Sample Wedding Timeline without First Look

October 24, 2017

Your wedding day will be here before you know it! It’s time to start working through your wedding day details including your wedding day timeline!
Wedding timelines are important, not only for the schedule of the day but how much time is accounted for photos, catering, and ultimately having a stress-free day.
fall wedding in virginia by Washington DC Wedding Photographer Adam Mason
I wanted to give you a sample timeline to start out with if you’re having a first look! This doesn’t have everything for your wedding in it, nor is it a set of hard and fast rules. Your photographer, wedding planner, makeup artist, caterer and venue will have tips as well. Of course, I’d say make sure the photographer looks over the timeline if you care about having lots of photos! This is important! Plus, you don’t want to feel rushed throughout the day. As I say in my about section, if it’s between details (getting ready/ceremony/reception) or people (you and your partner, wedding party, family photos, dancing, etc.), choose people every time!
creative ring shots at Chesapeake bay beach club wedding by Washington DC Wedding Photographer Adam Mason long sleeve wedding dress hanging during fall wedding at wyndridge farm by Washington DC Wedding Photographer Adam Mason
Either way, this will be a great place to start planning! If you have 8 hours of coverage from your photographer and are not planning a first look, this is the timeline for you!
If you’re still not sure about a first look, that’s okay! You can read more about the pros and cons of doing a first look here.

Sample Wedding Timeline

2:00PM – Final Details & Getting Ready Photos
3:30PM – Couple in hiding/final pre-ceremony prayers, traditions, ketubah signings, etc.
5:00PM – Ceremony!!! (You can adjust everything after this based on how long your ceremony is! For some of my couples, it’s an hour, for others , t’s only 12 minutes!)
-Wedding Party (Bridesmaids & Groomsmen) Photos Immediately Following
-Family Photos Immediately Following
-Couple Portraits w/Photographer
5:30PM – Cocktail Hour Begins – While your guests are content with food and drinks, you, your wedding party and family are taking photos!
6:30PM – Cocktail Hour Ends. Guests are seated for reception.
6:50PM – Introductions, first dance, toasts. (Bride & Groom have arrived after taking photos!)
7:00PM – Dinner
7:30PM – Dancing & other traditions! I like to put any traditions at the beginning of the reception because that’s when most people are there, haven’t left, and is attentive! But this is up to you if you want to spread it out!
9:45PM – Last call
10:00PM – Last dance. Reception Ends.

Family Photos or “Formals”

Most photographers (including myself) do not need a “shotlist” before the wedding. If you’ve looked over their full galleries before booking, seen a lot of their portfolio, you should have a wonderful day! BUT, when it comes to any family photos or important people in your life, you can totally have a list. Just remember, more people=more time needed for photos. I estimate about 3 minutes per photo combination. This helps have buffer time throughout the wedding day.
intimate wooded ceremony during fall wedding at woodend sanctuary by Washington DC Wedding Photographer Adam Mason
Also, whenever I shoot family formals, I try my best to go from the biggest group to the smallest. This helps older folks get to sit earlier rather than waiting, while keeping everyone else attentive so this can go smoothly.

Here’s a sample list of family formals to add to your wedding timeline!

  • Bride + Groom + Both Immediate Families
  • Bride + Groom + B’s Immediate Family
  • Bride + Groom + G’s Immediate Family
  • Bride + Groom + B & G’s Parents
  • Bride + Groom + G’s Parents
  • Bride + Groom + B’s Parents
  • Bride + B’s Parents
  • Bride + Bride’s Mother
  • Bride + Bride’s Father
  • Groom + G’s Parents
  • Groom + Groom’s Mother
  • Groom + Groom’s Father

Family Situations to Be Sensitive To

This section is important and a great note to avoid any awkward situations on the wedding day! Whether it’s a divorce, death, or just two family members who don’t get along, tell your photographer & vendors. Many won’t need it, but your photographer will thank you for it! It’s also okay if this section is blank.
I hope this helps brides, grooms and couples when planning their big day! Wedding days shouldn’t be stressful or rushed. My couples with all-day coverage receive 40-60% more photos from their wedding. Wedding photos aren’t just for one day, they’re for life!

Have more questions or need a photographer for your wedding? Tell me more about your wedding HERE or simply email me!

• • •

Adam is local to Washington, DC and is currently booking 2018 and 2019 wedding photography sessions at any destination. Really, any destination!

Adam Mason frequently travels for wedding, event, and non-profit portrait sessions and has clients from coastal Maui to Iceland. To find out details regarding his upcoming travel dates to a city near you or to book a custom travel session, please contact for more information or follow along on Instagram!