Planning ahead with a wedding day timeline is KEY to executing a stress-free wedding. There are so many moving parts to consider on your wedding day, from vendor arrivals to timing your photos for the best lighting. That is why creating a wedding day timeline is a collaborative effort between me, you and your partner, and your planner (if you have one). Breaking down the important events ensures that:

  • Every photo you want is captured.
  • Both the wedding party and vendors are on the same page and on time.
  • Not a single detail is missed.

To help get you started, I outlined two sample wedding day timelines, one with and one without a first look. From here, you'll be ready to create a wedding itinerary that fits your day.  Note that these timelines are based on an 8 hours of photography coverage and that your ceremony and reception are at the same venue (so no travel time is incorporated).

But "wait!" you say; "what's a first look?" A first look is when you see each other all dressed up for the first time before the wedding ceremony. It's normally a private moment (with your photographer, of course) but sometimes family or guests watch from a distance.

Sample Wedding Timeline with a First Look (8 Hours of Photography)

When choosing to have a first look, you’ll notice that we can capture most of the portraits (both of you two, and any family groupings) prior to the ceremony, giving you more flexibility in your schedule. Many couples are whisked away during cocktail hour for photos, but this schedule allows you to relax and enjoy yourselves after the ceremony with your friends and family.

  • 1:00 pm - Photographer arrives to capture details and getting ready shots
  • 2:00 pm - First look and couple's portraits
  • 3:15 pm - Wedding party portraits
  • 3:45 pm - Family portraits
  • 4:30 pm - Ceremony & reception set-ups photographed
  • 5:00 pm - Ceremony begins
  • 5:30 pm - Ceremony ends and cocktail hour begins
  • 6:15 pm - Reception doors open
  • 6:30 pm - Wedding party entrance
  • 6:40 pm - First Dance
  • 7:00 pm - Speeches
  • 7:40 pm - Dinner
  • 7:45 pm - Cake Cutting
  • 7:50 pm - Special Dances
  • 8:00 pm - Dance floor opens
  • 9:00 pm - Photography coverage ends

Sample Wedding Timeline without a First Look (8 Hours of Photography)

In this timeline, you’ll have your first look when you walk down the aisle at your ceremony. This will give you more time for getting ready shots. However, it’s important that proper coordination happens so that each partner is kept separate during until the ceremony. We don’t want any unexpected first looks here!

  • 2:00 pm - Photographer arrives to capture details getting ready shots
  • 3:00 pm - Partner 1's wedding party portraits
  • 3:30 pm - Partner 2's wedding party portraits
  • 4:30 pm - Ceremony & reception set-ups photographed
  • 5:00 pm - Ceremony begins
  • 5:30 pm - Ceremony ends & cocktail hour begins
  • 5:30 pm - Family portraits
  • 5:45 pm - Couple's portraits
  • 6:30 pm - Reception doors open
  • 6:45 pm - Wedding Party entrance
  • 6:55 pm - Speeches
  • 7:15 pm - First Dance
  • 7:55 pm - Dinner
  • 8:00 pm - Cake Cutting
  • 8:10 pm - Special Dances
  • 8:15 pm - Dance floor opens
  • 10:00 pm - Photography coverage ends

It’s important to note again that both of these timelines assume that your ceremony and reception are being held at the same venue, which means you and your guests do not need to travel to a separate location. If you are hosting your ceremony at, let’s say a church, and your wedding reception is at a different site, make sure to incorporate travel into your timeline.

DC Wedding Planners

I've worked with some great planners and coordinators. You can read more about them in these two articles:

I'm Chris and my mission is to capture bold, modern, and distinctive photos for unconventional couples. I want to make you look epic, awesome, amazing, beautiful, and dapper – all the things you like and none of the things you don’t. Most importantly, I want to capture what makes you you.

If this sounds like you and your partner, I’d love to chat! Please reach out to me regarding availably and pricing. You can also e-mail me at