A Standard Wedding Timeline


I was asked for a standard wedding timeline recently but I hadn’t ever written one down. There are many variables that go into a wedding, but most weddings have the same core elements in relatively the same order. Having shot so many at this point, I have a pretty good idea as to what comes next. Many times as photographers, because we are with the bride and groom the whole day, we end up acting like wedding planners. “Should you cut the cake now?” It’s important to have a sense of how weddings work and what to anticipate next. It’s also always nice to have the bride send you a schedule in advance, especially if they plan on doing anything unusual or out of the standard order.

Here is my interpretation of a standard wedding timeline:

12:00 – 2:00: Getting hair/makeup done (not necessarily on site). Photographers arrive (if requested for hair/makeup – many brides do not).

2:00 – 4:00: Getting Ready (bridesmaids and groomsmen, usually separate). Typically on site. Photographers arrive (2pm).

  • Things Photographers are shooting:
  • Getting ready shots
  • Décor/flowers/rings/jewelry/dress/bridesmaids dresses
  • Bride & bridesmaids (separate from groomsmen)
  • Groom & groomsmen (separate from bridesmaids
  • Could also do a “First Look” at this time if wanted

4:30 – 5:00pm: Ceremony

5:00 – 5:30pm: Family Pictures, also potentially big group shot of everyone attending the ceremony right after ceremony (guests going to cocktail hour).

5:30 – 5:45pm: Bridal party pictures (guests at cocktail hour).

5:45 – 6:15pm: Bride & groom pictures (guests at cocktail hour).

6:15 – 7:15pm: Before dinner toast (Father of the bride typically) and dinner.

7:15 – 7:40pm: Speeches (best man, maid of honor).

7:45 – 8:15pm: First dance, father/daughter dance, mother/son dance.

8:15 – 11:00pm: General guest dancing.

8:15pm: Cake Cutting (could also be right before or after dinner depending on how you want to arrange it).

8:45pm: Boquet/garter toss

8:45 – 11:00pm: General dancing, bride and groom making rounds to speak and thank everyone for coming.

  • Photographers are shooting
  • Dancing Pictures
  • Group pictures
  • Bride & groom socializing with guests
  • Any other décor

11:00pm: Bride & Groom make exit.

11:10pm: Clean-up. Photographers leave.