Your wedding timeline can be a be a big part of what makes your wedding day glide by smoothly, or if it’s haphazard and doesn’t account for the reality of how long things take, can add unnecessary stress to what should be one of your favorite days ever. I’ve always been about making wedding days as wonderful as possible (I wrote a guide on what makes a perfect wedding day here). A major key to this is keeping things relaxed and avoiding stressful situations, with the schedule being the tool for making this happen.

So let’s make the perfect wedding schedule! Some wise person (my mom and probably your mom too) once said, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” While I generally hate cliche phrases, that one speaks some truth.

I’ve created a spreadsheet template based on my preferred schedule after photographing nearly 200 weddings over my years as a photographer:

DOWNLOAD GUIDE (via email):

Schedule Things to Keep in Mind

I always like to preface suggesting a schedule with a disclaimer that really the perfect schedule is one that fits best for YOU. My idea for a perfect schedule might include a helicopter ride onto the top of a mountain and two hours of portraits right before sunset, but we all have different ideas for what our wedding day will look like, so it’s important to factor in keeping things realistic with pursuing dreams.

Thoughts behind schedule entries:

  • Getting ready & details
    • For scheduling getting ready time, your hair/makeup demo appointment is helpful to determine how long this will take. Also depending on how large your bridal party is and how many people are helping with hair/makeup, it may take a while.
    • Generally the second half of getting ready is the part that people like photos of…for a reason that you might be able to guess. :)
    • I’ll use extra time (usually the first part of getting ready) to bounce between getting detail photos (dress, rings, garter, jewelry, stationary, etc.) and the bridal party hanging out or getting ready.
  • Bridal portraits – Even if there’s a separate session for bridal portraits, I always like to get a few individual portraits of the bride and groom. This doesn’t have to be a scheduled thing and is sometimes lumped together with bride & groom portraits.
  • Bridal party / bridesmaids / groomsmen
    • I generally do each of these groupings in 5-10 minutes, but add a few minutes in case people are running behind.
    • If the timeline is running behind, this is generally where I’ll make up the most time.
  • First look
    • If you’re doing a first look, I always like to include a few extra minutes of time alone to spend with each other before the rest of the busy day continues.
  • Couple / bride & groom portraits
    • I always love this time! 30 minutes is many times longer than I’ll have on a wedding day to get portraits, but I like to have enough time here to get a great selection of relaxed portraits.
    • While it’s great when everything falls perfectly into place: schedule on time, portraits around sunset, plenty of time for portraits, and beautiful locations, a skillful photographer should be able to take non-ideal lighting conditions and locations and create something wonderful without much time.
  • Family portraits
    • I generally start with the largest family groupings and then have people step out to get from one group to the next.
    • A safe estimate for how long this will take is 3 minutes per group picture.

Other schedule considerations:

  • The most common factors affecting schedule timing:
    • Hair styling delayed by taking longer than expected or due to having to be redone
    • Our beloved mother being late for getting into the wedding dress
  • Driving or bus time between locations
  • Whether you’d like to schedule dad/sibling first look

Related Wedding Planning Resources:

That’s all I got for now! Let’s plan for success. Get in touch here if you’d like to work together.