Ideal Wedding Day Timeline | Sharin Shank Photography

February 6, 2018


One of the most important things I provide to my clients for their big day is a WEDDING TIMELINE. Developing a great timeline will not only allow the day to run smoothly + enough capture time for your wedding photographer but it also ensures that your bride + groom portraits are during the most ideal light.


If you are having an outdoor ceremony – you should also make sure that you are getting beautiful light for that too! You definitely don’t want a 2 pm outdoor ceremony when the sun doesn’t set until 7pm. It will be harsh. Hot. And way too early to get that great light for your bride and groom portraits.


You can see in the images of Tyler + Ashley how the sun isn’t above our couple. The sun is coming from the side or back. This is what we want. These aren’t sunset images but they are within the 2 hours before sunset. Aren’t they gorgeous!!


Our goal is to avoid harsh light + racoon eyes. This light was even and beautiful! And these images are some of our favorites!

The first thing I do after getting to know a client during our in person meet-up OR after the engagement session is talking about a wedding timeline. I always explain that the most perfect light {for our style} is within that beautiful 2 hours before sunset.  Here is a great sunset calendar.


Choose your ceremony time based on the sunset time whenever possible. So if you are having a 30 minute outdoor ceremony and the sun sets at 7:00 pm – ideally you can plan your ceremony for 4:30 – 5:00 pm without a first look. You will end your ceremony at 5pm allowing you enough time to capture family formals {30 min}, wedding party {30 min} and bride and groom {45 min}.


Make sure before making the seating and arch arrangements for your outdoor ceremony, you go to the ceremony site and watch where the sun is. We can help with this.



Here is an ideal wedding timeline for September 8


 1:45 – Wedding Details {gown, shoes, rings, papers etc.}

2:30  – Bride gets into gown

3:15  – Bridesmaids Portraits

3:30 – Groomsmen Portraits

3:45 – Bridal Party and Family Hide / Photographer photographs ceremony + reception Details

4:30 –  Outdoor Ceremony

5:15 – Exit / Cocktail Hour Begins

5:30 – Family Portraits

5:45 – Wedding Party Portraits

6:15  – Bride and Groom Portraits


7:15 – Entrance to Reception/Mingle with Guests

7:30 – Blessing + Dinner Begin


This timeline is just an example. Times will change for sunset from April through the entire summer but just to give you a simple timeline and what that looks like for us.



5 Tips For Planning Your Timeline + Before Ordering Invitations



1. Always discuss a timeline with us before ordering your invitations

2. Look up sunset on our sunset calculator above before deciding on ceremony time. We will actually do this for you but just in case you are a planner yourself…its good to know the time the sun sets on the day of your wedding.

3. Plan your ceremony around the sunset – If you are not planning an outdoor ceremony, you will want a bright part of the day for your indoor or church ceremony so that lots of natural light is coming in through windows. Then once you have that in place, we can plan the rest of your timeline.

4. Make sure to account for the time of your ceremony, 30 minutes for family formals, 30 minutes for wedding party and at least 30 minutes for bride and groom portraits. We love when couples give us 45 but we will take 30.

5. Most important tip. Do not order invitations before at least putting together a tentative timeline with us. Ladies…once those invitations are ordered…that’s it! We can’t turn back the clock once your invitations have been ordered.



If sunset just doesn’t work for you…because sunset is like 9pm …and you don’t want your guests waiting that long to enjoy dinner… that’s ok! Don’t worry. Our goal is to get as close to that last two hours before sunset as possible. The closer the better.

And one last thing… a great photographer can capture gorgeous images no matter what…but ideally…for us its all about that last two hours! We totally understand that you may have a church that only allows for certain ceremony times but make sure to get with us so we can help you plan the day out before you have to make all of those decisions.

We hope this helps all of you in your planning process! P.S. If you are going to be ordering invitations soon…get with us! We can get started on your wedding timeline!!



Happy Wedding Planning!

~ Sharin




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