woman and man getting married

How to Create a Relaxing Wedding Timeline

If you’re reading this, I know your struggle. Creating a wedding timeline is so much to handle with all the moving details and time-math you have to do, right? If you’re one of my wedding couples, then you know I have you all covered because I actually do help out with creating the wedding timeline. If you’re not one of my couples (which I hope you can be!) then I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be so overwhelming!

It’s so important to get the wedding timeline done correctly, because this will allow your day to run smoothly and be stress-free. You have to get down to the nitty gritty because the more details you have, the more effective you are to plan ahead. I wanted to create this how-to because many of you aren’t in the wedding industry. You’re not wedding planners or photographers, so you may or may not know what a successful timeline looks like. And that’s okay because it’s not your job, your job is to get married and have fun! That’s why great vendors are there to help you along the way with their experience and expertise, like me! Not only will this guide you in creating a timeline, I include tips and information behind why. I prompt you in asking yourself what’s really important to you and offer suggestions!

So let’s create a wedding timeline! For the sake of this article; this will be an August wedding in NYC. Let’s have 2 photographers, morning prep, a first look, and everything will be on site. Some things might be a little bit different for you, but the gist of it will be similar. It’s important to note that photographers are all different in how they work. This wedding timeline I’ve created is how I work within the day. So speak with your photographer or planner about your specific timeline.

TIP: I suggest making a general list of events first (getting ready, first look, ceremony, sparkler exit etc), it helps put things into perspective. Then follow in with the details.

bride and groom holding hands




2:30 pm : Both photographers arrive to each partner

This is the time we take to capture your getting ready details. Things like your dress, suit, jewelry, accessories, invites, etc. I made a list of details you can have prepared here.

3:00 pm : Capture any getting ready candids

During this time we capture any robe/PJ photos, getting dressed, hanging out, etc. Nervous about the morning prep part? I created an article helping you get the most out of your getting ready photos here.

3:45 pm : Go to first look location

Of course this timeline reflects everything happening on site. You might be going to an off location for your first look and portraits. Making sure you add time and some extra time for travel is really important.

4:00 pm : Couple first look

Adding a first look to your wedding has easily become one of the most beneficial modern additions to a wedding day. You get to spend time, JUST the two of you. I often tell people that if they want the work they see in my portfolio, I need time, and a good amount of it. We cannot do couple portraits, wedding party and family portraits all in one hour during cocktail hour. First looks impact this greatly. Not convinced? Here are 3 major points on why I love them.

4:15 pm : Wedding party portraits

The benefits of having a first look is that we can then capture wedding party and family portraits right after. Both of these can take up to 15-30 minutes each, maybe even 45 minutes if it’s a big family or wedding party.

bride and groom walking with wedding party

4:45 pm : Family portraits

5:15 pm : Couple portraits 

I like to split it this way whenever we get the opportunity to be closer to golden hour. I’ll do first look for about 10-15 mins then do the wedding party and family portraits, then go back to just the couple so that the couple portraits are within golden hour or just better light in general. Usually first looks happen during the day when the sun is harsh. 

6:00 pm : Portraits done

I always like to end 30 mins or earlier before the ceremony starts. It gives the couple and their party a chance to freshen up and relax. For me that’s extremely important, that the couple are enjoying their day and not just in front of the camera every 2 minutes. It also gives me time to go over to the ceremony space and capture that before guests arrive.

6:30 pm : Ceremony (you get MARRIED! YAY)

woman and man getting married

7:00 pm : Cocktail hour 

The couple enjoys cocktail hour, while the second shooter captures guest mingling and the lead photographer captures the reception space.

7:40 pm : Sunset

Perhaps you go out for some sunset photos for about 10 minutes!

8:00 pm : Reception

10:00 pm : Photographer coverage ends

These photos are from a wedding I captured at The Vineyards at Aquebogue on Long Island NY. I hope this helps you! I wanted to create this for you all because if so many of my clients feel overwhelmed about this, I’m sure you are too. If you’re ready to start chatting, then message me!

Here are some more tips for your wedding that you may find helpful!

What to Put on Your Wedding Website

Family Formals – 4 Tips to Make Them Run Smoothly


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