The Perfect Wedding Timeline with a First Look

March 1, 2024

Two brides seen from the back, walking hand-in-hand into the sunset across a scenic field in the middle of their perfect wedding timeline with a first look.

Planning a wedding is a really exciting time, but you also probably have a ton of questions as well. When should you book everything? Who do you invite? What does a wedding timeline actually look like? 

Well, as a wedding photographer myself, I have been involved in over 100 weddings over the years and have a pretty good idea of how your wedding day should flow. From the time we start taking detail pictures to you getting ready to walking down the aisle to your reception, each part of your wedding day should be planned out so you can sit back and enjoy your day. 

So, if you are looking for the perfect wedding timeline with a first look added into the schedule too, here is how to break it down! 

Wedding Timeline with a First Look

1:00 Detail Photos

The day will start out with some detail photos. This is when we will photograph everything from your venue as a whole to smaller details like your wedding invitations, rings, jewelry, shoes, accessories, wardrobe, and anything else you want to remember. 

While there isn’t a ton you have to do during this time, one thing you can do beforehand is have everything you know you want photographed put to the side. This way, when your photographer gets to the venue, all of the small detail pieces you want photographed are all together and nothing is left out. 

2:00 Getting Ready Photos

Once 2 o’clock rolls around, we will start to capture some getting ready photos. This can be anything from getting your hair and makeup done, sharing some moments with your wedding party, having some drinks, etc. 

2:30 Couple Gets Dressed 

By around 2:30 you and your partner should be getting into your ceremony outfits. This will give you enough time to make any final touches you need to before we jump into the rest of the day. 

Be sure to give yourself plenty of time here so you don’t feel rushed. Especially if you are including lots of undergarments and fashion tape to keep everything in place. If you want specific wedding party members helping you in your getting ready photos, make sure they are dressed and ready before this moment starts!

3:00 First look with private vows, couple photos

Finally, it is time for you and your partner to have your first look. We like to keep this really small and intimate and sneak away to a private spot for your first look. 

In addition to the first look, this is a great time to do private vows as well. With everything going on during your wedding, it can sometimes feel like you don’t get enough time to actually spend with your partner. 

These moments can be so precious and this is a great time to share anything a bit more intimate or just reminisce about your life together. We will also capture some couple photos with you and your partner during this time. 

3:30 Wedding party photos

After your first look, we will invite the rest of the wedding party to take some photos with everyone. It is important that both sides know when and where this is going to happen so everyone can make sure they are ready when the time comes. 

Since you and your partner will be away doing your first look, you can have one of your friends/family members take the lead and make sure everyone gets together so you can flow right into group pictures!

4:00 Family photos

Once we have all of the amazing pictures of you and your wedding parties, we will draw it back a bit and take some pictures with just you and your family. 

I always love doing this before the actual ceremony because it seems like it is always impossible to grab everyone you want for family photos after the ceremony is over. This way you don’t have to worry about finding people in the crowd of all of your guests and you can actually enjoy your cocktail hour!

4:30 Breather

This is a very important time and something I would highly recommend that you do not skip. Take some time to take a little break before your actual ceremony. 

With everything going on all day leading up to this point, you can maybe start to feel a bit overwhelmed and nervous. Be sure to take a little bit of time to sit down, breathe, drink some water, and soak up the moment to be present before you walk down the aisle.

5:00 Ceremony

Your ceremony is finally here and you and your partner get to stand up in front of all of your closests friends and family and vow to spend your lives together. While you can focus on just getting married, we will be capturing all of the amazing moments for you to look back on forever. 

5:30 Cocktail hour

After the ceremony, you and your guests can go and enjoy your cocktail hour. One of the benefits of doing a first look is that we can actually take the majority of your individual and group portraits before your actual ceremony. 

This means that after you say I do, you can actually go and enjoy your cocktail hour with your guests! While we may sneak out for some more photos later on in the night, for now, you can just have fun and get the celebration started! 

6:30 Reception begins

Around 6:30 your reception will officially begin. Your guests will start to make their way into the reception venue and you and your wedding parties will get ready for your grand entrance. 

Be sure that everyone in your wedding party knows where and when they need to be ready for this just so you don’t have to chase people down before you can start your reception. 

6:35 Intros, first dance, parent dances, toasts

Once all of your guests are seated, you and your wedding parties will be introduced before you step onto the dance floor for your first dance. This is also the perfect time for any parent dances that you want to do as well as any toasts. 

7:00 Dinner (couple goes out for golden hour photos) *time of year depending 

After the reception has officially kicked off and dinner is being served, we can sneak out for a bit to take some golden hour photos with you and your partner. Now, this is obviously something that will be dependent on the time of year and the weather outside, but if you can make it happen, I highly recommend keeping this in your schedule. 

We will make sure to not take up too much of your time so you can still enjoy dinner together, but we can capture some amazing photos during this time while you enjoy another built-in intimate moment with one another.

8:00 Desserts, open dance floor

Once 8pm rolls around, it’s time to cut the cake and have some dessert before opening up the dance floor. This is honestly one of my favorite times of the whole night. 

As soon as everyone steps onto the dance floor, they let loose and the energy level gets bumped up to the max. Dance floor photos are also some of my favorites to take and you will definitely see me sneaking out onto the floor to capture some incredible moments throughout the night!

10:00 Photographers depart

As the clock strikes 10, it is time for your photographers to depart. While we definitely don’t want this night to end, we have for sure captured so many amazing memories and subtle moments throughout the day that you and your partner will be able to look back on forever! 

What If I’m Not Doing a First Look? 

If you decide not to do a first look, the timeline will look very similar to this with just a few small tweaks. We can still do group photos with your individual wedding parties before the ceremony, however, portraits with you and your partner, full wedding party, and family photos will all have to happen after the ceremony. 

This will most likely mean that these will take place during your cocktail hour. 

Final Thoughts on a Wedding Timeline

Hopefully this wedding timeline with a first look helps give you an idea of how you can set up your wedding day. The most important thing to remember is that this day is for you so make sure you set it up in a way that feels right for you and your partner. 

And, if you are still looking for the perfect photographer to capture all of these moments for you, I’d love to chat. You can click here to learn more about my wedding photography services, or head over here to get in touch!

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