The Ideal Wedding Day Photography Timeline To Ensure a Feel Good Experience

March 14, 2024

Your wedding day is a HUGE deal and after you’ve spent months planning for it to be perfect, it’s only natural that you want to remember it. This is one of the main reasons that couples choose to allocate a large portion of their budget to invest in photographers.

After all, your wedding photos will be the timeless keepsakes that transport you back to the magic of your big day, time and time again. Even with this being true, some couples dread the thought of having to spend hours on their wedding day posing in front of the camera. 

And trust me, I totally get this! While you of course want to capture your day to remember it forever, you also want to enjoy every moment as it’s happening. 

This is why I’m so adamant about helping my clients map out an ideal wedding day photography timeline so that we not only capture the beautiful day, but you also have a good time doing so!

My job isn’t to pull you away from your guests and the party for hours on end. Instead, my job is to use the time that we do have wisely in order to achieve both – precious memories AND a feel good experience for you as the couple.

In this blog post, I’ll walk you through a few things to consider when planning your wedding day photography timeline, along with a few sample timelines for you to consider based on your specific event.

From the excitement of getting ready in the morning to the heartfelt vows exchanged and the joyous celebrations that follow, each chapter of your day deserves to be immortalized in photographs.

Together, we’ll explore how to structure your timeline to not only capture stunning images but also ensure that your day flows seamlessly, allowing you to fully immerse yourselves in the love and joy of the moment.

Wedding Day Photography Timeline

5 Things To Consider When Planning Your Wedding Day Photography Timeline

  • Hair and Makeup Time 💁🏻‍♀️

For brides, your hair and makeup schedule sets the tone for the entire day. Not only do you want to allocate ample time for your hair and makeup to ensure you look and feel your best, this timing is also important for your photographer to know so that they can accurately plan for photos to follow.

Most photographers will want you to be fully ready upon their arrival, so that they can then stage a few “getting ready” photos with your bridesmaids. Additionally, it’s important to factor in extra time for touch-ups if needed prior to the ceremony!

  • Time of Ceremony 💍

In addition to your hair and makeup time, the timing of your ceremony also impacts the flow of your entire day. Not only does this determine when and what photos can be taken beforehand, if you’re having an outdoor ceremony or reception, the time of day can significantly impact the quality of your images.

This will be super important for your photographer to know so that they can plan appropriately to ensure that your photos turn out the best they can be!

  • First Look 👀

A huge determining factor for your wedding day photography timeline is whether or not you’ll be having a first look as a couple or if you will be following a more traditional ceremony.

This should be decided on beforehand so that your photographer can help you craft a timeline that makes the best use of your time before and after the ceremony.

If you are having a first look, the majority of your couple portraits can be taken before the ceremony, saving you a ton of time afterwards and giving you the ability to jump straight into the festivities.

If you’re following a more traditional ceremony where you’ll be seeing each other for the first time as you walk down the aisle, it’s important to know that you’ll likely skip the cocktail hour following the ceremony to take couple portraits before joining the rest of your guests at the reception.

  • Photographer Coverage Time ⏰

Most wedding photographers offer packages that include 6 or 8 hours of coverage time, which means that all of your desired photos will need to fit into that allotted time frame. Most of the time, this is no problem and your photographer will work with you to ensure that there is time for everything.

With that, however, it’s important to discuss your priorities and expectations with your photographer during the planning process to ensure that you’re able to capture all of the important moments of your day. 

From getting ready shots, individual photos, bridal party, family and group sessions, and even specific location throughout your venue is important for your photographer to know so they can  plan appropriately.

  • Number of Photographers 📸

Lastly, it’s important to consider how many photographers will be there to help capture your big day. Some photographers bring second shooters with them, while others work solo. 

This will heavily impact the way that your wedding day photography timeline flows. If they have a second shooter, chances are they will be able to divide and conquer to capture various moments at the same time.

But if they’re doing the job solo, they of course can’t be in two places at once, so that will have to be factored into the overall timeline of the day. 

Wedding Day Photography Timeline

A Sample Wedding Day Photography Timeline 

With all of these considerations in mind, I personally love to offer my clients sample timelines to follow and then adjust accordingly based on their specific wants and needs.

If you’re in the midst of planning your wedding and are stumped on the photography timeline specifically, here’s a general flow that you can follow:

Note: this itinerary has been crafted assuming there is a 6 hour coverage time with 2 photographers and a 4:00pm ceremony.

  • 3pm: Lead and second photographer arrive at the venue. Lead begins with detail photos for bride. Second captures getting ready and hanging out photos of the groom.
  • 3:30pm: Lead photographer captures bride putting on dress. Second photographer gets photos of reception and ceremony details and guests arriving.
  • 3:45pm: First look with bride’s parents.
  • 4:00pm: Ceremony.
  • 4:30pm: Cocktail hour for guests & family photos with the newly married couple.
  • 5:00pm: Wedding party photos (Bridesmaids, groomsmen, and all together).
  • 5:30pm: Wedding portraits and bride and groom exchange personal vows in private.
  • 6:00pm: Couple gets a minute alone before being announced into reception.
  • 6:10pm: Couple announced into reception.
  • 6:15pm: Dinner.
  • 7:15pm: Two speeches while dinner is finishing.
  • 7:30pm: First dances.
  • 8:00pm: Cake cutting.
  • 9:00pm: Both photographers leave.
  • 10:00pm: Event ends. 

Of course the details of this itinerary can change as needed based on the specifics of your wedding day, but this general flow can give you a great starting point for all of the things that need to be covered throughout the day!

Wedding Day Photography Timeline

Looking for a wedding photographer for your Colorado wedding?

Overall, your wedding day should be everything that YOU want it to be and you should be able to fully enjoy every single moment of it. 

The last thing I want as a photographer is for you to feel stressed or annoyed about pictures, which is why it’s always my goal to help my clients craft a timeline that is ideal for THEM!

I’m all about crafting a feel good photography experience, so that all you have to do is show up and enjoy the moment while trusting that every single detail is being taken care of for you.

If that’s what you’re searching for and you’re getting married in Colorado, I’d love to connect with you! CLICK HERE to learn more about what it’s like to work together. 📸

And if you’re not tying the knot in Colorado? I’d still love to help! I’m personally connected to so many amazing photographers across the United States and would love to get you in touch with the person who’s the best fit for you.