Creating the wedding day timeline is normally the hardest things for my brides to do on their own. If you’re not hiring a planner (which I hiiiiiiighly recommend) then you’ll be making this timeline yourself. No worries! I’ve got you on this one if you’re going to DIY it!
First off, let me just share that my lovely CRP Couples get a complimentary timeline consult with me if they aren’t hiring a planner and we go through all the details to come up with a solid timeline for her to get all the photos she wants and not be stressed or rushed! There is SO MUCH that goes into your wedding day timeline and it is important to keep your photographer in the loop! You may think we can get family formals done in ten minutes but I can tell you right now, that’s not how it’s going to go! The whole day is basically based around your ceremony start time so how I create a timeline starts with the ideal ceremony time, then working backward to find a start of the day time!
1. Know the estimated time your photographer needs for events throughout the day.
2. Add LOTS of cushion everywhere in case things get behind and
3. START EARLY!!
Approximate photography times
Each photographer most likely has their approximate times for the major parts of the day and here how’s I like to roll:
DETAILS & PREP: 1.5-2 hours This time includes girls getting ready, bridal details, bridal portraits, guys getting ready, groom details and groom portraits
FIRST LOOK & PORTRAITS: 30-40 mins If you’re doing a First Look (which is NOT required but HIGHLY recommended! Read more on that HERE) we’ll tack on your B&G portraits right after it!
BRIDAL PARTY: 30-40 mins This will be after B&G portraits and shouldn’t take too long if everyone cooperates and pays attention 🙂
FAMILY FORMALS: 20-30 mins These can take even less time if all family members are aware to report to the location immediately after the ceremony and again if everyone cooperates and pays attention 🙂
***Side note: If you’re not doing a First Look, the above time (1.5-2 hours) will be AFTER your ceremony and before the reception!***
RECEPTION DETAILS: 30 mins This time is usually right before the ceremony or during cocktail hour so we must leave time for it!
EXTRA PORTRAIT TIME: AS MUCH TIME AS YOU’LL GIVE ME!!
– I LIVE for gorgeous, romantic (and uninterrupted) B&G portrait time! I love when my couples understand that this day flies by so quickly and the photos of you two interacting and so in love REALLY MATTER! When the day is done, all you’ll have is a new spouse and your photos. The flowers wilt, the dress gets boxed up–the only true way to relive that day is through the images captured! Don’t let this time slip away from you and plan accordingly to really give me time to capture the beauty, love and happiness of your day!
Alright, sorry, I got on a tangent…back to what I was saying…
The times above are up to 4 hours of your day and that is just me doing my thing. That does NOT include: me looking for detail items, carefully carrying that gorgeous gown around for photos, finding where the guys are getting ready, tracking down a bridesmaid for portraits or ceremony and reception time… trust me, this day will fly by! These times guarantee that I don’t get rushed, I don’t have to have to get out my “teacher voice” during bridal portraits cause no one is listening and everything gets captured exactly the way you want it to 🙂 The first half of the day is more structured, but once family formals are done, my job becomes more relaxed and your DJ is in control of reception events! But up until then, you and I have to be on the same page!
ADD CUSHION TIME
I cannot stress this enough. I hate to break it to you, but not everything will go as planned. And the best thing you can do RIGHT NOW is to accept that and just prepare for it 🙂 My #1 tip to planning your timeline is to add 10-15 minute cushions here and there so that we have some wiggle room to work with! This way if one part of the day gets thrown off, (button malfunction, lost keys, etc) I can help compensate that time in other areas! Here are a couple of examples:
“Each girl’s including mothers should take about 45 minutes” **ADD 15 MINUTES TO HALF OF THEM**
“Travel time is about 10 minutes” **ADD 15 MINUTES before starting the next event**
“Ceremony starts at 5:30 so we can get to the venue at 5:15” **ADD 15 MINUTES**
You will thank me for those cushions when something unexpected happens before and we’re all cutting it close from one agenda item to the next. You can never be too early! And you know what, if we are early, I’ll just take more photos and you’ll end up with SO many extra photos of your day!
Girls take a LONG time to get ready. I promise they do and they will take longer than you think on your wedding day! They want to hang out, have some drinks, relax… I’m telling you START EARLY. I once showed up to shoot a wedding at 1:00 and the BRIDE HADN’T EVEN STARTED getting ready!! Then we lost a bridesmaid dress, found it in a car, but had no keys to the car and things went AWOL after that. It is NEVER a problem to be early! If you TRULY need photos of you getting your hair done and it gets done before I get there, we can fake a couple of photos of you with your stylist. I’d rather fake some photos than not get the important photos of you and your future hubby because we’re behind!
One major beauty tip: I encourage brides and bridesmaids to at least have their makeup done before I arrive because let’s be real, who wants a ton of photos without their makeup on!? Nobody.
Ideally, when I show up, almost all your bridesmaids should have hair and make-up done and be ready for their dresses and YOU should be sitting in a chair getting beautified! After I arrive, I will take an hour and a half to two hours for pre-ceremony prep and details of you and your groom then it’s time to get in that dress! By starting early, you get your day started on the right foot and ahead of schedule. It’s better to be sitting around waiting for the next thing to happen then to be rushed (when this day already goes by SO FAST!)
There is NO BETTER FEELING than being ahead of schedule on your wedding day!
Just saying those words lowers my blood pressure!! Please do yourself, your friends, family and photographer a favor: start early and add cushion and STRIVE for a wedding that is ahead of schedule!! SO… let’s grab coffee and chat about your wedding dreams!
Courtney is a Wedding Photographer in Indiana. Her specialty is joyful, timeless and playfully romantic wedding photography for classic and timeless couples and educating photographers on how to build a business that delivers an unforgettable client experience. Within Indiana, she serves Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Lafayette, Bloomington and South Bend. Areas in surrounding states that she serves: Columbus, Dayton, Cleveland, and Cincinnati, Ohio; Ann Arbor, Battle Creek and Grand Rapids, Michigan. She is available for destination weddings. Contact her for investment details and reserve your date.