Wedding Timeline Tips | A guide to building the perfect timeline from NC Wedding Photographer


Hey there! My name is Corey Johnson, and I am an NC Wedding photographer based in Asheville NC. I have been serving incredible couples for over five years!

So you are planning your wedding, but you have no idea what to do with a timeline. You don’t know how long the hairstylist takes, or even how much time to plan out for family formals. Don’t worry…that is why I am here and why I have taken time to write out this blog post. You are not alone. I have heard countless brides say “I have no clue about timelines. Can I get some help?” Rest assured you are in the right place! Below is a wealth of knowledge and tips for planning the timeline for your dream day! Are you ready? Here we go….scroll down for the goodness!!!

Ceremony Time???

Your ceremony time will play a big key role in your wedding timeline. Ceremony time is something set in stone. It is printed on the invites and programs, so that is not changing! Start by figuring up your ceremony time. Here are some best ceremony start times depending on the time of year.  I have based these times on my years of experience being an NC wedding photographer.

WINTER: (Mid November – Early March) The winter is a beautiful time to have a nice cozy and warm wedding. The early sunset can be tricky. A great time for a ceremony in the winter is around 3 pm. This will give around an hour of light after the ceremony to get family formals and some bride and groom portraits before the sun sets. 

SPRING: (Late March -Late May) Spring is such a beautiful time of year. Flowers are blooming, the trees are so green, and the heat isn’t at it’s hottest. A ceremony time of around 5 pm is perfect for March – April and a ceremony time of 6 pm is great for May. With spring weddings have plenty of allergy medicine handy with all the pollen and blooms. 

SUMMER: (June – Mid September) A summer wedding is something so classic and traditional. Summer can be pretty hot, so having a later ceremony is ideal. Start times of 6–7 pm are best for a summer wedding. Depending on your ceremony location, you could even do an 8 pm golden hour ceremony. This ceremony time is best for weddings with a first look in the timeline (those will be covered below)

FALL: (Late September – Early November) Where do I begin with fall. This time of year is very sought after for the gorgeous colors and comfortable temperatures. A ceremony time of 5 pm is a wonderful option for a beautiful evening fall wedding. If you want a bit more daylight for outdoor fun with guests, I would suggest a 4 pm ceremony start. (A note for fall color here in Western, NC) Mid October – Early November is typically the best time to get some of the gorgeous fall colors. 

Once you get your ceremony time down you can begin to work out the full day timeline. I know each wedding day is different and has its own set of backups, but I wanted to give you some ides of how long each grouping of photos normally takes. 

  • Details & Prep 1.5 Hours 
  • Bride & Groom First Look 30-45 Minutes
  • Bridal Patry 30-45 Minutes
  • Ceremony 30 – 45 Minutes 
  • Family Formals 30 Minutes
  • Extra Bride & Groom Portraits 30 Minutes
  • Reception 2-4 Hours

Below I am going to give you a sample timeline of a summer wedding with a ceremony time of 6 pm. This is a sample and can be adjusted or changed in any way to fit your unique needs. 

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The day begins with hair and makeup. Check with your stylists to see an estimate of how long they think it will take to get done with whoever you are getting them to do hair and makeup for. Let’s say the bride and bridesmaids start getting ready at 12 noon. 

  • Bridal Details 2:30 – 3:15 
  • Bridal Prep 3:15 -3:45 
  • First Look 4:00
  • Bride & Groom Portraits 4:20-4:45 
  • Bridal Party Portraits 4:50-5:20 
  • Bride In Hiding 5:30-6:00 
  • Reception Details 5:30-5:50 
  • Ceremony 6:00-6:30 
  • Family Portraits 6:40 – 7:10 
  • Extra Bride & Groom Portraits 7:15-7:30
  • Reception 7:30 Until Exit TBD

One note with the exit. If you have your photographer for only a certain amount of hours and are worried about the exit, you can do what I call a controlled exit. This exit is more of a “staged” exit so you can take your time to get the beautiful exit shots, but the party doesn’t end after these photos are done. 

I hope this has helped get a better understanding of how a wedding timeline works and what amount of time you should plan on for certain photos. I am super excited to let you know I have a FREE bridal resource on how to make your wedding day picture-perfect! It has 72 pages filled with inspiration, helpful tips, and reasons why certain times work best. 

You can get this for FREE by clicking this link Get the FREE Guide

If you need anything please don’t hesitate to ask! I am happy to help and if you don’t have your wedding photographer, I would LOVE to chat with you! Click here to check out my wedding information and to inquire.

Happy Wedding Planning!

Corey – NC Wedding Photographer


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