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The Wedding Day Timeline: Planning Time for Beautiful Wedding Photos

Hey there! Your wedding day is approaching and you’re dealing with something that seems pretty daunting.. your wedding day timeline! How do you schedule time for all of the wedding day events AND have time to take beautiful, magazine worthy portraits? Don’t worry, I’m here to help!

Below I’ve constructed an ideal wedding day timeline based on a 6pm ceremony time and a wedding day that includes a first look. So many of my couples choose to do a first look and you can read more about why you should do a first look here!

Remember that all wedding days are different and your timeline may differ due to daylight savings time, travel times, and unique situations. This template can be adjusted to account for your unique wedding day!

Sample Wedding Day Timeline: 

2:30 – 3:15 PM // 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 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 or my second shooter (if hired) will begin photographing the boys close to 40 minutes before the first look since it always takes them less time to get dressed! 

3:15 – 3:45 PM // Bridal Prep

After the details have been photographed, it’s time for the bride to get into her dress! This 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. This 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!

4:00 PM // First Look

This is one of my favorite parts of the wedding day! I will find the perfect location for my couple’s first look prior to the getting ready portion of the day! Don’t worry, I will make sure the location is private and as secluded as possible.

First look at Cypress Trees Plantation Wedding Edisto, SC. Why you should consider a first look

4:15 – 4:45 PM // Portraits

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. As we shoot these portraits, the bridal party can start making their way to us for bridal party portraits!

4:50 – 5:20 PM // Wedding Party Portraits

Now it’s time for wedding party shots! One way to make sure we stay on schedule for these is to have someone put the boutonnieres on the guys BEFORE they arrive for portraits. During wedding party portraits I will make sure to take some great shots of the guys and girls both separately and together!

5:30 – 6:00 PM // 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.

5:30 – 5:50 PM // Reception Details

If the reception is in the same location as the ceremony, I will use this time to 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 shots of your reception before the night begins and guests start laying down purses and coats on their seats.

Pepper Plantation wedding in Charleston, SC ceremony decoration

6:00 – 6:30 PM // Ceremony

It’s time to get married! Most ceremonies last about 15-30 minutes. If you are having a longer ceremony, we’ll make adjustments to the timeline. Cherish these moments! Your ceremony will pass by so quickly!

Hampton Park wedding ceremony in Charleston, SC

6:40 – 7:10 PM // 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.

Some tips for no stress family portraits here!

stress free family photo

7:15 – 7:30 PM // A Few “Just Married” Portraits

7:00 is the best time of day for portraits in the late spring, summer, and early fall. This 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!

the island house wedding

7:30 PM // Reception Begins

This 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.

Cypress Trees Plantation Wedding Edisto, SC

10:30 PM // 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.

Spring Somerset Point Wedding charleston

I hope this sample timeline was helpful in your wedding planning! I’m always here to help if you’re feeling overwhelmed or have questions about your own wedding day timeline. 

Feel free to email me anytime!

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cameron, owner of Photography By Cameron, wedding photographer in Charleston, SC



Hey there! I’m Cameron, a wedding photographer based in Charleston, SC. Here on the blog you can see my latest weddings and portrait sessions, read the sweetest wedding day stories, and get all of my best tips for the wedding day and beyond. Grab a coffee and enjoy!   

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