ceremonies are around 20-30 minutes in length. If you decide not to have a first look then you should aim to start your ceremony at least 2 hours prior to sunset to ensure you have plenty of light for post-ceremony photos. At most venues, the sun disappears beyond the trees about 15 minutes prior to true sunset so you should aim to have all images wrapped up by then. My favorite sunset calculator that I use for my business is so I highly recommend using this tool when determining your ceremony start time.

Post-Ceremony Photos

Usually, family formals are the first images taken right after the ceremony concludes so that your family can go join cocktail hour while your wedding party hangs back. If you don’t have a first look where the wedding party and couples portraits are taken prior to the ceremony, then post-ceremony photos will look a little like this:

  • Family Formals: 15-20 minutes
  • Full Wedding Party // Bride + Bridesmaids // Groom + Groomsmen: 20 minutes
  • Couples Portraits: 30 minutes

Full Wedding Day Timeline

I have created a full wedding day timeline just for you, one with a first look and one without, both with a standard 8 hours of coverage and focusing on all the events leading up to your reception. These timelines include details, getting ready images, first looks with dad or bridesmaids, first touches or exchanging of gifts/letters, post-ceremony photos, sunset photos, and more. You can download your free wedding day timeline HERE by entering your name and email and the timeline will be immediately delivered to your inbox!

I hope you have the most joyful and fun-filled wedding day! Congrats on your upcoming marriage and happy planning!

First image is of mom putting veil on daughter in her wedding dress while both are smiling in a white barn and second image is of groom leading bride across a bridge and smiling back at her with the Springs Wallisville wedding venue in the background

October 10, 2023