Wedding Day timeline

Congrats! You just got engaged, booked your wedding venue and wedding photographer! If you'd like to start building your wedding day timeline but are feeling overwhelmed and are unsure where to start- don't worry, I've got you! As a Montreal wedding photographer with many years of experience helping my couples create their wedding day timelines, here are all the tips and tricks I have for you!

There are many different aspects of the day to considering when creating your wedding timeline. We'll start with four key fixed points to consider when creating your wedding day timeline, followed by four more flexible aspects. Then I'll get into the specifics regarding how much time to allocate towards different parts of your big day! And we'll end off this blog with 3 sample wedding day timelines for a 6, 9 and 12 hour wedding photography package!

Fixed points
  1. Venue Restrictions and Hours: Begin by understanding the time constraints set by your venue. Know when you can start setting up, the ceremony and reception timings, and when you need to wrap up the event. This forms the backbone of your timeline.
  2. Photography Package Hours: Your photographer's coverage duration is crucial. Align this with the significant moments you want them to capture, such as getting ready, first look, ceremony, and reception highlights.
  3. Ceremony Time: Your chosen ceremony time is often non-negotiable and serves as a foundation for the rest of the day. Allocate enough time for pre-ceremony preparation, travel, and post-ceremony activities.
  4. Coordinate With Your Wedding Vendors: ...especially those requiring setup before the event, like decorators, florists, and catering teams. Ensure they have enough time to prepare their setups before guests arrive.

  1. Getting Ready: While this is usually one of the earlier activities, the exact timing can be adjusted. Communicate with your hair and makeup artists to allocate an appropriate amount of time for you and your bridal party. Pro tip: as a wedding photographer with lots of experience creating timelines, you are *way* better off starting hair and makeup earlier rather than later! Hair and makeup can often run a lot longer than expected and so starting earlier can avoid unpleasant hiccups in your photography timeline!
  2. Couple portraits and wedding party/family photos: Capturing couple, family, and bridal party portraits is a significant part of your day. Although you'll allocate time for these photos with your wedding photographer, keep a flexible approach. Factors like weather and lighting could necessitate minor adjustments. If you opt for a first look, there are advantages like more time for portraits, easing pre-ceremony jitters and most importantly, it will allow you to be present during your cocktail hour to mingle with guests!
  3. Cocktail Hour: The length of the cocktail hour can be tailored based on your preferences. I always stress the importance of being present during your cocktail hour! Although couple portraits, family and bridal photos are important to capture, I find that actually enjoying your wedding day by being present with those you love most is of equal importance (if not more)! I am very big on capturing candids with a photojournalistic approach throughout your day, as oppose to making your wedding day a photoshoot.
  4. Dinner and Dancing: The timing of your dinner service and when the dance floor opens can be adapted to the flow of the evening. Consult with your DJ/MC and caterer to find the right balance.

Remember, while certain aspects have fixed timelines, a certain level of flexibility is essential to accommodate unforeseen circumstances and ensure your wedding day unfolds smoothly.


Allocating time for different parts of your wedding day is crucial to ensure a seamless and enjoyable celebration. Here's a general breakdown to consider:

Getting Ready:

  • Bride: 1 to 1.5 hours
  • Groom: 45 minutes to 1 hour

First Look and Portraits:

  • First Look: 20 minutes
  • Couple Portraits: 30 minutes to 1.5 hours
  • Wedding Party Portraits: 20-30 minutes
  • Family Portraits: 20-30 minutes


  • Ceremony Length: 30 minutes to 1 hour

Cocktail Hour:

  • Cocktail Hour: 1 to 2 hours


  • Reception Entrance and Welcome: 15 minutes
  • Dinner Service: 1.5 to 2 hours
  • Speeches and Toasts: 20 to 30 minutes
  • First Dance: 5 minutes
  • Dancing and Celebrations: 2 to 3 hours +

Additional Considerations:

  • Travel Time: Account for travel time between different locations if your ceremony, reception, and photo spots are at different places.
  • Buffer Time: Allocate buffer time throughout the day to account for potential delays or unexpected moments. And be ready to embrace them because they're bound to happen and that's okay.
  • Sunset and Golden Hour: If you're keen on capturing portraits during golden hour ( I highly recommend incorporating some golden hour photos int your day!!!), research the sunset time in your location and plan accordingly with your wedding photographer.

Remember, these are general guidelines and can vary based on factors like the specific events you've planned, the number of guests, and the type of photography coverage you've chosen. Discuss your timeline with your wedding photographer and other vendors to ensure everyone is on the same page for a stress-free and magical wedding day.






On a very tight budget? This package might be best for you. However, I strongly recommend against it as 6 hours is rarely enough time to capture your entire wedding day! The above timeline is a sample of what your day can look like with 6 hours of wedding photography coverage, *IF* everything goes according to plan. However, you will automatically be giving up something, whether that's time allotted for getting ready photos, couple portraits, or time spent capturing the wedding party. And often all 3 have to be rushed when opting for a 6 hour wedding package.


This wedding photography coverage is my most popular option as it allows for all of the major events of the day to be captured, without putting a strong emphasis on when the photography coverage is beginning/ending! As you can see, everything was captured with the above timeline with ample time to spare in case of a timeline mishap!


This wedding photography package is hands down the best as it really truly allows every part of the wedding day to be captured without any thought at all as to when the wedding photographer is coming and going. *ALL* the moments will be captured, from the early morning getting ready, to late night partying with your friends and family, and everything in between!


Thanks for taking the time to read this blog and look through the wedding photos!! If you are still looking for a wedding or engagement photographer in Ottawa, Montreal or elsewhere in Canada, fill out the contact form here and I'll get back to you asap! To see my recent work and follow me on current wedding days, follow me on Instagram! :)



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