4 Real Wedding Day Photography Timelines | Sydney Marie Photography

I constantly get asked from couples how much photography coverage am I going to need? Creating a wedding day timeline can be one of the most stressful part of planning - but it doesn’t have to be! Unless you’ve been in a wedding, you probably haven’t paid much attention to the little details that a timeline has. As your photographer, I want to help you as much as I can in creating a timeline that works for you and keeps the day flowing. We’ll be going over a few tips to build your timeline as well as four actual wedding day timelines that you can look over and compare.


When couples book me for their wedding date, they don’t have much of a timeline set up and that’s totally okay! Once you have your venue(s) set, they should give you at least two times that will help us get an idea of how much coverage you’ll need. Those two times would be when you can get in the venue and when you must be out by. It’s a bonus if you have the ceremony and/or dinner time, but they aren’t necessary for a bare minimum timeline.

Most of my couples book an 8 or 10 hour package for wedding photography. But what does that look like? An 8 hour wedding day gives you a little bit of getting ready and a little bit of dancing, depending on how much time is between the ceremony and reception start time. A 10 hour wedding is a bit more relaxed, giving you the option for more getting ready and reception coverage. I do suggest the 10 hour package to couples who are having a good 2-3 hours between their ceremony and reception or have a lot of travel between locations.

When creating a full timeline, I base it off of key events that happen throughout the day: the ceremony, reception/dinner, first look, wedding party portraits, couples portraits and family photos. I schedule each key event of the day, then fit them together to create the final timeline with travel and buffer time added in.

Tip: When creating your timeline, start with the parts of the day that are already set in stone and work out from there. They will determine where the rest of the timeline will fall.

A big part of creating your wedding day timeline is deciding if you want to do a first look or not. If you aren’t familiar with the concept, the first look is a photographed moment where the couple sees each other in a semi-private setting before the ceremony. The benefits range from feeling less stressed and nervous, having wedding party and family photos before the ceremony so you can enjoy cocktail hour and more photos of the two of you.


Here are two REAL 10 hour wedding timelines from past weddings I’ve photographed. Both weddings opted not to have a first look, so all formal portraits are after the ceremony. The first timeline had quite a bit of time between the ceremony and reception for portraits whereas the second timeline has portraits split up to include sunset photos and an earlier reception.

Timeline 1:

11:00 AM: Photographer Arrives for getting ready photos at hotel

11:20 AM: Partner 1 leaves for Church

11:45 AM: Partner 2 leaves for Church

12:30 PM: Partner 2 and dad first look at Church

12:50 PM: Wedding party lined up

1:00 PM: Wedding Processional Begins

1:40 PM: Family Formal Portraits

2:45 PM: Get on Party Bus

3:00 PM: Wedding Party Photos

5:00 PM: Cocktail Hour & Appetizers

5:30 PM: Wedding Party arrives at Reception

6:00 PM: Bar Closes, Wedding Party Introductions

6:15 PM: Cut Cake, Take seats

6:20 PM: Speeches

6:55 PM: Dinner Served

7:20 PM: Formal Dances

7:40 PM: Open Dancing

9:00 PM: Photographer Done


Timeline 2:

12:00pm: Photographer arrives at venue for detail photos

12:30pm: Partner 1 getting ready photos

2:00pm: Partner 2 getting ready photos

2:45pm: Wedding party arrive at venue

3:15pm: Wedding party line up

3:30pm: Ceremony

4:00pm: Cocktail hour

4:00pm: Family photos

4:30pm: Wedding party photos

5:15pm: Wedding party announced

5:30pm: Speeches

5:45pm: Dinner

6:30pm: Cake Cutting

6:45pm: First dance begins, with formal dances to follow

7:15pm: Open dancing

8:00pm: Couples sunset portraits

9:00pm: Sparkler “exit”

10:00pm: Photographer leaves


The next two times are both real 8 hour weddings, both with a first look. Timeline 3 has all formal photos before the ceremony whereas Timeline 4 only has wedding party and couples photos before the ceremony with family photos being afterwards.

Timeline 3:

1:00PM: Photographer arrives

1:30PM: Getting ready photos

2:00PM: First Look/couple portraits

2:30PM: Wedding Party/Family Photos

4:00PM: Relax before ceremony, last minute touch ups.

4:30PM: Ceremony

5:00PM: Cocktail Hour/Meet and Greet on 2nd floor

6:00PM: Move to reception space

6:15PM: Intros

6:30PM: Speeches and Grace

7:00PM: Dinner

7:45PM: Cake Cutting

8:00PM: Formal Dances

8:15PM: Open Dance

8:45PM: Sunset couples photos

9:00PM: Photographer wrap up

Timeline 4:

12:45pm: Photographer arrives 

12:50pm: Detail photos of ceremony venue

1:00pm: Partner 1 getting dressed photos

1:10pm: First look in greenhouse w/ couples portraits

1:30pm: Wedding party pictures in greenhouse

2:25pm: Relax/freshen up before ceremony

3:00pm: Ceremony

3:30pm: Receiving line

4:00pm: Family pictures

5:15pm: Wedding party announced

5:30pm: Dinner

6:30pm: Toasts (after dinner)

6:45pm: Cake cutting

7:00pm: Formal dances

7:20pm: Open dancing

8:30pm: Night couples portraits

8:45pm: Photographer leaves

Planning out your wedding day timeline isn’t as daunting as it might seem. Leave some wiggle room in your schedule for travel and in case something runs a little late. Chat with your vendors, especially your photographer to create the perfect wedding day timeline that is going to get you the photos that you want.