How To Nail The Perfect Wedding Timeline

For everything to go smoothly on the big day, you have to plan ahead, be organised, and create one heck of a perfect wedding timeline

Each couple’s day will be unique and depending on how you’re planning to celebrate, the timeline will vary. However, if you’re wondering, “How do I make a perfect wedding day timeline?” You’ve come to the right place. Let me give you some tips and tricks on how to nail the perfect day! 

How To Create The Perfect Wedding Timeline


When planning the perfect wedding day timeline, I always recommend starting with your reception time and working back to determine how much time to allocate for the ceremony, post ceremony congratulations, family photos, and couples portraits.

It’s also important to consider the look of your getting-ready location, the lighting, and the travel distance to your ceremony site. Lighting is paramount to achieving stunning results throughout the whole day. Not only will it be important for when you’re getting ready but for capturing memorable portraits too. 

In general, the key things to planning the perfect wedding day timeline are the travel times between locations, ceremony and reception times, and when the sun sets!perfect wedding timeline



Ceremony Location & Time

Whether it’s a traditional church or a country garden, you want a ceremony location you love that fits in with your theme. For couples after an outdoor ceremony, take into consideration where the sun will be during the day. Best to do a bit of research, and ask me or the vendor for the optimal ceremony time. 

The Day

It’s completely normal to feel giddy with anticipation, it’s your big day after all! I find popping on some music can help calm the nerves and get people in the mood for a celebration.

I typically spend around 1.5 hours with my girls and 45 minutes with the guys, who I tend to visit first. For same-sex couples, I can split my time evenly between both partners, but as a rule, one person will need to get ready slightly earlier. 

What is the perfect wedding timeline? On the day, the bride will ideally have her hair and make-up done 30 minutes after I arrive. That way, we have a full hour with the bride and her party to take dressed photos and portraits.


To avoid feeling rushed, make sure to be ready with time to spare. Wherever you decide to get ready, try your best to keep it under 15 minutes from your ceremony site. 

The nuptials can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 1.5 hours depending on the type of ceremony held. Also, keep in mind that I’ll always leave for your ceremony 30 minutes before you do, to ensure I have time to travel, park, set up my gear and be ready for your arrival.

perfect wedding timeline

Post Ceremony Congratulations

This is one of my favourite times of the day to snap photos when your loved ones come and congratulate you (takes around 15-25 minutes depending on how many guests you have attending). It’s filled with so much love, happiness and excitement and it creates some of the best photos to remember your day by!

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Family Photos

Family photos are so important BUT I don’t recommend spending longer than 30 minutes on these as they can be tiring. I’ll request a detailed list of who you want in your photos closer to the date. FYI, it’s best to keep this list to 12-15 different groups wherever possible (this will take around 30 minutes to photograph).

Besides a big group shot with all your guests, try and keep the groups for your family photos smaller if you can. Bigger groups tend to take longer, especially as not everyone will be looking great on the first try. Designating a friend or family who knows everyone to organise, will help make the day go smoothly and be a massive help for me too! 

Wedding Day Portraits 

Allocate 45 minutes to an hour after your ceremony for your couple and wedding party portraits — this way you still have time to chill and enjoy some food and drink. If you’d like to capture couples portraits with several backdrops or in different locations, increase the time between the ceremony and reception, and don’t forget to add extra time for travel! 

You’ll likely feel a bit awkward to begin with but you’ll soon relax in front of the camera, remember the nerve-wracking bit is over, and now it’s time to have fun! Take this time to connect with each other, soak it all in, and give each other a squeeze, I’ll be there to give you direction too. 

Golden Hour

Sunset portraits are gorgeous but make sure to factor in travel time to the location. We’ll want to capture these intimate photos during the golden hour (that sweet spot one hour before the sun sets). It’s important to know when that’ll be as it could clash with your reception and you may need to jiggle your timeline around. 

Lastly, allow yourselves a good 15-30 minutes before heading into your reception to freshen up and for your photographer/videographer to set up and capture any details! 

perfect wedding timeline


Make the most of me while I’m there — cut your cake, get into the speeches, have your first dance, and boogie with your loved ones. I’ll arrive about 30 minutes before your reception and I’ll cover around 2 to 3 hours to capture all the important bits!

Example 8 Hour Wedding Photography Timeline

1 – 1.30 pm:            Partner 1 prep photos (typically the guys)

1.30 – 1.45 pm:       Photographer travels to Partner 2

1.45 – 3.15 pm:       Partner 2 prep photos (typically the girls)

3.15 – 3.30 pm:       Photographer travels to ceremony

3.30 – 4 pm:           Pre-ceremony (photographer speaks to the celebrant, photographs details of the ceremony + candids of the guests)

4 – 4.30 pm:           Ceremony 

4.30 – 4.45 pm:       Congratulations (based on 80-100 guests)

4.45 – 5.15 pm:       Family photos (based on 12-15 different group photos)

5.15 – 5.30 pm:       Travel to photo location

5.30– 6.30 pm:        Couples portraits in 1 location (including travel time), ending at the reception venue) / Sunset 6.20pm

6.30 – 7 pm:           While the couple freshens up, the photographer captures the reception room + details

7 pm:                      Couple enters the reception

7 – 9 pm:                Reception coverage (cake cut, speeches, dancing)

9pm:                       Photography completed!


Don’t forget that at the end of the day the best timeline for your wedding day is what works for you both! If you’re after some authentic and candid wedding photography in South West WA, I could be your girl. Send me a message and let’s work together!