Wedding Photography Timeline

Wedding Photography Timeline

wedding photography timeline

There isn’t a universal wedding photography timeline that would suit every photographer. However, there are still some perfect time frames you can take advantage of while planning the wedding day photoshoot. You may think at first glance that some of them are too long, but remember three main things: 1) the day will pass really quickly, 2) a lot of wedding moments often remain behind the plan, and 3) your wedding photoshoot most likely promises to be fun, so it will not last too long. Download these three free wedding photography timeline templates and schedule your wedding photoshoot well!

Wedding Photographer Timeline Templates


Wedding Photography Schedule

Rings, Dress, Shoes, and Other Details

Perfect Time Available – Half an hour

Perfect Part of the Day – Morning
Perfect Venue – Hotel Suite or Bridal Suite

wedding day photography

Recommendations: So, how long do wedding pictures take before the ceremony in the morning? Make sure that you have a minimum of 30 minutes to shoot some elements and that it’s enough for you to take great shots of the wedding outfit, footwear, rings, bridal flowers, etc.

There are cases when you just do not have an opportunity to take a beautiful photo because of the crowded room or its poor design. So, when to take wedding photos, then? In such cases, you should take the dress to the hotel foyer or even outside. This can make you fall behind the planned wedding times, but the results will worth the effort.

Wedding photography poses checklist:

  • Attire
  • Jewelry
  • Footwear
  • Bunch of flowers
  • Wedding cards
  • Boutonnieres
wedding day photography


Perfect Time Available – An hour

Perfect Part of the Day – Morning or Early Afternoon
Perfect Venue – Bridal Room

wedding photography timeline

Recommendations: You may count on an hour of preparations in your wedding photography checklist, as it is just perfect for this style. You will have a chance to capture close-up photos of the bride’s makeup and beautiful hairstyle as well as the overall atmosphere and touching moments while the couple is getting ready. Take into account that this is one of the most important and emotional stages of the event, so try not to rush, and shoot every candid moment.

The main photographer has to be with the bride and the second one with the groom. Usually, guys will get through all the preparations much faster than girls, so there is a great chance to take memorable wedding days photography and capture the atmosphere between the groom, his groomsmen, and the family.

Wedding photography poses checklist:

  • The process of applyingthe makeup and hairdressing of the bride and bridesmaids
  • Bridesmaids and mother of the bride helping the bride to put on the dress and veil
  • Bridesmaids having a good time
  • Putting on jewelry
  • Putting on footwear
  • Bride with her parents
  • Family photos
  • Shots of the bride only
  • Bridal party leaving the house
  • Preparations of the groom and groomsmen
  • Shots of the groom only
wedding photography timeline

Individual Wedding Portraits

Perfect Time Available – 30 min

Perfect Part of the Day – Morning or Early Afternoon

Perfect Venue – Honeymoon Room, Garden or Hotel

timeline pictures

Recommendations: When all the preparations have been made and everybody is ready, the time has come for the portrait timeline pictures of the bride and groom separately. It is the best opportunity to take amazing photos, as the bride’s makeup and hairstyle are still fresh and the newlyweds are not very tired after a long day. You should also take into consideration that the lighting in the hotel room looks really special and it creates a unique atmosphere. Read wedding photography tips before taking bride and groom close-up portraits.

Wedding photography poses checklist:

  • Photo through a veil
  • The bride stands with her back to the photographer
  • Bride sitting
  • Close-up portrait of the bride
  • Bride with her bouquet
  • Groom standing and sitting
  • Groom arranges his boutonniere
  • Close-up of the groom’s face
timeline pictures

First Look

Perfect Time Available – Up to 60 minutes

Perfect Part of the Day – Morning or Early Afternoon
Perfect Venue – Garden or Empty Hall

wedding photography timeline with first look

Recommendations: When planning this day you should leave about one hour for the couple's first look wedding timeline. You'll have about ten minutes to capture their sincere emotions and eyes full of love. The rest of the time you can spend shooting the bride and groom being together.

Usually, we're planning the day of wedding timeline to save some time for the couple shooting later. But if you do not have such an opportunity, it is better to have up to an hour at this point to take enough pictures of the newlyweds together.

Wedding photography poses checklist:

  • Pics of the couple’s first look
  • Beautiful newlyweds portraits
wedding photography timeline with first look

Wedding Party

Perfect Time Available – About 1 hour
Perfect Part of the Day – Morning or Afternoon
Perfect Venue - Lobby, Garden

when to take wedding photos

Recommendations: As for the wedding party shooting, anticipate that it will take about one hour of the wedding photo timeline. This should be enough to get a lot of different photos with different poses. You should start with common and basic photos, concentrating on composition and lighting. Then, you can move to the funnier part of the photo session. You should take care of every member of the company and take various group and individual photos.

Wedding photography poses checklist:

  • Photos of the bride with bridesmaids, group photos
  • Bride and every bridesmaid
  • Photos of the groom with groomsmen, group photos
  • Groom and his best man
  • Newlyweds with ring bearer and flower girl
  • Newlyweds with bridesmaidsand groomsmen
wedding day timeline with first look


Perfect Time Available – Half an hour
Perfect Part of the Day – Morning or Afternoon
Perfect Venue – Hall of the Hotel or Park, Beach

wedding day photography

Recommendations: The family photo session should take about 45 minutes of your wedding photography timeline. It is a crucial part of the day, and you should make sure that you have additional photos of the parents, grandparents, brothers, and sisters of the newlyweds.

If you do not know how to manage the time correctly, I would recommend you to schedule three minutes on every group. Remember that this day means a lot not only to the newlyweds but to their close relatives as well, so make sure there are enough photos with them in the wedding day photography album.

Wedding photography poses checklist:

  • Bride with her mother, father, sister or brother, and the group shots of the family
  • Groom with his mother, father, sister or brother, and the group shots of the family
wedding day photography

Ceremony Details and Venue

Perfect Time Available – About 30 min
Perfect Venue – Ceremony Location
Perfect Part of the Day – Morning or Afternoon

wedding day photography checklist

Recommendations: Before the ceremony begins, give your second photographer about 30 minutes of the wedding day photography timeline to take some shots of the ceremony venue without guests and vendors. It’s quite important to take pictures of the ceremony venue in order to understand the best angles and views before the main shooting. Also keep in mind the wedding cakes photography and photos of the decorations.

Wedding photography poses checklist:

  • Exterior and interior pictures of the venue
wedding day photography timeline

Reception First Look

Perfect Time Available – About 15 min
Perfect Part of the Day – When the room is empty
Perfect Venue – Reception Site

wedding timeline checklist

Recommendations: This is a stage of the wedding day timeline that will allow you to capture the authentic reaction of the newly wedded couple to the reception venue. You'll also have an excellent chance to take an amazing picture of them alone practicing their first dance.

Wedding photography poses checklist:

  • The reaction of the newly wedded couple when they see the reception venue for the first time
bride and groom pictures before the wedding


Perfect Time Available – The ceremony process
Perfect Venue – Ceremony Site
Perfect Part of the Day – Morning or Afternoon

wedding day photography

Recommendations: This is one of the most significant stages of the wedding photography timeline. In general, you can’t plan in advance the time that you'll spend at the ceremony because this depends on each particular wedding. Ask them how long the ceremonial part is going to last, and put this time in their individual wedding day timeline template.

Wedding photography poses checklist:

  • Groom and officiant waiting for the bride
  • Grandparents, mothers, and bridesmaids going down the aisle
  • The bride walking down the aisle
  • The reaction of the groom when he sees the bride
  • The newlyweds standing together
  • Parents’ emotions
  • Wide shots of the front
  • Elements such as rings, candles, etc.
  • Close-ups of the newlyweds exchanging their vows and putting on rings
  • Kiss
  • Close-ups of the newlyweds as they're announced
  • The newly wedded couple embracing the guests
  • Newlyweds leaving the site
wedding photography poses checklist

Couple Photography

Perfect Time Available – 60 min
Perfect Part of the Day – Late Afternoon
Perfect Venue – Hotel Hall, Park

wedding photos after ceremony

Recommendations: It's recommended to schedule about 60 minutes of the wedding photography timeline for the couple session. If possible, you should also ensure to schedule it approximately 45 minutes before sunset, as this period will give you very beautiful lighting. Moreover, you’ll have a chance to take awesome photos against the charming sky. This is especially important if the wedding takes place at a beautiful location with gripping views, such as near the ocean.

Wedding photography poses checklist:

  • Couple walking and holding hands
  • Kisses
  • The rings
  • The couple kissing under the veil
  • Embraces
timeline pictures

Couples Session – Reception Sneak Out

Perfect Time Available – 30 min
Perfect Part of the Day – Twilight or Night
Perfect Venue – Picturesque places

wedding day photography

Recommendations: Ask the couple whether they want to get some romantic night pictures. If so, you have to plan such an opportunity and set aside about half an hour in the photography schedule. The best moment for such shooting is the time when the newlyweds have already had a little bit of dinner and have danced several songs. The other ideal opportunity to arrange such shooting is at the end of the celebration when all the guests have left.

Wedding photography poses checklist:

  • Bride throwing the bouquet
  • Games or some other interesting events
  • Dancefloor
  • Sincere moments during the party
  • Confetti or fireworks, if planned
wedding day photography

3 Hour Wedding Reception Timeline

Type: Separate ceremony and reception times

Are you looking for a snappy wedding photography timeline? I’m willing to give you a hand and share my experience. You need to be pretty resourceful to make your guests feel welcome and enjoy this wonderful day along with your future husband. There are certain examples of things that will happen for your wedding reception timeline. Would you like to have a look at the wedding planning timeline template? I’ve compiled the most appropriate templates.

Wedding timeline template:

  • 10:30 a.m. The wedding guests arrive.
  • 10:40 a.m. The newlyweds arrive and do their first dance.
  • 10:45 a.m. The guests toast the couple.
  • 10:50 p.m. The guests are welcomed to enjoy their food.
  • 11:20 a.m. The guests are encouraged to dance (40-minute dancing part).
  • 12:00 p.m. The wedding cake cutting and treating the guests.
  • 12.05. p.m. The band plays slow music, while the guests eat the cake.
  • 12.20 p.m. The guests are encouraged to dance the final dance.
  • 12:35 p.m. The final dance and song.
3 hour wedding photography timeline

4 Hour Wedding Photography Timeline

Type: Wedding day timeline starting at 8 p.m.

This is quite a standard format, which is popular among many couples. Let’s examine it in detail.

Wedding planning timeline template:

  • 8:00 p.m. Guests move into the reception and mingle.
  • 8:15 p.m. The newlyweds make their entrance.
  • 8:20 p.m. The first dance begins.
  • 8:30 p.m. The best man and the groom make speeches.
  • 8:45 p.m. Dinner is served and the guests are welcomed to take their seats. Pleasant music is played.
  • 9:00 p.m. People are encouraged onto the dance floor. The music got upbeat.
  • 9:35 p.m. Wedding party pictures.
  • 10:00 p.m. Drinking toasts and wishing the couple a happy marriage.
  • 10:30 p.m. Back onto the dance floor.
  • 10:30 p.m. The cake-cutting tradition along with songs being sung and serving the cake to the guests.
  • 11:00 p.m. The bouquet toss, followed by the garter toss. Taking pictures of the lucky ones who caught the bouquet and the garter.
  • 11:10 p.m. The final dance commences.
  • 11:55 p.m. The final dance with the newlyweds leaving.
4 hour wedding photography timeline

6 Hour Wedding Photography Timeline

Type: Cocktail-party-style reception timeline

Cocktail-party-style weddings are getting trendy, so food stations might be a good idea as locations to take wedding photos.

Photography schedule template:

  • 3:00 p.m. Photographer and vendors arrive to get everything ready.
  • 3:30 p.m. Bridesmaids are dressed, the bride’s hair and makeup are finished.
  • 4:00 p.m. The first look.
  • 4:30 p.m. The ceremony starts.
  • 5:30 p.m. The ceremony ends.
  • 6:00 p.m. The wedding party and family photos.
  • 6:30 p.m. Sunset photos.
  • 7:00 p.m. The grand entrance and the first dance.
  • 7:30 p.m. Speeches.
  • 8:00 p.m. Parent dances.
  • 8:30 p.m. The wedding cake cutting.
  • 9:00 p.m. The bouquet and the garter toss.
  • 10:00 p.m. Newlyweds and guests depart.
6 hour wedding photography timeline

8 Hour Wedding Photography Timeline

Type: Early afternoon wedding timeline

For those who want to have fun on their wedding day, I can advise taking an eight-hour wedding timeline. For sure, you will have the best timeline pictures. With this timeline, newlyweds are not in a hurry; they are relaxed enough. Early afternoon can be convenient for both newlyweds and guests. You do not need to be up early in the morning, and it means you will look really fresh in the afternoon. Besides, you will have some spare time for you and your sweetheart. So, think about going out somewhere with your husband and enjoying a romantic evening. At the same time, for your guests who have kids, this timeline is pretty comfortable.

Wedding photography timeline template:

  • 9:00 a.m. Hair and makeup begin for the bride and her maid of honor.
  • 9:30 a.m. The groom and groomsmen begin preparing.
  • 10:30 a.m. Photographer arrives.
  • 11:00 a.m. First look and ride around the parkway, where you can have bride and groom pictures before the wedding.
  • 12:00 a.m. Family and friend photos.
  • 12:30 a.m. The bride and the groom appear.
  • 12:40 p.m. Guests welcoming.
  • 1:00 p.m. The ceremony starts.
  • 1:35 p.m. The ceremony finishes.
  • 1:40 p.m. Cocktail “hour” starts.
  • 2:30 p.m. The guests are welcomed for lunch.
  • 3:00 p.m. The guests toast the couple.
  • 3:30 p.m. The newlyweds’ first dance.
  • 5:00 p.m. The weddingcake cutting. The dessert serving.
  • 6:15 p.m. Thecouple departs.
  • 6:30 p.m. The guests depart.
8 hour wedding photography timeline

Wedding Timeline Tips for Couples

Tip 1. Make a Photo List

It’s important to fully cooperate with your photographer even before the wedding in order to get amazing photos. Primarily, prepare a list of guests that will take part in the formal photo session. Indicate your relationship to each person. This way, your shooter can smoothly and quickly organize people for group pictures.

Tip 2. Leave Time for Makeup and Hairdressing

You should have enough time left to take care of makeup and hair. Either you or your maids of honor may need to make some changes, and the wedding day isn’t the best time to be in a rush. So, think twice when arranging your wedding times.

wedding day photography

Tip 3. Have the First Look Planned

It’s advisable to get together and take several test bride and groom pictures before the wedding. Thus, you get a chance to start your photo session in a relaxed manner.

Tip 4. Manage Time to Examine Wedding Locations

You have probably chosen a special place for your wedding. So, take the time to explore nearby beautiful landscapes and breathtaking views to get memorable images.

wedding photography timeline

Tip 5. Don’t Dedicate Too Much Time to Cocktail Hour

The cocktail hour shouldn’t last too long. Of course, it’s a formal beginning of the reception when all the guests enjoy the party. Still, don’t let people get anxious and drink all the beverages at the bar. Actually, it’s the perfect time for your guests to get acquainted, chat a little, drink a cocktail, and have a snack. Intrigue your visitors with the promising refreshments at the main dinner.

wedding days photography

Tip 6. Take Several Pictures during Golden Hour

Include shooting during golden hour in your wedding photography timeline. Enrich your photos with soft, natural sunlight. Take some pictures together and leave ten minutes for portraits.

wedding day photography

Tip 7. Specify Reception Time in Your Wedding Photography Schedule

Talk about food services, first dance, and vows with your wedding planning assistant and photographer. You must clearly understand what will happen before, at, and after the ceremony. Specify the wedding stages that a photographer has to pay attention to. Plan everything accurately so as not to miss important moments. Otherwise, you’ll have to pay a photographer extra money if he or she needs to work overtime.

Tip 8. Photograph Children

Don’t forget to take pictures of small kids at the wedding. These small guests look very charming when they behave in a natural manner. So, photograph them while they are dancing or just playing around.

wedding day timeline

Tip 9. Have Time to Eat

There are lots of serious things to take care of on the big day. You’ve probably divided your wedding day timeline in such a way that you have a moment for toasts and dancing. But it’s equally important for the newlyweds to have a window for a meal. Many couples simply ask a chef and waiters to keep hot dishes for them right in the kitchen.

Tip 10. Keep Wedding Timeline Limits on Speeches

Even the most sincere and touching toasts, if they last too long, may become tiresome and negatively affect the whole celebration. It’s a great idea to discuss wedding times with every guest who intends to give a speech. The best toast is about three to five minutes long and it mustn’t make the bride and the groom blush. Pay attention to those guests who enjoy talking at length and ask them to keep to the average wedding time schedule.

wedding timeline

Wedding Photo Timeline Myths

Myth #1: That it isn’t so important to do the first look. To save time, we’d like to take photos of a bride with her relatives and a groom with his relatives separately before the ceremony.

wedding timeline

It’s a really a bad idea! Check any wedding photography schedule template and you’ll see that all the family formals are done after the ceremony. Inform all the people involved about the place of the photo session.

Here’s the reason: The most difficult thing about taking group family pictures is to gather all the relatives in one place. If you think that you may photograph the newlyweds with their families before the ceremony and all together after it, you’re making a big mistake. It is much easier to take such wedding photos after ceremony, simply rearranging the groups. It will take no more than five seconds.

wedding days photography wedding timeline

It all depends on the couple, but anyone I’ve asked has agreed that planning the first look didn’t have any negative impact on their wedding ceremony. The truth is that if you want to have the first look planned, have it. If not, it’s OK. It’s your wedding and you are the one who is responsible for the wedding timeline.

wedding days photography

Myth #3: I have talked to my makeup artist and hairdresser, so I definitely know how much time they need to spend on each person. So, I can use this information and work out my wedding photography timeline.

wedding timeline

No way. Experience shows that hairdressers and makeup artists have a vague idea about keeping a photography schedule, though we greatly appreciate their work. It’s not all their fault, as they can’t meet every person in advance to discuss makeup and hairstyle nuances and exactly define how much time they will have to spend. Besides, there are always unpredictable situations that will require additional time. On your wedding day, makeup artists and hairstylists typically work more slowly than when you have a test makeup/hairdressing, as they do their best to realize all your creative ideas and make you a real princess. It may even happen that the ceremony is ready to begin, but some bridesmaids don’t have their hair and makeup done. If this happens, you have to reduce the wedding day photography time. That’s why you’re better off to have 10–15 minutes per person in reserve, instead of cutting the wedding photography timeline.

wedding days photography

Myth #4: I should use a wedding photography shot list template to let my photographer know what pictures I want to get.

wedding timeline

I have no idea why different wedding magazines and websites write this tip again and again, making the couple worried about things that they have nothing to do with! It is the photographer who prepares the wedding photography poses checklist and knows how and when to take wedding photos. We only need the list of your relatives to properly pose people for group shots.

Share these wedding photography timeline tips with your customers and wedding coordinator to understand how to organize everything properly at the next wedding, and get the most out of your wedding photography!

Ann Young

Hi there, I'm Ann Young - a professional blogger, read more