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I'm a wedding photographer based out of South Bend, Indiana.

I believe in always having a vase full of fresh flowers, especially during peony season. That ending a long day should always be on the patio, with a good book and a glass of rosé. And, going to the beach is always a good idea.

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You’ve hired your vendors and now it’s time to consider your timeline. There are a few things you likely already have set in stone, your ceremony and reception times. Although your reception might be a little flexible, there are a few things to put into consideration to know exactly how you should construct your timing.

Getting Ready

Getting ready images are here to stay. Every couple I’ve met has envisioned what it’ll feel like to put on their wedding attire surrounded by their loved ones. Whether you are also planning big reveals or wanting to take portraits before the ceremony, know how much time your photographer needs prior to scheduling your post photographer arrival events.

Groom Prep

  • Detail photos of your attire (30 minutes)
  • Candids of the Groom & Attendants (30 minutes)
    • Getting your final details adjusted by your Best Man, Mother or Father
    • Opening your gift/reading your letter after you’re dressed
    • Hanging out with your Attendants/Toasts
  • Group Shots (10 Minutes)
    • Groom with his parents
    • Groom with his Attendants

Bridal Prep

  • Detail photos of your attire (30 minutes)
  • Candids of the Bride & Attendants (30 minutes)
    • Attendants in their robes/shirts/PJs
    • Having your MOH or MOB helping your into your dress
    • Opening your gift/reading your letter after you’re dressed
  • First Looks (30 Minutes)
    • Attendants get their first look of you in your dress
    • Daddy/Daughter First Look
    • First look as a couple*
  • Group Shots (10 minutes)
    • Bride with her parents
    • Bride with her Attendants

* If you are planning on having everything back to back following your ceremony, I would strongly suggest a first look to maximize your time post ceremony. Another aspect of this would be if you are planning your wedding in the winter months and the quality of light post ceremony isn’t going to be optimal (ie. 5pm sunset).


Your ceremony is why you are celebrating the day. It’s the joining of two lives together, no matter how you choose to do that. If you are planning a full Catholic wedding or simple, quick non-denominational ceremony, the timing is the center of the day.

  • Details Photos of the ceremony (15 minutes)
  • Candid of the Groom with his Attendants (5 minutes)
  • Candids of the Bride with her Attendants (5 minutes)
  • Portraits of the Bride before she walks down the aisle (5 minutes)
  • Ceremony (30-60 minutes)
    • If you are having a full Catholic mass and you aren’t handing out communion by the 45 minute mark, I can automatically tell you that you are going to go over on time and your family formals list will shrink.
  • Family Formals (30 minutes)



If you didn’t get a chance to do any group photos before the ceremony, then we’ll do them now, but I usually try to no duplicate them

  • Group Photos (10 minutes)
  • Groom with his Attendants (10 minutes)
  • Bride with her Attendants (10 minutes)

Couple Portraits

Cocktail hours that are scheduled for immediately following the ceremony ending will take up the entire time of the family formals and Attendants pictures. This is why you see a lot of photographers push for first looks.

  • Couple at location #1 (15 minutes)
  • Couple at location #2 (15 minutes)
  • Couple at location #3 (15 minutes)
  • Couple at location #4 (15 minutes)

Planning on going out on the Notre Dame football field? Plan for that to start at the beginning of cocktail hour and plan to send the Attendants ahead of you in order to maximize your time and locations. Plan to arrive 30 minutes in. More on my field thoughts later…


It’s important to look at the reception timeline as more of a guideline. Certain things NEED to happen on time, like the timing of your grand entrance and the time your entrees are plated in front of your guests. Other than that, organize the events of your reception in the order you like.

Cocktail Hour

  • Detail photos of the Cocktail hour space, food, florals(10 minutes)
  • Candids of your guests interacting with each other (10 minutes)


  • Sunset photos (10 minutes)
  • Detail photos of the Reception space, centerpieces, signages, head table (30 minutes)
  • Grand entrance (5 minutes
  • Speeches/Toasts (15 minutes)**
  • Dinner service/Saying hi to all your guests at their tables (60 minutes)
  • First Dance (5 minutes)
  • Parent Dances (10 minutes)
  • Bouquet toss (5 minutes)
  • Dancing (45 minutes)
  • Grand Exit (15 minutes)

**This is the most controversial part of your timeline. Every vendor has a preference. I, personally, find it to be a better flow to have your MOH & BM do their toasts before the entrees. Why? Two reasons. First, whomever is doing the toast can actually eat their dinner. Second, there will be no food in front of you in your photos…that’s not a good look and subconsciously, everyone eats if something is in front of them.

Other Considerations

Travel Time

Everyone forgets to add travel into their timeline. Especially if you are within “walking distance”. But, you still need to put into consideration travel.

  • Bride & her Attendants to Ceremony (10 minutes)
  • Groom & his Attendants to Ceremony (10 minutes)***
  • Couple & their Attendants to photos (10 minutes)
  • Couple & their Attendants to Reception (10 minutes)

*** I will ALWAYS recommend the Groom show up to the Ceremony location last. He can blend a lot better than a big white dress. Then, if he’s running behind, he doesn’t chance the guests seeing the Bride before she wants them to see her.

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