Tips for Crafting the Perfect Wedding Day Timeline- San Antonio Wedding Photographer

December 17, 2018

So, you’ve booked your vendors and are ready to send out invitations. You might be going back and forth on a start time for the wedding, asking yourself a slew of questions. Should we do a first look? Will we be rushing through portraits? Will there be enough sunlight? It can be confusing, especially if you aren’t familiar with what time is best for portraits.

Vicki, from Joyous442 says, “Look up the sunset time for your wedding day first. Use this time to determine your ideal ceremony time, approximately 2 hours prior to sunset. Then back up 2 hours from there to set the time when all hair and makeup should be done.” When I receive an inquiry, I first do a happy dance and then immediately click the sunset times bookmark on my browser. This is important because some weddings can do without a first look and some, it’s a better option if you don’t want just flash photos of the wedding. This is especially true for late ceremony start times in the fall and winter.


“When you are figuring out arrival times for vendors, make sure you schedule in the order that things needs to be set. Tables and chairs before linens, linens before flowers, and flowers before cake”, is also another great tip from Vicki. For photography, I like to start 2-3 hours before the ceremony. This gives me enough time to get your details, getting ready photos, first look and any other portraits before the ceremony. I also have some couples do most of the formals before the ceremony (parents, siblings, wedding party) so they don’t have to do as many after.

When thinking about the reception, know that is it totally fine to add in new traditions or not include some at all. Recently, I’ve seen weddings without the bouquet and garter toss. If you want a traditional wedding, keep those in. Just don’t feel bad if you want to change things up a bit.


If you plan on having your exit photographed, first decide what time you want this to happen at. If you are ending the photographer’s coverage at 10 pm but you want the party to go on until midnight, consider a staged (or mock) exit. The DJ or band will announce for everyone to go outside for a photo and come back inside to continue the party. Once you know what time the exit is, plan it about 10-15 minutes before the photography coverage ends. Check with your venue to see what they allow but some exit options are sparklers, bubbles, ribbon wands, or two lines of your guests cheering you guys as you leave.

Be sure to give yourself a few extra minutes here and there for a cushion if things are running a little behind. Also, every wedding is different so talk to your planner (or photographer) to craft a custom timeline for your day. Adjustments would need to be made if there are different locations or for longer ceremonies.

Download a sample timeline here.

Special thank you to Vicki Thayer from Joyous442 for allowing me to include some timeline tips in here. She definitely knows how to rock a wedding day!