If you are a Modern Moments couple, I offer a timeline planning session for all my couples!
This timeline planning guide is from a photography coverage perspective


You will want to build your timeline based off of when the sun sets, so find that on Google and work backwards. This isn’t for “sunset photos”, this is for the entire wedding. You want to find out what time the sunsets as this has an affect on your entire wedding. Winter weddings need to be careful of this. You don’t want to assume and end up trying to do your photos in the dark. More often than not, you do not want to do a sunset ceremony because then it will be dark for your formal photos.

Detail Shots

Give your photographer around 30 minutes at the start of arrival to take detail shots of your details. To make this run smoothly, I always recommend having all your details (including all rings) in one spot so your photographer is spending time trying to find and gather things.

Getting Ready Photos

On average, it takes a minimum of 1 hour for getting ready photos. Most brides don’t get pictures of their hair and makeup being done. If they do, they have their photographer arrive towards the end of the service. 

This includes photos of you and your ladies in your robes, getting your dress on, putting all accessories on.

For the guys, it’s putting boutonnieres on and attire

First Look

Give yourself 30 minutes for your first look. The actual “first look” portion will take about five minutes. You want to give yourself some time to do a couple bride and groom portraits following. This also gives you a buffer if you are running behind on the schedule.

Pre-Ceremony Down Time

If you are doing things like a first look and formal photos before the ceremony, you want to be completely done 30 minutes before the ceremony. Your guests will begin arriving and you don’t want them to see you! 

This also gives you a buffer if you are running behind on your timeline.

This gives you the opportunity to regroup and take a quiet moment to prepare for the ceremony.


On average, most ceremonies last around 30 minutes. Religious ceremonies may last longer around 45 minutes to an hour.

Formal Photos

For the wedding party photos, expect to spend around 20 minutes doing this. If you have a large wedding party, add a little more time.

For formal family photos, this typically takes around 30 minutes.

For formal bride and groom photos, this depends. A more traditional timeline would have this during the cocktail hour with about 30 minutes.

I try to sprinkle in some bride and groom photos with some during the first look, some during cocktail hour, and some at sunset

Sunset Photos

I put this on EVERY SINGLE TIMELINE! It is a must in my book. I try to schedule this during when your guests are eating dinner. Schedule 20-30 minutes for this. Google when the sunset is on your date and location, then schedule 30 minutes before that on your timeline.

Reception Coverage

The amount of reception coverage needed for your photographer depends on the couple. Some couples want just the big moments captured and then the photographer to leave. Others want the photographer to stay until the end for a grand exit. This will depend on the length of your reception.

Don’t forget to add your sunset photos during this!

Vendor Meals

Most venues, photographers & videographers specifically, will require a break to grab a meal. Sometimes people start out with a welcome speech or prayer at the beginning of dinner. Once dinner is happening, there shouldn’t be anything further that needs to be photographed as your vendor team will need a break. You will most likely see your photographer jump in after immediate family tables instead of waiting until the end. Why? Because if they wait until the end, they won’t have enough time to eat before you begin things that need to be photographed. Give your photographer the opportunity to grab a meal and take a break and start speeches towards the end of dinner.

(Summer wedding, based on 8:15PM sunset. You can Google your exact location and date to get the sunset time and adjust the timeline accordingly)

2:00- Detail Shots
2:30- Getting ready photos
3:30- First look
4:00- Wedding party photos
4:30- Some family photos
5:00- Pre ceremony down time
5:30- Ceremony start time
6:00-7:00 – Cocktail hour/remaining formal photos (bride and groom can enjoy part of the cocktail party)
7:00- Grand entrance into reception + start of dinner
7:45- Sunset photos for bride and groom


(Based on Summer wedding with 8:15 sunset)
3:00- Detail Shots
3:30- Getting ready photos
4:30-Individual bridal portraits
5:00- Pre-ceremony down time/
5:30-Ceremony start time
6:00-7:00- All formal photos
7:00- Grand entrance into reception + start of dinner
7:45- Sunset photos for bride and groom

Example Wedding Timelines

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Tulsa Oklahoma Wedding Photographer



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