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I'm the wedding photographer for the adventurous couple that wishes to exchange their vows in the most sacred of settings. The great outdoors!


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A Typical Wedding Day Timeline



Your wedding day is almost here! Can you believe it? This blog post is meant to help you figure out how much time you should schedule for photos throughout your day. Needless to say, these suggestions will vary for every single wedding. However, this timeline is a good place to start if you want a rough timeline. The rest can then be discussed with your photographer (me? ;) ) once you have all the little details ironed out.

I will also share a list of a few of my must-have shots so you can get a better understanding of what happens during that part! That will help you decide whether you want a photographer present or not for that portion of the day.

Lastly, when planning out your day, don’t forget to factor in travel times and a few minutes here and there just to breath. You certainly don’t want to be running around all day and forget to take a moment for yourselves and soak it all in – or even a moment to grab a coffee/snack!



Typical Wedding Day Timeline


Getting Ready

Suggested time: 1 hour to 1.5 hours

The morning usually starts off with the getting ready phase. This is when I photograph everything from the hair and makeup getting done, to the groom and his groomsmen taking a celebratory shot of fancy whisky!

If both parties are getting ready in different venues, my second shooter and I will split up and each go photograph one party. If you decide to get ready together or simply in different rooms in a hotel, I (along with my second) will be able to flip-flop from one party to the other.

  • the bride’s dress, shoes, veil, jewelry, and other details
  • the groom’s suit, shoes, and other details
  • all three rings
  • the bouquets, while they are still fresh
  • candid photos of all the bridal party members
  • mom and/or dad’s first look

Typical Wedding Day Timeline - Getting Ready

Erin + Steve’s wedding


First Look

Suggested time: minimum 20 minutes

The first look is optional. It all depends whether you want to see each other before the ceremony. From a photographer’s point of view, I will always suggest a first look, however, it is not necessary!

A first look is a great opportunity to capture some real, raw, and emotion-filled photos. It’s also a great time to get a few portraits done and out-of-the-way, if you wanted to shorten the time between your ceremony and reception. If that’s the case, you could even schedule 1 hour to 1.5 hours for the first look and we could get all your portraits done and done even before you get married!

  • your partner’s reaction when seeing you all done up for the first time
  • a few candids of you both enjoying each other

Typical Wedding Day Timeline - First Look

Tara + Frank’s wedding



Suggested time: as long as your ceremony is planned for!

There is no set time here as I will simply be a fly on the wall for this part of your day. I will capture everything as it happens, when it happens.

If you’re planning a religious ceremony, (from my experience) those tend to last between 45 and 75 minutes. If you’re planning a simple civil ceremony, I’ve seen some done in 10 minutes and others in 25. This is something your marriage officiant will be able to tell you.

  • a good mixture of wide shots and close-ups
  • parents, grandparents and guests reactions
  • the first kiss (obvs!)

Typical Wedding Day Timeline

Amanda + Jerry’s wedding


Family Portraits

Suggested time: 30 minutes to 1 hour

This time will heavily depend on the size of your family and how many family groupings you are looking for.

If you are only wanting photos with immediate family (mom, dad, siblings, grandparents or about 15 – 25 people), you should be safe with scheduling about a half hour for these photos.

However, if you have a huge family/extended family, with many members and groupings (25+ people), be sure to give yourself plenty of time. Not only does it take longer to capture that many photos, it get exponentially complicated to gather all these people for one photo! (There’s always going to be one person missing, wandering somewhere. HaHaHa)

Typical Wedding Day Timeline

Erin + Steve’s wedding


Bridal Party Portraits

Suggested time: 20 to 45 minutes

Again, this portion of the day will depend on the size of your bridal party. If you only have a maid of honour and/or one best man, we can easily capture all those classic portraits along with some fun ones in 20-30 minutes.

If you have a larger bridal party, it will take us a little more time to capture those individual photos and photos of each party member with the bride/groom. A typical bridal party shoot takes about 45 minutes.

The group pictured bellow was exceptionally large with many ushers and juniors bridesmaids. We took just over an hour for these photos – but we also had lots of time to “waste” and they wanted lots of fun ones!

  • group photos with everyone included
  • fun photos of the group
  • individual photos of each party member, with the bride/groom

Typical Wedding Day Timeline

Ruth + Chris’s wedding


Newlyweds Portraits

Suggested time: 1 hour to 1.5 hours

My favourite portion of the day! This is when it’s just me, my second shooter and you, the couple. This portion of the day will remind you of your engagement session – except in fancier attire!

I suggest 1 hour for these portraits, as we don’t want to rush this part. 1.5 hours is great if you want to travel to a second location.

Note that if you plan on having a first look and scheduled enough time for portraits, we could completely cut this portion out or cut it down to 30 minutes. This will depend on your specific day.

Typical Wedding Day Timeline

Teresa + Mathew wedding



Suggested time: add 30 to 45 minutes after your scheduled events

The reception is usually the longest portion of the day. This will (again) change a lot depending on if you choose to have many formal events such as dances, speeches, bouquet toss, cake cutting, games, etc. However, no matter what type of evening you plan, a good rule of thumb is to keep us for 30-45 minutes after all those events are over. This will allow enough time to capture some DJ dance floor action along with enough candids of all the guests having fun.

Typical Wedding Day Timeline

Sonya + Zach wedding


That’s it! I hope this helps you visualize what a typical wedding day would look like from a photography standpoint. Obviously this can change and be moved around to suit your specific needs – that’s we will always chat face to face and plan out your day together.







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    Emilie Smith is based in Edmonton, Alberta // Edmonton Wedding Photographers, Mountain Adventure Wedding Photographers and Edmonton Elopement Photographers

    Serving: Alberta // British-Columbia // Canadian Rockies // National Parks // Okanagan // West Coast // Northern Canada

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