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How To Create A Wedding Day Timeline

This is where things can get frustrating. How do you prepare for your entire wedding day? A photography timeline provided by a professional photographer can certainly help in regards to your entire wedding day timeline. With over 150 weddings under our belt, we craft photography timelines for our couples all. the. time. This is a great base to start all of your decisions. If you have a professional wedding coordinator, they can help fill in the times for hair, makeup, vendor drop-offs, and other requests you may have!

This blog post will outline two timelines that we see in most of our weddings. One timeline is for a First Look and the second is for an Aisle Look. Both timelines are based around a single venue with the sun setting at 8:30pm. Remember that all wedding days are different, and your timeline may differ due to the sunset time, number of venues, travel times, bridal party size, and length of ceremony.

I also want to make clear that we are an LGBT-friendly photographer. The timelines below, for the sake of brevity, detail a “bride” and a “groom.”

First Look Timeline

3:00pm- Photographer Arrives at Venue
3:10pm- Wedding Detail Photos/Getting Ready Photos
3:30pm- Bride Into Dress/Bridal Portrait Photos
4:00pm- Groom Into Suit
4:15pm- First Look and Couple Photos
4:45pm- Entire Bridal Party Photos and Groupings
5:15pm- Bride Hidden Away/Photography of Reception and Ceremony Decor
6:00pm- Ceremony starts
6:30pm- Ceremony ends
6:45pm- Formal Family Photos
7:15pm- Enter Reception
7:20pm- First Dance
7:30pm- Prayer and Dinner Served
8:00pm- Golden Hour Couple Photos
8:30pm- Cake Cutting
8:45pm- Toasts
9:00pm- Parent Dances
9:15pm- General dancing music starts
10:00pm- Garter/Bouquet Toss
10:45pm- Exit Photos
11:00pm- Photographer Packs Up

Aisle Look Timeline

3:00pm- Photographer Arrives at Venue
3:10pm- Wedding Detail Photos/Getting Ready Photos
3:30pm- Bride Into Dress/Bridal Portrait Photos
4:00pm- Bride and Bridesmaid Photos
4:20pm- Groom Into Suit
4:45pm- Groom and Groomsmen Photos
5:15pm- Everyone Hidden Away/Photography of Reception and Ceremony Decor
6:00pm- Ceremony starts
6:30pm- Ceremony ends
6:45pm- Formal Family Photos
7:15pm- Entire Bridal Party Photos
7:30pm- Enter Reception
7:35pm- First Dance
7:45pm- Prayer and Dinner Served
8:00pm- Golden Hour Couple Photos
8:30pm- Cake Cutting
8:45pm- Toasts
9:00pm- Parent Dances
9:15pm- General dancing music starts
10:00pm- Garter/Bouquet Toss
10:45pm- Exit Photos
11:00pm- Photographer Packs Up

How to Create a Wedding Day Timeline

Your Wedding Timeline

Your wedding day is YOUR wedding day. The feel, the mood, the details are all about you and your fiance. You can do whatever you want to do on that day. The details below are to just provide you with an idea of why we do what we do on a wedding day. You can add anything or takeaway anything that you want. Just remember that your timeline needs to be a happy medium flexibility and rigidity. If a few things here and there don’t quite go as planned, we need a wedding day timeline that is adaptable.

WEDDING DETAIL PHOTOS

Every bride loves having those beautiful shots of her bridal details. It’s an integral part of the story, and I love having some time to shoot the dress, shoes, jewelry, invitations, etc. These shots allow me to get warmed up for the rest of the big day. I usually like at least 15-20 minutes for this part of the day. While I’m shooting details, I’m also capturing some shots of the bride and her girls getting ready! If the fiance is getting dressed nearby, our second shooter may begin their behind-the-scenes shenanigans before you get into your dress.

BRIDE INTO DRESS

After the details have been photographed, it’s time for the bride to get into her dress! This is a big moment! I usually ask the mother of the bride and all of the bridesmaids to be dressed by the time the bride is ready to get into her dress. This ensures that everyone will look nice in those images.  After the bride is in her gown,  she can put on her jewelry, veil, shoes, etc. and I will shoot some additional bridal portraits! 

FIRST LOOK

This is one of my favorite parts of the wedding day!  I will find the perfect location for my couple’s First Look prior to the getting ready portion of the day! Don’t stress about that one bit! I will make sure the location is private and as secluded as possible.

PORTRAITS

After the bride and groom take their time with the First Look, I will begin taking a few romantic portraits of the two of them while the initial excitement is still present!  I will find the locations for these shots as well! Remember, the LIGHT determines where we shoot and so I can’t decide on portrait locations until the day-of.   As we shoot these portraits, the bridal party can start making their way to us for Bridal Party Portraits.  

BRIDAL PARTY PORTRAITS

Now it’s time for bridal party shots! I buffer in extra time throughout the day just in case we have some unexpected things that hold us up.  One way to make sure we stay on schedule for bridal party portraits is to have someone put the boutonnieres on the guys BEFORE they arrive for portraits. During bridal party portraits, I will make sure to take some great shots of the guys and girls both separately AND together! After bridal party portraits are complete, the bride will go into hiding so that early guests don’t sneak a peek, and the ushers will begin their duties.

RECEPTION PHOTO DETAILS

If the reception is in the same location as the ceremony, I will use this time to shoot the reception decor UNTOUCHED.  If the ceremony and reception are in different locations, I recommend having a cocktail hour outside of the main reception area if possible so that I can grab some great shots of your reception before the night begins and guests start laying down purses and coats on their seats!

CEREMONY

It’s time to get mawwwwied. Most ceremonies are 30 minutes long.  If your ceremony is longer than 30 mins, we’ll make adjustments to the timeline. Cherish these moments because your ceremony will pass by so quickly!

FAMILY PHOTOS

Family formals normally take place immediately following the ceremony.  It’s best to save all of the family formals until after the ceremony because ALL family members will be present at that time. We’ll need about 30 minutes for family formals and I will send a questionnaire before the wedding where you can list out the shots that you want.  I recommend shooting portraits outdoors if possible so that they resemble more natural family portraits, especially if the ceremony location is dark.

GOLDEN HOUR PHOTOS

Any time between 7pm and 8:00pm is the BEST time of day for portraits in the late spring, summer and early fall. This is when the sun is glowy and golden. I love having a few extra minutes with the bride and groom to take a few “Just Married” portraits right after family formals/

RECEPTION PHOTOS

This is when the bridal party lines up for introductions and the party begins!! By this part of the day, my timeline isn’t as strict. I work off of the natural light  and so after the sun is set, my portrait time is over and I begin focusing on the reception events!

I include 8 hours of coverage so that I can be present for the main events of the reception and about an hour of dancing!  If you’re interested in having your exit photographed, there are several options for this!  You can either add additional coverage or plan a faux exit with just your bridal party!  We have had GREAT success with this and the party never stops! Email me about this if you’re interested in learning more!

Exit Photos

Exits! Time to give all of your closest family and friends fire! We have seen all sorts of exits with all types of gear: sparklers, rice, lavender, and real or dried flowers. We have even had faux exits! If your coverage ends before your exit, you have the option of planning a faux exit with your bridal party. OR you can choose to do your “grand exit” immediately after your wedding ceremony. Whatever your choice may be, we will make sure that it is coordinated and controlled so you get the best photos possible.

How to Create a Wedding Day Timeline

Erin Morrison Photography

Erin Morrison Photography is a profession wedding photographer in Knoxville, Tennessee. We work with all of our couples to create a wedding that this true to them. Please view our wedding portfolio, and contact us for your wedding photography.

natural light + honest photographer

for peeps in love

KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE

erinmorrisonphotography@gmail.com

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