Your Perfect Wedding Timeline with a First Look

Wedding Stories






Take Your Pick

The nature of my work means I have a birds-eye view of anything that could be remotely relevant to your upcoming wedding.

The best-kept-secrets.
The hidden gems.
The must-attend events.
The insider tips to make your wedding run smoothly.

This blog is designed to make your life easy and your wedding FABULOUS! 

The best-kept secrets 
and unscripted 
anecdotes of a 
Boston Wedding 

Planning a wedding can be a bit stressful at some points and one of the big questions you may have is how to actually plan out what is going to happen the day of your wedding. 

Well, as a wedding photographer for over 12 years, I have been part of countless weddings and know the ins and outs of planning your wedding day timeline. While it can seem like there isn’t enough time in the day for everything you need to do, having a set schedule is really important and can help everything run so much smoother on your wedding day. 

So, let’s take a look at what a wedding timeline with a first look can look like! 

The Perfect Wedding Timeline

1:00 – Detail Photos

Starting off the day, your photographer will take some time to get all of the detail shots. This is always going to be the first thing on the schedule for your wedding for one of two reasons: 

  1. Everything is still set up perfectly, and all of the spaces are empty for those dream photos. 
  2. You don’t need some of the smaller detail items quite yet since you haven’t officially started getting ready. 

Now, while this is a time when your photographer is going to be taking over and capturing photos without you actually in them, there are still a few things that you can do to make this part of the schedule go off without a hitch. 

First, have all of the small detail items together and ready for them. This can include things like save the dates, wedding invitations, your rings, other jewelry, shoes, veils, and any other important items that you want captured. 

The other thing you can do is make sure that all of your vendors are coordinated. For example, knowing that your flowers are going to be delivered a little later is really helpful and helps them plan out how they are going to capture everything before the wedding! 

2:00 – Getting Ready Photos 

Now it is finally time for you and your wedding parties to start getting ready. It is important that you make sure you and your partner are the first ones to get ready throughout the day. 

This means if you need to get hair or makeup done or need any assistance with your outfits, you need to go first. Your wedding party will have a bit more time after you leave to go to your first look, so always make sure you are getting ready first! 

If you do have two photographers at your wedding (like all of my packages include), they will split up, and each of them will photograph you when you get ready. If you do have just one photographer, they will most likely split their time between the two of you, so be sure to let them know if you want any must-have photos from this time! 

3:00 – First Look and Portraits

It is finally time for your first look. This is one of the few times when you and your partner get to spend some quality time together alone during your wedding day, so you definitely want to make sure you are soaking it in. 

After your first look, you can go right into taking your couple’s portraits. This is honestly one of the best reasons why doing a first look is a great idea for your wedding. 

By having this time, you can get all of your portraits taken before your actual ceremony. This means after you say I do, you actually get to enjoy your cocktail hour with your guests! 

4:00 – Family and Wedding Party Photos

Rear view photo of bride in the middle of a line with bridesmaids in light blue dresses on either side of her

Once you and your partner have had some time to spend together and get those beautiful portraits, your wedding party and family can join in to get all of those group photos. 

While you can get some wedding party photos as you are getting ready, this is the perfect time to come together and get group photos now that everyone is dressed. 

There is one key thing you need to make sure happens with this, though. You need to make sure that everyone you want these portraits with knows where and when they are going to happen. 

While your wedding party is going to be getting ready with you all morning, some of your family members may not be. So be sure to communicate with everyone you want there before your wedding day to make sure everyone knows where they need to be! 

It is also a great idea to have someone (other than you and your partner) who can coordinate everyone and make sure there are no delays! 

5:00 – Take a Break and Get Ready for the Ceremony 

Close up view of three young boys wearing converse sneakers and holding signs that read "too late to run" "because here she comes" and "hurry up...I want cake"

This is something that I think should be built into every single wedding timeline with a first look or without one. There are so many nerves and excited energy flowing through everyone before your ceremony that sometimes you just need to schedule a bit of time where nothing is going to happen. 

This is a time where you can just sit down and relax with your wedding party, make any final touch-ups you need, or do anything else you need to do before you get ready to walk down the aisle! 

5:30 – Ceremony 

An outdoor wedding ceremony under gray skies with guests holding umbrellas and a smiling bridal party by a wooden altar with lake views.

It is finally time for you to walk down the aisle towards your partner. Your ceremony will be absolutely amazing, and your photographers will definitely capture each and every moment of it. 

Most of the time, your ceremony is not going to take more than 30 minutes or so. However, if you know that you are going to have a longer one, be sure to take that into account (maybe starting a bit earlier in the day or pushing back the cocktail hour a bit). 

6:00 – Cocktail Hour

Close up view of guests' hands holding up champagne glasses for a toast

After your ceremony, you can go right into cocktail hour. Since you got the majority of your portraits done beforehand, you’ll be able to enjoy this time with your guests. 

This is also a great time to get individual photos with any guests if you want them. Once the reception starts, it can get a bit crazy, so this is the perfect time for everyone to relax and walk around to take those photos! 

7:00 – Reception Begins, Introductions, First Dance, Toasts, Dinner, etc.

Low view of bride and groom walking through canopy created by guests' standing on either side and holding their arms high

Cocktail hour will flow right into the reception as you and your wedding parties are introduced; you have your first dance, eat dinner, have all of your toasts, etc. 

Depending on where and when you are getting married, you can also carve out a bit of time here to take some sunset portraits. This will obviously depend on the time of year and your actual venue location, but if you are able to take them, they are amazing photos to capture! 

8/8:30 – Everyone Hits the Dance Floor 

Guests circling around dance floor while man in blue shirt and black pants jumps in the air with purple lights in the background

After dinner, it’s time to turn the lights down and hit the dance floor. This is always one of the most fun times during your wedding and is the perfect time to capture more candid moments as well. 

As you and your guests are celebrating this amazing day, your photographer will be capturing all of these incredible moments for you to look back on years from now. 

10:00 – Your Grand Exit 

Bride and groom share a kiss in front of the Hyatt Regency steps with bridesmaids in light colored dresses standing on either side of them

As this unforgettable night comes to an end, it is time for you and your partner’s grand exit. Whether this is a sparker exit with your guests, a surprise outfit change into matching sweatsuits, or anything else you can imagine, these final moments are so amazing to capture and really bring the whole day to a close. 

Final Thoughts on a Wedding Timeline with a First Look

So, there you have it. A wedding timeline with a first look. Hopefully this helps you as you plan out your perfect wedding day. The most important thing is that everyone knows what this timeline looks like. 

There is already so much going on that day that you don’t want to have to worry about people not knowing the schedule, so be sure to share it with everyone who needs to know it well beforehand. 

And, if you still need the perfect photographer to document this day for you, let’s chat. You can learn more about my wedding photography packages here, or you can head over here to get in touch with me!

Check out these posts next: