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The Perfect Wedding Timeline if You Are Doing a First Look

By Jada Parrish

Posted: 07/26/19
Category: Wedding Tips

Putting together your wedding timeline can be a little stressful. You might not be sure how much time you realistically need for certain parts of your wedding day, but don't worry we have you covered! 

Here is the perfect wedding timeline if you are having an 8+ hour wedding day and doing a first look.

To simplify things, we will just say the ceremony is scheduled for 5:00pm, but you can adjust accordingly if your ceremony will begin at a different time.


2:00pm: Photography begins

  • Snap a few photos of hair + makeup being done

2:10pm: Begin detail shots

  • I usually start with the wedding dress then I photograph the invitation suite, rings, bouquets, jewelry, shoes, veil, perfume, etc

2:30pm: Bridesmaids get dressed

  • I like to have the bridesmaids get dressed before the bride so that they look nice and can help the bride get dressed

2:40pm: Bride gets dressed

  • I usually have the bride's mother or maid of honor help her into her wedding dress
  • Then I take photos of all the bridesmaids assisting

3:00pm: Start the first look

  • Give the couple a few minutes together to talk, hug, and get some nerves out

3:10pm: Couples portraits

  • We take photos of the bride and groom in several different poses at different spots around the venue

3:30pm: Wedding party photos

  • Take photos of the entire wedding party together

3:45pm: Bridesmaid + Groomsmen Photos

  • David and I split up. David takes photos of the groomsmen while I am taking photos of the bridesmaids

4:00pm: Finish all Photos

  • Wedding party returns to the bridal suite for last minute touchups and a few minutes to relax
  • David and I photograph the untouched ceremony setup before guests arrive

4:30pm: Guests begin to arrive

  • David and I photograph guests entering and get in place for the ceremony

5:00pm: Ceremony begins

  • Most ceremonies last about 30 minutes
  • We will discretely photograph the entire time

5:30pm: Ceremony ends

  • Bride + groom exit
  • Wedding party + family exit
  • Make sure all family + wedding party + bride and groom head to a secluded location when they exit that is away from the wedding guests
  • Do not let members of the family or wedding party wander off

5:35pm: Guests head to cocktail hour

  • It is best to create a separate space for cocktail hour that is different than the reception space

5:40pm: Start family photos

  • We will begin formal photos with your immediate family and grandparents (if you have any photos with friends or extended family you want taken, we can take those during the reception) 
  • We will take all photos you have requested on your family photo shot list

5:55pm: A few more couples portraits

  • We will spend about 10 more minutes taking photos of the two of you once you are officially MARRIED!

6:05pm: Bride + Groom head to cocktail hour

  • Eat, drink, have a good time, and mingle with guests
  • David and I will head into the reception and photograph the untouched reception setup before guests enter

6:35pm: Guests enter the reception and take their seats

  • Wedding party is introduced
  • Bride + Groom are introduced

6:45pm: Bride + Groom share their first dance

  • Father/Daughter + Mother/Son dances ----- you can choose to do these later in the evening, it is just my personal preference to do them at the beginning
  • Welcome Toast AND/OR blessing

6:55pm: Dinner

  • Depending on if you are having a plated, buffet style, or family style dinner - the timing of dinner will vary

7:45pm: Toasts begin

  • Usually the Father of the Bride, Maid of Honor, or Best Man give a toast

8:00pm: Cake cutting

8:05pm: Dance floor opens

  • If you are planning to do a bouquet/garter toss, you can do it at any point after the dance floor has opened
  • If you have any large photos you would like with friends or extended family (EX: Everyone who went to UVA), have the band or DJ announce it at a time they think is appropriate

9:00pm: Late night snacks

  • If you plan on serving any late night snacks like sliders, tacos, pizza, etc. this is the perfect time

9:30pm: Last call for alcohol

9:45pm: Last dance 

  • Start the last dance a few minutes early to avoid running overtime with your photographer, videographer, and other vendors. It takes guests much longer than you'd think to gather their belongings and line up for a send-off

10:00pm: Send-off

  • Have fun with your send off! Consider doing sparklers, glow sticks, streamers, bubbles, or rose petals
  • Make sure to walk through the send off. Stop in the middle and at the end for big kisses - these make great photo ops!


Category: Wedding Tips

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First LookWedding TimelineWedding PhotographyHow To Create A Wedding TimelineCharlottesville Wedding PhotographerRichmond Wedding Photographer