Timeline Options: Golden Hour vs. First Look

Importance of Timing

Timing is crucial on your wedding day. Things might not always go as expected, but with careful planning, you can handle the unexpected. As you read the following tips, remember that you can never have too much time for photographs.

Key Scheduling Approaches

There are two main ways to schedule your wedding day: the Golden Hour Timeline and the First Look Timeline. Your decision hinges on how you want to experience seeing each other for the first time on your special day.

Golden Hour Timeline


In a Golden Hour schedule, the couple does not see each other before the ceremony. The first time you see each other is during the ceremony, a moment witnessed by all your loved ones. This approach ensures most of your portraits are taken later in the day when the light is golden and perfect for photography.


  1. Traditional Appeal: For those who have always dreamed of walking down the aisle and seeing their fiancé for the first time, this is the classic route.
  2. Optimal Lighting: The best time for photos is 1-2 hours before sunset when the light is soft and golden. This is ideal for capturing stunning portraits.
  3. Post-Ceremony Relaxation: After the ceremony, you can relax and enjoy your portrait session without the anticipation of the ceremony hanging over you.


  1. Tight Schedule: If there’s only an hour between the ceremony and reception, you’ll need to squeeze in family formals, bridal party photos, and your portrait session. This is feasible but may limit the number of portraits of just the two of you.
  2. Missing Cocktail Hour: With a limited time frame, you might miss most of the cocktail hour. If you have more time between the ceremony and reception, you’ll have a better chance to join the festivities.
  3. Avoiding Receiving Lines: Receiving lines can take up to an hour, which could eat into valuable photo time. Skipping this tradition might be necessary to get all the photos you want.

First Look Timeline


A first look is a private moment before the ceremony where you see each other for the first time. This intimate encounter is away from guests and provides a beautiful opportunity for candid, emotional photos.


  1. More Time Together: Seeing each other before the ceremony allows you to spend more time with your partner and can help calm pre-ceremony nerves.
  2. Extended Photography Time: With many photos taken before the ceremony, you’ll have more flexibility and time for different shots.
  3. Efficient Schedule: The time between the ceremony and reception doesn’t drag on, as most photos are already done, allowing the reception to start sooner.
  4. Winter Weddings: For winter weddings, a first look ensures you capture photos in natural light before it gets dark.


  1. Earlier Start: Since many photos are taken before the ceremony, everyone needs to be ready earlier in the day.
  2. Light Quality: The light may not be as ideal earlier in the day compared to the golden hour. This depends on the weather and season.
  3. Breaking Tradition: Some couples prefer traditional wedding customs and may not want to see each other before the ceremony. If tradition is important to you, stick to your vision.

Additional Considerations

  • Weather and Season: Always consider the season and weather. For instance, winter weddings may require an earlier start due to shorter daylight hours.
  • Personal Preferences: Ultimately, your wedding day should reflect your preferences and dreams. Whether you choose the Golden Hour Timeline or the First Look Timeline, the day is about celebrating your love and commitment.

Final Thoughts

Choosing between the Golden Hour and First Look timelines depends on your personal preferences, the logistics of your wedding day, and the type of experience you want. Both have their unique benefits and potential drawbacks, but with careful planning, either option can provide a beautiful and memorable day.

If you have any questions about either timeline, feel free to reach out to me. I’m here to help ensure your wedding day is everything you’ve dreamed of and more!