wedding photographer

How Do I Create A Perfect Photography Timeline For My Wedding Day?

One of the most popular questions I get asked is how to organise a flawless photography timeline. With the various cultural and traditional aspects of a wedding day, it is important to start planning your wedding photography timeline earlier rather than later. This can be a challenging and daunting task if you haven’t got experience with wedding photography, which, most people don’t!

Having a good understanding from the start of your wedding planning journey will help set you on the right course of action. To start with, you can start allocating time frames for each wedding activity that you’d like captured by your wedding photographer. The following blog will help you do just that!

One of the most important points to remember when beginning your wedding photography timeline is that you need to be very realistic when allocating time. You need to make sure that you are not rushing the natural flow and process of photography, allowing for candid moments to sneak through and all that infectious laughter from the speeches! If possible, allow as much extra time as you can, you can never have too much time for photography, especially on such an important day as your wedding day. As a professional Wedding Photographer, based in Europe, I recommend you consider the following things while making your photography timeline.

Individual Prep Photos

For these photographs, I find that the ideal time is around 20 to 30 minutes. Try and give sufficient time for the photographer to take photos of everything from portraits, rings, bouquets, dresses, suits, special mementoes and more.

Mother/Father/Daughter/Son first look on a wedding day

This emotional first look between a parent and their child getting ready for their wedding day is an extremely special moment. Allow 10-15 minutes for your parents to bask in awe at your awesomeness and for your photographer to capture all the emotions.

Guest arrival at the ceremony

Again, 20-30 minutes will be enough for your wedding photographer to capture your guests arriving at your venue. If your guests are arriving in the middle of the day, try and ensure you have sufficient shade available as bright sunlight can create harsh shadows.

Bride/Groom/Couple arrival at the ceremony

These photographs should only take around 10 minutes per person. While the first look session may last for only 5 to 10 minutes, you could also choose to have individual portraits of you and your love exclusively and individually before you get married.

Ceremony starts

Your photographer may take around 30 to 40 minutes to take some classic ceremony photographs, paying particular attention to lighting and expression. Your photographer will need to move around the ceremony venue so make sure you have thought about the access they will have, you won’t want your photographer to miss the important moments because they were struggling to move around a small venue with obstacles in their way.

Ceremony finishing

You need to allow at least 30 minutes for your photographer to take pictures of your venue site and your wedding styling and setup. It is preferable to have these photographs taken without any vendors or guests in the area, as you will want to see the details unspoilt.

Friends group photos

Allot a minimum of 15 minutes to take photos with your close friends. Then, why don’t you ask your photographer to take some candid photos whilst you enjoy some drinks and catching up?

Family photos

Family photos can take anything from 10 minutes up to 30 minutes, depending on how large your family is. These photographs will include photographs of your parents, siblings, cousins, children and grandparents.


Bridal &/or Groom party photos and Couple portraits

This is my favourite time at your wedding day! Not only is it a chance for you two as a couple to have some alone time away from your guests, but it is a chance to get super creative and create some beautiful wedding day portraits. Try and allocate as much time as possible for your couple portraits, these photographs are such an important part of your wedding day. As a Wedding Photographer in Alicante, Spain I suggest, you make sure to schedule these photographs for around 30 to 40 minutes before the sunset, the lighting conditions will be amazing if you do this. Photographers call this hour ‘golden hour’, there is magical light that appears.

Alicante wedding photographer

Guests at the beginning of the reception and couple to enter the reception

This is a perfect opportunity to capture some genuine reactions along with some best moments. The timing depends on how long you want to have alone with your other half before entering the reception, dinner and speeches. Around 30 minutes is usually enough for photographers to capture the atmosphere and decor, as well as you, the wedding couple, entering and basking in that ‘just married’ feeling!

Wedding speeches

Usually, wedding speeches happen at the reception/dinner. Traditionally there are certain members of each couples family and friends who will give a speech. Some like to keep these short and sweet, others may take 10 minutes or more. I would allocate at least 5 minutes to – 15 minutes per speech when considering your wedding timeline. Most couples try and tie these speeches between food courses and drinks, I’ve found this works well as speeches then become part of the entertainment of the day.

Cutting the cake

Traditionally, it was only the bride who cut the wedding cake. This symbolised her breaking through to womanhood. Today, cutting the cake represents the first activity that the couple get to do together, which is why the groom gets to do the honours as well. Around 5-10 minutes will be perfect for this part of your wedding day. You may also want to think about whether you will have one or many tiers and if you will cut each layer – some couples choose to leave this to the caterers after the initial cutting.

The couples, father & daughter, parent first dance

All beautiful moments in their own right, many couples choose to have these traditional dances at different times on their wedding day. Whilst the couples first dance may only be up to 5 minutes long, guests joining you on the dance floor will mean lots of faces and emotions to capture. These initial first dances can take 30 minutes to 1 hour to capture.

Sunset portraits

Having one to two hours after the ceremony for the couple’s sunset portraits will be ideal if you have a huge wedding party. This is a great moment to capture some more relaxed portraits and also to bring in your best friends to enjoy the view. Perhaps you have hired some special entertainment for the evening, like a merry-go-round or games, this is a great opportunity to get some fun and unique wedding portraits with those you love.

Drinks & cocktails

Your photographer will catch your guest’s beautiful faces throughout your wedding day and night, but when cocktails and drinks are served and the party gets going guests will always loosen up and the most candid shots will be created. You can schedule anything from 45 minutes to 2-3 hours for your photographer to mingle with guests documenting impromptu wonderful memories and moments that you will treasure forever.

Wedding exit

During the wedding exit, your photographer will capture the natural expression and sweet moments of the bride, parents, and groom embarking on their first steps in public as a married couple. At this point of your wedding, the photographer will usually depart. It is great if you have thought about how your photographer will get home, perhaps booking them a taxi and sending them off with some wedding favours! If you’re lucky, your wedding photographer will get working on your photographs as soon as they get home, those all-important sneak peek photographs are the icing on top of the cake the day after your wedding day!

Jul 2, 2021

Hannah Hutchins

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