Sunday, March 30

Creating a Wedding Timeline

A few days ago I had a bride contact me about her wedding timeline and I knew I had met my soul bride. She had everything planned down to the minute, categorized by who was in charge of the event, and ordered by what part of the wedding it fell in to. I don't know if I've mentioned it, but I'm a spread sheet kind of girl, but I understand not everyone is. I also understand that wedding timelines are something a lot of brides struggle with so I thought I'd offer my humble advice on the subject.

I like to start with the basics and work backwards. So put down the basics...

5:00pm Ceremony
7:00pm Food is served
10:00pm Reception ends

From there I would figure out your priorities, and as a wedding photographer, photography is mine so I would figure out how many hours of coverage I have with the photographer and add that in. I currently offer 10 hours of coverage in my package so let's use that. Working backwards from the 10pm reception ending time, I would begin at Noon.

12:00pm Photography coverage starts

A lot of brides want me there for the hair and make-up so they would talk to their stylists and see how long they expect the appointments to take. If they need to start earlier than noon to fit the entire bridal party in, then I tell the bride to go last and start her appointment at noon.

12:00pm Photography coverage starts, Bride's hair and make-up appointment

This is where people start to think they have more time than they do. They look at the 5 hour gap between the Bride's hair and make-up and the ceremony and they think they should shorten it. Don't. Let me show you just on the photography side what we'll be doing for the rest of the day...

creating a wedding timeline

For those of you saying, "I'm not going to do a first look or a hidden session so I don't need all that time" please don't shorten the timeline for that. If the bride and groom are not planning on seeing each other before the wedding then that means that those bridal party photos at 4 will be broken up into just the bride with her girls and the groom with his guys. This translates to me running between the two groups, which is not a problem, but it takes time. So I would start girls group pictures at 3:30pm and guys at 4:00pm.

Keep in mind that not having a first look means that we will need to do the combined bridal party shots during the family pictures time (add 10 minutes to that slot) and the small 15 minute portrait session after the ceremony for the bride and groom will also need to be extended to at least 30 minutes. Meaning that you either need to serve food later or you lose out on reception details. What normally ends up happening though, is the bride and groom feel so pressured to feed their hungry guests that they cut their portrait session down to 5 minutes and end up with almost no pictures of just them. Which is the worst thing I can think of.

This schedule also makes the assumption that the ceremony, cocktail hour, reception, and photography opportunities are in the same location (or within walking distance). If that is not the case, please plan accordingly. Also keep in mind that while your venues might be gorgeous and you want to take pictures there, there will be guests milling around about a half hour before the ceremony begins and after so photo opportunities at the venue might not exist. You should scout out a few locations within walking distance or a 5 minute car ride that can serve as great photo-ops for the bridal party and bride and groom's pictures after the ceremony.

Hopefully this outline of a wedding day will help you pin down your schedule and give you some peace of mind. As a said, schedules are intimidating, I even used an outline from one of my favorite photographers, Jasmine Star, and tweaked it for the clients that I normally see. So feel free to steal this one or change it to fit your needs!

Keep smiling!