Your Wedding Day Timeline: Ideal Times for Photography

“How much time do we need for pictures??”


Before we dive into your wedding day timeline (we help you create it closer to your wedding day), you may need to book some vendors and schedule them. This might be hard to do when you’re unsure of how much time each portion of your day is going to or supposed to take. The answers sometimes are a little tricky, but below is a guide along with a sample timeline to help you on your way!



Shoes, Dress, Invitation Suite, Jewelry, etc. │ Cuff-links, Groomsmen gifts, Wardrobe pieces, etc.

Ideal time allowed: 30 - 45 minutes
Ideal time of day: Before photographing the bridal prep, usually right when we get there.
Ideal location: Hotel or bridal suite at your venue, typically an area with great natural light.

Advice: Sometimes we have to search for the best available light to photograph certain details such as your dress. We like to allow ample time to move your dress and set up other shots which is why we prefer to have as much time as possible here! If there is any extra time in your wedding day schedule, we like to spend it here. Usually the bridesmaids are having their hair and makeup finished during this time. Below are some tips we’d love for you to take into consideration for this part of the day. 🙂

• Try to have all bridal details together in a shoe box or bag before we arrive. This will help us start working promptly and efficiently! Think necklaces, earrings, shoes, invitation, something borrowed, something blue, bouquet charms, etc.
• Speaking of bridal details… don’t forget to bring your invitation to be photographed!
• Have your dress and veil out of their garment bags and hung so we can begin photographing them immediately. We also do not want to be the ones responsible for stashing your bag and pulling tags and pins out of your dress.


BRIDAL PREP: Hair & makeup/ candids/ putting on the dress
GROOM PREP: Getting dressed/ candids


Ideal time allowed: 1 Hour
Ideal location: Hotel or bridal suite at your venue, typically something with great natural light.

Advice: This time does NOT include how long it takes to complete hair and makeup for the day — your makeup artist and hair stylist will know best. It’s usually a good idea to give your hair and makeup vendors MORE time than they request. That way if things go over at all, we’ll be smooth sailing on the timeline moving forward. If we go way overtime during this part of the day, your entire timeline gets thrown off and will need to be adjusted day-of which can feel a little rushed and stressful. The preparation time that we like to photograph starts when your hair and makeup ladies have about 1 hour of time left. We like to save the bride’s final touches for last.




Ideal time allowed: 15 - 20 Minutes: Bridesmaids  │  15 - 20 Minutes: Groomsmen  │ 15 - 20 Minutes: Combined Wedding Party (Bridesmaids, Groomsmen)
Ideal location: Outside of your venue, Venue lobby or garden, an off-site location
Ideal time of day: We like to do these before the ceremony. They can be done upon arrival to your ceremony venue, immediately after you finish getting dressed near your getting-ready venue, or immediately following bride/ groom portraits if there is a first-look. The combined shots will have to happen after the ceremony if there is no first-look.

Advice: Having two photographers during these portraits can really help save some time. While one of us is spending 15 minutes on the bridesmaids, the other is spending that time on the groomsmen simultaneously. If you choose to have a first-look, we can also knock out the combined wedding party portraits after the individual groups. In total, we aim for this entire part of your day to take no more than 45 minutes.


Ideal time allowed: 20 - 30 Minutes
Ideal location: Simple indoor area with lots of natural light, Outdoor garden at your venue, large shaded outdoor areas, off-site location

Advice: WE LOVE FIRST LOOKS! They are great for spending some extra time on photos of just the two of you during your wedding day. Your first look will only actually take about 3-5 minutes, but the rest of the time is spent on images of just the two of you. If you do not wish to have a first look, we like to allow about 30 minutes for couples portraits. We can do this after your ceremony as well as doing a small “sneak out” session at some point during your reception (So think 15 minutes after your ceremony and 15 minutes during your reception). You will never regret having those beautiful romantic portraits of just the two of you on your wedding day so it’s super important to us to spend a good amount of time on this! The more time you allow, the better!


Parents and Siblings, your children, your sibling’s spouses and children, grandparents (if they are able to come about 2 hours before ceremony time)

Ideal time allowed: 2 - 3 minutes per group. Ideally, 30 - 45 minutes if we can keep the list to a minimum.
Ideal time of day: Immediately following bridesmaids and groomsmen portraits if there is a first-look, before your ceremony. If there is no first-look, the shots that include both the bride and the groom will have to take place after your ceremony during cocktail hour or the beginning of your reception.
Ideal location: Simple indoor area with lots of natural light, outdoor garden at your venue, large shaded outdoor areas

Advice: We can do as many immediate family formals as we can before your ceremony if you do not have a first-look, but keep in mind that all of the combined ones with both bride and groom will not happen until after your ceremony which will cut into reception time. We like for these shots to be extremely organized (seriously cannot stress that enough!) beforehand with a listing of exactly which images we will need so we can make this run as smoothly as possible! It’s also great to have a few family helpers on each side to round up members if you have a large group.

EXTENDED FAMILY FORMALS (post-ceremony portraits)

Large group shots, aunts, uncles, cousins

Ideal time allowed: 2 - 3 minutes per group. If you keep the list small, we can knock it out in under 10 minutes after your ceremony. If you have a large family and did not do a first-look, we usually like to allow about 1 hour after the ceremony for formals if we can keep the list to 30 images and under.
Ideal location: Ceremony site

Advice: These are the images we were unable to take during the family formal photo time in the above section. For instance, you probably don’t want your entire extended family showing up 2 hours before the ceremony (which would also be very hard to coordinate), so we save all large group shots for after the ceremony before heading to your reception. If Grandma couldn’t make it during family formal photo time, we will also do the shots with her during this time. Again we like to allow about 2 - 3 minutes per group shot.



And finally, a Sample 10-Hour Wedding Day Timeline


  • 12:30pm - Photographers Arrive, Photograph details and accessories, candids
  • 1:30pm - Bride’s finishing touches on hair and makeup │ Groomsmen begin getting ready
  • 2:15pm - Bride Steps into dress
  • 2:30pm - First Look, Bride and Groom │ Portraits of Bride and Groom immediately follow
  • 3:00pm - Wedding Party Portraits (Bride and bridesmaids, Groom and groomsmen, Combined bridesmaids and groomsmen portraits)
  • 3:30pm - Family formal photos (Have family members arrive to venue no later than 3:15pm)
  • 4:15pm - Portraits are complete. Bride & Groom freshen up before Ceremony │ Photographers photograph ceremony venue and details, guests arriving
  • 5:30pm - CEREMONY (30 minutes long)
  • 6:00pm - Extended family formals or formal shots missed from 3:30, if any │ Cocktail Hour for guests
  • 6:15pm - Small bride and groom session outside of venue or an off-site location
  • 6:30pm - Bride and Groom are announced by DJ or Band. All reception activities follow.
  • 10:30pm - Bride and Groom send-off


Just a little side-note: This is a great timeline sample for FARLOW PHOTOGRAPHY. Not all wedding photographers are the same. Some require different time allotments than others. 🙂