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Wedding Day Schedule

With wedding season fast approaching, here are a few things you may want to help you plan out your schedule for the day of. My biggest tip - start with the ceremony time and work backwards to when you need to start getting ready.

When to Start Hair & Makeup.

This one will vary from wedding to wedding, but here are some averages. Wedding makeup takes about 1 hour per person. Hair is about the same, but will depend upon the style you choose. If you are the bride, choose to get yours done in the middle. This helps you relax and get any last minute things done first before it is your turn. As a photographer, I love when my brides have all of their detail items ready for me to grab in a bag or box.

The Details

As you are busy with your hair and makeup, that is a PERFECT time for photographers to get all the detail and getting ready shots. I love to schedule 1-1.5 hours for me to grab all the details. It is a lot to move the dress, rings, etc.

Keep this in mind when scheduling your photographer!

Getting Into Your Dress & First Looks

Whether you want to have a first look down the isle or before, it takes a little bit to set up. Getting into a dress and doing first looks take anywhere from 15-30 mins.

Couples Shots

The pictures you will hang up on your wall, the ones the kids will see, are the most important! For most couples, it is the couple pictures. Plan for at least an hour for these pictures!

When you are planning when/where to do your pictures, ask your photographer and they can help out. Figure in drive time, needed bathroom breaks, etc.

The Wedding Party Sessions

This can vary depending upon your wedding party size and how much goofiness they want to be. A good rule of thumb is to plan about an hour for wedding party pictures. Especially if your wedding party is large. If it doesn't take that long, it is a great way to add in cushion to your schedule.

Family Photos

It is perfect to wait until the last bit to take family photos. Kids hate waiting and you don't want family members sitting around. I like family to arrive about 1.5 hours before the ceremony. Typically, family photos only take 30 mins (unless you have a large family). This allows the bride to go hide before the rest of the guests arrive.

Before the Ceremony

I love to ensure that my brides and grooms can have at least an hour before the ceremony to relax, EAT, and rehydrate. This is time that you can visit with each other, nap, take a shot, or do whatever you need to do.

The Ceremony

Ceremonies come in all different lengths and types, check with your venue. sure to think about things like the receiving line, exit plans, clean up.

After the Ceremony

You don't want a super long wait between the ceremony and reception, but do you want to go to a few bars? Need time for cleaning up? Here you go! Ideally, if guests have to travel between locations for the ceremony and reception, give them about 1-1.5 hours to do so.

Grand Entrance

The hardest part is lining everyone up. Plan to be introduced about 15 minutes before the meal is served.

Make it fun! Guests (and photographers) love it when you come in and have a blast!

Finally...the Food

By this time in the day, everyone will be starving! Plan your meal to last about an hour. If having a buffet, this gives all time to go through the line and eat a bit before speeches begin.


Not every wedding has speeches, but if yours does, get an estimate of how long they will take. Plan on starting them after everyone goes through the food line - this ensure that all guests can enjoy the words from loved ones. Speeches usually take around 15 minutes.

Cake Cutting

You can do this in private or make a big announcement, either way, cutting your cake is a fun tradition. Plan about 10-15 minutes for your cake cutting, just in case your significant other decides to get a little messy.

Sunset Shots

My absolute favorite time of the evening are the sunset shots! I love stealing my couples away when everyone finishes up eating, grabbing desserts,

I promise, you will never, ever regret stepping away for shots like these. by this time you will most likely be tired of the camera, but I PROMISE you will be in love with them. This is the time to set away from the craziness and finally be next to your husband/wife.

Plus, there is usually a little clean up after dinner and this allows all of that to happen without you worrying.

First Dances

Give yourself time to do all the first dances you want - It takes anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes for first dances.

The Rest of the Night

Now is the time to have fun!! Relax, have fun, and enjoy!

Don't Forget About the Weather

Whatever the weather, make a quick backup plan or go with the flow! This picture was taken in the rain - we just added a bit to the schedule for makeup touchups.

Snow, rain, or extreme heat, just come with all that you need - umbrella, blanket, or water.

Example of a Wedding Day Schedule

(from a photographer's view)

8:00am - Begin hair/makeup process

11:00am - Photographer Arrives, Detail Shots

12:15pm - Getting into dress

12:30pm - First look

1:30pm - Wedding Party Pictures

2:30pm - Family Pictures

3:00pm - Bride Hiding, wedding snacks, touch ups

4:00pm - Ceremony

4:30pm - Receiving Line

5:15pm - Grand Entrance

5:30pm -Dinner

6:45pm - Speeches

7:00pm - Cake Cutting

7:15pm - Sunset Shots

8:00pm - First Dance

8:30pm - Dance Opens

9:00pm - Photographer Leaves

10:00pm - Dance snack (pizza, donuts, sandwiches)

11:55pm - Last dance

Need More Help With Your Schedule?

Hi! I am Whitney Rupprecht, owner and photographer of Whitney Ru Photography. Weddings are AMAZING and I am here to help - so send me an email or give me a call and I can help you out.

I attend over 30 weddings a year, so I have seen a lot! Have something special or unique you want to incorporate - let's chat!

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