Creating a Wedding day timeline | NJ wedding photographer | South New Jersey Wedding Photographer


Wedding day Timeline

Creating a Wedding timeline is so important!!

Creating a wedding timeline. One of the things that I include in every wedding package is custom timeline creation. Sometimes putting together all the pieces to the puzzle can be challenging and other times they fit together very nicely. During our first meeting we usually go over the general timeline. I like to make sure that your plans fit perfectly into the package that you have chosen. Sometimes we find out after breaking down all the sections of the day we may need more time or have just enough.

Always keep your timeline in mind

When you are in the planning stages it is important to keep the timeline in mind. There are a couple of key times during the day that may need extra planning and keeping the general timeline we created it makes finalizing everything much easier.
Two weeks before the wedding date I sit down with my couples and do a detailed timeline. We discuss every detail of the day and put into the timeline. During your planning, I am available to help decide if an idea or time for an event will work well for photos. Please contact me with any questions or concerns.

Where do you start and what are those key times during the day that need to be planned carefully? Let’s go through a sample timeline for an 8-hour wedding.

Arrival time:

I am usually a little early and like to use that time to just get some shots of locations. If it is a venue I haven’t worked at before I like to try and visit before the wedding day so I will have already scouted out locations and see where everything will be taking place. This is the time I use to get details of the dress, rings, venue, cake, flowers, etc. Ideally, a good 45 mins would be enough time.

Getting ready:

After getting all those details photographed I will start to get the getting ready shots of the bride and bridesmaids. If the guys are in the same location I will go back and forth to get shots of them. If the guys are in a different location and no second photographer has been hired, I meet them about 30 mins before the ceremony at the ceremony location.
Ideally 2 hours would be perfect for this time. I would then need a 30 min cushion time after the getting ready shots to change batteries, sd cards, take pics of the ceremony site, meet with officiant, and get pictures of guests arriving. So in a general timeline budgeting, 3 hours for these events would be great. If a first look is going to take place we would need an additional hour added on to this part of the timeline.

**travel time to locations would have to be factored in if you are getting ready at a different location from where the ceremony is going to be.

Ceremony Time:

Average ceremonies are about 2o mins. I have seen some very quick ones and church ceremonies that can last an hour. To have extra cushion time I like to budget an hour for this time. If the ceremony is only 20 mins it gives us more time to do family and bridal photos or travel time can be built into this hour.
At this point, we have used 4 hours. The next part of the timeline is where it can get very tight and I want to make sure that we have all the time needed so I get the photos you have dreamed of.

Family, Bridal Party, Bridal couple photos:

When the ceremony and reception are at the same venue the reception will start directly after the cocktail hour. Usually, that isn’t a problem, but when the cocktail hour starts directly after the end of the ceremony we only have 1 hour to get family photos and beautiful wedding couple photos.

detailed family photo list

When this is the plan I stress that we work on a detailed family photo list and have a dedicated person to help group family members. This part of the day can take up 30 mins of your hour. That only leaves 30 mins of dedicated time to get photos of the bridal couple. Oh….and I forgot to mention photos of the bridal party! I do like to encourage doing the first look when the timeline only allows an hour after the ceremony. Not only does it give the couple a special time to enjoy each other with no one else around it also will take away the stress of this hour.

relaxed gorgeous photos

We can also do some family photos and bridal party shots. Then after the ceremony we only have to do some family photos, get a couple more shots of the bridal couple and then they can be relaxed and enjoy some of their cocktail hours. For a general timeline budget an hour unless you have the ability to have the reception start at a different time. Ideally 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours in between would be ideal for family photos, bridal party and bridal couple photos. Creating a wedding timeline will definitely help with this part of the day.

**please keep the timeline in mind if travel has to happen between ceremony and reception venue. That travel time plus the 1 – 1 1/2 hours for photos has to be factored in.


Usually this time of the day I will work with the venues and DJ/Band timelines. Having 2 hours to 3 hours to capture all the reception happenings is best. Most of the important things happen at the beginning of the reception. Introductions, first dance, parent dances, toasts, and cake cutting. If you have any special activities planned that you would like photographed please make sure the DJ/entertainment knows.  That way they can plan for them in the time that I will be there.

Make sure you tell the DJ/entertainment that your photographer is there until a certain time. They will plan on getting all the important details in before I leave. If they feel there isn’t enough time or if you want to do an exit ( sparklers) you will need to add an hour or two to your package. I have done sparkler exits before the actual end of the reception so that can be an option too.

**Keep in mind if you are doing a first look the reception coverage will be less because we added an hour to the beginning of the timeline.

Having all your dream photos

Whew….it is a lot of thinking and planning to get all those pieces to fit together. These are helpful tips for creating a wedding timeline. My job is to help you plan so that I am able to get all of the photos you want. If the timeline isn’t going to work for certain photos I will be upfront and tell you that. I don’t want you to be disappointed when photos you have dreamed of just don’t happen because of time.  By planning using your general timeline and working with the ideal times needed for each part of the day that should not happen. The easiest time to do that is when all the initial plans are being made. I am available to help at any time. As I said, I want to make sure that I can get all the photos that you have dreamed of!

arrival photos: (45 mins – 1 hour of the timeline)

detail photos and getting ready: (2-3 hours of time)


 First Look: (an extra hour of photo time added to beginning of timeline)

Ceremony ( 1 Hour)

 Family, Bridal party, and Bridal Couple photos: (Ideal time would be 1 1/2 hours)

Reception: ( 2-3 hours in timeline)

At the end of the day my bridal couples are glad that they don’t have to worry about the timeline.  I will keep it with me and do my best to keep the day flowing like we planned. It will be a beautiful day regardless of what happens.  It is your wedding day and the day will be all that you dreamed because your dream will have come true!


Venues featured:

The Carriage House, Galloway, NJ

Running Deer Golf Course, Pittsgrove, NJ

Blue Heron Pines Golf Club, Galloway Twp, NJ

  1. Fantastic tips! I found myself, as a wedding photographer, even taking notes! Thanks for sharing!!

  2. Jennifer says:

    Thank you for this information! It’s super helpful 🙂

  3. Susan Lopes says:

    great tips…

  4. Great tips on creating a timeline! So important for brides. 😊

  5. Jen says:

    Awesome! Such good information here! Perfect for making the day go smoothly!

  6. What an informative post. So wise to help couples understand how long things take to photograph, too!

leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *