The Only Wedding Timeline You’ll Need


How to Keep Your Wedding on Time

You’re deep in the throws of wedding planning…. and so many questions are racing through your mind as the day gets closer.

  • Maybe you’re trying to nail down just how many hours you need the photographer for. (Do you need pictures at salon? Maybe!)
  • What time is the limo picking you up again? What if there’s traffic – that one freeway is closed!
  • What if dinner runs long? I want the dance floor open ASAP!


How Much Time to Allow for Each Part of Your Wedding

Use this wedding day timeline as a guideline to give you an idea of  how your wedding day should go. Happy planning!

Hair and Makeup

  • BRIDE: Allow two hours. Have your stylist put in and secure the veil if you are wearing one.
  • BRIDESMAIDS: Allow 60 minutes per bridesmaid, possibly more if makeup is being done. This may take less time if multiple stylists are working with your bridesmaids at the same time.
  • GROOM & GROOMSMEN: Ughhh…. yeah. They’ll be fine lol.

Bonus Tip: Add in travel time if you have to go to a salon and come back to the ceremony location. Hair and makeup always goes faster when done at the salon due to the convenience of the facility and setup.

WATCH: Building Your Wedding Day Timeline

Building Your Wedding Day Timeline from Mike Staff Productions, Inc. on Vimeo.

The First Look

Allow 30 minutes for your first look for the bride and groom only.  You may want to extend the time to allow great bridal party shots.  Since most of your important wedding day pictures can be captured during this time, another advantage to the first look is that you’ll be able to spend your cocktail hour with your guests. 

Pre-Ceremony Pictures

Groom and Groomsmen: 60 minutes before the ceremony. The pre-ceremony images of the groom are often captured at the church, but any location of your choice can be used. The photographer will typically photograph the groom’s attire, images with groomsmen and family, pinning of boutonnieres, and other detail shots. If you have specific requests for the groom’s images, be sure to share them with your photographer.

Bride and Bridesmaid: 90 minutes before the ceremony.  Hair and make-up is completed or near completed when photography and videography begins.

  • The photographer will typically spend 1/2 hour photographing details and candids.
  • The remaining time is spent capturing attendants, family and planned images of the bride.

Be sure to convey your comfort level with having someone in the room as you get ready to your wedding photographer. Together, you and the photographer should develop a list of images and special items you would like the photographer to capture during this time.

Post Ceremony

Family Formals: 30 minutes.  Many churches limit the amount of time you have to capture formal altar images. Because time must be used effectively, assigning a friend to help gather groupings is most helpful. Work with your photographer to develop a list of images that should be captured at the ceremony location and those that can be done at the wedding reception.

Romantics: 60-90 minutes.  The time between your ceremony and reception is the time that your wedding photographers artistic abilities can really shine. Whether you are interested in traditional, photojournalistic or artistic images, develop a plan for what images you would like to capture of you as a couple, with and without the bridal party. You should also discuss poses that you’ve seen in the past that appeal to you – and those that don’t too.  Remember to factor travel time and events around the locations you are visiting.


Ideal length: Plan on six hours. This may sound like a long time, but there are many moving pieces to fill that time and it will go by fast! This time includes:

  • 6pm – 7pm Cocktail hour
  • 7pm –  7:30pm Grand entrance, Bridal party entrance, cake cutting
  • 7:30pm Dinner, toasts, first dance, and mingling and dancing with guests.
  • 9pm – end of the night Open up the dance floor, and get the music going!
    • Bouquet/ garter toss: You can do this as you feel comfortable, and if you aren’t doing it- not a big deal.
    • Late-night snacks: Keep people fueled, so they keep dancing After all the dancing a snacks are always appreciated.

Mike Staff Productions has years of experience and would love to help you coordinate the photographer, videographer and DJ to capture all the special moments.


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