How to Create Your Wedding Day Timeline

March 21, 2019

Hello there! You know what can be somewhat intimidating?! The TIMELINE!

I know this isn’t the most exciting aspect of the wedding day but this is the one thing that can make or break your photography! This blog post will outline an ideal wedding day working off of a 5pm ceremony time frame that is an ideal timeline.  All times are based off a wedding day that includes a first look. 90% of my couples choose to do a first look.  If you find yourself cringing at the idea of a first look have no fear though.  This is just a rough timeline.  We can work together alongside your planner to create the perfect timelines that best align with how you would like your wedding to be. Also please remember that all wedding days are different and your timeline may differ due to travel times and unique situations.


Santa Ynez Wedding Photography


Details & Prep : 1.5 Hours

First Look & Portraits : 30-40 Mins

Bridal Party : 30-40 Mins

Family Formals: 30 Mins

Extra Portrait Time : As Much Time As You’ll Give Me!

Santa Ynez Wedding Photography


Bridal Details

Every bride loves having those beautiful shots of her bridal details. It’s an important part of the story and I love having some time to shoot the dress, shoes, jewelry, invitations, etc. these shots allow me to get warmed up for the rest of the big day.  I normally like to allow at least 45 minutes for this part of the day. While I’m shooting details, I’m also capturing some shots of the bride and her girls getting ready! If the groom is getting ready nearby, I will add time into the timeline to stop by their suite as well!



Bridal Prep

After the details have been photographed, it’s time for the bride to get into her dress! is is a big moment! I usually ask the mother of the bride and all of the bridesmaids to be dressed by the time the bride is ready to get into her dress. is ensures that everyone will look nice in those images. After the bride is in her gown, she can put on her jewelry, veil, shoes, etc. and I will shoot some additional bridal portraits!



First Look

This is one of my favorite parts of the wedding day! I will find location for my couple’s First Look location as soon as I arrive before I start to shoot details! Don’t stress about that one bit! I will make sure the location is private and as secluded as possible.


3:15 – 3:45


After the bride and groom take their time with the First Look, I will begin taking a few romantic portraits of the two of them while the initial excitement is still present! I will find the locations for these shots as well! Remember, the LIGHT determines where we shoot and so I can’t decide on portrait locations until the day-of. As we shoot these portraits, the bridal party can start making their way to us for Bridal Party portraits!



Bridal Party Portraits

Now it’s time for Bridal Party shots! I buffer in extra time throughout the day just in case we have some unexpected things that hold us up! One way to make sure we stay on schedule for bridal party portraits is to have someone put the boutonnieres on the guys BEFORE they arrive for portraits. During Bridal Party portraits, I will make sure to take some great shots of the guys and girls both separately AND together!



Bride in Hiding

After bridal party portraits are complete, the bride will go into hiding so that early guests don’t sneak a peek and the ushers will begin their duties.



Reception Details

If the reception is in the same locationas the ceremony,  I will use this timeto shoot the reception decor UNTOUCHED. If the ceremony and reception are in different locations, I recommend having a cocktail hour outside of the main reception area if possible so that I can grab some great shots of your reception space during the last portion of your cocktail hour before guests start laying down purses and coats on their seats.


5:00- 5:30


It’s time to get married!! Most ceremonies are 30 minutes long. If your ceremony is longer than 30 mins, we’ll make adjustments to the timeline! Cherish these moments! Your ceremony will pass by so quickly!



Family Portraits

Family formals normally take place immediately following the ceremony. It’s best to save all of the family formals until after the ceremony because ALL family members will be present at that time.

We’ll need about 30 minutes for family formals and I will send a questionnaire before the wedding where you can list out the shots that you want. I recommend shooting portraits outdoors if possible so that they resemble more natural family portraits, especially if the ceremony location is dark!



A Few “Just Married” Portraits

Sunset is the BEST time of day for portraits in the late spring, summer and early fall! It is when the sun is glowy and golden. I love having a few extra minutes with the bride and groom to take a few “Just Married” portraits right after family formals!



Reception Begins!

This is is when the bridal party lines up for introductions and the party begins!! By this part of the day, my timeline isn’t as strict. I work off of the natural light and so after the sun is set, my portrait time is over and I begin focusing on the reception events!



The Exit

I include 8 hours of coverage so that I can be present for the main events of the reception and about an hour of dancing! If you’re interested in having your exit photographed, there are several options for this! You can either add additional coverage or plan a faux exit with just your bridal party! We have had GREAT success with this and the party never stops! Email me about this if you’re interested in learning more!



Santa Ynez Wedding Photography

Santa Ynez Wedding Photography

Santa Ynez Wedding Photography

Santa Ynez Wedding Photography

Santa Ynez Wedding Photography

Santa Ynez Wedding Photography

Santa Ynez Wedding Photography

Santa Ynez Wedding Photography

Santa Ynez Wedding Photography

Santa Ynez Wedding Photography

Santa Ynez Wedding Photography

Santa Ynez Wedding Photography

Santa Ynez Wedding Photography

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