Wedding Day Timeline Cheat Sheet

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Wedding Wednesdays with Em Series | Virginia Wedding Photographer

Those of you that know me know that I LOVE details. Don’t get me wrong, I love photographing the wedding but the planning process leading up to the wedding is just as important to me. I know that all the tiny details matter and without a plan, a wedding day can go from easy breezy beautiful to an absolute train wreck. Now fortunately I have NEVER been a part of a wedding that was a train wreck! That is why I send my brides a questionnaire asking them what is important. I want to know everything about their wedding day vision.

In over 4 years of experience, I have learned that the wedding day timeline requires some flexibility. We know the parts of the day where we can make up time in case of accidents, people running late, a hair emergency, etc. This is also where it is important for you book vendors that know what they are doing (vendors can make or break the flow of a wedding)! I love working with Coiffeur Collective because Michelle and her team have worked with the craziest timelines and wedding accidents along side us. They not only took care of the problems that popped up but finished the bridal party hair and makeup EARLY!! So with that being said, definitely ask your planner or photographer for vendor recommendations so that your wedding day can run smoothly! :)

When I form timelines I have a general flow that I follow but I keep in mind what is important to my couple. I have a flexible amount of time for each part of the day leading up to the reception to help form a base timeline. I then send a rough draft to my couple and wait for them to look it over before its final. I like to keep things simple so I start by dividing the day up between the Ladies and the Gentlemen. Once I have that, I plan out the rest of the events with at least 30 minutes of down time before the Ceremony and extra time after the Ceremony before starting Family Formals.

So today in my Wedding Wednesday with Em Series, I am sharing my timeline secrets! I create a timeline for all my brides so they don’t have to stress about this, but I know some brides will be planning their own wedding day timeline! So here are some basic times for each part of the day broken down so that you can envision what your wedding day will look like!


I included a REAL TIMELINE from one of my 2019 summer weddings!

You can see where I customized parts of the day to make everything work! :)

The Bride and Bridesmaids

  • Getting Ready: 45 minutes- 1 hour

  • Bridal Details: 45 minutes- 1 hour

  • Bride Putting on Dress: 15 minutes

  • Bridal Portraits: 15 minutes

  • First Look with Bridesmaids: 15 minutes

  • First Look with Dad: 10 minutes

  • Bride & Bridesmaids Portraits: 15-30 (depending on size of bridal party)

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The Groom and Groomsmen

  • Getting Ready: 30 minutes

  • Groom Details: 15 minutes

  • Groom Getting Dressed: 15 minutes

  • Groom & Groomsmen Portraits: 15-30 (depending on size of bridal party)

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Other Wedding Day Events

  • First Look: 15-30 minutes

  • First Look (EXTRA) Portrait Time: 30 minutes- 1 hour

  • Bride & Groom Portraits Post Ceremony: 30 minutes- 1 hour

  • Entire Bridal Party: 15-30 minutes (depending on size of bridal party)

  • Family Formals: 20-30 minutes (depending on cooperation and size of family)

  • Sunset Portraits: 15-20 minutes (during the reception usually)

  • Controlled Exit: 10-15 minutes (including time to light sparklers)

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So here is a BONUS sample timeline for one of my 2019 Summer Brides who purchased additional hours of coverage for the wedding day (10 hours instead of 8). This couple’s bridal party has 5 Bridesmaids and 5 Groomsmen. Her dad will not be arriving in time for a first look so this timeline doesn’t include that but we are doing a first look with her bridesmaids. This couple also decided to share a First Look with each other and have extra portrait time (one of my favorite parts of the wedding day)! Each wedding timeline is unique but I start forming the timeline based on the average times I listed above!

*This timeline is just for James, myself, and our photography services on the wedding day. It is not the timeline to keep track of the Reception or other vendors.*

(I leave that timeline up the Planner and Day of Coordinator)

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Until next time,