As a wedding photographer, I have seen many wedding day timelines. I have had time cut short (photo time typically gets cut before hair and makeup, or the ceremony, or the reception), and had extra time, and I’m here to tell you that ahead of schedule with room to breathe is the way to go! If photo time gets cut short, we roll with it and get as many shots in a short amount of time as we can. That being said, having a bride calm and completely enjoying her day, without worrying about being late or cutting anything short is definitely the ideal. Today I’m sharing a few tips I have learned over the years, to help you with your timeline!
1. Pad your timeline
Padding your timeline means adding in a few extra minutes to each part of your timeline. On a wedding day, it is common for things to take just a little more time than usual. For example, hair and makeup – you may have (and should have!) done a trial ahead of time, which will give you a rough idea. However, on the big day, being careful to make it perfect may take just a bit longer. On your wedding day, one of your bridesmaids may show up late and throw off the schedule, or your hair might be harder to work with, or it might just take longer than planned. Add some time in just in case. Plan to be ready 15-20 minutes before you need to be.
2. Count in Your Travel Time
If you can’t get ready at your ceremony site (someday I will build the most amazing reception centre for Southern Alberta weddings with a bridal suite…big dreams! ;)) then you will be doing some travelling to get there. Make sure you know where the extra sets of keys are ahead of time, and add in extra time to whatever you think it will take to get to your destination. You may hit every red light, you might get pulled over, you might get a flat tire, there might be road construction you didn’t anticipate, there might be a traffic accident. Add in extra time and plan to be at your destination early to save you the stress on the day of. Add in extra time to any other travel such as to photo destinations, back to your reception, etc. If it’s a short drive, add 5-10 minutes. If it’s an hour or more, I would add in at least 15-20 minutes, possibly more.
3. Prepare for Family photos
Make sure to tell your family ahead of time, where and when to be present for family photos. Make a list of family groups that you would like, ahead of time. My brides get a questionnaire prior to their wedding day that covers this. I suggest asking both the bride and groom’s parents for their input in case there is a special group shot or a few special people that they would love a photo of and will ask for on the wedding day. Then you’ll know how much time to allot or conversations to have if you don’t feel you have the time. Gathering people together takes time! And the better you communicate with family members, the more smoothly it will go.
4. Getting Ready Photos
The Bride: If you’re having your photographer come get photos of you and your bridesmaids getting ready, I suggest having them cover the last hour. By this time, the bridesmaids should be done their hair and makeup and won’t be shy about photos like they would with bare faces, the bride will have her hair done or mostly done, and be starting on makeup. This will make for the most flattering photos. That being said, if you don’t care and you want your photographer there for every bare-faced minute, then do it! It’s your wedding day. This amount will also give your photographer time to photographer details such as your invitations, rings, shoes, veil, other jewelry, etc.
The Groom: I suggest doing the groom’s getting ready photos first – it takes them much less time and they typically need to be at the ceremony site first. It only takes 15-20 minutes, and then if they have extra time before leaving for the ceremony, they can take off their jackets and shoes and hang out for a bit.
5. Time for Posed Photos
Finally, here are the amounts of time I suggest for each segment of photos on your wedding day:
Family Photos: About 30 minutes, depending on how many groupings you would like. A rule of thumb is about 2-3 minutes per grouping, more for extended family groupings. It’s always helpful to plan in a few extra minutes in case someone forgets to stay and has to be tracked down, or someone gets delayed.
Bridal Party: 30 minutes
Bride and Groom: 90 minutes (And then sneak in another 15 closer to sunset during a break in your reception ;))
For bride and groom and bridal party photos, don’t forget to add in travel time if you’re going to a different location, or multiple locations! 🙂
I hope this was helpful! Let me know if I can answer any questions or if you have some other great tips for timelines.