Sample Wedding Day Timeline | Seattle Wedding Photographer Janet Lin Photography
A well organized timeline is truly the key to a stress-free day AND beautiful images. Most of the couples I work with partner with a seasoned wedding planner. Your wedding planner is your absolute best resource when it comes to the logistics of your wedding day. They will work closely with you to create a wedding day timeline that suits your unique needs and preferences and that covers each moment of the day, from coordinating vendor arrival and departure times, deliveries, and so much more. They are the mastermind behind your wedding day and their insight is absolutely invaluable. So before reading any further, please remember – always defer to your wedding planner and their guidance as they are an INVALUABLE resource. With all that said, I love to provide a sample wedding day timeline that is based on photography services only, to give couples an idea of what to expect and share the basic timeline needs for efficient and all-encompassing wedding photography experience.
This timeline has been created with a hypothetical 5:30pm ceremony time on a day where the sun sets at approximately 7:30pm. If your ceremony will take place in an area that is afforded some shade from harsh light or indoors, you might consider an earlier ceremony. If it’s going to be in direct sunlight in a very bright area, I would suggest we push it back to be a little later. Generally we aim for the ceremony to take place 2-3 hours before sunset time, and for sunset photos to take place 1 hour prior to sunset, although again, your planner will be able to help you determine the best timing based on the remaining needs of your wedding day.
During this portion of the day, the couple is generally “getting ready.” The photography team is documenting important heirloom details; your stationery and paper goods, shoes, dress, jewelry, etc.
1:30-2:30 Preparation/Getting Ready
The finishing touches of your hair and make up application may be photographed, those anticipatory moments in the getting ready room with your wedding party, and the couple getting into their wedding attire.
2:45-3:45 First Look and Couples Portraits
During this coveted part of the day we will photograph the moment you see each other for the first time on the wedding day, followed by portraits of the two of you together.
3:45-4:15 Wedding Party Portraits
This is a fun part of the day with your wedding party for group photos and photos of you individually with each of those significant people you’ve chosen to stand by your side today.
4:15-4:45 Family Portraits
Your immediately family (grandparents, parents, siblings) will meet with you at this time for formal family group photographs.
4:45-5:30 Couple in Hiding
At this time the couple will take a break to freshen up, have a snack and hydrate as guests are arriving for the ceremony. The photography team will be photographing ceremony and reception details and guest arrivals.
5:30-6:00 Ceremony followed by Cocktail Hour
The moment everyone has been waiting for, your wedding day ceremony! Most ceremonies are 30 minutes or less, however, for longer or more traditional ceremonies the timeline will need to be adjusted.
6:00-6:30 Sunset Portraits for the Couple
Arguably one of the most-loved portions of the wedding day by photographer and couple alike; sunset portraits happen later in the day when the sun is lower and the light is romantic and golden. These photos will differ from the portraits taken earlier in the day and will probably be among the ones you cherish most. It is such a welcomed opportunity for the couple to retreat alone together away from the excitement of the day and celebrate after the ceremony.
6:30-7:00 Couple joins Cocktail Hour
Join your guests and celebrate! The photography team will be photographing the cocktail hour; drinks, bites, and guests as they interact and enjoy this celebratory time.
7:00 Reception Begins
During the wedding reception we will be photographing both candid and artistic moments as they unfold while you enjoy your guests and experience. While the couple is eating dinner, the photography team generally also breaks for dinner. Some couples choose to have toasts, a champagne tower, or a cake cutting. Whatever special moments you have planned for your reception will be photographed. Some couples prefer to skip those traditions and simply love to enjoy an extended meal and time with their guests!
8:30 “First Dance” & Special Dances
This is the time for your first dance as a married couple, and any other special dances you have planned (for example, father-daughter, mother-son, etc.)
9:00 Party Continues!
Unless you’ve opted for extended photography coverage to have your grand exit photographed, the photography team will generally depart shortly after the reception dancing has commenced.
If you’ve made it this far you might be thinking, “that’s a lot!” The truth is, it IS a lot! A wedding day can feel long and exhausting for couples if the right safeguards are not in place to protect your time and ensure that having a memorable and enjoyable experience is prioritized above all else. As your wedding photographer, my goal is to make photography feel easy (not like a chore to be checked off a list) and to work efficiently. My #1 goal is for you to love your wedding day, and you can count on me to design a photography experience that achieves that goal.
Featuring weddings with Harlow Events at the Admiral’s House, Luxe Productions at Waverley Country Club, Simply by Tamara Nicole at Port Gamble Weddings, Willow & Ivy Events at Monet Vineyards, and Events by Genevieve.