The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline

Ideal Wedding Day Timeline


———–> If you are completely stuck on how to create your timeline, download a copy of our FREE Perfect Wedding Day Timeline <———–


As of 2015, Jess has been photographing weddings for 15 years and has racked up over 250 weddings under her belt. As she likes to always say, “this isn’t her first rodeo.” 🙂 With that being said though, we are by no means experts on planning out wedding day timelines, but we thought it might be helpful for our brides to know what we have deemed to be the ideal timeline for your special day. (This may also come in handy if you have chosen to forego hiring a wedding planner). We have outlined a stress-free timeline that we believe to run the smoothest AND still allows the couple to enjoy the most of their day. Win-win, right?

Let us preface by saying you will more than likely have to make adjustments to the timeline here are there since every wedding is unique. Some other major contributing factors include: sunset time, location/weather, the amount of time required for formal photos, transportation time (our ideal timeline is based around one location), special events during the reception, cultural traditions, etc.

The JessFoto ideal timeline is built around a sunset time of 8pm. We are also assuming that the bride and groom have decided to see each other before the ceremony. Want to know why we are firm believers in doing a first look?


The Ideal Wedding Day Timeline (in Team JessFoto’s opinion)

4:00pm – Bride and father’s first look

4:15pm – Bride and groom first look/portraits

4:45pm – Formals

5:30pm – All done with formals – bridal party can grab a cocktail/go to the restroom before the ceremony

5:50pm – Line up for ceremony

6:00pm – Ceremony (Keep in mind the perfect lighting is always 2 hours before sunset)

6:30pm – Cocktail hour (Also keep in mind that you will probably want to enjoy at least part of your cocktail hour with your friends/family – you can always take a few more portraits of just you two if you would like as well)

7:30pm – Reception begins

7:40pm – Grand Entrance/First Dance as Married Couple

8:00pm – Dinner 

8:30pm – Toasts/Father+Daughter Dance/Mother+Son Dance

8:50pm – Cake Cutting

9:00pm – Time to Party/Open Dance


The majority of our JessFoto couples hire us for 8-10 hours so we would suggest that the bride and groom have us start shooting either:

8 Hours: 2pm-10pm

10 Hours: Noon-10pm, 1pm-11pm, 2pm-Midnight

We always recommend hiring your photographer so that they have at least 4 hours prior to the ceremony to capture all of the getting ready shots, detail shots (dress, shoes, rings, bouquets), first looks if you choose to do them with your fiancé and/or your father, and if time allows formals. There is nothing worse than trying to rush through formals after the ceremony because we want you to be able to enjoy cocktail hour with your friends and family. Also, you definitely want to make sure your photographer is still there for first dances/cake cutting/at least the start of dancing.
Some main questions to ask yourself when you are creating your timeline:

When is makeup/hair starting?

When is the transportation arriving to bring you to the ceremony?

When does the ceremony start?

When does the reception start? 

One last thing to keep in mind – if on the day of the wedding you decide you need us for another hour or two – that is no problem at all. When we book a wedding we don’t make any other commitments on your day so if you need us we are almost always still available to stay. Other photographers may not offer this, but we do!
Happy wedding day timeline planning! If you need some more help personalizing your timeline, don’t hesitate to drop us a line!

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