A Guide For Creating A Perfect Wedding Day Timeline

Jan 10, 2023 | Wedding Tips

Planning for your big day is well underway, if not almost done. Now comes one of the most important things, next to hiring the right vendors. Just a few weeks away from your big day, and you’ll have to start thinking of your wedding timeline. I’m guessing you’ve never done one and you don’t have a very good idea of how long things take during their wedding day.

There are some factors that go into building one, such as:

When is the ceremony going to be?

Doing a first look?

Special exit?

Traveling from getting ready to ceremony or from ceremony to reception?

Split Families?

All these factors play into how much time you need for certain aspects to your timeline. If you’re a Linsey Middleton Photography Bride, I help you build your timeline to make sure not only do you get what you want, but that there is enough time for everything and that you make an educated decision when it comes to deciding if to cut short or move or forgo things.

Whether you have a day of coordinator, or another vendor is helping you with timeline, bellow, you’ll see the estimated times each section takes. This should give you things to consider when it comes to how many hours you need for certain vendors (ie hair/makeup, dj, photographer…)

Getting Ready

Bride and groom getting ready can range between 1 1/2 to 2 hours long.

  • Bride and Groom details (1 hour)
  • Finishing touches of hair and makeup (10 minutes)
  • Mother of the bride and bridesmaids getting dressed (10 minutes)
  • Bride get dressed with mom (30 minutes)
  • Bride first look with bridesmaids or with Father of the Bride (5-10 minutes)
  • First Look with Groom – optional (10-15 minutes)


Depending on what kind of ceremony, they can vary between 15 minutes to 2 hours long

Family Portraits

Family photos usually take place roughly 10 minutes after the the ceremony. Keep in mind, the bigger the family, the more time will be needed. They can range between 20 to 45 minutes

Bridal Party Portraits

Sometimes time allows for the girls and guys to do their group shots before the ceremony, if not, this is the time to do them. Depending on the size of the party, they can run between 20 to 30 minutes.

Bride and Groom

This is one of the most important shots of the wedding day. It’s important to never skimp on having a good amount of time for these. The best time for these shots is at sunset time (roughly 45 minutes before sunset). They can take between 30 to 45 minutes.


It’s party time!!! And smooth sailing usually. Receptions usually consist of dinner, toasts, first dances, cake cutting, garter/bouquet tosses, money dance(optional), and open dancing. Usually once all activities have been completed, your photographer only needs about 30 minutes for the dancing shots. Reception time can be 3 hours or more.

Dinner (1 hour)

Toasts (10-15 min)

First Dances (3 minutes each)

Cake Cutting (5 minutes)

Garter/Bouquet Tosses (5-10 minutes each)

Open Dancing (30+ minutes)

Sample wedding day timeline – 8 hours (no first look)

1:30-2:30 getting ready and details
2:00-2:20 Groom getting ready photos
2:30-2:40 Bride final touches
2:40 Bridesmaids get dressed
2:50-3:20 Bride get dressed
3:30-4:00 Bride and Bridesmaids photos
4:10-4:40 Groom and Groomsmen photos
5:00-5:20 Ceremony
5:30-6:30 Cocktail hour (Noting when sunset is)
5:30-5:50 Family shots
5:55-6:05 Wedding party
6:05-6:30 Bride and Groom sunset shots
6:40-6:45 Grand entrance, Bride and Groom 1st Dance
6:45-7:45 Blessing and dinner
7:30-7:45 toasts
7:50-8:00 Father/daughter dance and Mother/Son dance
8:15-8:20 cake cutting
8:30-8:40 bouquet + garter toss
9:00-9:30 open dancing

Sample wedding day timeline – 8 hours ( with first look)

10:15-11:15 Details
11:20-11:30 Final getting ready
11:50-12:00 head to venue
12:00 Bride and Groom arrive at venue
12:10-12:20 Groom getting ready/details shots
12:10-12:30 Bride get dressed
12:30-12:45 First Look (15 min)
12:50-1:40 Bride + Groom photos
1:45-2:30 Wedding party photos
3:00-3:45 Ceremony
3:45-4:40 Cocktail hour
3:50-4:30 Family photos
4:40 Grand entrance
4:45-4:50 Bride and Groom dance
4:50-5:45 Dinner
5:30-5:45 Toasts
5:50-6:00 Mother/Son + Father/Daughter dances
6:30-6:35 Cake cutting
6:40-6:50 Bouquet Toss
6:50- 7:30 open dance

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When you’re relaxed, having fun, or showing your true love how much you love them, your emotions are authentic and natural. Your photos should capture these natural moments in meaningful ways, without forced smiles and fake poses.