Tips for planning your wedding day timeline | Nashville Wedding Photographer

Leading up to your wedding, I just want to give some helpful info for when you begin planning your wedding day timeline. Every wedding day is different, but I usually set aside certain time frames for certain groups. I like to plan a solid timeline weeks before your wedding day so that you can relax and be fully present on your wedding day, not worrying about who should be where and what time so and so should arrive. Here’s some more info that I hope helps you in your planning process!


Getting Ready

Relax and soak in these precious moments with your best ladies, your mom and any other family who spends this time with you. Everything leading up to the first look is pretty relaxed as far as photography goes. I just capture candids of hair and makeup, grab detail shots, etc. 

Be sure to tell me of any special details prior to your wedding day. I normally grab detail photos of your dress, shoes, jewelry, bouquet, etc. But if there’s a special pin your grandmother gave you or a handkerchief from your dad, be sure to let me know.

If time allows, budget extra time for hair and makeup because it could easily run over. I always like to set a definite time for putting on the dress to make sure mom (or maid of honor) knows when to get you buttoned up. 

If you would like for your bridesmaids to have a special moment seeing you in your dress for the first time, be sure to allot 15-20 extra minutes after you put on your dress and before your first look.

First Look (optional) / Bride + Groom Portraits

Yay, you get to see your handsome groom for the first time! This time can be spent doing absolutely whatever you want. I make sure to give you your space during the first look but also catch the sweet moments exchange.

I would budget at least an hour for the first look and bride + groom portraits. The actual first look will take anywhere from 10-20 minutes and then we’ll transition right into portraits. My main goal for you is to focus on each other, not worry about looking a certain way for your photos. 

Doing bride and groom photos after the ceremony is also so exciting - to have all those ‘yay we’re finally married’ feels! I would allow at least 30-45 minutes for this time, just to ensure we aren’t rushed to be present and have some fun during these photos. 

Keep in mind any reception plans if you choose to do your bride + groom photos after the ceremony. We will need to budget this time in addition to family and bridal party. 

Bridal Party

During this time we’ll get all the fun and candid shots you’re looking for but also a few more traditional group shots for mom and dad! We will also do individuals of you with each of your girls, and your groom with each of his guys. 

For bridal party I would budget around 45 minutes to one hour total. This is sometimes divided up throughout the day depending on your timeline. It typically only takes around 15 minutes for the groom + groomsmen, 15 minutes for bride + bridesmaids, and 15 minutes for the full bridal party. For larger parties, more time may be allotted. 

The Extra Hour

It’s always good to have more than enough time on wedding day! I would try to budget at least an extra hour in the day, usually this would be right before the ceremony. This gives you some down time and also tucks you away so all your early guests don’t see you. You’ll want some time to sit and refresh makeup, etc. after all the pictures! And if formal photos run over, we’d have this extra time. 



This is the most important part of the day and probably my favorite part of the day to photograph. I’ll be staked out near the front during the processionial to get photos of all entrances. Don’t worry about smiling at my camera; look at your groom and all your sweet friends and family. 

I will be roaming around to many different spots after you’ve been given away, making sure to get all those sweet reaction shots, vows, ring-exchanges, etc. Please do let me know if you will be doing any sort of special exchange, reading or performance during your ceremony.

Family Photos

These will be some of your most cherished photos from your day. Family photos are so important and for that reason I do not like to rush through them. 

For family pictures I would budget 30 minutes and this is usually right after the ceremony. It can take less or more time depending on how many family groupings you have. 

Reception time!

Yay! Time to celebrate with all your guests! Relax, put your dancing shoes on and don’t worry a thing about taking any more “posed” photos at this point. I will be there to capture all the important dances, toasts and traditions. And of course if there are any other group shots you want, just come tap me on the shoulder. Otherwise, I’ll just be making my rounds getting candids of all your guests having a good time!


Just remember that while photos on your wedding day are important, your wedding day is not all about the photos. Be present and soak in every single moment! I have heard countless times how fast a wedding day can fly by. I will be sure to capture every important moment and be made aware of anything in particular I should watch out for. More than anything I want to create photos that bring you back to a feeling. 

Happy planning, friends!

Thanks for viewing! I am a Wedding and Lifestyle Photographer based in Nashville, Tenn. but serving the world! If you have any questions about pricing or booking, let's get in touch!

Erin TurnerComment