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6:00 PM Ceremony

6:00 PM Ceremony Wedding Day Timeline

A Vineyard Stroll

When planning your wedding day timeline with a 6:00 PM ceremony, there are a lot of factors to think through!

  • If travel is required on your day

  • The size of your wedding party

  • Whether or not you’ll be having a first look

  • Portrait priorities (how many family photos you’d like, if you want to reserve sunset for newlywed portraits)

  • Time restrictions with your vendor team

  • Ceremony length

  • Timing of reception events

That’s just the tip of the iceberg! There’s a lot to consider to ensure you get the most out of your day, while also making sure you have time to enjoy your wedding day!

Timeline planning is one of my specialties as a Temecula wedding photographer. While you might think of timelines as something the venue or a wedding planner handles, I’m well acquainted with how long certain sections of the day take, so I typically guide the timeline planning process. A well-crafted timeline has buffer time for when parts of your day run behind a bit, so you can have a fun, stress-free day!

I’ve laid out a couple of options below for timelines with a 6:00 PM ceremony both with and without a first look!

Before jumping down to the timelines, here’s a few things you should know when planning your own wedding day.

What Months are Best for a 6:00 PM Wedding Ceremony?

My foremost consideration for the ceremony time is sunset time, or the amount of sunlight available after the ceremony is completed for family, wedding party and couple portraits.

While I’m very versed in off-camera flash given that wedding days are very unpredictable, most couples choose their venues in part to have photos on-site during the beautiful sunset light. So my base recommendation is there should be an hour of light after the ceremony for portraits.

This would mean ideally, with a ceremony concluding roughly around 6:30, the earliest sunset should be 7:30. The span of months where the sun sets at 7:30 PM runs from May - mid August.

The exception to this rule is a first look. If you decide to have a first look before the ceremony, and finish ALL your wedding party, family and couple portraits beforehand, then you can plan on a sunset ceremony, and heading right off to cocktail hour afterwards!

How a First Look Impacts the Timeline

With a first look, having an hour and a half of light after the ceremony isn’t quite as critical. If we’ve already wrapped up family and wedding party portraits, then all I need to photograph is the newlyweds in the remaining light of the day! Having a first look also gives you a little more flexibility in terms of what you’d like to do after the ceremony. You can take about 20 minutes of portraits and then bounce off to cocktail hour if you’d like!

Planning for Family Photos

Family photos are so important on a wedding day! As I tell my couples, this is one of the only times in your life you’ll get this group of people together!

We do take time on your wedding day for posed family photos, either before or after the ceremony. Because time is of the essence, I recommend couples focus on their immediate family: grandparents, parents and siblings. If there are additional people you want images with, I recommend a few options.

First of all, consider a first look! This helps to free up more time in your cocktail hour for larger family groupings.

Second, for more casual groupings, have those taken during the reception! Note down the groups you want, and a party in your group can gather up all your family and friends for those photos!

Family photos are one of the “wild cards” of the day. If everyone is gathered where they need to be at the right time, then these can go super quick! If not, you can easily eat up your cocktail hour trying to find people. Keeping the groupings small helps this part of the day run smoothly.

Wedding & Videography Coverage

Whereas you might have a wedding day with 12+ hours of events, your photographer and videographer won’t stay that entire time, so it’s important to work your day around their availability.

Most of my weddings require 8 hours of coverage. This is a good amount of time to cover the end of your wedding prep through the major reception events. I typically start 3-4 hours before the ceremony (depending on if there’s a first look), and finish photography 30 minutes after the last major reception event. Sometimes couples do a “fake” exit if they’d like that captured as well!

How Long Events Take on a Wedding Day

Hair & Makeup - 50 Minutes Per Person

I asked one of my good friends for some insight on how long hair and makeup takes! Erica of Beauty Ever After is super talented. Her recommendation was, with a 2-person hair and makeup team, to plan for at least 50 minutes per person. People with longer, thicker hair should be done first, and the bride should have her hair and makeup done in the middle of the group. This is just in case things run behind, we know the bride will ready on time!

Details & Getting Ready - 90 minutes

I photograph details as soon as I arrive on-site. This includes the dress, rings, shoes, invitations, florals, and any other important details to the couple! My second shooter photographs groom details as well, including shoes, any cool socks, cufflinks, belts, pocket squares, and groomsmen gifts.

Robes Images - 15 Minutes

Most of my brides have cute robes or PJs they like to get a group image in before everyone gets dressed. I can do this super quickly if things are running behind, but I like to plan on 15 minutes. Don’t forget the flutes and champagne or orange juice!

Bridesmaids Getting Dressed - 15 Minutes

I plan on at least 15 minutes here as getting on all the proper undergarments takes time! I highly recommend the bride and bridesmaids try on their dresses a few days before the wedding to ensure there aren’t any last-minute adjustments that need to be made!

Bride Getting Dressed - 15 Minutes

The maid of honor and mother of the bride (or any other people the bride wants in images of her getting dressed) should be ready before the bride gets dressed. For getting dressed images, I always wait until everything is appropriately covered, and then take the images of zipping or buttoning the dress, putting on jewelry and shoes!

Groom and Groomsmen Getting Dressed + Portraits - 60 Minutes

Whereas the bridal transformation takes several hours, most of the time the guys kick back until about an hour before the first look, or an hour and a half before the ceremony, if they’re not having a first look. Just like the bride, I like to have the groom pretty much dressed, and have his best man help him put on this jacket. Then I get close-ups of the boutonniere, tie, cufflinks, and putting on shoes. Nice and easy!

Walking to the First Look - 10 Minutes

It probably seems like overkill to count this time, but every minute pre-ceremony counts on a wedding day! It’s particularly important to plan for this time if your venue is spread out.

First Look - 10 Minutes

I tell couples to take their time here, kiss each other, love each other, feel however you want to feel for however long you want! Some couples take just a few minutes here, some take longer. It’s all up to them, I don’t want to rush these small moments!

Family Photos - 30 Minutes

If a couple’s family is ready for photos before the ceremony, that is a huge time saver! In addition, this means that both sides can go off to cocktail hour right after the ceremony. If that’s not possible, I alternatively recommend having family photos immediately after the ceremony.

Wedding Party Photos - 30 Minutes

If your wedding party is ready, it’s great to get individuals and group photos pre-ceremony. Depending on the venue layout, I also like to get some group photos after the ceremony when the light is prettier!

Pre-Ceremony Chill and Touch-Up - 30 Minutes

Most couples want an opportunity to relax before the ceremony and also get tucked away before guests start to arrive and want to chat with them.

Ceremony - 30 Minutes

Mawwiage is what bwings us together!

Cocktail Hour - 60 to 90 Minutes

If you’ve opted to not have a first look, I recommend a 90 minute cocktail hour. The usually means about 70 minutes of photography time to capture family, wedding party and couple portraits, which is no small task! We lose about 10 minutes finding people during family photos, and I also like to wrap up photography 10 minutes before the grand entrance, so the bride can bustle her dress, or just so the couple can take a few minutes together, and the wedding party can get organized for the grand entrance!

Grand Entrance - 5 Minutes

First Dance - 5 Minutes

I highly encourage you to use the full version of your song! This gives me so much more time to capture those interactions - and typically this is one of the only times during the day you can talk, uninterrupted, to each other!

Blessing - 5 Minutes

Dinner Service - 60 Minutes

Toasts - 10 Minutes

Parent Dances - 10 Minutes

Cake Cutting - 5 Minutes

Bouquet/Garter Toss - 5 Minutes

Below are 2 timeline options both with and without a first look! I also plugged in how much time you’ll need for hair and makeup if you have 4 bridesmaids. The easiest thing to do is tell your hair and makeup artist when you’ll need to be done (in the example below, 3:00 PM), and they will let you know what time you need to get started!

6:00 Ceremony Wedding Timeline - with First Look

Pre-Ceremony in the Bride’s Suite

9:00 - 3:00: Hair and makeup starts in wedding suite

2:00 - 3:00: Details photos / bride and bridesmaids getting ready photos (photography starts)

3:00 - 3:15: Robes photos with bridesmaids

3:15 - 3:30: Bridesmaids get dressed

3:30 - 3:45: Bride gets dressed

3:45 - 4:15: Bride individual + bridesmaids group photos

Pre-Ceremony in the Groom’s Suite

2:30 - 3:00: Photograph grooms’ details and hanging out

3:00 - 3:30: Groomsmen + groom get dressed

3:30 - 4:00: Groom individual + groomsmen photos

First Look

4:15 - 4:30: Walk to first look location

4:30 - 4:45: First look

Pre-Ceremony Portraits

4:45 - 5:00: Bride and groom portraits

5:00 - 5:30: Family photos or wedding party photos

5:30 - 6:00: Bride and groom go back to suites to relax before ceremony


6:00 - 6:30: Ceremony

Cocktail Hour

6:30 - 7:00: Family photos

7:00 - 7:15: Full wedding party photos

7:15 - 7:30: Newlywed portraits


7:45 - 7:55: Grand entrance

7:55 - 8:00: First dance

8:00 - 8:05: Welcome speech

8:05 - 8:45: Dinner service

8:45 - 8:55: Toasts

8:55 - 9:05: Father/daughter and mother/son dances

9:05 - 9:10: Cake cutting

9:10 - 9:20: Bouquet toss / garter toss

9:20 - 10:00: Open dancing

9:40 - 9:50: Night portraits (if desired)

10:00: Photography concludes

6:00 Ceremony Wedding Timeline - without First Look

Pre-Ceremony in the Bride’s Suite

9:00 - 3:00: Hair and makeup starts in wedding suite

2:30 - 3:30: Details photos / bride and bridesmaids getting ready photos (photography starts)

3:30 - 3:45: Robes photos with bridesmaids

3:45 - 4:15: Bridesmaids get dressed

4:15 - 4:30: Bride gets dressed

4:30 - 5:00: Bride individual + bridesmaids group photos

Pre-Ceremony in the Groom’s Suite

3:30 - 4:00: Photograph grooms’ details and hanging out

4:00 - 4:30: Groomsmen + groom get dressed

4:30 - 5:00: Groom individual + groomsmen photos

Pre-Ceremony Separate Portraits

5:00 - 5:30: Bride + bride’s immediate family photos

5:00 - 5:30: Groom + groom’s immediate family photos


6:00 - 6:30: Ceremony

Cocktail Hour

6:30 - 7:00: Combined family photos

7:00 - 7:20: Combined wedding party photos

7:20 - 7:40: Newlywed portraits


8:00 - 8:05: Grand entrance

8:05 - 8:10: First dance

8:10 - 8:15: Welcome speech

8:15 - 9:15: Dinner service

8:45 - 9:00: Toasts

9:00 - 9:15: Father/daughter and mother/son dances

9:15 - 9:20: Cake cutting

9:20 - 9:30: Bouquet toss / garter toss

9:30 - 10:00: Open dancing

10:10 - 10:20: Night portraits (if desired)

10:30: Photography concludes

More Temecula Weddings & Wedding Day Resources

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Temecula Wedding Photographer Courtney McManaway
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