The Ultimate Wedding Timeline and Sample Wedding Timelines


What is a first look?

The traditional first look is the way we have always thought about weddings. It’s that moment when the groom sees the bride for the first time as she is walking down the aisle, all of the wedding guests watching… that epic moment!

The new, fresh alternative, that has gotten pretty popular over the past few years is the modern first look. This is a very intimate experience where the bride and groom will see each other for the first time on their wedding day alone and privately. This is usually with only the company of your photographer and videographer, however some couples choose to also invite a handful of close friends and family for this moment. A first look is a great option for those wanting to make sure they don’t get caught up in the hustle and bustle of a hectic wedding day and to take a private moment to yourselves to connect and relax.

So how do you decide which first look to pick on your wedding day? Both are very special moments and unique to each couple! There is no right or wrong choice regarding how to approach seeing each other for the first time on your wedding day. If you are unsure what fees right to you, read on to weigh the pros and cons of each.

Pros of Having a First Look

  • It can be more personal & intimate and allows you to spend more time together! Taking the quiet time to have this authentic moment alone will be something you will remember forever. You can share your personal vows with each other. It will give you the time on your wedding day to separate from the craziness and stress of the day. A modern first look is also the perfect opportunity to get a real, genuine reaction out of each other by limiting the audience to only the two of you (plus the photographer/videographer) or a small group of family. Let’s be honest, some men don’t feel comfortable expressing emotion in public or in front of others.

  • It gets all the wedding jitters out of the way! A lot of people get nervous thinking about standing up at the altar, front and center, in front of all your friends and family. Seeing each other before the ceremony for a little pow-wow may give you the comfort that you need to relieve you both of those wedding day nerves.

  • It creates more time for photos and more time to enjoy your wedding reception! A modern first look will give you the opportunity to spend more time at different photo locations and gives you the opportunity to get all or most of your photos done BEFORE the ceremony. This is especially important if you are having a winter wedding and it gets dark early. A modern first look will allow you to transition smoothly to your cocktail hour to be with all of your guests. It allows you to be present and enjoy your wedding day without being gone for photos during all of the fun!

Cons of Having a First Look

  • You’ll have to be ready earlier. If you are planning on a modern first look you will more than likely have to get up earlier, be ready earlier and be in your wedding clothes for longer. This can be especially aggravating for the groomsmen who may have to be in hot suits on a hot day. They can always undress and redress right before the ceremony!

  • No one else will get to be a part of you seeing each other for the first time. No one else will be able to share in this special moment to remember. That is, unless you invite them! But remember, you will always have the photos and video!

  • Your dress/wedding clothes may get dirty before the ceremony. More than likely, the pre- wedding photos will be outside and there is always a chance your dress could get dirty during this process. If this is something that worries you a modern first look might not be for you.

  • You won’t actually be married in your photos. If we choose to do the photos ahead of time, your photographer might have you put on your wedding bands for the couples portraits. Does this thought of “faking it” make you uncomfortable? Will it be less meaningful to look at your photos later knowing you weren’t actually married yet?

Pros of a Traditional Wedding

  • It creates a magical moment. Maybe you’ve always dreamt about “that moment”. The moment when you see each other for the first time walking down the aisle, after a full morning of hair, makeup, prepping and anticipation. There is nothing wrong with that!

  • It allows EVERYONE to share in the moment. A traditional first look is for more than just the two of you in this way- it allows EVERYONE who is invited to share in this special day to witness this special moment when the bride and groom saw each other for the first time. The tears and the emotions amaze your guests and you have a moment you’ll remember with the rest of your life.

  • It doesn’t make the morning crazy. A traditional first look can make the morning flow more naturally and doesn’t cram or frontload the schedule. Some brides and grooms want this kind of stress free morning to enjoy with their separate immediate families and bridesmaids/groomsmen before everything gets crazy right before ceremony time. You may have more time to get ready and a traditional first look may make the morning feel more relaxed.

Cons of a Traditional Wedding

  • There can be more social pressure. As you enter the ceremony, both of your nerves are all over the place. He’s standing, forefront and center, showcased in front of everyone. Then the doors open, everyone turns. Now, all eyes are on you walking down the aisle. Everyone is watching and waiting to see both of your reactions to seeing each other for the first time. They are expecting that emotional moment! This can be a nerve wrecking thought and a solid reason for an elopement for many!

  • A traditional first look means more time apart from each other. If you choose to stick with a traditional first look you won’t have all that private time together before the ceremony. The day is going to be a whirlwind. Between each of you visiting with your guests, and you kicking it with your girls on the dance floor will you feel like you even saw each other on your wedding day?

  • A traditional first look means more time you are apart from your wedding party and guests. If you don’t take the time to do photos before the ceremony then you are going to have to take the time to do them after. This cuts into your reception time and the time that you have to visit and party with your wedding guests.

Most photographers suggest a modern first look because it seems to help the day go more smoothly and allows the bride and groom to actually have the time to ENJOY their wedding day. However, choosing the route between a first look or traditional wedding is going to ultimately be a decision you are going to have to make as a couple and your photographer will support whichever decision you make. The truth is, your photographer will schedule your photos so the day will run smoothly either way!


Sample Wedding Timeline with a First Look

12:30 pm | Photographer arrives at the bridal suite or bride’s getting ready location to capture the bride and bridesmaids getting ready

1:00 pm | Groom getting ready photos

1:30 pm | Bride puts on the dress

1:45 pm | First-look and bride & groom photos

2:30 pm | Wedding party photos (bride & bridesmaids, groom & groomsmen, full wedding party)

3:00 pm | Family Photos

3:30 pm | Bride freshens up, gets tucked away from early arriving guests, photograph ceremony details & candids of guests arriving

4:00 pm | Ceremony begins

5:00 pm | Cocktail hour begins

6:00 pm | Dinner is served

7:00 pm | Toasts

7:20 pm | Bride & groom first dance

7:25 pm | Father-daughter dance/ Mother-son dance

7:30 pm | Dance floor opens

8:00 pm | Sunset bride & groom session

8:30 pm | Photography coverage ends

Sample Wedding Timeline with a Traditional Wedding

1:00 pm | Photographer arrives at the bridal suite or bride’s getting ready location to capture the bride and bridesmaids getting ready

1:30 pm | Groom & groomsmen getting ready

2:00 pm | Groom & groomsmen getting portraits

2:30 pm | Bride gets into her dress

2:45 pm | Bride portraits

3:00 pm | Bride & bridesmaid portraits

3:30 pm | Ready and waiting for ceremony

4:00 pm | Ceremony begins

4:30 pm | Family portraits

4:50 pm | Wedding party portraits

5:00 pm | Bride & groom portraits

5:30 pm | Bride & groom entrance | Dinner service

6:30 pm | Toasts

6:50 pm | First dances

7:10 pm | Sunset bride & groom session

9:00 pm | Photography coverage ends

Deciding on your wedding timeline is a big decision, and your photographer or wedding planner will guide you in making it. Your photographer should have sample timelines for both traditional weddings and first look weddings. Talk through which is best for you.


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