Tips for a Wedding Day Timeline | How Much Time Do We Need?

The Perfect Wedding Photography Timeline Colorado Wedding Planning Resources by Colorado Wedding photographer Jennie Crate

As you get closer to your wedding day, you’re probably starting to think a little bit more about exactly how your day is going to shake out logistically.

I love planning, so I was one of those people that wanted a detailed itinerary for the entire wedding WEEK, not just the wedding day.

So to help my fellow planners out there (and those of you who would rather not plan too hard), here are some tips to think about when creating a timeline for your wedding day.

Tips for Your Wedding Day Timeline

How much time do we need for photos? Whether you’ve hired me for 6 hours or 8 hours (or all day coverage), there are certain parts of the day that call for fairly standard coverage times.  These are guidelines, of course, but they can give you an idea of how much time to budget.

Getting Ready: 90 – 120 minutes
l like to start coverage with details (dress, shoes, rings, personal heirlooms) and then move on to covering the two of you getting ready.  If you’re getting ready in different locations and would like both photographed, you’ll want to account for time for me to get between the sites.  If possible, I like to photograph one getting ready, then the other.  If your schedule requires that you both get ready at the same time, you’ll want to consider a 2nd photographer so we don’t miss anything.

First Look and Couple’s Portraits: 60 minutes
The first look actually doesn’t take very long, but we always need time to logistically coordinate the first look happening.  After the first look I like to jump right into couple’s portraits and budgeting an hour gives us time to really get creative and take advantage of a variety of backgrounds.  If you choose not to do a first look, I would allow 45 minutes for couple’s portraits after your family photos.

Family Portraits: 30 minutes
No matter how hard you try, family photos take time.  You have to gather people at the same time you’re getting stopped right and left by people wanting to congratulate you.  I would recommend allowing 2-3 minutes per family grouping you’d like to capture.  Large groups will take longer, while smaller groups of immediate family will be faster.  I will do my best to keep this moving along quickly and efficiently!

Wedding Party Photos: 30 minutes
Depending on the size of the bridal party, this could go faster or slower.  During this time we’ll do photos of each of you with your side of the wedding party, and a large photo with all of you. Plus we’ll build in time for individual shots of everyone.  If you’re doing a first look, I highly recommend doing these photos before the ceremony.  If you’re not doing a first look, we can do each side separately, but we’ll need 10 minute so after the ceremony to get everyone together.

Sunset Photos: 20 minutes
I LOVE sunset photos and it can be a great time for the two of you to get away from the hustle and bustle of the reception and just revel in the fact that you’re married.  Summer weddings are ideal for sunset photos because there usually isn’t much going on at the reception to work around. If you’re getting married in the winter, with an early sunset time, we might have to plan our couples portrait time around sunset so you don’t feel like you’re missing too much of your reception.

A Sample 8 Hour Timeline with a First Look

1:30 – Photography coverage begins
1:30 – Getting Ready Photos
3:00 – First Look and Couples Portraits
4:00 – Wedding Party Photos
4:30 – Tuck away for ceremony
5:00 – Ceremony
5:30 – Family Photos
5:30 – Cocktail Hour
6:30 – Dinner
7:30 – Toasts, First dances
8:00 – Sunset photos
8:30 – Cake cutting and Open dancing
9:30 – Photography coverage ends

For shorter weddings and elopements lets work together to create a timeline that works for you!


I am a Colorado and destination wedding photographer who specializes in intimate weddings for devoted and courageous people.  I hope these tips for creating a Wedding Day Timeline are helpful! Lets chat!

You might also find these other resources helpful:

10 Tips for Getting Married at Altitude

Choosing a season for your Colorado Wedding

How to Tell if a Vendor is LGBTQ+ inclusive

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