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What Time Should My Wedding Photographer Arrive?

When should my wedding photographer arrive?

Each of my couples’ has different wants for their wedding day, and needs vary based on a few factors, such as; how much of the getting ready they want to be documented. Are you doing a first look? Where are the locations for the wedding party photos, how much dancing you want to be covered at the reception, and finally, figuring out when you’ll have your first dance, and coordinating that last photo op with golden hour and sunset?

Bride sitting in her white robe getting the last touches of lipstick applied.

My ultimate goal is to enhance not only your experience but the guests’ as well. I want them to spend as much time with you as possible, have the night to mingle, and dance with the newlyweds without being missing for hours doing portraits. And possibly even enjoy your cocktail hour, I highly recommend this!

Mother of the Bride leading a conga line during the cocktail hour.

Let’s Break It Down – Wedding Day Timeline Tips

Recently my couples have been wanting less of the “early stages of getting ready” and focusing more coverage on the actual day itself. I personally like to arrive as makeup, or final styling is being started on the marrier! It gives me about 30-45 minutes to get all the details ie; rings, invitations, perfume, shoes, flowers, and basically anything special to your attire that day captured. I’ll visit both sides and get any fun candids of the wedding party hanging out, cheers-ing their mimosas, getting tuxes and suits buttoned up, pinning boutonnieres, (and no worries, I pin at 9/10 weddings – I got you!), and doing the final mirror check before it’s go time.

You’re here so, let’s look at the bigger picture

In order to get the exact time you should start getting ready, it’s best to figure out when you need to be walking down the aisle. Start from there and count backward from there, and don’t forget to factor in any travel time needed to get to your ceremony. (Pro-tip: check if there are any sports games going on in the area, or any large events if you’re in a popular place.) Give yourself at least a 15-minute cushion here.

Calculate any portraits you want to be taken before your ceremony. First look, and at least 5-10 minutes getting each person alone, family together, a ‘first look’ with the special family member(s) of their choice. Or maybe, even some portraits with your pet? 🙂

Bride and Groom dressed in wedding attire posing with their puppy before their ceremony.

Here’s how a timeline would look for someone who is not doing a First Look;


2:00 pm – Getting Ready; Photographer Arrives – Detail shots begin, candid getting ready for both wedding attendees posed of everyone together in matching outfits, or poppin’ a bottle of champagne

2:45 pm- Makeup/Final Touches Finished; all folks are dressed and ready, marrier gets dressed – photos of their helpers, and details of importance.

3:00 pm – Individual Nearlyweds Portraits; including family, parents, and special attendants.


3:30 pm – Leave for Ceremony Venue

4:00 pm- Hide until it’s time – having a moment to relax beforehand is really nice, and also creates an extra buffer – just in case.
4:30 pm – Ceremony

5:00 – Family Portraits

5:30- Leave for Wedding Party Photo Location/Couples Portraits (if it works out, you can send your wedding attendees back to join cocktail hour while you finish your portraits together.)

6:45 – Arrive at Reception Venue, Line up for Grand Entrance – if you’re early enough, join the cocktail hour! Your guests will be just as excited to watch you come in for your grand entrance, so don’t feel like being there will ruin that. You can also take this time to go freshen up, use the bathroom – or simply take a moment to yourselves privately. And you’re always allowed to change your mind about what happens, so just feel it out!

7:00 pm- Grand Entrance, Speeches, Toasts/Cake Cutting

Bride and Groom dancing during their Grand Entrance at their Reception.

7:30 pm – Dinner

8:30 pm – First Dances

8:45 pm – Golden Hour/Sunset

9:00 pm – PARTYYYYYYY!!!! All the fun dancing, mingling, and sentimental photos you need for about an hour. I never leave before checking in with my couple to make sure we’ve gotten all the photos they want!

If you want more help planning your day, I would be happy to have an introductory call.

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"Magan was hands down the best choice we made (other than marrying my husband!) for our wedding."

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"Hire Magan if you want beautiful pictures. She had us literally tearing up at how stunning all her photos of us are and you don’t spend your entire wedding posing for pictures. Magan was hands down the best choice we made (other than marrying my husband!) for our wedding. You’ll love her personality and you will never regret hiring her for any occasion."

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"I can't say enough good things about my experience with Magan. I was in the market for a photographer to capture a special moment and Magan was a joy to work with throughout the entire process. In order to look comfortable in photos, it is so crucial to have an upbeat, energetic personality that simultaneously can break any awkwardness with conversation or humor and Magan fulfills that in spades! Her approach to personalize and tailor your experience to match your needs makes her an easy recommendation."

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Our engagement photo session, with Magan, was an absolute blast. We are so appreciative of Magan’s help and guidance throughout our wedding planning and forever GRATEFUL to have had her and her husband with us on our wedding day. Magan and Jared were perfect for us and our wedding group, and a huge part in making it all happen. The pictures from our wedding day left us speechless. We can’t stop looking at them. She captured every moment. We’re so thankful to not only have gained a photographer for life, but also a friend.

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