ZTS PHOTO » Des Moines Iowa Wedding Photographers

Wedding Timeline Tips

Below is a sample wedding day timeline for a 9pm sunset (June/July dates). Feel free to base this as needed on your day! I’d say 90% of our couples follow this:


10AM Hair/Makeup (This depends on appx how many people/location. Don’t hesitate to ask for a quote from your artist on how long they think it will take!) Usually we like to show up for the last appx 30 min of hair being finished and makeup started if desired.

1PM-Off to getting ready location if separate. Put the dress on, grab some lunch, etc.

2PM- Travel to first look (If you are having one) We suggest somewhere with lots of open shade this time of day. Helps to eliminate squinting and provide less harsh light on your faces. Parks/Nature Preserves/Alley ways/etc. Really just anywhere we can find shade!

Usually we ask for appx 30 min for the first look and portraits of you two. We also shoot individuals here of both of you

2:30PM Bridal Party Outdoors- We suggest getting this done early in the day, afterwards most people want to hurry or are rushed to round everyone up and get to the reception. Great time of the day to get relaxed bridal party portraits. Normally these are the shots requested:

-Bride w/bridesmaids

-Bride w/each bridesmaid and personal attendants

-Groom w/groomsmen and ushers

-Groom w/groomsmen

-Groom w/groomsmen and ushers individually

-Entire bridal party w/ushers and flower girls/ring bearers

-Entire bridal party w/out ushers/flower girls/ring bearers

3pm- Family Formals begin- Again we LOVE if you want to do these outdoors, to us personally it looks more relaxed and has much better light than most churches. We suggest under a big tree/in the shade works best. We can also mix it up too and do a few outdoors and a few indoors. Sample family shots usually desired:

-Bride and groom w/brides family

-Bride and groom w/brides extended family

-Bride and groom w/grooms family

-Bride and groom w/grooms extended family

-Bride and groom w/parents

-Bride and groom w/grandparents

-Bride and groom w/siblings

We recommend appx 5 min per group shot desired. Really that may seem like quite a bit but with kids/older family members moving around/etc usually ends up about perfect!

4pm-Done with photos, relax. Grab some water, touch up on makeup, grab a snack if necessary

5pm- Ceremony

5:30 Done w/Ceremony- Some couples like to greet and dismiss guests if you do choose to do this make sure you allot plenty of time for this. Usually appx 45 min. Otherwise you can always let guests know you will greet them at the reception as well when the dance begins is also a great time to touch base with everyone.

6PM- Load transportation with bridal party

6-7pm- We prefer to have 20ish min in your travel time between the ceremony and location site when the light is best to snap some more photos of the two of you. Stopping somewhere on the way quick between bars or just on the way to the reception is great! We can always suggest ideas as well, this is the time that the light is more romantic and less harsh so it is easier to shoot in areas that aren’t fully shady (although we still love a nature preserve/park/forest!).

7pm- Arrive at reception

7:15pm- Bridal Party Entrance and Cut the Cake (we suggest doing this right away so your guests can grab the cake/doughnuts/cake pops/etc after they finish eating).

7:20pm- Dinner is served

7:45ish- Toasts- Feel free to start these once the bridal party has finished eating. Even if all the guests are still finishing their plates everyone will be seated and great time to have them covered!

8:05- First dance, Father Daughter Dance, Mother Son Dance

8:30ish- Dancing begins

8:50ish- Bouquet and garter tosses We suggest doing these right away after a few songs so the older guests and kids can watch before they need to take off for the night.

9pm- Back to dancing/Night or Sunset Portraits Here we can take night shots or sunset shots if desired. We usually stay for 5-10 songs post the big events, or until we have everything we feel we need to have a complete wedding day delivered to you.

Then we come find you two and ask if you need anything additional from us (often times certain family members couldn’t make it to formals for whatever reason, great time to get a quick photo before we depart!)

Additional Tips

On average that is how about 90% of our weddings go. We do like to let people know to keep in mind the sunset set time. The best time for photos is around sunset, so feel free to take that into account when planning your ceremony and reception times when booking! A great website to look that up on is:


As always we are more than happy to help you plan your big day. We’ve been to many weddings and love to help you make things less stressful!

-Sarah & Tanner Urich


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