How to create the most rad wedding timeline

photographer wedding timeline

I often get asked in all my wedding expertise, what is the perfect wedding day timeline? After all, there are a lot of moments and things to capture, and lots of different lighting to take into consideration. So here are my ten best tips for the most rad day.

1. Google the sunset.

That's right, you can type your wedding day into google and google will let you know what time the sun will be going down! It is my favorite trick in the book for planning sessions far in advance, the sun and earth has a pretty consistent relationship luckily. Why is the sunset important? If you have any knowledge of photography you have probably heard us mention the Golden hour before. Golden hour is the lighting just before sunset or just after sunrise, it is warm, beautiful, and mesmerizing so pair it with a stunning bride and groom and you have some magical photos. so for example, let's say sunset happens at 7:30. You could plan your ceremony to be at 6:00, family photos from 6: 30-7, and the bride and groom photos from 7-7:30.

Another option is to just add in a sunset shoot, where your photographer comes during the reception and whisks you away for a quick 15 minutes. Your guests won't even notice you’re gone

Presidio wedding

2. Nail down your ceremony time

Taking into account what you just learned about the sunset, plan your ceremony time! Think about how long your ceremony will last, these vary greatly depending on religion and preference. Then account for photos afterward, you will need about thirty minutes of family photos, and 30 minutes of bride + groom photos. Make sure you have a good hour and 15 minutes before the sunsets if you want those dreamy light photos.

Sonoma wedding photographer

3. An optional tip- Do a first look!

One way to really de-stress the photo hour is by doing a first look. Us photographers love these SO MUCH, not only do you get a whole new story of emotion, excitement, and anticipation but you can trim down the photo time needed after your ceremony. If you have a big family and know it might take a long time to get all the uncle bobs lined up, this is a pretty great thing to consider.

Sonoma county wedding photographer

4. Getting ready

Now that you have your ceremony time, you can start to plan the beginning of your day. If you are doing a first look, I recommend doing that an hour before the ceremony, we will take about 30 minutes and get those photos done. If you are not, that hour before we can spend doing the bridal party. You can also take into account your getting ready photos, I like to come when hair is done and makeup has about 15 minutes left, that way we can grab some super cute detail shots and even fake some if we have to.

5. The Reception

Spend some time thinking about what must have moments you want during your reception. There is a first dance, mom and son, father and bride dance. Garter toss, bouquet toss, money dance, speeches. Break down your reception into time chunks and plan it out, don’t forget to feed your hungry guests! Your DJ should also be a magician at helping you keep this on time, definitely make sure you hire a DJ who knows how to run the show! It can become a hot mess if they don’t.

woodside wedding photographer

6. Speeches

People LOVE to commandeer the mic, so think about your close friends and family and how long they can talk for. Are you going to have a few people do the speeches? or do an open mic? My only advice is just to be aware that open mic can either last 2 minutes or 73 hours. You’ve been warned.

this felt fitting.

this felt fitting.

7. Grand exit

Sparklers, confetti, rose petals, 1000 confused doves… plan your first exit with your DJ and they can alert you the time has come with a special song. You can start going around the room, saying your goodbyes to those you must and then have someone arranging the exit. They can line everyone up with a sparkler or whatever you have decided on. Grand exits are MY FAVORITE because they’re so pretty and full of happy…it also happens to be the perfect getaway.

napa wedding photographer

8. Fake exit

If you’re trying to save money on your photographer/videographers do a fake exit! There is no reason why you can’t still get this shot if you want it. Somewhere in the middle of the reception, after the dances just have everyone line up outside and pretend its the end of the night…nobody has to know, except your guests of course.


9. Think logistics

Is your reception far from your ceremony? Make sure you plan in the drive AND possible traffic, especially here in the Bay area. You can also use google maps to spot photo locations between the ceremony and the reception! This will help cut down on some time once you get to the reception.

Sacramento wedding photographer

10. My ultimate tip

GET SERIOUS ABOUT FAMILY PHOTOS. I love a good family photo, I really do, but when you are thinking of your groups and planning your shots consider that Uncle Bob is always missing, and people wander like stray cats. Decide if you really need your 8 times removed cousin in a photo, or if you can just snag some with them later in the evening. Designate a ring leader, someone who knows both sides of the family and isn’t afraid to shout names across the ceremony site. This will ensure this whole process goes smoothly.

napa valley wedding