You’re getting married – first, let me say congrats!! This is such an exciting time in your life, and I hope you’re enjoying the buzz that comes along with planning your special wedding day! When planning a wedding, it can be tough to know how long everything takes throughout the day, and how long you should plan to have your photographer around. As a Colorado wedding photographer who has captured over 100 weddings since 2018, I’ve got you covered with this sample wedding timeline!

In this blog post, you’ll find explanations for each portion of the day that will be photographed, as well as my recommendations for how long you should plan to reserve for photos throughout the day.

Every wedding day is different, and every couple values different things that they most want to remember through photos. This is a sample wedding timeline to help get you started, and give you a sense of what your day can look like. I work directly with each couple to help craft a timeline that fits best with your unique wedding day!

intimate outdoor wedding ceremony in the mountains

Some things that can affect your wedding timeline:

  • Time of year affecting sunset time
  • Ceremony time
  • Locations – if everything will be happening at one site, or if we need to account for travel time between different locations
  • Size of your wedding party and family photo list
  • First look or no first look

My ultimate goal is to make sure you enjoy photo time throughout the day, and never feel overwhelmed! The best way to make this happen is by spreading out photos throughout the day, and also leaving extra buffer time in between events, since most wedding days tend to run a bit late and/or not exactly according to the timeline.

With all of that in mind, let’s get into it!

Getting ready:

I recommend reserving about 1-2 hours for this portion of the day. This allows me time to settle in and meet everyone, take photos of your special details (invitation suite, outfits, jewelry, etc.) as well as candids of you spending time with your favorite people. If you have a second photographer, 1 hour should be enough for this portion. If it’s just me, closer to 2 hours is better!

First look:

This usually takes about 30 minutes. Most of my clients love doing a first look! If you haven’t heard of this before, it’s when you see each other before the ceremony. This can help a lot of people ease their nerves, as you get to have some alone time before the busy day gets going. We can also take some of your couple portraits during this time, which frees up more time for you to enjoy cocktail hour with your guests!

first look photos taken during an intimate wedding

Wedding party photos:

I recommend reserving 30-45 minutes for wedding party photos, depending on how many people are in the wedding party. For wedding parties of 5 or less on each side, we can usually get these done within 30 minutes. We’ll take some fun photos of the entire group, plus individual photos of you with each member of your side of the wedding party if time allows! For large wedding parties (6+ people on each side) I highly recommend adding on a second photographer. This way, we can get those individual photos done simultaneously, and your wedding party members won’t get bored waiting around! If you’re doing a first look, we can take wedding party photos before the ceremony too, time permitting.

Family photos:

I recommend reserving 30 minutes- 1 hour for family photos. This really depends on the size of your families, and how many combinations of photos you’d like to have! I have a sample list of family photo combos that you can look at for reference. I will say, after about 45 minutes of formal photos, most of my clients start to get sore cheeks from smiling, so I do recommend trying to keep the number of combinations to 15 or fewer, so you don’t feel overwhelmed with the amount of time spent on taking photos!

family formal photos taken after a wedding ceremony at the Denver Botanic Gardens

Down time before the ceremony:

You should give yourself about 30 minutes of down time before your ceremony starts. This gives you time for any outfit or hair and makeup touchups, a bathroom break, and a chance to sit down, relax, and sip some coffee or champagne before heading down the aisle! During this time, I’ll photograph your ceremony area, and capture photos of your guests arriving.

outdoor wedding ceremony space


Most ceremonies take about 30 minutes. Please let me know if your ceremony will be longer than this, so we can account for that in the timeline!

Cocktail hour:

If you’ve done a first look, hopefully there will be no more formal photos to take, and you can head straight to your cocktail hour to enjoy time with your guests! During this time, I’ll take detail photos of your reception space, and also get some awesome candid photos of your guests mingling. If you want a group photo with extended family members, college friends, or coworkers, cocktail hour is a great time to make this happen.

Having a second photographer present is amazing during cocktail hour, because that means one of us can photograph the reception area decor, while the other captures guest photos. With a second photographer, you’ll get way more photos of all of your guests, and more photos throughout the day in general!


I recommend having about 3-4 hours of photo coverage for your reception. This allows time to capture grand entrances, formal dances, toasts, and fun dancing photos after dinner has been served!

I usually try to sneak you out for 10-15 minutes during the reception for sunset photos. The light around sunset is absolutely beautiful, and it’s another chance for the two of you to have some time to connect and have fun together away from everyone else!

wedding reception dance party

Sample wedding timeline – 8 hours with first look

12:30 – Wedding photography coverage begins

12:30-2:00 – Getting ready and detail photos

2:00-2:30 – First Look and couple portraits

2:30-3:30 – Wedding party and family photos 

3:30-4:00 – Relax before ceremony, Dani captures ceremony space and guests arriving

4:00-4:30 – Ceremony

4:30-5:30 – Cocktail Hour, finish any formal portraits if needed. If not, cover cocktail hour and photograph reception area details

5:30 – Intros and formal dances –> dinner

6:30-6:45 – Couple sunset photos

**Sunset photo time depends on sunset time that day, this is for sunset at 7pm**

7:00 – Toasts

7:30 – Dancing

8:30 – Wedding photography coverage ends

bride and groom posing for their wedding photos in colorado

Dani Haims Photography | Colorado Wedding + Couples Photographer

I hope you loved my Colorado wedding timeline sample and it helped you during the most exciting time of your lives! If you are ready to jump into the wedding planning process, head to my contact page so we can lock in a date for me to be your wedding photographer! Or, if you want to see what it looks like working with me and having me as your Colorado wedding photographer then head over to my blog to see more of my couples and work!

ALL love is celebrated here! This business is proudly LGBTQ+ owned. I welcome folks of every sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, race, age, ethnicity, national origin, and ability. I do all that I can to be inclusive and loving to all people. As long as you’re a kind human, I’m down to work with you!


wedding photos taken during an intimate wedding

Wedding Timeline Sample for Photography

Dani Haims

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