• Anna Behning

How to create your wedding day timeline

Article by: Anna Behning

March 31, 2022

There are a few things that every couple needs to think about while creating their wedding day timeline and I'm here to share all of my best tips. Have questions about your timeline? Send me an email or instagram DM. Scroll all the way through this article to download a mock timeline!

1. First up: Are you doing a first look? It is very common for couples to do a first look before the ceremony. However, some couples want to wait for the ceremony to see each other for the first time. Whether you choose to do a first look or not, here's what you need to know:

Wedding photography first look

a. I'm doing a first look! If you're doing a first look, GREAT! It's a special time to spend with your significant other before the craziness of the day. Here's my best tip for those doing a first look: plan a later ceremony start time (generally 4:00pm or later). Why? So that we can get all of your formal portraits done before the ceremony.

bride walking down the isle on wedding day

b. I'm not doing a first look! Awesome! My husband and I actually didn't do a first look for our wedding either and I wouldn't change a thing! Here's what you need to know if you are NOT doing a first look. Plan for an earlier ceremony time (usually 2:00pm or earlier) so that we can get all of your family photos done in between the ceremony and reception. Also, try to come up with something your guests can do while you are away taking photos!

2. Decide what is most important to you. There's a limited number of hours in the day. Communicate to your photographer what the most essential photographs are. For me, it was photos with my family and my husband. Some couples care more about the decor and wedding guests. Some want a bunch of photos with their wedding party. Communicate what is most important to you.

formal family portraits on wedding day

3. Plan for 2 hours of formal portraits. This all depends on your photographer, but my general rule of thumb is 2 hours for formal portraits that include: (1) The Couple for 30 minutes (2) The Wedding Party for 30 minutes (3) The Bride's Family for 30 minutes and (4) the Groom's family for 30 minutes. This adds up to 2 hours.

sunset photos with bride and groom during wedding day

4. How much driving is involved? Are you staying in the same place all day or are you hopping around from the photo location to the church to the reception hall? Plan out how long it takes to drive to and from these places and include them in your timeline.

5. Lastly, and maybe my most important tip. Plan for sunset photos. Escape the reception right at sunset with your photographer and enjoy the last few moments of sunlight on your wedding day with your significant other. This usually only takes about 30 minutes and your guests really won't notice if the DJ is pumping jams. These are ALWAYS my favorite photos from the day and generally my couple's favorites as well. Make sure to google what time sunset is on your wedding day and plan for 30 minutes before that time.

Plan for wedding photography at sunset

Check out my two wedding day timeline templates below. Both are for 8 hours of photography - one WITH a first look and one WITHOUT a first look.

wedding day timeline template for 8 hours of photography with a first look

wedding day timeline template for 8 hours of photography without a first look

Was this helpful? Check out Anna Behning on Instagram, Facebook, or her website to learn more about planning your dream wedding day!

Anna Behning is a professional photographer located in Marshall, Minnesota. Serving Minnesota, South Dakota, and worldwide. She is dedicated to helping her clients remember the romantic and adventurous moments in life. She loves Jesus, her husband, Josh, and her golden doodle, Charlie!

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