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Pro Tips

The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline

What is the perfect wedding day timeline?

With over 17 years of experience as a wedding photographer, I definitely have some insights into what makes the perfect wedding day timeline. These times vary per season based on lighting but they all have one thing in common. They include a first look. While this can be controversial, believe me, I myself was team “keep it for the aisle” on my own wedding. If you ask me now, “do I regret it?”, the answer is yes, I had a very small elopement-style wedding and made a game-day decision to wave off photos because I didn’t want to leave our family and friends. We were tired after and decided that we would do photos another day. We never ended up doing them and so we have no formal wedding photos at all. I’m a wedding photographer with no good wedding photos. So tragic.

Brides reading their vows

Reasons to do a “First Look” on your wedding day definitely outway the reasons not to.

  • It’s an intimate, beautiful moment between just the two of you
  • You can read your vows to each other privately
  • We can make it special and unique
  • You get the jitters out, you’ll be able to focus and be in the moment during the ceremony
  • Your hair, makeup, and flowers are fresh and will photograph better
  • Everyone is fresh and excited
  • your guests don’t have a big gap to wait between the ceremony and reception
  • You can enjoy your cocktail hour with guests or take a quiet moment for just the two of you to enjoy being newlyweds alone
  • You get all of the wedding party photos done during this time leaving them to go help with other things
Bride and groom kissing at Pillar & Post in Niagara on the Lake

Ideal Time Blocks for Wedding Day Photography

Whether you plan to do a first look or not here are the ideal photography time blocks for each part of your day. Use this to build your own custom wedding day timeline.

  • Getting ready photos 1.5-2 hours
  • Wedding Party formals 30 min
  • Couples formals 1 hour
  • Ceremony 30 min
  • Family Photos 30 min
  • Golden Hour ¬†Photos 20 min
  • If you want full coverage of your day you want your photographer to stay for your reception until at least 9 or 10 pm depending on when your dinner service ends. You need them to stay at least 30min after that to capture some of the dance party and any nighttime activities you have planned.

I cover this in more detail in my blog Wedding day timeline | Everything you need to know + Pro Tips

The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline for Spring (March 1-June 1)

  • 11:00 Photography Start (Getting Ready)
  • 1:30 First Look
  • 3:00 Leave for Ceremony/ quiet time for the couple
  • 3:30 Prepare for the ceremony
  • 4:00 Ceremony
  • 4:30 Family Photos (cocktail hour begins)
  • 5:00 First look of reception hall/ photographer captures the detail shots of room while couple joins cocktail hour or takes some alone time
  • 5:30 Reception Start with First Dance
  • 6:30 Golden Hour Photos (15-20 min)
  • 8:30 Parent Dances and then the dance party starts
  • 9:00 Photography ends

The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline for Summer (June 1-October 1)

  • 12:00 Photography Start (Getting Ready)
  • 2:30 First Look
  • 4:00 Leave for Ceremony/ quiet time for the couple
  • 4:30 Prepare for the ceremony
  • 5:00 Ceremony
  • 5:30 Family Photos (cocktail hour begins)
  • 6:00 First look of reception hall/ photographer captures the detail shots of room while couple joins cocktail hour or takes some alone time
  • 6:30 Reception Start with First Dance + Parent Dances
  • 7:30 Golden Hour Photos (15-20 min)
  • 9:30 Dance Party Starts
  • 10:00 Photography ends

The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline for Autumn (October 1-December 1)

  • 11:00 Photography Start (Getting Ready)
  • 1:00 First Look
  • 2:30 Leave for Ceremony/ quiet time for couple
  • 3:00 Prepare for ceremony
  • 3:30 Ceremony
  • 4:00 Family Photos (cocktail hour begins)
  • 4:15 Golden Hour Photos (15-20 min)
  • 4:30 First look of reception hall/ photographer captures the detail shots of room while couple joins cocktail hour or takes some alone time
  • 5:00 Reception Start with First Dance + Parent Dances
  • 8:30 Dance Party Starts
  • 9:00 Photography ends

The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline for Winter (December 1-March 1)

  • 10:30 Photography Start (Getting Ready)
  • 12:30 First Look
  • 2:00 Leave for Ceremony/ quiet time for the couple
  • 2:30 Prepare for ceremony
  • 3:00 Ceremony
  • 3:30 Family Photos (cocktail hour begins)
  • 4:00 Golden Hour Photos (15-20 min)
  • 4:30 First look of reception hall/ photographer captures the detail shots of room while couple joins cocktail hour or takes some alone time
  • 5:00 Reception Start with First Dance + Parent Dances
  • 8:30 Dance Party Starts
  • 9:00 Photography ends
Loverly Weddings Bridesmaid's walking and laughing

These of course are open to adjustment based on your individual needs and we are always willing and happy to do Wedding Day timeline consults with all of our Loverly clients!

If you found this blog helpful and want more tips on planning your wedding day, also check out:

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