Timeline Tips | No First Look Wedding Timeline

More and more couples are doing first looks on their wedding days. It frees up more time with your guests and allows you to go to cocktail hour. That being said, there are still plenty of couples who want to go the more traditional route! From my experience, I can tell you with a little planning, it’s totally possible to plan a relaxed wedding day timeline with no first look!

Here’s everything you need to know about planning your wedding day timeline with no first look!

Note : These timeline tips for for couples who are planning an onsite wedding and reception, but are not doing a first look. For couples who are planning an offsite ceremony and are not doing a first look, check out my post on planning a Catholic wedding timeline.

no first look wedding timeline

Sample Wedding Day Timeline with No First Look

12:00 – Getting Ready Photos ——————–

3:00 – Bridesmaid & Groomsmen Portraits

4:00 – Finish Portraits Before Guests Arrive

4:30 – Beginning of Ceremony ——————-

5:00 – Ending of Ceremony ————————–

5:00 – Guests Go To Cocktail Hour ———————-

5:00 – Start Family Portraits———————-

5:20 – Start Wedding Party Portraits————–

5:30 – Portraits of Bride and Groom —————

6:00 – End Portraits——————————

6:00 – Reception Begins————————–

10:00 – Reception Ends—————————


Dusty blue bridesmaid dresses

Bridesmaid & Groomsmen Portraits

On days where I know we’ll likely only have an hour (or less!) to fit in portraits between the ceremony and reception, I like to get portraits with the bridesmaids and groomsmen done before the ceremony.

We’ll go out one at a time, or if I am working with a second photographer we can do things simultaneously, and spend about 20 minutes or so doing portraits with each.


Family Portraits

If we can, we’ll grab a few portraits with family before the ceremony, but most portraits with family will include the two of you together! Immediately following the ceremony, we’ll grab your family and get family portraits rolling. Especially when we’re tight on time, I recommend having no more than 10 combinations. I try to have these done in about 20 minutes.

wedding day with no first look

Wedding Party Portraits

After family portraits, we’ll gather up your bridesmaids and groomsmen and finish up portraits with the whole crew. In the interest of time, I only spend 5-10 minutes doing these. After their portraits are finished, your family and wedding party are then free to join cocktail hour.


Bride & Groom Portraits

On wedding days, I like to schedule at least 30 minutes for portraits of the two of you. We’ll do this before you get announced at your reception! For most of my couples having really nice wedding portraits is really important to them. Knowing that, I’ll adjust and curtail other portraits during the day if it looks like we’re running behind!

Cocktail Hour

Most of the time at a venue, you’ll have 5 hours for your cocktail hour and reception plus a half and hour for the ceremony. In this case, when we’re not able to do portraits before the ceremony, we’ll be using the time in between reception and your ceremony to do portraits.

Occasionally, a venue will let you have as many hours as you want and schedule the day however you want to. In that case, you can create a longer cocktail hour or delay the reception. Just be aware, your guests’ willingness to wait for food is not unlimited! 😉


Scheduling Photography Timeline with No First Look

I usually recommend to couples that they schedule me for 2 and a half hours of reception coverage. That usually determines what time I arrive in the morning. In the example timeline I created above, 8 hour coverage would begin at 12:30 and end at 8:30. 10 hour coverage would be from 12pm to 10pm.

Want to see some examples of couples who did not do a first look for their onsite wedding ceremony and reception? Check out some real weddings here :

Kate & Matt’s Wedding at Ironstone Ranch

Chelsea & Anthony’s Wedding at the Chubb Hotel

Emily & Zach’s Wedding at Stroudsmoor Country Inn

I hope this was helpful to you in planning your wedding day timeline without doing a first look! If you have questions or thoughts I would love to hear from you in the comment section!

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