Dec 11, 2022

Timeline of a Wedding Reception Starting Morning-Of

Make the party last all day by scheduling your wedding timeline strategically!

Your wedding day only lasts so long, so what can you do to make sure that you make the most of your day. You want to spend your wedding day with your partner and with your guests! I totally get it! Here is an example timeline of a wedding reception including getting ready and some factors you’ll want to think about if spending time with your friends and family is the prio!


  1. Plan HMU to be done EARLY
  2. Do a First Look so you can spend more time with your SO and get formal photos done before Cocktail Hour
  3. Plan to have Immediate Family only in formal portraits and get extendeds during Cocktail Hour
  4. Make Your Party Yours!

Getting Ready Timeline Morning of Wedding

You want to make sure you tell your HMU team to be done 1 hour before you have to leave the house, whether you are going to your First Look or to your Ceremony Venue. With transit time, that’ll be 1.5 hours before Go Time. So if your First Look is at 1:30pm, you want to have HMU scheduled to be done by 12pm or earlier depending on transit time. This budgets in time for you to get into your dress and take some photos, even if HMU is running a half hour behind schedule! If HMU is perfectly on time then GREAT–you get time to chill out!

Sample Wedding Morning Timeline

6-8am HMU Start (Depending on # in Wedding Party)

12pm Photographer Arrives for Detail Shots

11:30am HMU Finished, Bridesmaids Get Into Dresses

12:30pm Bride Gets into Dress

1pm Leave Getting Ready Room

1:30pm First Look

Should I do a First Look?

I totally get it! You have always imagined your wedding with your FiancĂ© gazing at you down the Aisle for the first time. It’s a beautiful moment! BUT what if I told you that you got to spend more time on your wedding day together with a First Look? Like HOURS more. Most of my couples want that and so they opt to see each other before the Ceremony.

Get 2 hours more time on your wedding day with your partner

Have an intimate moment alone when you see each other so you can talk, hug, kiss and talk about the day ahead

Get some photos done! If you see each other in the morning, we can get Wedding Party Photos out of the way early so you can enjoy your Cocktail Hour instead of spending an hour taking photos after you are married.

How Long do Wedding Party and Family Photos Take?

Shot Answer ~30min each. BUT this Depends mainly on 2 Things:

How big is your family and Wedding Party?

How fast your Photographer can wrangle.

In my work, typically we budget 45min for Wedding Party Photos (to allow for any extra Getting Ready or Gathering Time) and 30min for Family Photos.

how long do wedding party photos take

I recommend you plan formal Family Photos with just immediate family so that you spend less time taking photos and more time at your Reception! If you have cousins etc you want a photo with, note it to your photographer and let them know you are fine if the photo is more of a “fun photo” we can snap during Cocktail Hour or at your Reception.

If you have Extended Family on your Family Wedding Photo List, then allow for 45min instead fo 30min.

Sample Wedding Photo Timeline

1:30pm First Look

1:45pm Wedding Party Photos

2:30pm Bride Hidden for Ceremony

3pm Ceremony

3:30pm Ceremony Ends// Family Photos

4pm Wedding Portraits

4:30pm Cocktail Hour

5:15pm Reception Starts

wedding family photo list

What Does the Timeline of a Wedding Reception Look Like?

Now this is the Party, and you should make it your own! Here is a sample schedule, but if there are events you do or don’t want to do that is TOTALLY up to you. My favorite schedule swap I’ve seen is having Cocktail Hour before the Ceremony. It was so much fun and my couple got to visit with everyone there before the Day had even started!

My hot take is that I think Cake Cutting is always a bit awkward. Have a Dessert Opening Time instead!

Sample Wedding Reception Timeline

4:15pm Cocktail Hour
5:15pm Reception Starts
5:30pm Welcome Speech
5:40pm Toasts and Appetizers
6pm Table Visits
6:30pm Dinner (Bride and Groom Eat!)
7:15pm First Dances
7:30pm Dance Floor
8pm Dessert Opens

Need more help wedding planning? Never fear! This is a HUGE area where I work with couples before your wedding date so your wedding is exactly what you want it to be! Contact me to chat about details!

And of course, for extra support, hiring a Wedding Planner or Day-of Coordinator can be a HUGE weight off! Check out some vendors on my dream teams:

Prim Event Studio

Mango Muse Events

CMG Events

Sunshine Events

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