night wedding portrait at mildred b cooper

Creating a Wedding Day Timeline

When you make a plan, things tend to run smoother. This can be applied to all aspects of life. It is especially important to make a detailed plan for your wedding day photography. Creating a wedding day timeline helps everyone know where and when things are happening and keeps things on track. It is something you definitely need to do with your photographer.

Creating a Wedding Day Timeline

My first big point that I’d like to get across is that this is a collaborate process. This isn’t something that one person makes and then forces everyone to go by. I’d suggest having the photography, videographer, wedding planner, DJ, bride, and anyone else that might be important involved. They don’t all have to be there, but they should be allowed to give input. Each one of those people has a job to do and there are different things each person needs. I know that for me, I’ve been given a schedule made by a wedding planner and it was missing several things I needed. Figure out what everyone needs and then work together to make everyone happy.

night wedding portrait at mildred b cooper

One thing that I really like is when I’m given a large amount of time to do portraits. This gives me a chance to take the couple and go do some really creative things. Unfortunately, this is usually what gets cut or pushed back. If I don’t make it part of the schedule, there’s no way I will get that time on the wedding day.

ceremony-mount Sequoyah

There are multiple ways to plan things out. I tend to start from the ceremony because that’s the one thing set in stone. From there, I move backwards to find out when the day would start. I always put 30 minutes of free time before the ceremony so I can get ready and so everyone can relax. No one wants to rush into the ceremony.

bride walking up for first look

Before that will depend a lot of what they are wanting to do. Are they having a first look? Does she want you there for makeup? Are you doing family photos before? It’s hard to really say how much time to put for this, but I’ve found I normally arrive around 3 hours before the ceremony.

wedding party celebrating

After the ceremony, we usually do family portraits first. This takes roughly 30 minutes depending on how large the families are. Next, we spend time with the couple and bridal party if we haven’t done that already. Then you have the reception. I don’t plan the reception as tightly as I do everything else, but we still try to get an idea of when we’re going to do all the events. The big thing is knowing when the exit is going to be. If I’m not staying till the real end, we have to plan for a fake exit.

There are a few other things to keep in mind. Don’t forget travel time. It takes people time to get places. It might only be 5 minutes to walk from one place to the next, but it’s still time you will be losing. Always add some buffer time in there. Things will usually take longer than you think and things will come up. There’s always someone that’s late.

Since I wrote this blog post about 4 years ago, things really haven’t changed. Everything I said is still extremely true, but I’ve decided to make things even easier. I’ve actually put together a photographer’s wedding day timeline template. Wow, that’s a mouthful. Basically, it’s a guide to help you plan out your day from a photographer’s perspective.

In the end, a plan is just a plan. Creating a Wedding Day Timeline is meant to help out, but it is not a perfect document. If things get out of whack, don’t freak out. Make adjustments and everything will be fine. In the end, the most important thing is that at the end of the day people will be married. This is just a tool to hopefully help out with that.

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