Wedding Tips: Sample Wedding Day Timeline

I know that planning a wedding can be a bit overwhelming especially when trying to figure out how to go about the wedding timeline. It’s hard tell how long you should set time aside for getting ready or photos, etc. After capturing over 80 weddings, here is a few tips to keep in mind for your wedding day.

Here’s a sample wedding timeline based off of 8-hours of photography coverage:

11:00 A.M. – Start Hair & Makeup

1:00 P.M. – Photographer(s) Arrive

1:30 P.M. – Hair & makeup is finishing up

2:00 P.M. – Put on dress

2:15 P.M. – Getting ready photos

3:00 P.M – First look

3:20 P.M. – Couples portraits or family photos

4:00 P.M. – Bridal Party Photos

5:00 P.M. – Ceremony

5:30 P.M. – Cocktail hour

5:35 P.M – Family formals

6:20 P.M. – Guests are seated

6:30 P.M. – Grand entrance into reception

6:45 P.M. – Dinner & speeches

7:30 P.M. – Sunset/golden hour portraits

7:45 P.M. – Cake cutting

8:00 P.M. – First dance & parent dances

8:20 P.M. – Open dance floor to guests

9:00 P.M. – Photographer leaves

I know that was alot to digest! Here’s a bit of a break down to get a better understanding.


The duration of getting hair and makeup done will vary depending on the number of people scheduled for it, I highly recommend contacting the hair & makeup artist that you hired to coordinate times. On average bride’s hair and makeup can take about 2-3 hours combined. If you have a very intricate look or extravagant hair style, sometimes it can be longer than the average time.


As a wedding photographer, I love a first look for many reasons – I will have a separate blog post for this soon! But if you’re not doing a first look with your partner then you can transfer this time for photos after the ceremony. Please note that at a minimum you’ll want about 1.5 hours for bridal party & couples photos then about 45-minutes for family formals.


One tip that I highly suggest when it comes to giving a speech is that each person know that they have a time limit. Overall time for speeches usually only last for about 20-minutes. So if someone has planned a very long speech for the wedding day, maybe tell them to give that longer speech at the dinner rehearsal then give a more condensed version on the wedding day. Having speeches are great and sentimental but there’s nothing worse than people bringing up childhood or drunk stories that can go on and on.

I recommend that each person get a maximum of 2-minutes for speeches that way we can still be on time with the wedding day timeline.


Y’all this day is about you! Your wants/needs and everything that is important to you. This is just a sample wedding day timeline and everyone’s wedding day is not the same so we will customize it to however your day is planned. If there is anything on the timeline where I feel like it needs to be switched, I will let you know because overall I want this day to go as smooth as possible for you guys. But if there are some very special moments that you know you want to be captured, like setting aside a few minutes so you two can be alone together, then do it! At the end of the day this is about you and your partner’s wedding day and what makes you happy, it shouldn’t be about pleasing others! It’s your day!

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