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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Brecheisen

Sample 8 Hour Wedding Photography Timeline | Charlotte, NC | Free Download


Allowing your photographer an adequate amount of time is one of the most important things in achieving successful wedding day photos. Many times wedding planners will plan your day without consulting the photographer. Sometimes they go off of their experience, and other times they plan the time after the ceremony around the guests and not what is needed for amazing formals. It is always a good idea to discuss your timeline with your photographer, and have a meeting with your photographer and planner before finalizing anything on your itinerary. Here is a calculator to help you decide on your coverage before meeting with your photographer. It is best to calculate the time you need for formals and pre-formals by multiplying 3 minutes per shot or grouping once you've made your formals shotlist. Below I will break down by category how much time you may possibly need from preparation photos to the reception.



1/2 Hour - 1 and 1/2 Hour

You've spent thousands of dollars on your wedding, and the only thing that will be left of your wonderful day will be the pictures that not only record the events, but also your gorgeous decor. Arranging your details in an artful and meaningful way will take some time. Your photographer has to find the perfect spots, create or find the perfect light, and set up your details almost like a still-life. Your photographer will likely need 30 minutes to 1.5 hours to be able to execute this properly. I personally like to break up the details. Realistically your ceremony and venue details won't be set up by the time your photographer arrives. I like to arrive and immediately start on the Bride and Groom's preparation and clothing details. You will need to put them on for your wedding, so getting these shots upon arrival is crucial.

It's a good idea to assign someone to have your details all together and accounted for before your photographer arrives. This will make the process much faster, and it will free up the photographer to catch the other moments if there is time leftover.



1 Hour 15 Minutes - 2 Hours

The groom should be dressed up to his shirt by the time your photographer arrives. All details such as ties, cufflinks, shoes, etc should be documented by your photographer. (The Groom's family and groomsmen should be dressed by the time your photographer arrives or by the time specified.) Then your photographer will move on to fully dressed shots of the groom alone and eventually the groom and his family and groomsmen.


Don't forget to add in travel time, load, and unload time for you photographer between dressing locations if they are in 2 different places.



1 Hour 15 Minutes - 2 Hours

You should have your hair and make up done by the time your photographer arrives unless documentation of that process is something you want. Your family and bridesmaids should be fully dressed by the time the photographer arrives or by the time specified in your itinerary. If you want boudoir photography done on your wedding day, make sure your photographer is aware so they can add the necessary time in.



30 Minutes - 1 Hour

Your photographer will need time to photograph your beautiful venue details. Personally I like for all pre-formals to be completed an hour or more before the ceremony. I photograph the details, and I then allow 15 minutes before the ceremony to have a meeting with my team on what I want them to do with the current location.



45 Minutes - 1.5 Hours


Your photographer will need to have around 15 minutes prior to the ceremony to meet up with his/her team, and discuss his/her vision for the ceremony with them. Your photographer will tell them settings, their locations, and ultimately what he/she wants as a final product. This 15 minutes is extremely important to have, and it can only be done prior to the ceremony, because light and weather can change. If you have a typical Catholic wedding your ceremony time can increase to 1.5 hours depending on if you have mass.

A typical western wedding will last around 11 minutes, and if there is more involved such as sand or building a cross, then it can take longer. When the ceremony is over and you exit it's a good idea to have a holding spot for everyone that's going to be in the formals. Your photographer will use this time to set up for the formals location.



1 Hour - 3 Hours

The time your formals will take varies greatly. Some people opt to have a huge portrait of everyone attending right after the ceremony. This shot alone will take 15 minutes.

After this you will have your family photographs and wedding party photographs. When you write out your shot list you would list each grouping separately. You would want to multiply 3 minutes per shot. In the example below there are already 12 minutes added in. To cut time, you could cut out parents and siblings and opt for the whole family shot instead of breaking it down.

For example:

Bride, Groom, Pastor

Bride, Groom, Bride's Parents

Bride, Groom, Bride's Siblings

Bride, Groom, Bride's Entire Family

After your family and wedding party formals are done, your photographs together as Bride and Groom will be done. It's very important that you allow adequate time for this. Many couples want dreamy, beautiful photographs to cherish, and to do that takes time I like to have an hour alone with the couple, so we can take our time and get your portrait in the most beautiful ways, but I am able to work under the pressure of just 15 minutes.



1-3 Hours

The time spent at the reception varies greatly as well, but if you're working on a short time-frame with your photographer it's best to schedule important events you want captured at the beginning. For instance, you could schedule your entrance, go straight into all 1st dances, then go to the toasts. After that, dinner will begin and you could schedule your cake cutting directly after that or right at the end of dinner. If you want your exit captured, but you are exiting late after the party, you could schedule a mock exit right after the cake cutting.



15-20 Mins

Your photographer will need a couple of minutes to set up and coordinate with the venue. A sparkler exit will not be as pretty if there is light interference, so the photographer may coordinate with the venue to turn off outside lights after everyone lines up.

Below is your free download! Click on the timeline picture below, and you will receive a pdf of this itinerary.

8 hour wedding day timeline

I hope this information helps, and as always if you have any questions or would like to set up a consultation please don't hesitate to contact me!


Jennifer Brecheisen

Destination Wedding and Lifestyle Photographer Charlotte, NC

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