The Complete Guide to Building the Perfect Wedding Day Timeline for Video and Photo

Posted by on Jul 12, 2016 in Helpful Tips | No Comments

The Complete Guide to Building the Perfect Wedding Day Timeline for Video and Photo


Your wedding day has the potential to be very stressful. Especially if you don’t have a timeline that allows for you to enjoy the day. One of the biggest things that can stress you out on the wedding day is running behind, and feeling like you have to hurry things along.

When we meet with our brides, one of the first things we do is put together a tentative video / photo timeline for the day. We can see it in the bride’s facial expression, the sigh of relief she has when we start nailing down the details. Since we have been to literally hundreds of weddings, we know what typically works! Below, you will see a sample timeline for a ceremony that has a “first look” (when the bride and groom see each other before the ceremony), as well as one without a “first look.” In this example, the ceremony start time is 5pm. 

Timeline with 5pm Start Time and a “First Look”
1:15 Venue Footage / Aerial Footage / Atmosphere Footage
2:15 Detail Shots (Dress, Shoes, Jewelry)
2:30 Bride / Bridal Party Getting Ready
2:30 Camera 2 Groom / Groomsmen Getting Ready
2:45 Gifts and Letters
3:00 Bride Puts on Dress
3:10 First Look with Bride and Dad
3:15 First Look with Bride and Groom
3:20 Bride and Groom Portraits
3:45 Add Wedding Party for Pics
4:15 Hide Bride
4:30 Finish up Groom / Groomsmen Pics
4:45 Atmosphere / Guest Arrival Pics
4:50 Prayers / Blessings Before the Ceremony
5:00 Ceremony
5:30 Ceremony End
5:35 Family Photos
6:00 Grand Entrance Into Reception
6:05 First Dance with Bride and Groom
6:10 Welcome from Bride’s Parents and Blessing Over Couple / Food
6:15 Dinner is Served
6:45 Cake Cutting
6:50 Toasts (Best Man, Maid of Honor)
7:00 Father, Daughter / Mother, Son Dances
7:10 Dance Floor Opens
7:45 Bouquet and Garter Toss
8:00 Open Dance / Party time
10:00 Grand Exit

Timeline with 5pm Start Time and no “First Look”
1:15 Venue Footage / Aerial Footage / Atmosphere Footage
2:15 Detail Shots (Dress, Shoes, Jewelry)
2:30 Bride / Bridal Party Getting Ready
2:30 Camera 2 Groom / Groomsmen Getting Ready
2:45 Gifts and Letters
3:00 Bride Puts on Dress
3:10 First Look with Bride and Dad
3:15 Bride and Bridesmaids Portraits
3:45 Hide Bride
3:50 Groom and Groomsmen Portraits
4:15 Finish up Groom / Groomsmen Pics
4:45 Atmosphere / Guest Arrival Pics
4:50 Prayers / Blessings Before the Ceremony
5:00 Ceremony
5:30 Ceremony End
5:30 Family Photos
5:45 Full Wedding Party Pics
6:00 Bride and Groom Portraits
6:30 Grand Entrance into Reception
6:35 First Dance with Bride and Groom
6:40 Welcome from Bride’s Parents and Blessing Over Couple / Food
6:45 Dinner is Served
7:15 Cake Cutting
7:20 Toasts (Best Man, Maid of Honor)
7:30 Father, Daughter / Mother, Son Dances
7:40 Dance Floor Opens
8:15 Bouquet and Garter Toss
8:45 Open Dance / Party Time
10:00 Grand Exit

Explanation of the Timeline
Detail Shots – When we arrive, we immediately start taking photos of your dress and jewelry. Usually by this point, you are almost done with your hair and makeup so that’s a bonus for video and photos to look their best too.
Key Benefits: This allows us to be in the room, and taking photos before we start pointing the camera at your wedding party. It lets your wedding party get more comfortable with us. This is important because the more comfortable your wedding party is with us, the more natural your pictures will look.

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Getting Ready Photos – Next, we will start taking photos of you getting ready. Some last minute touch ups of hair and makeup, as well as photos of the girls getting ready, shots of all the girls in their robes, etc. Simultaneously, we will have our second shooters with the groom and groomsmen getting details, so you won’t miss what his day looked like too!

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Gifts and Letters – After the getting ready photos, we typically like to do gifts and letters. While the bride is still in her robe, we have her sit down and open up her gift from the groom. Most of the time, he sends along a letter and we will have her read that out loud for the camera (if she’s comfortable doing so). Our second shooters are filming the groom open his gift and reading his letter as well.

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Bride Puts on Her Dress – After the gifts and letters, we typically will have the bride get into her dress to a point where she’s completely covered up, but not yet buttoned up / zipped up yet. This allows us to get some great photos of the dress being put on the bride.

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First Look with Bride and Dad – After our bride is fully dressed, we love it when she does a simple first look with her dad (and sometimes brothers). Obviously this will depend on the relationship she has with her family. We love being able to capture the moment where the father of the bride gets to take a look at his little girl before she goes to see her future husband. This moment is a tear jerker most times, so you might bring a couple of tissues.

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First look with the Bride and Groom – From there, we will take you to go see your groom for the first time in your wedding dress. We will try to set him up in a secluded location so you can have a few minutes together just the two of you. We have you walk up and he turns around to see you. Once again, this is a pretty intimate moment, so you might want to have a few tissues ready. We always let you take as long as you’d like talking to each other before we get to photos with just the two of you.

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Bride and Groom Portraits – After the first look, we love getting to take about 15-30 minutes with just the two of you for photos. This is a time when you aren’t stressed, and you can focus on spending time with each other. These photos are usually the “money shots” that you end up hanging on your walls one day. You’d be surprised at how many photos you can take in a 20-30 minute window. The main benefit is that it takes away all of the stress that you were feeling leading up to this moment. We get asked all the time if it takes away from you walking down the aisle. On the contrary, we have seen it make the moment much better. Guys are wired differently than the girls, and sometimes it is just a sensory overload to be processing everything when you are coming down the aisle. From what we have seen, the groom is much more able to enjoy you coming down the aisle. Trust us, it is still a huge moment, and we never want to take away from that!

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Wedding Party Pics – The next thing in line is adding the wedding party for wedding party pics. We usually do big group photos with the entire wedding party. Then we split you up to do the photos with you and your girls, while the second shooter is taking photos of the groom and his groomsmen. We finish up any photos with the bride and get you hidden about 45 minutes before the ceremony so you can relax, and get freshened up. If there are any more photos to take of the groom, we will knock those out after you have been hidden away.

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Atmosphere and Guests Arrival Photos – When you are relaxing, we send our second shooter to get some photos of your guests arriving, signing your guest book, etc.

Prayers / Blessings Before the Ceremony – This is the perfect time to involve someone really special to you for a blessing or praying before the wedding. We typically will have the girls go back to their room, and the guys go back to theirs too. Some brides will involve a grandma, or one of the bridesmaids for a prayer or blessing at this time. In the groom’s room, we see him have the officiant or pastor say a prayer, or even his dad or brother. These moments are so special, and you’ll be so glad that you have them on film!

Ceremony – The typical ceremony is somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes long. We have our 2 photographers, and 2 cinematographers cover the ceremony and will work with you to know exactly what all will be taking place during the ceremony (candle lighting, unity cross, prayers, scriptures, communion, etc.) Most brides don’t even notice our team, as we do our best to stay as out of the way as possible, while still getting all of the shots we need.

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Family Photos – Directly following the ceremony we have the officiant announce for all family members to hang around for a few family photos. Depending on the size of your families, it takes about 15-20 minutes to get photos with all of the groups of family members. Usually, it takes about this much time to get all of your guests into the reception to find their tables, so you don’t lose much time at all.


Grand Entrance / First Dance – Our goal is to get you into your reception as quickly as possible. So immediately following family photos, we will get you ready to enter the wedding. One of the best transitions is to come right in and start with a first dance. We have found it to be awkward if you make a grand entrance and then just sit down. So a huge recommendation from us is to go straight into your first dance with your husband.

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Welcome from Bride’s Parents and blessing over couple / food – Traditionally the bride’s family is the one paying for most of the reception, so this is a great time to let the father and/or mother of the bride say a quick word to all of the guests as a welcome to the reception. It is also a really great time for them to say a little something to the bride and groom and then bless the food before dinner.

Dinner  – From here we recommend that you sit down and eat dinner. Not only are you are paying a lot of money for the food, you’re probably starving at this point and need some food to have the energy to enjoy your reception. Everyone will want to pull you aside to congratulate you, so make sure you take the time to just sit down and eat. You might not even notice how hungry or thirsty you could be. With all the craziness from the day, you could get dehydrated or pass out because you’re malnourished.

Cutting the Cake / Toasts – About 45 minutes after dinner is served is the perfect time to cut the cake and have your toasts from the Maid of Honor and Best Man. Everyone is finishing up their food and ready for some dessert. While everyone is eating a piece of cake, they can listen and watch as the toasts are happening. This is always a great transition, and saves time during the reception. But most importantly, it eliminates any awkward transitions!

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Father/Daughter and Mother/Son Dances – Since everyone’s attention is already on you, we recommend going straight into parent dances. Some couples don’t really want to dance that long with their parents, and some want to soak in every second they can. It is totally up to you, but we have seen some couples do both dances at the same time (both father/daughter and mother/son dancing at once). We have also seen where the bride and groom only dance for about half of the song with their parent.

Dance Floor Opens – Most all of the formalities are done at this point, which means it is time to get the party started. This is the perfect time to open up the dance floor and to let loose. During this time is a great time for you to walk around and greet your guests as well.

Bouquet / Garter Toss – Typically about 30-45 minutes after the dance floor opens is when we recommend that you do your bouquet and garter toss. Everyone is having a great time, and already out on the dance floor. So it is an easy transition into these events.

Open Dance / Party Time – After the bouquet and garter, there really isn’t much left to do besides just enjoy yourself and your guests. This is where you can really enjoy your DJ or band, and have a blast. Depending on whether or not you are doing a grand exit, we usually only hang around for 30 minutes or so of dancing before we finish up with photos and video for the day.

Grand Exit – The night is over and it is time to do your grand exit. Most brides use sparklers or flowers for the grand exit. We get great video and photos of you with all of your guests as you make your grand exit.

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The day is over, and you can enjoy the beginning of life together! We hope this information helps you as you are planning your wedding day. There is no right or wrong formula for a wedding timeline, but we know that this option (or something similar) really does flow well for the big day. If you have any questions, or would like to meet to chat about your wedding day timeline be sure to get in contact with us today!