Wedding Planning Guide | Timeline & Shot List Tips

Here's some unsolicited advice for scheduling the day of, and creating a timeline and shot list.


Crafting a timeline doesn't have to be a stressful thing, and I am here to help you through the process. I've compiled a list of some of my favorite tips for creating a day of timeline and things that will make your day go as smooth as possible. Please reach out if you have any specific questions about your timeline!


Timeline & Day Of Tips



It's Your Wedding

First and foremost, this is you and your fiance's day. Think a wedding tradition is stupid? Don't do it. Do not let anyone else pressure you into doing something that takes up time on your day, that you don't care about doing. Also don't be afraid to tell whoever doesn't like the cool new tradition you're implementing to f off. Who cares if your wedding planner says that's not how it's done or the person helping pay for your wedding thinks they should get a say in how the day is planned? This is your day and you should do whatever makes you happy, and I will support you 100%! ​​ ​ ​Coordination I will say it's never too late to hire a day of coordinator, and I definitely recommended one if you're expecting over 100 guests. It makes everything go really smoothly and lets me focus and capturing what's going on! ​ ​ ​ H&MU This almost always runs longer than expected. I strongly suggest scheduling at lest 30mins more time than you anticipate for getting ready. ​


First Look Alternatives If you'd rather see his reaction when he see's you for the first time walking down the aisle, and you're not doing a first look, consider doing a first touch or prayer around a door or corner just to have a calm quiet moment with each other before your ceremony. Or you could also incorporate a bridesmaids, father daughter or even a mother and son first look! ​


Marriage Certificate Schedule in time on your timeline for signing your marriage certificate, and think about who you want your witness's to be beforehand. This is such a beautiful moment and I always love documenting this! ​

First Dances Totally up to you, but I suggest having your first dance right after you enter the reception venue while all eyes are on you, then go over and cut the cake to kick off the reception, and then waiting and having the parent dances after dinner to kick off the dancing. Side note - please ask your DJ to not have colored lights anywhere during first dances! Lights look great once the dance floor open up, but can ruin the beautiful first dance vibes. ​ ​ Cake I only suggest this order because if you cut the cake right after your first dance, the venue staff can have it ready to be served right after dinner, and you guys don't have to get up again until the party starts! ​ Last Dance Weather this is right before your send off or right before your venue kicks you out, I strongly recommend doing a last dance and having your D.J. end the night with a slow dance to one of your favorite love songs. ​ ​

Send Off If you do a fake sendoff early, and then go back inside and keep partying this lets older guests and those with children etc. leave early while still being a part of your send off


Extra Time Left If you have ample time left over you can either build in some cushions or add in a few additional things such as makeup touch ups, alone time before ceremony, a private vow reading, etc. ​Timeline Print multiple copies of your timeline and make sure to save your timeline as your lock screen the day of for easy access! ​ ​

Don't Know Where To Start? ​I think the easiest way to do this is to figure out what time sunset will be on your wedding day, then plan your ceremony first, reception next, and then fill in the time leading up to your ceremony. Here's a basic guide of rough estimated times and planning order but everyone's wedding is so different and I want you to do whatever order of events and durations work for your day! ​

⬜ What time is Sunset? (Plan ceremony start roughly 1 hour and 30mins before sunset) ​ ⬜ Ceremony Lineup (15mins before ceremony start) ​ ⬜ How long is your ceremony? (End of Ceremony +5mins = Start of Cocktail / Portrait Hour ) ​ ⬜ Plan roughly one hour for all portraits (family portraits 25-30mins) (bridal party 10mins) (B&G portraits 20mins) ​​ ​ ⬜ After Family Portraits, it's time for your Reception entrance which is a great time for your first dance & cake. (10mins) ​ ⬜ Schedule at least 30 minutes for dinner ​ ​ ⬜ Have toasts start while dinner is wrapping up.(5mins for each person speaking) ​ ⬜ Then Have the parent first dances, and at the end have your DJ invite all the couples up for a song to kickstart the dancing. ​​​ ​ ⬜ Figure out when you have to be out of the venue, and plan your Fake send off for 45mins-an hour before closing ​​ ​ ⬜ Do your bouquet Toss about 30mins before your fake send off. ​​ ​ ⬜ Schedule in time for a last dance to wrap up the day right before your venue closes/dj leaves! ​​ ​ ⬜ Then move on to planning your morning. Are you having a first look of any kind?

​ ⬜ Yes - Schedule this roughly 1-2 hours before your ceremony lineup. Schedule 5-10mins for a bridesmaids/men first look or 10-15 for a S/O or parent first look.

Knock out all family, wedding crew, and newlywed portraits before ceremony to enjoy more of your reception ​


⬜ No - Have your dress on 30-45mins before your ceremony lineup.

If you want to knock out separate family portraits during this time you can enjoy more of your cocktail hour/reception ​

⬜ Either way schedule in time before your ceremony lineup for wedding crew portraits / & Individual Portraits (20- 30mins) ​ ⬜ Schedule 1/12-3 hours to get ready starting with H&MU and ending with getting into dress. (15-20 b/t dress on & first look/bridal party portraits)​

​ ⬜ Lastly work backwards from key events to figure out when you need your various vendors to arrive!

Schedule this roughly 1-2 hours before your ceremony lineup. Schedule 5-10mins for a bridesmaids/men first look or 10-15 for a S/O or parent first look. ​ ⬜ Knock out all family, wedding crew, and newlywed portraits before ceremony to enjoy more of your reception

⬜ If you want to knock out separate family portraits during this time you can enjoy more of your cocktail hour/reception







Shot List Tips

Timing The most common and ideal timing for formal family portraits is right after the ceremony, followed by full wedding crew portraits and then couples portraits happening right around sunset. ​​ ​ Who to include I would strongly recommend keeping the family shot list as concise as possible because my stable groupings alone easily take 20-30 minutes. Sure, it’s nice to get a portrait of each and every close family member, but trust me when I tell you this will cut a huge chunk of time out of your timeline! Not having your entire extended family (cousins, uncles, nephews, etc.) there for family portraits doesn’t mean you can’t get a group photo with them later! It's super easy to pull people aside for pictures at the reception and you can always have your DJ make an announcement to gather those specific people for a quick photo! If you don't have enough time allotted for each grouping, I can't guarantee to get every shot without running behind. This is one of the most common things that makes weddings run behind, and you want to leave enough time and good lighting for your couples portraits! ​​​ Getting everyone to the location If you have a large number of people you want in photos, it’s really helpful to have your officiant announce that anyone related to you two will head to a specific location directly after the ceremony. This can be announced right before your ceremony starts or after your bridal party walks down the aisle afterwards. ​ ​ Location We can pick out a spot for family photos on the morning of the day of, but it's always helpful to know before hand so we can let the officiant know where to announce that the family needs to go after the ceremony. I will always go for outdoor photos and find a spot with even shade. If the weather does not allow we will choose a beautiful spot inside your venue instead. ​ ​ Getting Everyone in Place Beforehand, designate someone on each of your side's of the family to help make sure everyones in the right place ready to go for the next picture. On the day of I'll hand them a printed list and they can help get people ready for the next shot. This helps family formals go by soo smoothly! (This is a great job for moms who want to help out with some part of the day without putting too much extra work on them!) ​ ​ Order I always an extended family portrait and then both grandparents first – this goes a long way towards letting those with mobility issues go back to relaxing ASAP. If anyone in your family or group needs special accommodations for the portraits, please don’t hesitate to let me know beforehand, so we can let them go first, or pull up a chair for them! Divorced parents It happens. Nearly every family has their awkward moments, but there’s no need for your wedding day portraits to be one of them! Simply arrange for separate portraits with each parent, or discuss with them the situation beforehand. Most of the time these situations are a big piece-of-cake so no worries! ​ ​ Wedding Crew The 20-30 minutes of family portraits is an ideal time for your bridal party (except siblings) to take a short brake, get a drink and relax for a moment before we do full bridal party portraits but please let them know in advance that they are not allowed to go anywhere far, and that they need to be ready for bridal party portraits in 15-25 minutes. ​ ​ Shot Lists Don't worry about creating a Bridal Party or any other shot list apart from family formals, I got you for this part. I always make sure to get photos of the two of you and each of you individually. I will get the group shots with you and your bridesmaids and him and the guys. I will also get individuals of each groomsmen, and each bridesmaid, and the full bridal party pictures. But if there are special bridal party pictures you want such as a Bridesmaids first look or a picture of you all in robes please try to let me know beforehand! The only thing I need from you is specific family members names for formal family photos which you can provide in the form at the bottom of this page! ​ ​


Staple Family Portrait Groupings

this standard list takes roughly 25mins to go through

⬜ Extended family shot (newlyweds & all grandparents, parents, siblings, spouses, children, etc.)

⬜ Newlyweds & each set of grandparents & individuals with grandparents

⬜ Newlyweds & each side's Immediate Family & individuals with each side

⬜ Newlyweds & Each set of parents & individuals with parents

⬜ Newlyweds & siblings & individuals with siblings ​


Additional Grouping Examples

add 3-4 mins for each additional grouping ⬜ Newlyweds & children/step children

⬜ Extended Family groupings/ Aunt, uncles, nieces, nephews, etc.

⬜ Special Friend Groups

⬜ People who are like family

⬜ Specific Family Member groupings