How to plan your wedding day photography timeline

Chances are if you’re reading this, you’re in the boat of trying to figure out this whole wedding photography thing. Maybe you’ve inquired with a few photographers and are trying to figure out how many hours you need, or maybe you’ve already booked your photographer but have ZERO idea how to create a timeline that makes sense.

These kinds of planning details can be so overwhelming because most likely you haven’t done anything like this before. Luckily, I’ve been a part of SO many weddings so I can help ya out! Let’s walk through exactly how to plan your wedding photography hours and timeline.

wedding photography timeline

Kristina getting ready with her gals at the beautiful Hall at Fauntleroy.

1) First things first. Start by considering a few sample photography timelines that include all the bare bones parts of the day that most people look for (ie. portrait time, family pics, la dee da)

6 hour sample timeline

2pm | getting ready shots

2:30pm | first look + couple portraits

3:15pm | bridal party

4pm | family formal shots

5pm | ceremony

5:30pm | cocktail hour, more portraits of the couple, more family if we need, just extra time

6pm | dinner (photographer takes a break during dinner), toasts, and dancing

8pm | photographer takes off

8 hour sample timeline

1:30pm | getting ready photos (more time for both sides of the wedding party)

2:30pm | first look + couple portraits

3:15pm | bridal party

4pm | family formal shots

5pm | ceremony

5:30pm | cocktail hour, more portraits of the couple, more family if we need, just extra time

6pm | dinner (photographer takes a break during dinner), toasts, and dancing

9:30pm | grand exit + photographer takes off

10 hour sample timeline

1pm | getting ready for both sides of the bridal party, extra detail shots with this extra time

2:30pm | first look + couple portraits

3:15pm | bridal party

4pm | family formal shots

5pm | ceremony

5:30pm | cocktail hour, more portraits of the couple, more family if we need, just extra time

6pm | dinner (photographer takes a break during dinner), toasts, and dancing

11pm | grand exit + photographer takes off

Does one of these timeline already align with the day you are desiring? These are just examples, but always be sure to create a custom situation with your photographer to ensure you get exactly what you need.

Check out my blog post on Chris + Brooke’s wedding, which was about 10 hours of coverage, so you can get a feel of what photos are all included in that!

how to make a wedding timeline

2) Next: extra things to consider specifically about your day

The next step after looking through and discussing those sample timelines is to think about extra things you may want to either add in or consider when it comes to the timing of your day. Is it important to you to have a first look with your dad or another significant person in your life? Do you want to carve in extra time with just you two/extra portrait time? Or maybe your grand exit is scheduled for later and it’s gonna be a BANGER that I can’t miss.

We also need to consider the locations of everything. Are you getting ready at a hotel 20 minutes away? We need to account for that. Or is everything pretty much at the same spot all day? Awesome! Let’s max out that time.

The last thing to consider is really just the pace of the day. This is a huge day for you, filled with anticipation and family and BIG feels. Does the 6 hour package just feel like too tight of a squeeze? Maybe you want a longer timeline so that you don’t have to feel rushed or pressed for time when you’re with your loved ones. Take a minute and consider what’s important to you about the vibe of your day.

wedding day schedule

Group shots near their venue, The Monte Cristo Ballroom, in Everett, WA.

3) Finally: create a custom timeline with your photographer

From here we craft a custom and detailed timeline just for you. It will include alllll the things such as when + where people need to be ready, taking details to account like when the sun sets, and specific locations for each part of the day. This should be finalized ~1 month before the big day, but always always always feel free to communicate with your photographer throughout the whole process! Whether that’s with me or someone else, you should always feel comfortable to contact them with ideas, questions, memes, etc. Your photographer should feel more like a friend to you than just a vendor - taking care of you and ensuring your day goes perfectly.

I hope this guide to planning your wedding day timeline helps you feel slightly less overwhelmed, and more prepared to take on all this wedding planning. I plan to come out with a lot of more informative posts in the future, but until then feel free to follow me on my Pinterest to peak at some of my boards on engagement shoot outfits, wedding inspo + more.

Ready to contact me about what my personal wedding packages look like? Hit me up with that contact button below!

Emma Studley