The Ultimate Guide: How to Plan Your Perfect Wedding Day Timeline

I'm Mycah!

I have been a photographer since 2010 and the owner of Mycah Bain Photography. When I'm not taking photos, I love traveling the world, designing and decorating my home, living the auntie life, running, yoga, reading, kombucha, trying new delicious foods, and happy hour with my besties.

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Let’s talk wedding day timeline!  As a couple who is planning your wedding day, you have a LOT on your plate. Let us come alongside you and schedule your wedding day! I’m going to walk through a full wedding day at one of my favorite gorgeous Minneapolis wedding venues, The Whim.

Here’s Samantha and Cody’s wedding day timeline for a 9-hour wedding day. Their timeline includes a letter reading moment, the bride having a first look with her dad, and the couple having a first look. Following that, capture a couple of photos pre-ceremony, the wedding party AND all family photos pre-ceremony.  We also left time for the couple to have some downtime before AND after the ceremony.

The Timeline of Samantha and Cody’s Wedding at The Whim

Letter Reading

The Bride

First, we started with details of the bride’s gown, shoes, jewelry, and all of her special details. Starting with a little extra time in the morning to capture all of the details helps set the tone for the day.  As photographers, we not only get to capture their gorgeous details but also have a chance to catch the vibe of the day and make any last-minute shifts if needed.  For our future couples, I highly recommend you gather up your shoes, jewelry, perfume, invites, any special mementos, ribbons, and flowers. 

If you have a friend in charge of gathering all of this together, you won’t have to think about it on your wedding day. PLUS, then we as your team of photographers, will be able to come in, say hello, and start taking photos right away

Brides, it is SO fun to capture special moments in your morning. If you are giving your bridesmaids special gifts, or any moment with your mom or mother-in-law, we love it all!  For our bride Sam, we circled back up with the ladies to capture the bride and her bridesmaids and their cute matching gowns. They did a champagne toast, and the bride gifted special gifts to not only her bridesmaids but also her mom and the mother of the groom. After that, her maid of honor and her Mom helped her into the stunning dress by Annika Bridal, jewelry by Dareth Colburn Designs, and shoes by Lulus.  We love having time to capture these special moments of the prep.

The Groom

We also LOVE capturing details for our grooms!  At Sam & Cody’s wedding, we popped downstairs into the speakeasy to capture Cody, putting on his suit and tie, along with his dad helping him into his jacket, and all of the groom’s been hanging out.  We always love spending time with both partners while they are getting ready, not only to tell your stories individually but also to get to know your wedding parties and family members.  Ahead of time we always ask for the names of the wedding party, so ideally, we are a little ahead of learning each person’s name.

First Look with the Bride’s Father

From there, it was time for the gorgeous bride to see her dad for the first time!  Scheduling time for a first look like this is so special and creates space for you to slow down and enjoy each moment.  Plus, we love creating photos of moments like this!  Would you want to have a first look with your parents or siblings?

First Look of the Couple

We have to say, that in our dozen years of capturing weddings, first looks are ALWAYS a winner.  First of all, it gives you and your partner a chance to actually slow down and BE together.  Also, it creates space for a more intimate moment, because if you wait to see each other until you’re down the aisle, you don’t really get a chance to embrace or talk at all… it’s just straight into the ceremony.  This is AMAZING timeline-wise both for photos AND for you two to spend the most time with your people. 

With this schedule, we were able to do ALL photos, of the couple AND the wedding party AND family, before the ceremony!  The only planned photos we had after the ceremony, were a few sunset photos of the newlyweds.  In the end, we always say the most important thing is for you two to do what you want, but if you’re open to it, we HIGHLY recommend a first look!

Wedding Party Photos

Following the first look for Sam and Cody were the WEDDING PARTY photos!  First, make sure everyone has boutonnieres and bouquets (dry off the bottom of them with a towel to keep the dresses clean).  Typically we love to start with some photos of the WHOLE wedding party (if you have ushers, any flower girls, or ring bearers, we love to start with the whole big group).  Next, we captured Sam and her bride’s people, both as a whole group AND then Sam with each person individually.  Then we captured Cody and his groom people, first as a whole group, and then Cody with each person individually. 

When it comes to family photos, we LOVE them!  We find that these are the photos most parents, grandparents, and couples frame in their homes.  We send our couples a questionnaire a month or two before the big day, with a whole list of possible family photos for you to either select “yes” or “no” and then also room for you to add in anything else you want.  That way, we can organize it in the most strategic way, so on your wedding day, we can fly through the list and give you more time to celebrate with your loved ones.  One of our top tips for family photos is to tell everyone to be there 15 minutes earlier than the scheduled start time, AND to select 1-2 designated “family wranglers” who know everyone in the family, and can make sure everyone is there, ready to go!

And now it’s time to rest! Since we planned this schedule so well, Samantha and Cody had the chance to mingle with their friends and families, as well as take a moment to rest, grab a snack or use the restroom, do any touch-ups, and breathe before the ceremony!

Wedding Ceremony

We typically love to start up near the front like we did for this one, to capture the bride coming down the aisle, along with the groom’s reaction.  OR if you two enter together, we want to capture that as well!  Once the ceremony starts, we typically stay off to the side or in the back to make sure we are not disrupting the moments, while also being sure to capture everything to tell your story.

After the ceremony is a great time to sign the marriage certificate and take a moment for just the two of you (literally even 5 minutes with no one else) to just soak in the fact that you just got MARRIED!

Cocktail Hour, Baby!

You’ve spent months (if not years) planning for this day… so why not spend some time ENJOYING it! This is the perfect chance for you two to grab some delicious food you picked out, and your signature drinks, and enjoy mingling with friends and family.

Sunset Photos

 This is always one of our all-time favorite parts of the wedding day! We headed outside to capture some stunning shots at the beautiful venue. The natural light was perfect, and the love between Sam and Cody was truly palpable.


When selecting who is going to share a toast at your wedding, we recommend that you pick two to four people who can share special moments and memories about the two of you. These speeches and toasts typically work best when they’re in the 2 to 5-minute range, enough time to tell a story and share a special moment, but not so long that people will start to feel antsy. Sam and Cody loved one shared beautiful toasts filled with stories, laughs, and tender moments as well.

First Dance with the Parents

Something that we love about the first dance is it gives you an opportunity to slow down, listen to one of your favorite songs, and be surrounded by your friends and family will you soak in the fact that you just got married. As you start to think about your first dance, would you want to choreograph something special, do you want to have a fun surprise, or do you want to keep it simple? Whatever you do make sure that it feels you and feels exciting!

The father-daughter dance is a special wedding tradition that is steeped in emotion and significance. It’s a moment that is cherished by both the bride and her father, and it’s often one of the most memorable parts of the wedding day. The dance symbolizes the special bond between a father and his daughter, and it’s a beautiful way for the bride to honor her dad on her wedding day. It’s a chance for the father to show his love and support for his daughter, and for the daughter to show her appreciation for all that her father has done for her.

For many brides, the father-daughter dance is an emotional moment that brings tears to their eyes. It’s a reminder of the love and guidance that their father has provided throughout their life, and it’s a chance to share a special moment with him before starting a new chapter with their spouse.

We have seen brides dance with their dads, stepdads, grandfathers, moms, step-moms, grandmothers, or anyone significant in YOUR life! 

When it comes to planning your wedding, this is a moment to consider with your mom, grandmother, or someone significant in raising you. The Mother-son dance is a meaningful wedding tradition that is cherished by both the groom and his mother. It’s a moment that symbolizes the love and bond between a mother and her son, and it’s often one of the most heartwarming moments of the wedding day.

For the groom, the dance is a chance to show his love and appreciation for his mother and all that she has done for him. It’s a way for him to express his gratitude for the sacrifices that his mother has made throughout his life, and to honor her for the role that she has played in shaping the person that he has become.

For the mother, the dance is a bittersweet moment that marks the end of an era and the beginning of a new chapter in her son’s life. It’s a chance for her to celebrate her son’s wedding day and to share a special moment with him before he starts his new life with his spouse.


As you start to think about what you want your reception to look like, what do you want? You could hire a live band, a DJ, special lighting and surprises, or truly anything you can dream up!   Sam and Cody’s reception was a night to remember, with delicious food, heartfelt speeches, and lots of dancing. The newlyweds couldn’t take their eyes off each other, and it was clear that they are meant to be together.

Cheers to you and your wedding planning!!

PS If you want a team of incredible photographers who will be with you every step of the way, we would LOVE to chat!! Hit that lil “contact” button and we can’t wait to hear about your wedding dreams! 

In Summary

In Samantha and Cody’s wedding, this was the flow…

12:00 NN – Photo coverage starts (detail photos)
12:30 PM – Groom Preparation photos
1:30 PM – Letter reading moments
1:45 PM – Bride gets into the dress
2:00 PM – Bride’s first look with dad
2:30 PM – First look of the couple
2:45 PM – Photos of the couple
3:15 PM – Wedding Party photos
3:45 PM – Family photos
4:15 PM – Getting ready for ceremony (Ceremony details photos)
5:00 PM – Ceremony
5:30 PM – Ceremony ends, sign the marriage certificate
5:40 PM – Wedding party at the reception
6:15 PM – Sunset photos of the newlyweds
6:55 PM – Grand entrance of the newlyweds
7:00 PM – Thank-You toast of the couple
7:15 PM – Dinner
8: 00 PM – Speeches begin (Best Man, Maid of Honor, Father of the Groom, Father of the Bride)
8:15 PM – Father-Daughter dance / Mother-Son dance / First dance of the newlyweds
8:30 PM – Dancing
9:00 PM – Photo coverage ends

Cheers to you and your wedding planning!

PS If you want a team of incredible photographers who will be with you every step of the way, we would LOVE to chat! Click HERE to get redirected to our website. And don’t hesitate to CONTACT us! We totally can’t wait to hear about your wedding dreams! 

– Mycah

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