Wedding Photography Timeline

If you’re like me, you obsessed over timelines. I do my best to ensure that everything runs smoothly but through my experience, no matter how prepared you are, there should be a healthy appetite of flexibility. Weddings are so wonderful but they can also be stressful, especially since all weddings are very unique and there isn’t a one size fit all template. It’s best to plan ahead and understand the flow of the wedding day to avoid timelines falling behind. These allotted times for each part of the wedding help the wedding day run as smooth as possible. We have listed below all the appropriate time frames that you should keep in mind.

Detail shots

Ideal time: 30 minutes

Before the getting ready photos, it’s best to photograph the details. This includes the rings (both bride’s and groom’s), wedding dress, shoes, invitation suite, hair pieces, veil, perfume, jewelry, flowers or other important details. The ideal time is in the morning at the bridal or hotel suite. If the florist arrives early enough, please ask for loose flowers when he/she brings the bouquets. As for the invitation suite, please have two sets of the suite so the photographer can photograph the front and back at the same time. Half an hour is best so it’s advised to set aside all the details for the photographer to photograph.

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Getting Ready

Ideal time: 60 minutes

Depending on the photography coverage, the lead photographer will be with the bride and associate photographer will be with the groom. For the bride, it’s advised that the bride gets ready first with makeup. After doing the details shots, the photographer focuses on the final touches of makeup on the bride. Please keep the room clutter free. Then it’s time for the bride to spend with her bridesmaids followed by helping the bride get ready. This includes helping the bride with her dress, shoes, earrings, veil, etc.  All bridesmaids should be dress and ready before the bride so they are not photographed in sweats while helping the bride get ready. After the getting ready, the lead photographer does bridal portraits.

Concurrently, an associate is photographing the groom. Men usually do not require a lot of time to get ready but there are plenty of memorable moments between the groom and his family that can be captured. All groomsmen should be dressed before the photographer arrives.

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First Look

Ideal time: 20 minutes

It is recommended to do a first look for many reasons (Read this article for the pros and cons of a first look). If a first look is chosen, then this takes about 20 minutes. This should be an intimate moment where the bride and groom has time to themselves. If there’s a particular place for the first look, please let the photographer know.

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Couple’s session

Ideal time: 60 minutes

The couple’s session happens immediately after the first look and acts as the first of two couple’s sessions (one early morning and one right before sunset). This session includes taking couples portraits and individual portraits, which last around 60 minutes. This is a chance for the bride and groom to be alone and to take gorgeous photos!

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Wedding Party photos

Ideal time: 45 minutes

These photos are done after the first look and initial bride and groom portraits. This usually takes 45 minutes but it depends on size of the wedding party. This is typically where the bride and groom have fun with their wedding party, after all these are the closest family and friends. This segments starts with the entire wedding party and then it breaks off to the bride and groom’s respective sides. Individual photos of bride and bridesmaid and groom and groomsmen are taken.

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Immediate Family photos

Ideal time: 30 minutes

It’s great to do the immediate family photos before the ceremony. And if time doesn’t permit, there is still time to do family photos after the ceremony. Taking family photo before ceremony allows the family to enjoy the cocktail hour. This session includes the parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins and immediate relatives.


Ideal time: 30 minutes

It is important to capture details of the venue and ceremony site before the guests arrive. It’s also important to finalize the set up earlier so that the photographer can capture the space without the guests. And when the ceremony starts, we’ll capture the event as it unfolds.

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Formal Group photos

Ideal time: 60 minutes

After the ceremony, it can take up to hour to take formal photos of family and friends. This time varies depending on how many groups and how big the groups are. It takes roughly 3 minutes per group. It’s highly recommended to create a list of the groups to photograph (e.g. different family and friend combinations). Please also appoint someone to guide the photographer; it saves time since the photographer doesn’t have to ask around how individuals are related to the bride and groom. If this session ends early, the bride and groom can either do more couple’s portraits or opt to join the cocktail hour.

Cocktail Hour and Reception Details

Ideal Time: 60 minutes (concurrently with Formal Group photos)

While the lead photographer is doing formal family and friend photos, the associate photographer is photographing the cocktail hour. During this time, the photographer is capturing candid moments, portraits and cocktails details. In addition, the photographer will take details photos of the reception when it is empty.

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Reception and Sunset photos

Ideal Time: Varies

Once the reception starts, it becomes pretty standard in what the photographers do: entrance, dances, toasts/speeches, cake cutting, table visits, bouquet toss, dancing, exits, etc. There’s a wide range of activities which are dictated by what the bride and groom chose. The timing is variable here (depending on month of wedding) but right before sunset, the photographer and couple will sneak away to do sunset photos for 30 minutes while people are eating. It is recommended to work with your caterer on the timing of food. Right after sunset photos, the bride and groom return back to the reception to celebrate the night away.

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And there you have it: suggested time for your wedding day photography. Different cultures plan their weddings accordingly and we understand that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. We’re happy to work with our couples to customize their photography timeline to ensure that everything runs as smoothly as possible.