An Ideal Hindu Wedding Timeline

One of my most frequently asked questions is: How long should I book my wedding photography for? These is a great question, and today I’m here to help you find the answer. If you’re trying to plan out your Hindu wedding timeline for photography, I have compiled some helpful timing tips to help you figure out your schedule. We will go through the day in order of the most typical timings for each event. I know some regions/families have different traditions and names for them, so I will try my best to include everything.

Now disclaimer, I totally understand that every wedding is different and if you have a wedding planner, that they have their own timelines. These are just my suggestions for a timeline based on all the weddings that I have done, I just wanted to give you a point of view from a photographer’s perspective. Brace yourselves, this is going to be long and in-depth, I simply want to help cover all the bases to help you smoothly plan out your perfect wedding day.

Quick Overview

This is a quick look at what a Hindu Wedding Timeline might look like that has a Baraat starting at 10am. Notice how early coverage starts with prep in the morning. Typically after the post ceremony family formals, we have a break while the bride and groom get ready for the reception.

6:30am Prep – Details
7:00am Prep – Getting Ready
8:00am First Look
9:00am Immediate Family Formals
9:15am Wedding Party Photos
10:00am Baraat
10:45am Milni/Family Greetings
11:00am Ceremony
12:30pm Family Formals
1:15pm Vidaai
5:00pm Cocktail Hour
5:00pm Reception Decor
5:30pm Couples Session
6:00pm Immediate Family Formals
6:15pm Wedding Party Photos
6:30pm Reception Doors Open
7:15pm Grand Entrance
7:30pm Reception Program
8:15pm Dinner
9:00pm Dance Floor Opens

Getting Ready Wedding Timeline

On an average wedding day, the bride and groom will usually each get ready separately – the bride in one location, and the groom in another. To ensure that both of their preparations are captured on camera, I will take pictures of the bride’s process while my second shooter covers the groom’s. We strive to allow for plenty of time to capture all the important details without feeling rushed. Usually an hour and a half is enough time to ensure that everything looks great in the pictures. After that, we can move on to the next part of your day!

Outfit Details

On the day of the wedding, I like to start photographing approximately 30 minutes before makeup is scheduled to be completed. This gives me and my team time to find a suitable spot for taking photos of the outfit and details. We look for a clean and uncluttered area, and then hang up you outfit and layout any accessories. At the same time, my team will do the same for the groom in his room. On average this takes around 30 minutes to find a suitable area, clean it from distractions and layout all of the items. Then we set up and take some photos, while also allowing the videographers to get their shots (if you have hired one).

Make Up

When the hair and makeup process is complete, I will always take a “fake up shot”. This allows me to capture the end result of the long preparation process that has been put in place by both the bride and her makeup artist. This way, we are able to document the hard work that has gone into achieving this perfect look. I enjoy creating beautiful shots for my wedding clients that highlight their unique styling and makeup looks. To create the best image possible, I strive to use soft, flattering light and capture the details of the makeup artist’s hard work. This shot on average takes about 5 or so minutes to capture.

Bride and Bridesmaids

From here, if you have bridesmaids and they are in the room with you and you want those fun robe shots, then now would be the time to do them. Depending on how many you have with you, we can typically take these shots on the bed, couch or standing. Typically, I like to get fun group shots here, either laughing and having a good time, blowing a kiss towards the bride, everyone squeezing nice and tight. This is also where someone might give a little toast and pop a bottle of bubbly for a nice cheering shot. Typically, these shots take about 10-15 minutes to capture.

Groom and Groomsmen

So typically, the groom doesn’t have to do his make up, so he has a little more time on his side. The groom might still have to finish doing his hair or shaving. But after the outfit details, sometimes the groom will do a toast with the guys, someone gives a few words and everyone has a good time. If this happens it can take about 10 minutes or so during prep time.

Getting Dressed

So by now, we are about 40-45 minutes in and we haven’t even started getting dressed! Typically everyone thinks they will be able to get ready in less than 10 minutes, which is understandable. But then I remind them that this is their wedding day and we need to document all the little moments. I also like to get any family or friends that are getting ready with them to help them out. I have them stop every part of the way, which allows me to get all the different angles and expressions. Depending on who is in the room or how many people will give me some different options for photos. For example, I step out and let the bride get in her outfit and then go back in. At this point I like to have either a bridesmaid, or mother of the bride help with jewelry and draping.  Then I like to get a someone to help hold the bride while one girl puts on the shoes. For ladies, this whole process can take anywhere from 30-40 minutes depending on how much we need to put on and how many girls there are.

Over on the guys’ side, the same thing can happen depending on who is in the room with the groom and how many people. The groom can take care of his shirt himself, but depending on his accessories and the amount of guys with him, I’ll have them help with his kurta/sherwani, then his necklace, jewelry, and turban if he has one. For the guys, things might go a little quicker than the girls, but not by much. I would say that the guys usually take about 25-30 minutes to get dressed.

First Look, Family, and Bridal Party Portraits Timeline

Once all prep is completed, it’s time for the wedding portraits to be taken. If the groom and his groomsmen are finished dressing before the bride and her bridesmaids, my second photographer will typically start taking photos of them first. This guide will begin by discussing a timeline with a first look scenario. If a first look is not chosen, the bridal party can still have their respective photos taken prior to the ceremony. After this, couples session, bridal party photos and family formals should be taken afterwards in order to make sure there is enough time between the ceremony and reception. It’s important to keep this Hindu Wedding Timeline in mind to ensure everything runs smoothly on your special day!

First Look

When the groom is first positioned, he is facing away from where the bride will enter so that he cannot catch a glimpse of her before the reveal. The bride then enters and walks up behind him, at which point she taps him on the shoulder and he will turn around to see her. The couple may take a few moments for themselves to take in one another and be in the moment so we document this as it naturally happens. Once they are ready, I like to do it all over again, at this point I reposition myself a little closer to the action to get a different feeling to the photos. This process usually takes around 15 minutes altogether.

Couple’s Session

After first look, I then like to transition into a quick couples session. This can range from 15 minutes to 45 minutes. As much time as I am given, I will take portraits. There are weddings where we don’t really get to do much of a couples session due to falling behind, this is why it is important to have an experienced vendor team to help you out along the way.

Bridal Party

Next we finally get to the bridal party. Depending on the size of your party, this can range from 20-30  minutes. I like to capture each side on their own, then get a full group photo. If you are wanting to get an editorial posed group photo, just know that this can take 10 minutes for just one photo. If you want to get solo photos with each member of the bridal party, this can take about 5-10 minutes in total.

Family Formals

Now if there is still time before the ceremony, we can do immediate family formals. A good rule of thumb is to plan for each group shot you want to take about 2-3 minutes each. If everyone is accounted for and you have created a family list then this can go a little quicker, but I recommend still planning for it to take a little longer. More often than not, someone runs off to the bathroom or is doing some last minute wedding prep. I go into a little more detail on Family Formals in this guide.

Ceremony Wedding Timeline

So far this Hindu Wedding Timeline guide has been based on having a first look. If you aren’t having a first look for your wedding day, then depending on the timing, we would go from getting ready to doing each side of the bridal party, and each side of the immediate family.

Ceremony Details

One of the great things about having multiple photographers on my team the day of the wedding is being able to be in multiple places at the same time. If you are doing a first look, my second shooter will help with the bridal party photos, but then usually go and take care of ceremony details while I stay and do family formals. If you aren’t doing a first look, typically the guys manage to get ready a little faster than the ladies, so my second shooter will help with the bridal party, then go do ceremony details. If not, then I will capture ceremony details during the Baraat.


The baraat is a joyous and vibrant affair that is sure to bring smiles upon the faces of all present. It carries an immense amount of significance in Indian culture, symbolizing the beginning of unity for the two families. My team gets in the action and dancing so that you can feel the energy in the photos. Sometimes the bride’s family and friends join, sometimes the bride even joins. If the bride is taking a break and resting, then I will join my team at the baraat to provide another fun angle. Typically, the baraat lasts between 30-60 minutes and will lead into the Milni or family greetings.


Before the groom can proceed to the ceremony, he is greeted by the brides family. Garlands or gifts may be exchanged along with a few rituals the bride’s family performs before the groom and his family can pass through the entrance. Typically the Milni takes about 15 minutes and the guests will take their seats before the groom fully enters.


The groom will enter the mandap escorted by family first and his shoes might get stolen if the bride’s side is quick and successful. The priest will perform a Ganesh Puja to start and then the bride will be escorted in. From here my team and I photograph all the different parts of a Hindu wedding ceremony. My team and I know all the traditions and will be ready to capture it all. I get on the mandap to get unique angles and capture the little moments that happen, from the Kanyadaan to the Mangalsutra and more. After the ceremony is over and the bride and groom are ready to walk down, the shoe game can occur if the bride’s side successfully stole the groom’s shoes. Once the shoe game is over then we do the walk down the aisle with the newlyweds. On average, the ceremony lasts about an hour and a half.

Family Formals

At this point we will do any remaining family formals that we did not get before the ceremony. This is typically extended family and friends and both sides combined if there was no first look. This takes about 3-5 minutes per group as mentioned before. We will also do Wedding Party photos if we were not able to capture them before the ceremony. On average, this can take about 30-45 minutes depending on how many groupings you have.


Not every wedding does a Vidaai, but if you choose to, we will be there for it. A Vidaai can be short and simply take place on the mandap with immediate family, other times all the wedding guests will participate in sending off the bride with her new husband. If the Vidaai is bigger and gets emotional it can take about 30 minutes from start to finish.

Prep For Reception

After the Vidaai, the newlyweds will go back, hopefully get a little break, and start prep for reception. We typically don’t cover the second getting ready and will use this time to prep, charge batteries, back up your photos, and get ready for reception. While this is technically shooting downtime, we usually don’t get too much of a break. I mentioned this Hindu Wedding Timeline was going to be a little long and in-depth, we are finally on to the second part of the wedding day!

Wedding Reception Timeline

Cocktail Hour/Reception Decor Details

Cocktail hour can last anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half. It all depends on your Reception schedule. During cocktail hour is when my second shooter will capture the reception decor while the guests are mingling outside. If the cocktail is longer, my second will be able to capture a little bit of cocktail hour as well as the decor, but if timing is tight, my second typically goes for the decor as a priority. Reception doors open about 30 minutes before grand entrance time, this allows guests to grab a few drinks and find their seats.

Couple’s Session and Formals

During cocktail, I like to take pictures with the bride and groom in the reception area. No guests are allowed in yet so I am able to capture portraits with all of the decor surrounding the couple. After, I like to have immediate family in the room as well and we can take formals with each side and both sides combined. The same groupings from pre-ceremony, but in nice formal attire for the evening. If timing allows, and the wedding party is ready and available, I like to get a formal shot of them as well. Typically all of this takes about a 60 minutes. Now depending on the couple, sometimes they will join cocktail for a bit or we do more portraits outside around the property.

Grand Entrance and Reception Program

Once the guests have taken their seats, it’s time to get the program started. Starting with grand entrances, this typically takes about 5-15 minutes depending on how many people enter and if they are individually called. If it is just the two of you guys then it will be quicker, but sometimes clients have their parents and siblings introduced, their wedding party either by guys and girls or each pair individually.

After entrances, the rest of the program happens right away to get the night started. Every reception is different but here are a few of the events that happen during the program.

  • First Dance – 5 Minutes
  • Parent Dances – 10 Minutes
  • Toasts – 5-10 Minutes each
  • Performances – 15-30 minutes

Dinner and Dancing

If spacing allows, I like to start the dance floor with a group photo of everyone and then the DJ will kick off the music. At the same time, dinner will open and some of the guests will get food while the dance party is happening. As long as the bride and groom along with their close friends and family are on the dance floor, the rest of the guests will stick around and dance. I usually recommend that we only need 30-60 minutes of open dance before we leave, unless there is a grand exit and we need to stay until the end.


If you made it this far, then congratulations! You really like to read haha. I hope that this guide helps you plan out an Ideal Hindu Wedding Timeline. Of course, every Indian wedding is different, but this will help you understand how much time is typically needed for such an amazing wedding event.