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Stress Free Wedding Photography Timeline

Pre-planning your wedding photography timeline is the key to having a stress free wedding day experience. As an experienced wedding photographer, we have found that the following timeline is ideal for any couple having a traditional wedding day.

Wedding Photography Timeline

There may be exceptions to these recommendations as little additions and events can add up and take more time. The following is the minimum recommendation for us to capture everything that is traditionally wanted and gives you the space to not stress about about time and completely enjoy your wedding day.

Details & Accessories: 30 Minutes

Arriving to a clean hotel or getting ready room, the wedding photographer can easily photograph the bride and groom’s wedding details.

Tip: Gather all the details in one area and cut off any tags the night before.

List of Bridal Details to Photograph:

  • Wedding Dress & Hanger
  • Veil & Hair Accessories
  • Shoes
  • Both Wedding Bands & Engagement Ring
  • Ring Box
  • Two Sets of Invitations
  • Earrings
  • Bracelet
  • Garter
  • Bouquet
  • Vow Book
  • Perfume
Wedding Bridal Details

List of Groom Details to Photograph:

  • Suit
  • Cufflinks
  • Shoes
  • Cologne
  • Watch
  • Tie, Necktie or Bow Tie
  • Belt
  • Boutineer
  • Vow Book
  • Suspenders
  • Socks (if special)
  • Pocket Square
Groom Wedding Details

Getting Ready: 1 Hour

By the time we are done photographing the details, we like to photograph the bride getting final touches done to her makeup and hair.


What should I get done first? Wedding Hair or Makeup?

Hair first. If your hair stylist is using heating tools, we don’t want you sweating your makeup off!

Getting Ready Outfits, Confetti & Champagne!

Whether it’s robes, PJs, or button plaid oversized shirts, let’s not forget to make room in the wedding photography timeline for cute pictures with your girlfriends. This would be the perfect time to pop some champagne or confetti!

Bridal Party Getting Ready Outfits

Stepping into the Dress

It is at this time where we will need whoever is helping you get into your wedding dress ready and dressed (ie: Mom and/or Maid of Honor). The rest of the bridesmaids can get ready in another room or part of the getting ready area. Once everything is on, if there is any gift and/or letter exchange, we would recommend reading/opening it at this time.

Bride Getting Ready with Mom

First Look: 30 Minutes

Your wedding day is going to be filled with your wedding guests coming up to both, hugging, and making congratulatory conversations. Having a first look gives who you HUGE advantages: time alone, calming your nerves, capture bride and groom portraits, and the opportunity to capture family portraits before the ceremony so that you can enjoy cocktail hour with your guests. Our couples have had no regrets to having a first look.

Bride and Groom First Look

Wedding Party Portraits: 30 Minutes

This is moment to take group and individual portraits with your besties! Photos you and they will be posting on each other’s birthdays and friendversary.

Wedding Party Celebration Toss

Family Portraits: 30 Minutes

Wedding Family Portrait

If you have ever attended a wedding as a guest where the family portraits were taken after the ceremony, then you would probably say that that was the most boring part of the wedding day.

From a couples’ perspective: here you are, just married, and now you have to stand in a single spot for 30-40 minutes to smile at a camera. Draining right? Well let’s knock that out before the ceremony! Not only will your family thank you that they get to go to the bar faster, but they will be grateful with how fast our family speed posing system is.

Ceremony: 30 – 60 Minutes

So the time here would depend on if you are having a religious ceremony or not. Majority of the time, we find that the wedding ceremony lasts 30 mins for a traditional wedding and 60 minutes for a Catholic mass wedding. It is best to schedule the ceremony start time, 90 minutes before sunset.

Wedding Ceremony Recessional

Reception Wedding Photography Timeline

Cocktail Hour: 1 Hour

Right after the ceremony give your guests a full hour to relax, go to the bar and grab a drink, and meet with new friends and family.

Husband & Wife Portraits: 30 Minutes

Right after the ceremony, we will sneak you out to a private area for your husband and wife portraits. The golden hour will be perfect and will make you glow as much as you will be as newly weds.


Reception Details: 30 Minutes

After your portraits, you can join your guests at cocktail hour while we will head over to your reception area to capture the space and details. You put so much time and effort in planning your wedding details. It is important to make room in your wedding photography timeline to capture your beautiful reception before your guests come in with their bags and mess it all up! haha!

Wedding Reception Table Details

Grand Entrance: 15 Minutes

From here, we as photographers allow the DJ and/or MC to take over the wedding photographer timeline. The hard part is over and now it’s time to just have fun!

Wedding Reception Grand Entrance

Dinner: 1 Hour

We find that one hour gives you enough time to eat and mingle a little bit with your guests before the reception events begin. The wedding photography team will step aside and usually take a break at this time.

Speeches & Toasts: 25 Minutes

The timing of speeches & toasts is dependant on the number of people speaking. Traditionally, the bride and groom asks their Best Man, Maid of Honor, Father of the Bride and Father of the Groom to speak. If you give each speaker a 5 minute maximum, it will give the speaker enough time to say everything that they want to say while keeping the flow of the reception moving and your guests still engaged. At the end of all the speeches, you as the bride and groom can give a speech to thank your family and friends for being a part of your special day.

Bride Groom Wedding Speech

Cake Cutting: 10 Minutes

While you have everyone’s attention, the MC can make the announcement for the cake cutting. We would recommend having the cake and dessert table be close to the dance floor so that if it is far from the reception tables, this event forces your guests to move closer to the dance floor.

Simple Floral Wedding Cake Cutting

First Dance: 10 Minutes

And since you are close to the dance floor, this would be the perfect transition to having your first dance as husband and wife! Now, we don’t expect you to dance to a 10 minute song (unless you want to – that is totally cool!), but this does add buffer time in case there is a delay or need for moving from one spot to another.

Husband and wife first dance

Special Dances: 10 Minutes

After the first dance and for about 5 minutes each, the father daughter dance and mother son dance would be best after the first dance.

Father daughter dance wedding reception

Bouquet & Garter Toss: 15 Minutes

Rather than opening the dance floor and risk ruining the party mood or people leaving the wedding early, this would be the best time to have the bouquet and garter toss.

Garter Removal & Toss

Open Dancing: 1-3 Hours

We like to say that the longer we are there photographing, the more blackmail you are going to have later of your friends!

Wedding Reception Open Dancing Group

Grand Exit: 15 Minutes

If you decide to have a grand exit at night, we would recommend sparklers, streamers, biodegradable confetti, or glow sticks to send you off!

Sparkler Exit on Wedding Day

Sample Wedding Photography Timeline

12:00 PM Photographer Arrives & Shoots Details
12:30 PM Getting Ready Photo of Bride & Groom
1:30 PM First Look
2:00 PM Wedding Party
2:30 PM Family Portraits
3:30 PM Ceremony
4:00 PM Cocktail Hour & Husband + Wife Portraits
4:30 PM Reception Details
5:00 PM Grand Entrance
5:15 PM Dinner
6:15 PM Speeches & Toasts
6:40 PM Cake Cutting
6:50 PM First Dance
7:00 PM Special Dances
7:10 PM Bouquet & Garter Toss
7:25 PM Open Dancing
10:30 PM Grand Exit

We masters at creating a smooth and stress free wedding photography timeline. With every couple we get the honor to photograph their wedding day, we want to love and serve you the way we would want our photographers to serve us.

Contact us to today to see if we are available for your wedding day! We cannot to hear from you.

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Fine art Film DC WEDDING & PORTRAIT Photographer

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