Preparing for Your Wedding DayWhat to Pack - Suggested Timelines - All the Little Details

It’s the day you’ve spent hundreds of hours planning, preparing for and now it’s here. All of the hours you’ve poured over seating charts, flower arrangements and color schemes. Let’s get down to a few helpful suggestions on how to make your photography and day of timeline flow smoothly!


Your Details

Detail shots are some of my favorite! You have spent a lot of time (and money) curating the perfect look and feel for your wedding day. Don’t forget to include those in your detail shots within your Bridal Prep Time.

Stiles Wedding (34 of 682)

I always recommend that my bridals gather all of their “Detail” items and pack them in one bag so they are accessible when I arrive and you aren’t cutting into your hair and make-up pulling items for prep shots or sending bridesmaids to gather them from around the Bridal Suite.

Suggested Items to Bundle for Photographs:

  • Shoes
  • Bridal Sash or Belt
  • Jewelry (necklaces, bracelets, earrings, rings)
  • Any Heirloom Items (handkerchiefs, heirloom jewelry, sentimental items)
  • Invitation Suite
  • Bridal Bouquet
  • Garters
  • Veil or Headpiece
  • Hairpiece Jewelry
  • Perfume
  • Any Other Items You Would Like Included in Your Detail Photographs

Stacy Smith and Michael Murphy Wedding Belmont Hotel Oak Cliff Texas-18

Stacy Smith and Michael Murphy Wedding Belmont Hotel Oak Cliff Texas-294

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Your Dress

Most brides want a still life of their dress. I always recommend bringing a decorative hanger (but I usually bring a gold and silver hanger with me, but if there is a specific style be sure you pack that!) Are you comfortable with your dress being outdoors, or would you prefer that it stay inside?

Stacy Smith and Michael Murphy Wedding Belmont Hotel Oak Cliff Texas-329


Groom’s Details

Don’t forget your guy, his details can be great too and definitely worth documenting. Did you give him a special watch, cuff links? Does he have some spiffy socks? All these details can be included in his Groom Prep Time. It also helps if you pack his stuff in a bag specific for his details.

Stacy Smith and Michael Murphy Wedding Belmont Hotel Oak Cliff Texas-29

Stacy Smith and Michael Murphy Wedding Belmont Hotel Oak Cliff Texas-33


Modern vs. Traditional

First Look or Wait for the Walk Down the Aisle?

This seems to be one of the biggest choices for couples these days. Do we stay traditional and wait to see each other when we walk down the aisle, or do we take the leap and go for the First Look… While there is no right or wrong, there are definitely pros and cons to both and the choice is ultimately up to you and what you want for your wedding day!

My husband and I chose to have a First Look and to this day, it is one of my favorite moments of the whole day. I wouldn’t trade anything for those quiet moments we had together before we became Husband and Wife. It gave us the chance to hug, pray together, share all of those amazing emotions with each other in a really quiet, intimate moment. We also had the opportunity to take some really beautiful portraits. I loved the extra time we were able to spend together on our day and it didn’t stop either of us from crying through our vows or retaining that emotional feeling when we walked down the aisle towards each other.

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( From Our Wedding Day)
First Look & Bride and Groom Portraits 

The pros, especially for fall and winter weddings where natural light is at a premium, a First Look allows you the opportunity to get the majority of Formal Portraits out of the way before your Ceremony (Bride & Groom Portraits, Bridal Party Portraits and Family Portraits). This allows you to capture the few portraits directly after the Ceremony and allows you to spend more time with your guests. Another perk is that you are typically more relaxed as Formal Portraits can be one of the more stressful parts of your Wedding Day.

The cons, the only con is that your first sight of your Bride and Groom is private instead of in front of all of your guests. Some people love the tradition of waiting and that’s awesome, because it’s your wedding day and you need to do you!

Emily and Juan Bride and Groom Portraits Dallas Arboretum-1

Emily and Juan Bride and Groom Portraits Dallas Arboretum-9

or First Moments…

Don’t want to see each other, but you still want a special private moment? You can always opt for a First Moment. Some great First Moments include holding hands around a door, a tree, a corner – this is a great opportunity to pray together, read a note from the other person or just talk for a moment.

HollyandAaron (361 of 1069)

HollyandAaron (384 of 1069)


Gift Exchange

Are you planning on exchanging gifts or a letter? Let us know if you would like that special moment documented!

Stacy Smith and Michael Murphy Wedding Belmont Hotel Oak Cliff Texas-77


Bride & Groom Portraits

Whether you choose to stay Tradition and wait to see each other at your Ceremony or if decide to go Modern and go with a First Look, make sure you allocate a good chunk of time for your Bride & Groom Portraits. Weddings tend to run late… shocking right! So, I always encourage my couples to add a really good chunk of time for THEIR portraits, because we can always cut away a little time on the day of, but it’s really hard to find more time the day of to add to your portraits! I recommend at least 30 Minutes for just the TWO of you! Think of it as a good time to relax, spend time with your new counterpart and soak in all the love, joy and emotions of the day!

We’ll also get individual Bride Portraits and Groom Portraits, so if you opted out of a Bridal Portrait Session, don’t worry – you’ll walk away with some beautiful photos of each of you individually on the day of!

Emily and Juan Bride and Groom Portraits Dallas Arboretum-45

Emily and Juan Bride and Groom Portraits Dallas Arboretum-72

Stacy Smith and Michael Murphy Wedding Belmont Hotel Oak Cliff Texas-240

Stiles Wedding (209 of 682)

Tracy and Robert FB Sneak Peeks (33 of 70)

Stiles Wedding (831 of 429)

Emily and Juan Bride and Groom Portraits Dallas Arboretum-25

Stiles Wedding (419 of 682)

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Bridal Party

I recommend 30-45 minutes for your Bridal Party Portraits. With a more relaxed timeline, we can get some of these done before your Ceremony, even if you stay Traditional and wait to see each other! In your Shot List you can choose your preferred groupings for your Bridal Party. Are you more formal and classic, or do you like to let loose and have some fun? Maybe a good mix of the two? All things to start thinking about as your prepare your timeline. A good rule of thumb for group photos (whether they are Bridal Party of Family Formal Portraits) is 3-5 minutes for each grouping of people. It can take a bit of time to wrangle family members into one area or get some rowdy, slightly inebriated Bridal Party members into one grouping!

Stacy Smith and Michael Murphy Wedding Belmont Hotel Oak Cliff Texas-58

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Stacy Smith and Michael Murphy Wedding Belmont Hotel Oak Cliff Texas-93

Stiles Wedding (756 of 429)

Stiles Wedding (764 of 429)

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C&S Wedding (14 of 1)


Family Portraits

As with Bridal Party Portraits, 30-45 minutes is a pretty good amount of time depending on the size of your family. Consider the amount of time you will be spending after the Ceremony and let family members know ahead of time that you would like them to stay after the Ceremony for Formal Portraits. Chasing after people who have already joined Cocktail Hour or the Reception is the largest time waste, if you do need to chase down people – ask a member of the House Party to gather family members so you aren’t losing the Mother of the Bride or Father of the Groom! Again, 3-5 minutes per grouping is an adequate estimate. Be as specific as you can in your Shot List with the groupings so we can call out family groupings and take some of the stress off of you! If you have a Wedding Coordinator they can also assume this role!


Ceremony Details

Do you have something out of the norm during your Ceremony? Make sure you include these details in your Shot List and Wedding Day Timeline! It’s always good to have a heads up on a special tradition you’ve incorporated or an important person who will be part of your big day!

Stacy Smith and Michael Murphy Wedding Belmont Hotel Oak Cliff Texas-153


Cocktail Hour & Reception Coverage

Let the fun begin! We will capture the majority of the Reception Details before the Ceremony begins, as guest arrive we’ll document more candid images of your guests interacting. Throughout the Reception, all of your events will be covered. If there is anything out of the norm, please give us a heads up so we can be prepared for those events! Especially if you are planning a crazy dip during your first dance, (so we can be in the right position)… any surprise guests, toasts, entertainment, etc.

Stacy Smith and Michael Murphy Wedding Belmont Hotel Oak Cliff Texas-200

Stacy Smith and Michael Murphy Wedding Belmont Hotel Oak Cliff Texas-211

Stacy Smith and Michael Murphy Wedding Belmont Hotel Oak Cliff Texas-175

Tracy and Robert FB Sneak Peeks (63 of 70)

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Tracy and Robert FB Sneak Peeks (67 of 70)

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Grand Exits

Are you planning a big Grand Exit? Sparklers? Streamers? Bubbles? Our advice, slow down on your exit. Don’t run straight through the streamers, stop…kiss…..twirl… dip…. kiss again…. You get the idea. Savor the moment! Make it last, and give us a chance to get some killer shots!

Tracy and Robert FB Sneak Peeks (70 of 70)

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Suggested Timeline for 8 Hour Wedding with First Look

2:00pm Arrival | 10:00pm Exit

  • 2:00pm Detail Shots
  • 2:30pm Groom Prep Shots
  • 3:00pm Bridal Prep Shots / Getting Into the Dress
  • 3:30pm First Look with Groom / Followed by Bride & Groom Portraits
  • 4:15pm Bridal Party Portraits / Group Portraits and Individual Portraits
  • 4:45pm Family Formal Portraits
  • 5:15pm Bridal Party Tucked Away for Guest Arrival
  • 5:15pm Reception Details / Venue, Cake, Table Decor, Etc.
  • 6:00pm Ceremony
  • 6:30-7:00pm Formal Portraits for Extended Family
  • 7:00pm Entrance into Reception
  • 7:00pm-9:45pm General Reception Coverage / Dances / Toasts / Open Dance Floor / Cake Cutting
  • 10:00pm Grand Exit

Suggested Timeline for 8 Hour Wedding (Traditional)

2:00pm Arrival | 10:00pm Exit

  • 2:00pm Detail Shots
  • 2:30pm Bridal Prep Shots / Getting Into the Dress
  • 3:00pm Bridal Portraits / Bridesmaids Portraits
  • 3:30pm Grooms Details / Grooms Prep Shots
  • 4:00pm Groom Portraits / Groomsmen Portraits
  • 4:30pm Reception Details / Venue, Cake, Table Decor, Etc.
  • 5:00pm Ceremony
  • 5:30pm Formal Portraits for Immediate & Extended Family
  • 6:00pm Bridal Party Portraits
  • 6:30pm Bride and Groom Portraits
  • 7:15pm Entrance into Reception
  • 7:15pm-9:45pm General Reception Coverage / Dances / Toasts / Open Dance Floor / Cake Cutting
  • 10:00pm Grand Exit