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I'm Amanda and I am a Raleigh wedding photographer!  I serve excited and enthusiastic couples with an elegant and elevated wedding photography experience! This is where I share sneak peeks from my latest weddings, engagements, and sessions! Check out my Raleigh wedding photography blog to view my latest weddings, engagements, styled shoots, tips, venues, and more!

8 Hour Wedding Photography Timeline Sample

Planning your dream wedding entails a lot of juggling, coordinating, communicating, and small details that bring the big day all together. With all the moving parts – I am here to offer you my insight on a photography-friendly wedding timeline with two 8 hour wedding photography timeline samples.

I’m Amanda and I am a Raleigh Wedding Photographer who loves to capture your entire wedding day from start to finish. I serve excited and enthusiastic couples with an elegant and elevated wedding photography experience. My most popular Raleigh Wedding Photography package is 8 hours and about 70 percent of my couples opt for a first look. With that experience, I have created an 8 hour wedding photography timeline sample with and without a first look. I customize all of my couple’s unique timelines to suit their wedding day perfectly so you can expect yours to look a little different.

If you’re still deciding if a first look is right for you then you should check out my blog post for deciding on a first look. Regardless of your preferences, I have the 8 hour wedding photography timeline sample to meet your needs!

Below you will find the two wedding photography timeline breakdowns. In addition, you will find an overview of the photography categories for each time slot. Part of crafting your ideal wedding photography timeline is understanding the types of photos your photographer is aiming to capture and approximately how long those photos should take. You know your variables best so let’s get started!

8 Hour Wedding Photography Timeline Sample (w/First Look)

  • 2:00 | Bridal Details
  • 2:45 | Getting Ready/Pajama/Robe Shots
  • 3:00 | Bride in Dress – Bridesmaids Dressed – Bridal Party Reveal
  • 3:30 | First Look with Dad
  • 3:45 | First Look with Partner (Couples Portraits)
  • 4:00 | Bride w/Bridesmaids Groom w/Groomsmen
  • 4:30 | Ceremony Begins
  • 5:15 | Ceremony Ends – Begin Family Formals
  • 5:45 | Full Bridal Party Portraits
  • 6:00 | Cocktail Hour Begins (+15 min just married portraits)
  • 7:00 | Bridal Party Entrances, First Dance, Daddy/Daughter, Mother/Son
  • 7:20 | Dinner & Toasts
  • 8:00 | Dance floor opens
  • 8:30 | Cake Cutting
  • 9:00 | Party Time
  • 10:00 | Exit (Staged, most receptions end at 11pm)

8 Hour Wedding Photography Timeline Sample (w/out First Look)

  • 2:00 | Bridal Details
  • 2:45 | Getting Ready/Pajama/Robe Shots
  • 3:00 | Bride in Dress – Bridesmaids Dressed – Bridal Party Reveal
  • 3:30 | First Look with Dad
  • 3:40 | Bride w/Bridesmaids Groom w/Groomsmen – hide away
  • 4:00 | Ceremony Begins
  • 4:45 | Ceremony Ends – Begin Family Formals
  • 5:15 | Full Bridal Party Portraits & Couples Portraits
  • 6:00 | Cocktail Hour Begins (+15 min just married portraits)
  • 7:00 | Bridal Party Entrances, First Dance, Daddy/Daughter, Mother/Son
  • 7:20 | Dinner & Toasts
  • 8:00 | Dance floor opens (sneak out for sunset portraits depending on time of year)
  • 8:30 | Cake Cutting
  • 9:00 | Party Time
  • 10:00 | Exit (Staged, most receptions end at 11pm)

Variables to consider in your Wedding Day Timeline

Your wedding photography timeline is contingent on knowing times from other vendors as well. This is where hiring a wedding planner or a day-of wedding coordinator can be extra beneficial. Other vendors to consider when planning your full wedding day timeline include:

  • Hair & Makeup (need a finish time for all members of your group)
  • Getting Ready (the time you and everyone else need to be fully dressed and ready to go)
  • Ceremony (the time it starts and the duration)
  • Reception & Catering (Doors open, Cocktail Hour, Dinner, Doors close)
  • Seasonal times – it is super important to keep the time of the year in mind! During the summer sunset is at 8:30 – which is awesome. In the winter, the sun sets much earlier which means the overall timeline should move up several hours.

These other vendors can provide critical pillar times for your timeline so you and your photographer can flesh out where to put your photo times!

Wedding Photography Timeline Components

What they are & How long you need

Details (~45 minutes)

The details of you wedding include the bridal and groom details that encompass your entire wedding day look and feel. In a gallery, the bridal details complement all of the other features of your wedding day. Photos of your bridal details highlight the important pieces you have decided to include in your day. Popular bridal detail shots include your wedding dress, wedding jewelry, heirloom pieces, bouquets, shoes, special perfumes, and your wedding bands. You can find a full breakdown of Bridal and Groom details as well as two helpful checklists for them in my Ultimate Guide to Bridal Details blog post!

Bridal Details Wedding Photography Timeline Category

Getting Ready (~45 minutes)

This is it – this is where you get in your dress! The getting ready portion of your photos include the bride and groom getting ready with their respective parties. This includes brides and bridesmaids getting their hair and makeup done, cute pajama or robe photos, and fun activities like spraying (and drinking) champagne! You will also get photos of getting in the dress, buttoning or zipping up the dress, placing the veil and all that jazz with your designated person. The boys aren’t left out either – photos of the boys getting ready include adjusting ties, pinning boutonnieres, putting on jackets and even some modeling shots of the groom!

Getting Ready Wedding Photography timeline Category

First Look(s) (~20 minutes)

Deciding on a first look with your partner on your wedding day is a critical step in building your ideal wedding photography timeline. If you’re still on the fence about whether or not to share a first look with your partner then check out my blog post on Deciding on a First Look!

There are also different types of first look you could include on your wedding day. If you are expecting ecstatic or emotional reactions from certain people you may want to consider having some designated time to share with them. Here are some fun ideas for first looks:

  • First Look w/ Partner
  • First Look w/ Parent
  • First Look w/ Bridal Party
  • First Look w/ Grandparents
  • First Look w/ Groomsmen
First look with partner and first look with dad - wedding photography timeline slots

Couples Portraits (2-3 ~20 minute blocks)

This is your time to shine! I feel like every part of the day is my favorite part of the day but truth be told I LOVE couples portrait times. Any time of the day where I am allowed to flex my creativity muscle is definitely up there as my favorite part of the day. If you are doing a first look with your partner you are adding in extra time for just the two of you in your day. In addition, you are also adding in extra portraits! Be sure to budget time after the ceremony for just married portraits and a few around sunset to get that glow!

Ceremony Details & Ceremony (~45 – 60 minutes)

This is the more unobtrusive part of the day for photographers. While you are mentally preparing to walk down the aisle and make your grand entrance, I like to make myself relatively scarce. This is the time you have hidden away with your bridal party in the moments leading up to the start of the ceremony. This is when your photographer can capture the details of your ceremony space – be it special archways, florals, or a welcome sign. During the ceremony, I like to stay out of your face and allow all the moments to happen for your guests to see. This is the biggest moment – YOU GET MARRIED.

Family Formals (~30 minutes)

This is either the easiest or the hardest part of your day. Family formals do not have to take up a huge chunk of your photo time. While they are arguably some of the most important photos you are going to take all day – you can keep this whole session short and sweet. I provide all of my couples with a family formal planning sheet that gives me easy access to names and relationships. This is where having a second photographer is critical in the day because they are the MOST helpful with orchestrating your family to get them in front of the camera and on to cocktail hour in a flash!

Bridal Party Portraits (~30-45 minutes)

A good chunk of bridal party portraits can actually be done before the ceremony with or without a first look depending on the punctuality of your group. You can do bride and bridesmaid photos and individuals before the ceremony as well as groom and groomsmen even if you are not sharing a first look with your partner. This part of your day could take more or less time depending on the energy and size of your bridal party. Larger and more rambunctious bridal parties need a little bit more of a time cushion.

Reception Details & Reception

The duration for these parts of your day, should you include them, are fleeting and don’t need to have a set length. A ball park time around dinner during your reception for these moments helps to make sure your photographer is not missing to have dinner. I like to coordinate with the DJ or MC to make sure we are on the same page when it comes to this important reception moments.

My recommendation is to start with your big entrance and go right into your first dance. From first dance, I love to see an anniversary dance which then move nicely into the daddy daughter dance and the mother son dance. That gets a huge part of your photos checked off the list right off the bat before the party really gets started. Toward the end of dinner, have your toasts lined up and ready to go. Just about everything you need here should be wrapped up by the time dinner is done so the DJ can open up the dance floor!

  • Cocktail Hour
  • Bridal Party Entrances
  • First Dance
  • Dance w/ Mom
  • Dance w/ Dad
  • Toasts & Blessings

Bouquet/Garter Toss

While this tradition seems to be falling increasingly to the wayside, there are other ways to incorporate something fun into your evening. I have seen couples games, dance-offs, and I actually made this tradition a contest at my wedding. If you caught the bouquet or the garter you either got wine or whiskey – our favorites!


If you don’t want to be interrupted while partying with your people I recommend cutting your cake shortly after dinner. This helps the catering staff get the cake to your guests and frees you up to mingle and party!

Exit (Staged or Organic)

Most wedding exits to some degree are staged if you plan to use any kind of celebratory prop. Popular props include sparklers, confetti, bubbles, and glow sticks. You can plan your exit to be when your photographer leaves and then keep the party going with late night dancing (and my favorite – late night snacks). You can also plan an organic exit and leave at the end of the night in a special getaway car. Keep in mind that most organic end of the night exits will generally require longer photography coverage.

Want your own customized wedding photography timeline?

Book a free wedding photography consultation and get timeline assistance, planning ideas, and an elevated wedding photography experience!

July 5, 2022

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