Wedding Timelines / Hilton Head Island Wedding Photography


Timeline creation can seem like a daunting task, especially if you are a destination couple trying to plan it all on your own! They were challenging for me at first as well, but after over 150 weddings to date, I feel like I have it nailed down! Hopefully you can find some value in my opinions on wedding timelines below, beginning with Getting Ready moments, through Cocktail Hour. At least it will get you thinking about what is important to you, while I ask thought provoking questions focused mainly on the photography specific, pre-reception events.

This is what my morning looks like when there is a First Look before the ceremony. If you want to learn more about why I love First Looks, read that HERE!  At the end I break down timelines with and without First Looks.

Getting Ready

In my 8-10 hours of coverage I generally have time to capture the following….

Hair and Make up finishing touches (if desired)

Bridal details

Casual bridesmaids photos doing their thang (cute robe photos, champagne pops, dancing, etc)

bridesmaids in matching pajamas popping champagne

Bridal dressing

Reveal with bridesmaids/First Look with Dad (or mom, siblings, kids, etc)

bridesmaids seeing the bride for teh first time

THEN while the bride finishes with all the tiny final details that I don’t need to photograph, I head to the guys! I usually have between 15 and 30 minutes with the guys, and I capture…

Grooms details if there are any

Casual shenanigans

Groomsmen getting dressed and helping each other

groomsmen helping the groom dress

Best Man/Dad helping groom dress, Mom pinning bout

grooms dad helping him dress

Special gifts/cheers/guys enjoying themselves

Groom portraits either inside or out if possible

First Look/Portrait Time

Since I am now with the groom, I will bring him to the pre-determined First Look location and get him set up. The bride arrives, and I get her situated while the groom has his back turned. Once she is set she will ask him to turn around and they will enjoy those intimate, private moments together.

wedding couple about to see each other for the first time

a wedding couple having a first look

Couples Portraits

bride and groom posing in hilton head bride and groom posing on a golf course on hilton head


At least 30 minutes, as much time as I can get. Individual shots, small details, and all the couple’s portraits I can fit in. This may be the only time we take photos, unless you want them in another location later, for example the beach at sunset, or if we are traveling to different locations for different events.

Family Formals

I ask for your specific family photo shot list prior to the wedding, so this goes as quick and painless as possible. Family is then free to leave, to greet guests as they arrive.

Bridal Party


Again, I ask about this in our planning process, how much time you’d like to spend on these. Will it be hot? If so, we want to make them as quick as possible. First bridesmaids, then full bridal party, then groomsmen. I do it this way in case we are running later than expected, and the girls need to hide from early arriving guests.

In Hiding/Freshen Up

This is at least 45 minutes prior to the ceremony. This gives the bridal party time to chill out, cool down, and hide from guests. This is an important time for the photographer to capture the untouched ceremony details, possibly cocktail hour details, and maybe even reception details. These detail photos are important to me, my couples, the planner, and the venue. So much time is put into picking everything out. My rule is- if you spent time choosing it, then it will get photographed.


While everyone is lining up I shoot guests arriving, and the anticipation of the ceremony starting. I make sure I have everything I need, including both my cameras set and ready to go, my lenses are clean and ready, plenty of room on my camera cards, and I’ve talked with everyone I need to regarding entrance of bridal party and bride, and anything else important I need to know.


If there are still extended family photos to be taken, the easiest place is at the front of the aisle, before they all disperse. These are preferably large groups, so it’s helpful if the officiant can announce who is to stay, and everyone can be directed to cocktail hour. After this your photos are DONE (unless you want sunset photos!). Your bridal party is finished, family is finished, and it’s party time!!!

a couple at their cocktail hour at omni in hilton head


These are times are set be the planner/venue, and I’m there to capture everything as it unfolds.

couple at their wedding reception


Here is a sample timeline with a ceremony start time at 4:30pm WITH a First Look, ending at 10pm.

12-1:15pm- Amber arrives, begins with bridal details, HMU finishing touches, robe/PJ photos

1:15-2:15pm- Bridal dressing, reveal

2:15-2:45pm- Groom and groomsmen getting ready

2:45-3:45pm- First Look, portraits, family, bridal party

3:45-4:30pm- In hiding, Amber shoots venue details

4:30-4:50pm- Ceremony

5-6pm Extended family photos, cocktail hour

6-10pm- Reception


Here is a sample timeline with a ceremony start time at 4:30pm WITHOUT a First Look, ending at 10pm.

12:30-1:15pm- Amber arrives, begins with bridal details, HMU finishing touches, robe/PJ photos

1:15-2:15pm- Bridal dressing, reveal

2:15-3pm- Bridal portraits, family and bridesmaids portraits

3-3:45pm- Groom getting ready, then family and groomsmen portraits

3:45-4:30pm- In hiding, Amber shoots venue details

4:30-4:50pm- Ceremony

5-6pm- All family photos with both sides, full bridal party, all couples photos

6-10pm- Reception


I hope this was helpful! Of course these are just general guidelines– every wedding day is unique and I’ll help create the most perfect timeline for your special day.

Click the contact button above, and let’s get started!





savannah + hilton head
wedding photography

Welcome to my blog/recent work page! Here you will find my latest and greatest, where you can scroll through full wedding days and soak it all in.

I'm a bubbly and down-to-earth wedding photographer based in Savannah, Georgia. I want to tell your story through my photos. All the big things, plus all the details you didn't even realize you missed. The laughter, tears, cheers, and the little moments in between.

If you are looking for a photographer for your Hilton Head Island or Savannah area wedding, reach out and let's have a chat!





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