Building your timeline

Building the timeline for your wedding day can be a daunting task, and honestly, it may never be perfect, but it can get pretty close with the help of your vendors, including me!

Before you begin, think about the flow.

What do I mean by flow? Well. Here we go.

Put your notebook down, grab a glass of wine, and close your eyes. Imagine it’s your wedding day, you’re moving through it, from getting ready all the way to the dancing. How do you want your wedding day to FEEL. What is most important to you? Is it getting epic photos in a far-off location, is it hugging every single guest and having time to chat, is it drinking in a limo with your besties? No matter what it is, the way plan the flow of your day will affect the way you feel on the day.

I can’t give you the right answer for what is best for you, but here are some things to consider:

  1. If seeing every guest and having a drink at cocktail hour is important to you I’d suggest considering doing all of your portraits before your ceremony. This helps to create a chill flow to the day where you get ready, do portraits, have your ceremony, and the rest of the day is time to mingle and enjoy the night. If you’re going this route I’d also recommend carving out 20-30 mins at sunset (or in early evening) when the light is most magical. It also gives you an opportunity to step away from the chaos the take the day in together, be present, and appreciate all the hard work you’re put into this magical day.
  2. If you’re a bit of an introvert and know you’ll need a breather, doing your portraits after the ceremony is a great idea. You get to sneak away from all of the chaos, the light will be awesome (hopefully), and when you get back from portraits you’re ready for round two of everyones excitement.
  3. And finally: your wedding day is NOT JUST ABOUT PORTRAITS. You might think you’re supposed to be whisked away for 2 hours in the middle of the day when everyone else is having fun, but that doesn’t have to be how your wedding day goes. If your goal with photos is for me to capture the candids, the hugs, the emotion of your day with your guests that love you so much then we can absolutely make sure that’s the focus. For couples that feel like this is the most them option (you know who you are my “we’re so awkward in front of the camera” peeps) I suggest skipping those long portrait times, schedule in 20 mins for wedding party photos at some point during cocktail hour, and then another 20 mins for just the two of you, and the rest of the day will be all candids full of love.

Now, let’s talk about light.

Light is like, THE most important part of photography. I mean, I literally can’t take photos without it so choosing the right time of day to do your portraits will make all the difference in the photos you get.

Because light is so important I like to suggest (well, request) that portraits be scheduled for a time of day when the light is at its best, which means not at high noon. The best times are in the later afternoon when the sun is a bit lower, or in the hour or two before sunset. For the couples portraits sunset is the most magical time, so fitting a bit of time at sunset can definitely pay off! If your timeline doesn’t allow for scheduling around the best lighting feel free to ask me about our options, or to run through your timeline with you. I can work with pretty much anything but, again… we could do EPIC!

While your planner will be a huge help in planning your day, the photography timelines can vary wildly between photographers, so below you’ll find some examples of timing for certain portions of your day, based on my own experience. Keep in mind, these may not all apply to you, but it should get you started.

Remember, these are just timelines for the photos, you’ll have a whole other timeline for the rest of the days events.

How long does it all take?


45 mins gives me enough time to capture some of the important details as well as candids of champagne popping and everyone getting excited.


I like 20-30 mins. This gives us a buffer incase someone is running late and gives us time to wipe away the happy tears and do a private portrait session before everyone starts to fawn over you.


30 mins depending on how long your list is. I suggest keeping it to 10 groupings and is usually best to do right after the ceremony.


30 mins to 1 hour depending on your goals, plus transportation time to and from our location. This time includes photos of the couple as well as photos with the wedding party.


30 - 45 minutes gives me time to capture first dances plus photos of your guests ripping up the dance floor.


This is always weather depending, but it generally only takes 20 minutes to snap a few really freaking epic sunset photos on-site. This can be done spontaneously on-site as we see fit, or scheduled in for sunset time on that date and we can actually wander off for 30 mins for a bit of calm and glowy evening light.

Sample Timing

Getting Ready – 1 hr

First Look – 45 mins

Couple and Wedding Party photos – 1.5 hrs

Ceremony – 30 mins

Family Photos – 45 mins

Cocktail Hour – 45 mins

Reception – 2 hours

First dance and party – 45 mins