5 Tips for Crafting a Wedding Day Timeline | Philadelphia Wedding Photographer

Creating a wedding timeline is an essential part of the wedding planning process. As a wedding photographer, I know that a well-planned timeline can ensure that we have enough time to capture all the important moments of your special day. I know that you have spent months planning the perfect wedding and a lot of thought goes into how your day will flow. Here are a 5 tips for crafting a wedding day timeline that works for you.

PA wedding venue

 5 Tips for Crafting a Wedding Day Timeline

01. Start with the Ceremony Time

I always suggest starting with the ceremony time and work backwards from there to plot out the events that will happen beforehand! Using the ceremony start time and working backwards helps to ensure you have allotted enough time to get ready, capture getting ready photos, wedding details, as well as any first look moments, and group or family photos. An often overlooked component when creating the timeline is factoring in travel time. If your getting ready location is different from the ceremony, or if there are any pictures being taken that require travel, factor in that time!

Pro Tip: Gather your wedding details ahead of time for your photographer and coordinate the arrival of your florals for the designated time that the wedding detail photos are slated to happen. 

02. Consider a First Look

A first look is a private moment between the couple where they see each other for the first time on their wedding day. This is a special and intimate moment for the couple to share, without the pressure and distraction of guests and it’s a great way to calm any pre-ceremony nerves. It also allows for more time for photos and can help the wedding day run more smoothly. By having a first look, couples can take their time and enjoy the moment, as well as capture all their desired photos before the ceremony, so they can join their guests at cocktail hour.  Almost all of my couples do first looks and they rave about how it makes the day go more smoothly.

Other popular first look moments are between a bride and her father or her bridesmaids. The most essential thing to remember is that it is your wedding-make time for the moments that are most important to you! 

03. Allocate Time for Family and Group Photos

Family and group photos are an important part of any wedding day, but they can also be time-consuming, especially if you have a larger wedding party, or a big family. Allocate at least 30 minutes to an hour for family and group photos. Also, make a list of the specific photo combinations you would like in advance for your photographer. Making a list will ensure that the process runs smoothly and efficiently, while also saving a ton of time as you don’t have to stress thinking of all the different combinations you wanted. Instead, your photographer can print your list and run through each combination.  However, try to limit your list of photos to your absolute must-haves as you’ll want to spend more time enjoying your day rather than standing in a line for photos — remember, it’s a live event, not a photo shoot!

04. Plan for Golden Hour

Any wedding photographer will agree that the right lighting is essential for those light and airy, romantic portraits! Golden hour, the hour before sunset when the sun is low on the horizon, creates a magical, warm glow that can transform your wedding photos. To plan for golden hour, you’ll need to determine the exact time of sunset on your wedding day by googling it in advance. It’s also essential to keep in mind the location of your wedding venue when planning for golden hour. If your venue is surrounded by buildings or trees, the sun may set earlier, so adjust your timeline accordingly. Additionally, consider the weather and any potential cloud coverage that may impact the quality of the golden hour light.

05. Factor in Reception Activities

We all know the reception is where the party gets started!  By interspersing dance sets throughout the reception, you can ensure that your guests are engaged and entertained throughout the evening, while providing your photographer with numerous opportunities to document the excitement and joy on the dance floor, especially towards the beginning of your reception when everyone is energized and looking their best.  

An ideal moment to conclude photography coverage is right after the cake cutting ceremony. By this time, all the significant reception activities will have unfolded, including introductions, toasts, first dance, and parent dances, among others. 

Crafting a wedding timeline helps to ensure that your wedding day runs smoothly and that your photographer has enough time to capture all the iconic and in-between special moments. By starting with the ceremony time, and working backwards first, and then forward, to allocate time for first looks, family and group photos, golden hour portraits, and reception activities, you can create a timeline that works for you and ensures that your final wedding gallery is everything you envisioned.

Wedding Day Timeline Example

After booking, I help my couples craft a general photography timeline. This gives them an idea of how many total hours they will need, helps determine when to start hair and makeup, and when photography coverage should start and end. Here’s an example of a timeline:

12:30pm – Photography coverage begins (style and photograph details: invitation, dress, shoes, rings, etc.)
1:15pm – All hair and makeup must be complete by now!
1:30pm – “Getting ready” photos (ex. bride and brides in robes, etc.)
1:50pm – Everyone gets dressed
2:20pm – Father/daughter first look (optional)
2:45pm – First look/couple’s photos
3:30pm – Wedding party photos
4:15pm – Family photos
5:00pm – Wedding party tucked away while early guests arrive, photograph ceremony space
5:30pm – Official guest arrival
6:00pm – Ceremony
6:30pm – Cocktails | guest candids, photograph reception space
7:00pm – Official sunset
8:00pm – Reception | intros, toasts, dancing, cake
10:30pm – Photography coverage ends

I hope these 5 tips on crafting a wedding timeline help as you plan your wedding day! If you are recently engaged, I would love to hear from you and discuss how I can help you capture the wedding day of your dreams and create a timeline that reflects all the moments most important to you!

Amber Dawn Photography specializes in light and airy, natural, and romantic wedding photography.  With a penchant for estate weddings, Amber strives to create timeless images that reflect the romanticism in soft hues, capturing for posterity the many facets of the love that is the reason for the celebration.  To view more of Amber’s work, click here to view her wedding portfolio. If you are interested in learning more about working with Amber, please inquire with her today! 

Here are more resources and gorgeous weddings I’ve had the honor of photographing:

Merion Tribute House Styled Shoot

Wedding Day Details To Have Ready For Your Photographer

Top 3 Favorite Ring Box Brands | Wedding Details

The Importance Of Wedding Albums | Preserve Your Wedding Photos





p: 267.679.2920

E: info@amber-dawn.com

Philadelphia & Bucks County, Pennsylvania, photographer specializing in Wedding + Engagement Photography