Wedding Photography Timeline | Ideal Times For Planning Your Wedding Day Photography Timeline

Below you’ll find ideal timeframes that you can use as a guide for planning a more tailored wedding photography timeline for your big day.

There are a lot of factors that go into planning a wedding. One of the biggest factors in determining the best wedding photography timeline is the culture or religion guiding the ceremonial traditions included in the big day. This can make it tricky to provide a one-size-fits-all timeline template. In fact, there really is no one-size-fits all timeline. This is why we recommend having a one on one with your photographer. You can work together to completely customize your wedding photography timeline. Below you’ll find ideal timeframes that you can use as a guide for planning your tailored wedding photography timeline. While some of the timeframes we’ve included may seem a bit much, please keep the following things in mind:

  • You’ll have so much fun during your photo sessions with us that you won’t even notice the time!
  • There will be so many things happening that the day will be done in a snap. You’ll likely wonder where the time went.
  • It’s typical for weddings to run slightly behind schedule and some run WAY behind schedule. You’ll want to pad your timeline with extra time to account for this. If the day runs on time and smoothly, we can use the extra time to get more artistic images. You can also use the extra time to snack or take a break.
  • Amazing images take time!

It's All In The Details! | We’re talking Rings, Dress, Shoes, Special Socks - Anything Special to your Wedding or your Love story!

Ideal Time Frame – 30 minutes
Preferred Time of Day – Morning
Ideal Location – Bridal Suite or Hotel Suite

We recommend dedicating a minimum of 30 minutes in your wedding photography timeline for all of your details. This will ensure that we have plenty of time to get the perfect photo of the day’s details. This includes the dress, rings, shoes, bouquets, and other important details.

Pro Tip: Make sure to have all of your details together in one location for you photographer. This is a great job for your maid of honor and best man! This will guarantee that we have everything and can get started right away. The goal is to reduce the time it takes to gather everything and have more time to setup the shots!

We know you can’t always control your surroundings. The location for the detail shots can be crowded, cluttered, or all together unappealing. If this happens, we may have to take your dress and other details to another location (on-site). This may take more time but will be so worth it in the end.

Getting Ready | Preparation

Ideal Time Frame – 60 minutes
Preferred Time of Day – Morning or Early Afternoon
Ideal Location – Bridal Suite or Hotel Suite

Ideally, you want to plan for at least an hour for the getting ready photos. This is the time of the day where we get up close and personal and capture those portrait shots as hair and makeup are being applied, along with candid moments as they occur. We also capture the bridal party getting ready for the day. Remember these moments will be charged with energy and emotion! You definitely want to add a little cushion to this part of the timeline in case there are any last minute touches that need to be added for hair and makeup before getting the group together or doing your dress shots. We suggest at least a 60 minute time frame.

Your Lead shooter will be with the bride while the second shooter will be with the groom. When you book with us, we are both Lead shooters. Typically, Ashley will be with the bride during this time of day and I (Erik) will be with the groom. It may not take the groom and groomsmen an hour to get ready. That extra time is a great opportunity to capture fun moments between the groom and his friends.

Individual Portraits

Ideal Time Frame – 30 minutes
Preferred Time of Day – Morning or Early Afternoon
Ideal Location – Bridal Suite, Hotel Suite, Venue Lobby, or Venue Garden

At this point we like to take the bride and groom for their individual portraits. Just make sure to plan separate locations. Your hair and makeup is fresh. You still have that fun high from hanging out with your best friends for the last couple of hours. Plus, we can take advantage of the calm before the whirl of festivities.

Pro Tip: Photos taken by the hotel window, with the soft natural light shining in creates a gorgeous ethereal look. You’ll be hard pressed to get that again at any point the rest of the day. This is a great place to start the individual bridal portraits, you’ll thank me later!

First Look and Daytime Couples Session

Ideal Time Frame – 45-60 minutes
Preferred Time of Day – Morning or Early Afternoon
Ideal Location – Venue Garden, Empty Venue Hallway (Think shaded areas with natural light and open skies)

There are so many reasons why a first look is a good idea to have during your day. More on that in another article! The first look should take between 45-60 minutes. This is when we’d capture the bride and groom seeing each other for this first time on the wedding day in a more intimate and private setting. PS. He is far more likely to cry when there are less people around than in front of everyone during the ceremony, just throwing that out there, you didn’t hear it from me 😉. This is one of the reasons we absolutely love building a first look into the wedding photography timeline! The actual first look will last only 5-10 minutes. The rest of the time will be spent on a few basic portraits of the bride and groom.

Ideally, we will save the bulk of the couple’s session for later during Golden Hour (more on that below)! However, if the rest of the day is packed and there is no time during the rest of the day, make sure to allocate another 45 minutes to an hour here. This way we can capture enough photos of just the two of you.

Wedding Party Photos

Ideal Time Frame – 45-60 minutes
Preferred Time of Day – Morning or Afternoon
Ideal Location – Venue Lobby, Venue Garden, Beach, Park, Off-site location (Think shaded areas with natural light and open skies)

Wedding Party photos can take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour. Towards the beginning of the wedding party session, we’ll focus on getting the basic portraits. Our primary goal here is  getting the right expressions while covering a variety of poses.

Once we’ve covered all our bases for the traditional photos, then we can move on to fun and creative shots! Finally, we want to make sure to get pictures with you and each of your bridesmaids or groomsmen individually. After all they did say yes, and we know how much they mean to you.

Immediate Family

Ideal Time Frame – 30-45 minutes
Preferred Time of Day – Morning or Afternoon
Ideal Location – Venue Lobby, Venue Garden, Beach, Park, Off-site location (Think shaded areas with natural light and open skies)

Plan for another 45 minutes for Immediate Family Photos. Your family is growing, and these images are the ones that will be passed down for generations. After you get the basic formals, you’ll want images with your parents, grandparents and siblings that really show off the family personality!

Pro Tip: Plan on 3-5 minutes per group on average depending on group size. For example, if you have 10 groups, schedule a 30-50 minute time slot.

Your wedding day means as much to your family as it does to you! We want to make sure we have plenty of time to capture those keepsake photos with and for them.

Ceremony Detail and Venue

Ideal Time Frame –30 minutes
Preferred Time of Day – Morning or Afternoon
Ideal Location – Ceremony Site

With everything set and the vendors cleared, the second shooter will take about 30 minutes to photograph the ceremony site. We want to capture all the details before guests arrive for a picture-perfect scene!

Formals (Extended Family, Immediate Family, and Friends)

Ideal Time Frame – 45-60 minutes
Preferred Time of Day – Morning or Afternoon (Post Ceremony)
Ideal Location – Ceremony Site

Formals can vary greatly depending on family size and the number of guests. Plan on allocating around 45 minutes to an hour of your wedding photography timeline for formals.

Pro Tip: Plan on 3-5 minutes per group on average depending on group size. For example, if you have 10 groups, schedule a 30-50 minute time slot.

We’ve had couples decide to take pictures with all guests. We’ve also had others have decided that they only wanted pictures with their VIPs to save time. We recommend something in-between.

We also recommend being prepared and organized. During our consultations and meetings leading up to the wedding we will help you come up with an organized list of groups and helpers from each side of the family to help round people up. This will save a lot of time and help keep you on schedule.

Couples Session

Ideal Time Frame – 60 minutes
Preferred Time of Day – Late Afternoon (Sunset)
Ideal Location – Venue Garden, Beach, Hotel Lobby, Park

You definitely want to give yourselves about an hour for the post-ceremony couple’s photos. These are your first photos as husband and wife, after all! Ideally, this should coincide with sunset, starting the session about 30-45 minutes before the sun dips below the horizon. 

The lighting you get during this time of day is so pleasing to the eye and will allow us to capture awesome scenic shots with colorful skies! If your wedding happens to be taking place in a more urban area with tall buildings blocking the sky, then it’s okay to deviate from this timeline a bit, if necessary.

Pro Tip: If you booked your venue because you have your heart set on capturing your photos with a specific view in mind, it is essential to follow this advice in your wedding photography timeline.

Reception Detail and Venue

Ideal Time Frame – 30 minutes
Preferred Time of Day – Early Evening
Ideal Location – Reception Site

Please allow 30 minutes for the second shooter to take pictures of the ceremony site. This means everything is completely set up (picture perfect) with no guests or vendors in the area.

We know how much thought goes into all of the details that help create the overall experience for you and your guests and we want to give them the attention they deserve!

Reception First Look

Ideal Time Frame – 10-15 minutes
Preferred Time of Day – At the end of Cocktail Hour before doors open to guests
Ideal Location – Reception Site

This is when you finally get to see your vision and all you’re planning come to life! We want to capture the reactions and expressions right as they happen. From there you can make your way to the dance floor for a moment alone together to enjoy the scene. This is also a great chance to practice for your first dance.

Couples Session – Reception Sneak Out

Ideal Time Frame – 20-30 minutes
Preferred Time of Day – Dusk to Nighttime
Ideal Location – Areas with interesting lights, fountains, fireworks, cityscapes, and mirrors.

If you want those spectacular nighttime photos, please plan on sneaking out for some night shots during the reception. We only need 20-30 minutes. We understand the importance of being a good host and you want to enjoy the celebration. The ideal time for this would be after you’ve had something to eat or if you need a break from dancing after all your guests have joined in on the floor.  You could also plan to get these shots at the very end of the night once all the guests have departed, if you would prefer to be present for the entirety of the celebration.

Table Shots!

Ideal Time Frame – varies depending on amount of tables
Preferred Time of Day – After Grand Entrance before Food is served
Ideal Location – Reception Site

Table shots are when you go around visiting the tables. One options is taking formal pictures with each table. Alternatively, we can focus on capturing candid moments as you greet and interact with your guests at their tables. If you decide to do formal table shots, be mindful that these will take about 3-5 minutes per table. For example, 10 tables would require 30-50 minutes.

Grand Sparkler/Flower/Confetti Exit

Ideal Time Frame – 20-30 minutes
Preferred Time of Day – After Open Dancing
Ideal Location – Venue Driveway, areas with interesting lights, fountains, fireworks, cityscapes

The exit itself will only take a few minutes. Please allow 10-15 minutes to setup for the grand exit. Pause at the end of the exit for a dip/kiss/etc. with everyone standing behind the couple!


The only point we want to touch on for factoring travel into your wedding photography timeline is padding. Make sure to pad extra time into any travel that is required.

That 20 minute drive from the hotel to the venue can easily turn into a 45 minute ordeal. Especially if there is traffic or road work. That 5 minute walk you calculated from your hotel room to the beautiful garden with the water fountain where you want your portraits taken can turn into a 10 minute walk when you’re in your full wedding gown with heels on.

If you pad in extra time into travel, you’ll be covered if any of these things happen. If the stars line up and nothing happens you can use the time for a snack, break, or more images.

Get Your Photographer Involved As Soon as Possible!

Make sure to get your photographer involved in helping with planning out your timeline as soon as possible. They will be able to help you custom tailor a timeline that fits your vision for wedding photography. We’ve found that the day runs more smoothly when we bring up the wedding timeline as soon as a client books with us. Keeping these points in mind make sure to ask your photographer any questions that may come up. Remember these times may vary depending on your vision.

We hope you found this timeline planning guide helpful and that you feel more prepared to plan your big day! We wish you the best of luck on your wedding day!

Was this guide exactly what you were looking for? Did we miss something that you have questions on? Please let us know in the comments section down below!

Be sure to check out our Wedding Planning Resources page for more tips and insights for planning your big day.

About Ashley and Erik Photography


We are a family of like-minded creatives in Miami serving South Florida and various destinations, who wish to be a spark in the lives of the clients and families we serve. We are dedicated to loving and serving our clients as if they were our own family, and elegantly preserving their stories to be shared with future generations. We’d love to grab a coffee with you and discuss any questions you have about our Wedding Photography Experience. Please feel free to contact us anytime.

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on email

Wedding and Engagement Photography

South Florida & all destination weddings



error: Content is protected !!