The Blog

#TipMeTuesday: Wedding Timelines

Hey guys!

So, #TipMeTuesday is something I have wanted to implement for a little while now. Pretty much since the end of my 2018 wedding season. I learned SO much throughout last years events and as I sat back and reflected recently, I just knew there were some things I needed to be educating my couples on that will be so incredibly helpful for when the big day finally comes!!

If you had asked me at the start of my career as a photographer that I would be a wedding photographer specifically, I wouldn’t have believed you!! Many people have heard me say that it’s still a total shock that I landed in the wedding specialty, because it kind of just happened. Don’t get me wrong, I am soooooo glad it did!!! I love every single thing about my area of focus. But, I would be lying if I said it hasn’t been one giant learning curve!!

With that said, one thing I have really learned is the importance of timelines and my role as a photographer in educating my clients about them. I think it goes without saying that timelines are absolutely necessary for the wedding day, but I am curious to know how many couples fully consider their photographer when constructing theirs.

Up until recently, I kind of built myself into every wedding timeline, which I realize has been one of the biggest non-efficient things I could be doing for my couples. Luckily, I haven’t had any problems (knock on wood) with each wedding sticking to the timeline but there have been a few occasions where I say to myself, “man, I just wish I had more time.”

And I figured out why I have said this to myself. It’s because I didn’t help my couples build their timeline. I was given a timeline to follow, took the hours of coverage they hired me for and wrote myself into the day.

So, my goal here is to stress that you want to include your photographer, no matter who it is, in the making of your timeline. I promise you will want our input. Not because we are planners (let me also stress that we are not in the market to step on your wedding planners toes!!!!), but because we play one of the most vital pieces of the entire day. If we don’t have enough time to get the photos of just you and your groom/bride, can you live with that? If you only have 10 minutes of photos of you and your new spouse, will that satisfy you? If you give us only 5 minutes for wedding party photos, will that be enough?

I can almost confidently tell you that no. It wouldn’t.

I totally understand that some people just aren’t “picture people,” and they hate the idea of spending more than the bare minimum of time taking photos. I get it!! But it’s necessary to add buffers throughout the day, and start at certain times, and plan for certain things, because you never know what’s going to happen.

Things to consider when building any timeline:

  • The time it takes to get between venues if your ceremony and reception are at two different locations. THIS WILL CUT INTO YOUR OVERALL TIME WITH US!!
  • Where both the bride and groom will be getting ready
  • Whether or not you are electing to do a first look prior to the ceremony
  • Will you be doing a receiving line of greeting guests following the ceremony, or will you be going right to photos?
  • How large the wedding party will be
  • How much family you want to include during formal portrait hour
  • What will happen if you run behind schedule

Why do we need buffers in the timeline?

Buffers are needed because something could always happen. I don’t want to be the dark omen on the wedding day, but literally anything can happen. Traffic, bad weather, a problem with the venue, someones car broke down, someone’s shoe strap broke. Things happen and it’s necessary to try to be as prepared as possible for them. That’s why, I now buffer at least 10 extra minutes into each part of the day where I take the lead and am doing photos. For example, a first look will literally take only 5-10 minutes, but I ask for 20 minutes in the schedule for this. Because, what if the brides zipper gets stuck and it takes longer getting ready?

Another example: cocktail hour. 1 hour for cocktail hour is fine, but buffer in 30 extra minutes into the schedule to make it an hour and a half. It may seem like a long time, but you can always start the reception early if we finish early, or linger with your guests for a few extra minutes. This is especially important if we are doing formal portrait hour during cocktail hour. Often times, 1 hour will do the job. But think– getting a lot of different shots with the wedding party, wrangling the family for photos and then still needing to do the bride and groom photos– sometimes we just barely get everything done in the hour. And then think, we lose time if the ceremony starts late!! So, it’s important to make sure there’s plenty of time to get all the portraits you need! We don’t want to rush them and wish there had been more time after the fact.

Now, hear me say that this isn’t always doable, especially if we are not hired on for a full day. But, we like to do our best to buffer in extra time where we can because it’s sooo helpful!
Don’t hear me say “I can’t do photos in only an hour.” That’s totally not the case. But, it’s crucial to plan things accordingly and give yourself time to breathe instead of rushing the entire day. The day will already go by in a flash, and rushing around will only make it go faster! So, my best advice is to let your photographer help with the timeline so that you know come the big day, you can breathe a little easier knowing your photographer has a grasp on the day.

Sample timeline 1: 8 hours of coverage with a first look, and the bridal party getting ready at the venue

Sample timeline 2: 8 hours of coverage with the bridal party getting ready offsite, and a first look at the venue

Sample timeline 3: 8 hours of coverage with NO first look, and the bridal party getting ready at the venue

Sample timeline 4: 8 hours of coverage with NO first look, and the bridal party getting ready offsite

I hope you found this information helpful!! Please know that this is what we do, and not what other photographers will follow.


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  1. aebphotosllc says:

    I love this and that you included sample timeline!!

  2. Taylor says:

    Wow! So much helpful information for clients!! ❤️ It is SO TRUE!

  3. Lots of good advice here!

  4. Theresa says:

    Great timeline advice!

  5. […] and why including buffers are crucial for your wedding photographer. You can find that blog post here. However, there is a ton that goes into building a wedding day timeline. Some people find it […]