Your wedding day timeline is a key element of great photographs


Feb 29, 2024

You’ll invest a significant portion of your wedding budget in your wedding photographs which raises a crucial question: How can you ensure your photographs meet your expectations? How do you guarantee they document your unscripted experience of your wedding day?

It all starts by selecting a photographer whose work, approach, and personality resonates with you, followed by crafting a realistic wedding day timeline.

a black and white image of a group during a cocktail reception at kingsbrae garden. They are raising their glasses in the air in cheers.

Why you need a realistic wedding day timeline

To ensure your wedding photography dreams become reality, crafting a realistic wedding day timeline—or what I like to call a “reality-time” timeline—is key.

Designing a timeline that balances your priorities, wedding logistics, guest needs, and portrait aspirations is crucial. Rushing through any part of your day or overloading it can detract from the experience. Instead, you should have ample time to savour each moment, soak in the love, and truly enjoy the celebration.

A reality-time timeline meticulously outlines every aspect of your day, from the early morning preparations to the final farewell. It accounts for travel times, including loading and unloading, buffers for unexpected hiccups, and even includes time for bathroom breaks and snack refueling. Plus, it anticipates that one family member or groomsman will be MIA for the group portraits. This is true story, ask me about the time two groomsmen got on the wrong bus. 

Plan your wedding day timeline with your photographer

Before you begin working on your wedding timeline, I highly recommend reaching out to your photographer and other key vendors who have to work within the timeline of the wedding day. Each vendor brings a unique perspective and expertise to the table. This is invaluable in shaping your wedding day timeline. While some offer more input than others, every perspective holds valuable insights that can inform your planning process and ensure a seamless execution on the day.

The perspective of your photographer holds particular significance. As the professionals tasked with documenting the important moments of a wedding day— and all the merriment in between—we have seen it all. We uniquely understand the flow and dynamics of your event. From managing unexpected delays to navigating multiple portrait locations, our experience enables us to anticipate and plan for various scenarios. We ensure that each aspect of the day receives ample time while prioritizing your needs.

Furthermore, every photographer has their own artistic approach—also known as creative intent—to capturing your wedding memories. Collaborating with us on your timeline ensures we are equipped to deliver the images you envision. For instance, if you desire candid documentation of your day without feeling overly posed, we can work together to structure a timeline that allows for genuine moments to unfold naturally.

I take pride in working closely with my couples to create timelines that not only accommodate their vision but also optimize the photographic opportunities throughout the day. Together, we design a timeline that allows my couple time to savor every moment with loved ones while ensuring that I have the time and freedom to capture the essence of the wedding day authentically.

Consider the light and tide schedules with creating your wedding day timeline

The sunlight’s quality and direction play pivotal roles in achieving stunning wedding photos, particularly for outdoor ceremonies and portraits. Imagine this: outdoor portraits at 1 pm in July resemble being under a giant spotlight, casting harsh shadows under eyes and creating glaring spots on bald or blonde heads, among other challenges. Similarly, outdoor ceremonies might result in one partner squinting against the blinding sun while the other remains shrouded in shadow. 

Ensuring stunning portraits and photographing the beauty of your outdoor ceremony hinges greatly on understanding and harnessing the sunlight. Your ceremony, in particular, presents a unique challenge as your photographer must work seamlessly within the natural conditions they’re given, without any control. If the layout of your ceremony limits the angles from which your photographer can work this will greatly impact how we can compensate for the poorly lit area. 

If you want beach photos, it’s crucial to check the tide schedule in advance and plan accordingly. High tide during your wedding could mean adjusting your timeline to capture those beach moments later in the day. This isn’t always a terrible compromise—golden hour on the beach is beautiful.  

When collaborating with my couples, I meticulously analyze sunset times and solar noon for each wedding day, providing tailored guidance. If beach photos are a priority, I offer personalized recommendations, ensuring we maximize the stunning natural light while seamlessly fitting into your overall wedding schedule.

In summary

Crafting a realistic wedding day timeline is paramount to ensuring your wedding photographs exceed expectations. Collaborating with key vendors allows for personalized insights to shape your timeline effectively. Your photographer’s perspective is particularly valuable and ensures that ample time is allocated for all aspects of the day and enabling them to successfully work within the given timeline and conditions.

Epilogue: your wedding isn’t about the photography

I often emphasize that a wedding isn’t about the photographs themselves. Instead, they serve to preserve the genuine, unscripted experience of your special day. They allow you to revisit the moments shared with your partner and the people you carefully selected to celebrate with you. Therefore, my guidance is grounded in the belief that doing these things sets the stage for your photographer to excel, ensuring your day is documented exactly as hoped. It’s not about achieving picture-perfect images, but rather about capturing the essence of your wedding day and preserving it for your keeping.

To learn more about my work, please visit my website:

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