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A Well-Planned Wedding Timeline | Atlanta Wedding Photographer

Bibb Mill Wedding_Columbus GA Wedding Photographer | Powerhouse Wedding Columbus GA

The secret to a stress-free wedding day? A well-planned wedding day timeline.

If you ever have, or are currently planning a wedding, you will soon find out how challenging it is to come up with a timeline on your own when there are so many things to consider. Believe me, I’ve been there! For that reason, I create a wedding day photography timeline for each and every one of my couples. This is helpful because it keeps everyone on the same page and allows enough time to capture the shots desired. A well-planned wedding day timeline will ensure that your day runs flawlessly, while creating a stress-free atmosphere.

The most important thing I need to know when creating a photography timeline for my couples is whether or not you will do a first look. With this in mind, there are 3 sets of portraits that I need to make sure I capture on a wedding day. But most importantly, when I am going to get them.

  • Bride + Groom Portraits

  • Bridal Party Portraits

  • Family Portraits

Also, this is often overlooked but I also need to know that start time of your ceremony and the sunset time. If you want those gorgeous daylight photos, set your ceremony time 2 hours before sunset.

Here is the ideal time a photographer needs to perform to the best of their ability to capture each aspect of your day:

Atlanta Wedding Photographer_Getting Ready Bridesmaids in PJs


I start your wedding day photographing all the details (invitation, dress, jewelry, shoes, heirloom pieces, bouquet, garter, veil, rings, perfume, your something old, new, borrowed and blue, etc.), as well as candid shots of the bride/groom and bridesmaids/groomsmen getting ready.

**Your hair and makeup should be completed 3 hours before your ceremony start time or your entire timeline will be off missing those “must have” photos**

The Foundry at Puritan Mill Wedding_Atlanta Wedding Photographer


The bridal party portraits time is divided into three mini sessions: Bride + Bridesmaids, Groom + Groomsmen, and full Bridal Party. This means that we only have about 10 minutes for each session. This includes getting everybody to the spot where the pictures will be taken all while taking the photos and hoping that everyone cooperates — the bigger the bridal party, the harder it is to get everyone to focus.

Daisy Hill Venue Wedding Photographer_Atlanta Wedding Photographer


If you have an engagement session prior to your wedding, you are going to find out how fast 30 minutes fly by. On a wedding day they go by even faster! Could we use more than half an hour for the bride and groom portraits? Absolutely! However, often, we find ourselves only having 10-15 minutes left out of the 30. Why? Sometimes the hair and makeup take longer than anticipated, one of the bridal party members is not ready, putting on the wedding dress takes longer than we thought with lacing up the back of the dress, etc. But, if we run behind schedule and don’t allow at least 30 minutes for the bride and groom portraits, the chances are that we are going to be rushed to take the most important photos of your life up until to this day, and this is not something you want to happen on your wedding day.

Wedding Family Photos_Atlanta Wedding Photographer


For the sake of staying on track and saving tons of time, I recommend that you only include the immediate family in these photos. This means: parents, grandparents and siblings + their spouses (if applicable). The bigger the crowd, the more time it takes to group everyone together for pictures. It is extremely important to communicate to everyone where they need to be for the family pictures. Having to wait on a family member can cause delays in the timeline and other areas of the wedding day can be compromised.

Tate House Wedding _Atlanta Wedding Photographer


Tate House Wedding _Atlanta Wedding Photographer


Remember the 3 types of portraits I was describing above? If my bride and groom are doing a first look, it will allow time for all those pictures to be taken BEFORE the ceremony and not worry about them later in the day.

Powerhouse Weddings Columbus GA _Atlanta Wedding Photographer

Wedding Day Timeline With A First Look

1:00 Photographers arrive

1:10-2:10 Photographers photograph the bridal details: dress, rings, shoes, flowers, invitation, etc.

Pre-ceremony pictures (getting ready shots in robes/pjs)

1:40 Bridesmaids get dressed (for picture purposes, the bridesmaids should put on their dresses before the bride starts getting ready)

Photographers photograph last-minute hair and makeup touchups

2:10 Bride gets dressed

2:35 Groom departs for First Look

2:40 Bride departs for First Look

2:45-3:15 First Look, Bride + Groom Portraits

3:15-3:30 Bride + Bridesmaids Portraits

3:30-3:45 Full Wedding Party Portraits

3:45-4:00 Groom + Groomsmen Portraits

4:00-4:30 Immediate Family Portraits

4:30 Bride gets tucked away from early arriving guests

4:35-4:50 Photographers photograph ceremony decor

5:00 Ceremony Starts

5:30 Ceremony Ends

5:30-6:30 Cocktail/Refreshment Hour, Photographers photograph Reception decor and cocktail hour, more family pictures if needed

6:30 Reception Starts

6:35 Bride + Groom First Dance

6:40 Father-Daughter/Mother/Son Dances

6:50 Dinner is served

7:30 Open Dancing

8:00 Sunset Portraits with Bride + Groom 5-10 minutes

8:55 Reception Ends/Exit Portraits

9:00 Photographers leave

Greystone Estate Wedding Photographer_Atlanta Wedding Photographer

Wedding Day Tiimeline WITHOUT A First Look

2:00 Photographers Arrive

2:10-3:10 Photographers photograph the bridal details: dress, rings, shoes, flowers, invitation, etc.

Pre-ceremony pictures (getting ready shots in robes/pjs)

3:10 Bridesmaids get dressed (for picture purposes, the bridesmaids should put on their dresses before the bride gets ready)

Photographers photograph last-minute hair and makeup touchups

3:30 Bride gets dressed

4:00-4:15 Groom + Groomsmen Portraits (by starting with the guys it gives the ladies more time for finishing touches — hair and makeup, etc.)

4:15-4:30 Bride + Bridesmaids Portraits

I will also try to take some of the family pictures in this time frame (groom and his parents, bride and her parents) so that we don’t take too much time away from the cocktail/refreshment hour.)

4:30 Bride gets tucked away from early arriving guests

4:35-4:50 Photographers photograph ceremony + reception decor and early arriving guests

5:00 Ceremony Starts

5:30 Ceremony Ends

5:40-6:10 Immediate Family Portraits

6:10-6:20 Bridal Party Portraits

6:20-6:50 Bride and Groom Portraits

6:55 Reception Starts

7:00 Bride + Groom Grand Entrance, Bride + Groom First Dance

7:10 Dinner is served

7:30 Open Dance Floor

8:20 Quick sunset photos of Bride + Groom (Depending on the time of the year, I like to take my couples out for sunset pictures — 10-15 min)

9:55 Reception Ends/Formal Departure

10:00 Photographers Leave

Montaluce Winery Wedding Atlanta Wedding Photographer

Could I use a lot more time for portraits? Uh yes…. especially for Bride & Groom portraits. In my opinion, these are the most important pictures at your wedding. These are the pictures that you will want in your wedding album. These are the pictures that you will print and hang on your walls. I could probably go longer and extend this time to at least half an hour more, but we do not want to make the guests wait and delay the reception. Why? Because I believe that your guests should have a great wedding experience as well, and not have to wait for the reception to start more than they must. There is nothing worse than being a guest at a wedding and having to wait for hours before you can start eating.

These are just examples of wedding day timelines that seem to work very well. Whether you are having a first look or not, the timeline can be adjusted to fit your wedding day needs!


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