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GEORGIA SHERIDAN PHOTOGRAPHY

How To Create Your Wedding Day Timeline

Most of my clients have an affinity for candid photos, much like myself. Here’s the secret: candid photos may happen candidly, but they do not happen accidentally. The best gift you can give yourself on your wedding day is the gift of time, time to be present, relax, and relish in everything that is happening. That is where the magic is! The best way to do this is by crafting a timeline that keeps everyone on track with plenty of room for mistakes.

There are two main factors that will determine your wedding day timeline: sunset time and whether or not you do a first look prior to the ceremony.

1. Consider the sunset time

A quick google search of “your wedding date + your city + sunset time” (Ex: September 9, 2024 NYC sunset time) can give you this answer. Sunset time changes all the time throughout the year. Ideally, I like to get all of the formal portraits done in natural light before the sun goes down. When beginning your timeline, I suggest starting with the sunset time and working around that.

2. Decide whether or not you will do a first look prior to the ceremony

Whether or not you decide to do a first look will determine which portraits are taken before and after the ceremony. If you are not doing a first look, almost all of your formal photos will be taken following the ceremony and before the reception. It is a good idea to schedule a cocktail hour during this time for your guests while they wait.

3. Give yourself plenty of extra time for hair and makeup

This almost always takes longer than expected. Starting your wedding day off in a rush and off schedule is not an ideal way to begin the day. This should be the most enjoyable part of your day when you get to relax, sip your coffee, get pampered, and hang with some of your closest friends and loved ones.

Ask your makeup artist how much time they need, and then add a significant time buffer.

How long do I need for each set of photos?

Based on a traditional wedding, I recommend allotting about an hour and a half total to formal photos. Here is how I usually breakdown the different sets of portraits on a wedding day:

  • Allot 30 minutes for couples portraits
  • Allot 30-45 minutes for bridal party portraits
  • Allot 20-30 minutes for formal family photos

Sample wedding photo timelines

These timelines do not cover all the different wedding scenarios entirely (every wedding is so unique), but these may help you get an idea of how to approach wedding timeline creation. Pay close attention to how much time is allotted for each wedding day tradition.

  • Coverage: 8 hours
  • Sunset: 6:30
  • First look: yes
  • Venue setting: Resort/hotel style, all in one place but fairly spread out

1:00 Florals arrive

1:30 Photographers arrive beginning with detail shots

2:30/2:40 Groom getting dressed (all groomsmen should be dressed by now)

3:00 Bride to get in dress (all bridesmaids should be dressed by now)

3:30 First look

3:45 Bride + bridesmaids portraits

4:00 Groom + groomsmen portraits

4:15 Full bridal party portraits

4:15 Family photos

5:30 Ceremony

6:00 Bride + groom sunset portraits

6:30 Bride + groom eat dinner alone

6:45 (ish) Reception entrance straight into first dance followed by parent dances

[General reception events like speeches, cake cutting, bouquet toss, dancing, etc.]

9:30 Exit + photographer leaves

  • Coverage: 10 hours
  • Sunset: 6:55
  • First look: no
  • Venue setting: Wedding specific venue, bride + groom getting ready in the same building in close proximity but different rooms

1:00 Photographers arrive beginning with detail shots

1:45 Getting ready candids

2:30 Bride getting in dress

2:55 Father of bride first look

3:00 Bride + bridesmaid portraits

3:30 Groom + groomsmen portraits

4:00 Bridal party all tucked away

5:00 Ceremony

5:40 Full bridal party portraits

5:50 Family photos

6:20-6:50 Bride + groom sunset portraits

7:00 Bride + groom eat dinner alone

7:20 Reception entrance straight into first dance followed by parent dances

[General reception events like speeches, cake cutting, bouquet toss, dancing, etc.]

11:00 Exit + photographer leaves

  • Coverage: 10 hours
  • Sunset: 6:55
  • First look: no
  • Venue setting: Wedding specific venue, bride + groom getting ready in the same building in close proximity but different rooms

1:30 Photographers arrive beginning with detail shots + candids

2:40 Bride getting in dress

2:55 Father of bride first look

3:05 Bridesmaids first look / bride + bridesmaid portraits

3:30 Groom + groomsmen portraits

4:30 ceremony

5:00 Full bridal party portraits

5:15 Family photos

5:45 Bride + groom eat dinner alone

6:15 Reception entrance straight into first dance followed by parent dances

6:25 Dinner + blessing

6:45 Bride + groom sunset portraits

[General reception events like speeches, cake cutting, bouquet toss, dancing, etc.]

10:30 Exit + photographer leaves

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