What Does An 8 Hr Wedding Day Timeline Actually Look Like?

Most wedding photographers offer collections or packages based on time spent on-site. Another thing that wedding photographers do is offer continuous hours of photography coverage.

If you haven’t already, have a read of my earlier article ‘How To Work Out How Many Hours Of Wedding Photography You May Need’ – it’s a good primer to get you on your way.

Whilst we typically do not count travel time at the beginning and end of the day, any travel that takes place between bridal prep, ceremony, bridal portraits and reception is counted. That is, we from the time we begin, the number of hours of coverage is continuous.

Like many of my colleagues, I offer an 8 hour wedding photography option.

This is what an optimal 8 hour wedding day timeline looks like from a photography coverage perspective:

Photography commences @ bridal prep: 1pm

Your hair and makeup will most likely start earlier than this. Photographers prefer to arrive towards the end of your hair and makeup so that you look your best in the images. During this time, we will photograph details (dress, veil, shoes, invites, flowers etc) if appropriate.

If you’re planning on giving a surprise gift to your groom and want the moment captured, you’re probably best served by having a second photographer as part of your wedding photography service.

Recommended reading: Do You Want Amazing ‘Getting Ready’ Photos? Here Are Some Helpful Tips To Consider

Wedding ceremony: 3pm

I don’t do a whole lot of church weddings so if you’re having a full Mass, your ceremony timeline is going to be significantly longer. But in general, the typical civil ceremony (where you say your vows) + mingling with guests + family photos takes about an hour or so.

As a rule of thumb, don’t walk down the aisle until your celebrant has had a chat with you. Secondly, wait until your photographer gives you the signal. We want you to look your best and make your entrance at the right time, whilst capturing the reaction of your soon-to-be husband. So be patient!

Location Photos: 4-5pm

Look great, have your portraits taken (some posed, most candid with some direction), and have fun!

Reception: 6pm

You’ll typically arrive whilst your guests are having canapés and drinks. Some couples choose to chill in a private room and wait for their grand entrance whilst other couples opt to mingle with their friends. Do whatever feels right to you.

During reception, I like to take lots of photos of your guests (when they’re not chewing food). Most couples don’t need to see hundreds of photos of themselves – I’m assuming you’re the same.

Speeches will be made. Perhaps a father-and-daughter dance? And if you choose to have a wedding cake, you’ll cut that too.

In between meal services and formalities, may I suggest that you take the time to go speak with friends and family?

Photography wraps up @ reception: 9pm

Formalities and meals have usually concluded by this time. You have danced for the first time as husband and wife and the cake has been cut. Hopefully your DJ has begun to crank the music and your guests are hitting the dance floor. I always tell my couples that they don’t need too many photos of the same guests dancing. Usually 15 minutes of dance floor coverage will do. Plus, once the cameras turn off, you and your guests and finally go wild.

how to plan a sparkler exit

If you have a sparkler exit planned towards the end of the evening, you’ll probably want to extend your photography coverage by 2 hours.

Depending on the season, you may wish to adjust your ceremony start time to be earlier (Autumn – Winter) or later in the day (Spring – Summer) to accommodate for daylight hours. Remember, sunlight disappears very quickly in Autumn and Winter.

For couples who prefer a more relaxed approach to their wedding day, 8 hours of photography coverage is a really good option.


Enter Your Name & Email Address To Get Access To The Ultimate Wedding Planning Cheat Sheet That I Give ONLY To My $18,000 Clients NOW!

Check your email inbox in a few minutes time

Enter Your Name & Email Address To Join The Masterclass Waiting List!

Check your email inbox in a few minutes time

Enter Your Name & Email Address To Get A Custom Quote From Dan

Check your email inbox in a few minutes time