How To Draft Your Perfect Photo Timeline

A couple weeks ago I had the pleasure of photographing and speaking at the Simply Foxhall Workshop hosted by Simply Catering.  My short talk was about creating a wedding day photo timeline.  If you are newer to the wedding industry or if you are a bride trying to envision how your big day will unfold, this may be a good read for you.

If you are a bride, hopefully your photographer or wedding planner will help you draft your timeline, but sometimes it's nice to think ahead - especially if you're a detailed person like me.

Details to think about:

How long do you have your photographer?

The standard is about 8 hours.  Some photographers may have packages that are more or less depending on your budget - especially if you value their quality of photography, but maybe can't spend the money on a full day of coverage.  It's all about making decisions based on what aspects of your day are most important to you.

Are you doing a first look?

This will definitely affect when you take photos during the day.  There are pros and cons to both.  

Pros - You're able to get to your reception quicker, you are first priority and get your couple portraits done first right after your hair and make up is finished, and you can get most of your photos done before the ceremony.

Cons - It goes against tradition if you want to see each other for the first time walking down the aisle.  You may have to start getting ready earlier in the day.

What time is your ceremony?

There's an old wives tale that says you should get married when the minute hand is ascending aka at the half hour or later for good luck, but most millennials that I've talked to had never heard of this and most people wisely base it off of sunset time.  Keep in mind that if you are getting married at 5:30pm and the sun sets at 6:00pm all of your photos afterwards will either be in the dark or inside.

How long is your ceremony?

A typical ceremony length is about 30 minutes.  If it is a traditional religious ceremony such as Greek Orthodox, your ceremony may last much longer.

What time is sunset?

This is an easy thing to google, but to give you an idea:

In April the sun sets about 8pm.  In June it sets around 8:30pm and in October it sets around 7pm.

Do you have travel between your venues?

How many family portraits/ combinations are you taking? How many in your bridal party? 

All these factors contribute to how long photos may last.  I suggest leaving a little cushion just in case.

You should be tucked away about about an hour before your ceremony as out of town guests tend to arrive early and you should be hidden.  This also gives you a chance to eat something, drink some water, and gives your photographer time to get detail shots of your venue or any other details there may not have been time for previously.

My Example Timeline

As we've talked about, a timeline can vary based on many different factors, but below is an example timeline based on 8 hours of photography coverage in October with a first look and no travel between venues.

1:30pm - getting ready, details shots, and putting dress on

2:15pm - First Look and Couple Portraits

3:00pm - Bride; Bride with each Bridesmaid; and Bridesmaids group

3:30pm - Groom; Groom with each Groomsman; and Groomsmen group

4:00pm - Full Bridal Party

4:30pm - Tucked Away

5:30pm- Ceremony

6:00pm - Family Portraits

6:30pm - additional couple portraits during golden hour

6:45pm - announced into reception


9:30pm - Grand Exit

I hope this helps as you draft your perfect photo timeline!

Happy Planning!