Wedding Day Photography Timeline Tips for the best wedding photos

5 Wedding Day Photography Timeline Tips


Wedding photography is one of the most personal and important vendors a couple selects for their wedding. And when it comes to your budget, photography is not someplace you want to cut corners.

Yes, wedding photographers capture all those perfect moments you’ll want to relive. All the moments you forget because the day goes by SO fast. It’s one of the things, that you select for your wedding that not only lasts after the wedding is over, but also is one of the few things you do for your wedding that is just for you and your fiancé(e).

But your wedding photographer does so much more than just take the photos. On the day of the wedding, they’re most likely going to be the de facto person in charge of making sure you’re on time for all your events. They’ll be making sure hair and makeup don’t go over time. Everyone gets dressed on time, the photos are taken at the right time and so much more.

5 Wedding Day Photography Timeline Tips


Tip 1. Your wedding day timeline and photography

The most important thing you can do for your wedding, and for your wedding photographer, is to have a good and realistic wedding timeline. I can’t stress this enough for both you, and for your photographer.

Without a proper timeline, everything is going to be rushed from the start of the day. Without a proper timeline, your hair and make-up team isn’t going to know or understand you need everyone’s hair and makeup to be complete by 12:00 pm (for example) because your photographer needs the bridesmaids to be dressed before you can get dressed in the bridal suite. And you have to get the first look done with enough time to capture the wedding party and family portraits before the guests arrive because you said you would like to be part of cocktail hour and not have to take photos after the ceremony.

Wheh! That was a lot!

This is how your photographer is looking at the wedding day in the morning. They’re going to be looking that far ahead because they know that they’re going to be responsible for keeping everything on track and on time.

If you don’t have a good timeline, then no one knows what is going on. And your day will start to become late. And then your photographer has to rush and hurry. This means you’re going to risk not getting the best possible photos you were hoping to get.

In addition, if you’re running behind, not only is your photographer rushed, but you’re rushed. And you’re also stressed. Neither of which is conducive to the romantic or fun you hoped, and paid, to get. Not only is the lack of a good timeline costing you the emotional memories you were hoping to have, but it’s also costing you financially.

There is another financial burden to consider when a poorly made timeline runs behind.

Most photography packages are for a set number of hours. And this means you’ll have to pay your photographer their additional hourly fee (which is typically around $200-500/hr depending on where you live) to make sure you capture the parts of the day you know you want to have photographed.

Finally, if you have a videographer, then don’t forget the same emotional and financial burdens will apply to them as well, increasing the financial risk a poorly made timeline brings to your wedding.

There are of course plenty of free templates to help with timelines. But I’ve found they leave you with more questions than answers. Wedding Day Timeline is of course the best paid option for making sure your timeline is just right for both you and your photographer.

Wedding Day Photography Timeline Tips

Tip 2. Family, photography, and your timeline

Families and wedding photography go hand in hand. It’s such an important part of the day and it’s often the first time in a long time that so many family members have gathered in the same place. And neither you nor your parents or future in-laws want to miss out on this portrait time. And being part of all the special moments of the day.

One of the biggest timeline slowdowns I see at weddings is the mother of the bride not being ready when it’s time for her daughter to get dressed. While it seems like a small thing now, I can tell you, on the wedding day, it’s not. In addition to the small stress that comes up when mom isn’t ready, there is the time. This is going to add at least 15 or 30 minutes in delay to your day. And that is a lot.


If you’re making your own timeline, or you have a planner who is making your timeline, make sure the line item is “2:30 PM Bride gets ready” and not “2:30 PM Bride is dressed”. The first way is a line item for what you start getting dressed. The other way (which I have seen both brides and planners do) says you should be dressed by a certain time. This is the wrong way to have a timeline!

While we’re talking about moms, let’s not forget the mother of the groom. (If you’re two brides, no worries, no one ever forgets the mother of one or two brides!) It’s very common for a bride to have a first look with her dad. But it’s rare for someone to think about a mom’s first look with her son. Ask the groom and/or his mom, if they would like to have a first look. And if they do, don’t forget to put it on the timeline. Of course, if you use Wedding Day Timeline, that is one of our onboarding questions!

When it comes to extended family and the timeline, the most important thing is to repeat, repeat, repeat to them to stay behind for family photos after the ceremony.

You would be amazed by the number of close relatives who go to cocktail hour. And later are surprised they were part of the extended family photos. It’s funny to talk about before or after the fact. But if you didn’t do a first look and you only have an hour to take extended family photos, bridal party photos, and couple photos, and you have to spend 10 minutes tracking someone down, then you’re right back into rushing all the photos you spent so much money on. So make sure you tell them at the rehearsal dinner. And have someone tell them before the ceremony starts. If you’re really worried because you know your family tends to wander off, have the officiant make a statement about it before or after the ceremony.

Wedding Day Photography Timeline Tips

Tip 3. Sunset, photography, and your timeline

Before you set your ceremony time, check what time sunset is. And then ask your fiancé(e) if you want outdoor photos and if you want to do a first look and/or wedding party and family photos before the ceremony. You would be surprised at the number of couples who set the ceremony time very close to sunset, send out invitations, and start planning their timeline a month before the wedding only to find out it’s going to be dark by the time the ceremony is over. And they’re left with very few options for where or how to do photos.

I don’t want to sound like a broken record. But again, we’re back to the same stress and financial loss we were talking about before. All because couples didn’t know they needed to check sunset time and didn’t know how long photos would take. And of course, with Wedding Day Timeline, sunset time is built into the application and has its own line item. So you’re always aware of the light throughout your wedding day.

Wedding Day Photography Timeline Tips

Tip 4. Travel, photography, and your timeline

When it comes to travel, and when your photographer arrives to your starting location, your photographer is keenly aware of how long it takes to get from point A to point B. They’re often going to be looking to arrive early at the ceremony location and reception location. So they have plenty of time and can get a look at the area. And understand where they’re going to photograph. It’s important that your timeline take travel into account so your photographer has a timeline that isn’t going to be late because of travel.

When it comes to travel times you want to make sure you’re not guessing. And you’re considering that traveling on a Saturday is often different than traveling on a Tuesday morning for example. Be sure to look at any large events that might be happening that will affect your travel time. If you use Wedding Day Timeline, we pay to Google Maps history so when we calculate the travel time for your timeline, we’re using the historical data from your exact wedding day, so your timeline will be as accurate as possible.

wedding photographer schedule tips

Tip 5. How much time for photos

One of the most common questions is how much time do you need for photos. The best answer is to ask your photographer well in advance. Every photographer works differently. That being said, if you’re making a rough timeline, use 30 minutes for the wedding party, 30 minutes for immediate family, 20 minutes for couple photos, and 10 minutes for bridal portraits and individual portraits. Then have about 15 minutes for extended family photos after the ceremony. Whatever photos you plan on before the wedding, they should end about 30 minutes before the ceremony start time, which is typically the time for guest arrival.

wedding photographer schedule

I hope these tips are useful. I can’t emphasize how important the wedding photography timeline is not only to photography but to all aspects of your wedding. That includes from your experience (and your family and wedding party). As well as your vendor’s experience and ability to work to give you their very best. If you ask any vendor, you’ll find the timeline and lack of time (or unrealistic timelines) to be at the top of their list of concerns when it comes to weddings.


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