Putting together your timeline for your wedding day can be daunting. Everything needs to fit together like a puzzle and there are so many working parts! But I’m here to share some tips that I’ve learned as a London Ontario + Kelowna Wedding Photographer. I hope this will help make the process a whole lot easier!
I know weddings are looking a lot different right now for a lot of couples. Whether you’re able to go ahead with your original plans or have to downsize, there’s a good chance that your photography timeline is going to stay the same.
For example, if you’re still wanting ‘getting ready’ photos through to your first dance and speeches, you’re looking at around 6-8 hours of photography coverage!
So, I hope no matter what your wedding is looking like, that these tips will help you start thinking about little ways you can create a stress-free wedding photography timeline of your dreams :)
Leave “Buffer” Room
Did your hair + makeup artist give you a specified amount of time they’ll need to get everything done? Add on an extra 30 minutes, just in case!
Did your officiant tell you that your ceremony will be 20 minutes long? Leave a 30-minute window on your timeline!
Adding in little “buffer” areas like these will help make sure that you’re prepared for almost anything that comes your way. Traffic, washroom breaks, a guest at cocktail hour instead of in family photos where they need to be… All of these things will make a jam-packed timeline start running behind. It’s always better to be running ahead of schedule so you can use that extra time to relax!
Consider A First Look
I know so many couples are hesitant to have a first look because they’ve pictured the traditional walk-down the aisle as the first moment they see each other. I’m going to do a whole post dedicated to first looks and why you should have one, but to sum it up…
You can still have that moment! But just the two of you, without so many other eyes, sounds and distractions in the way.
It will also shift your photos earlier in the day (before the ceremony) – which gives you a built-in backup plan during cocktail hour if it happens to be raining in the morning. And if it happens to be raining in the afternoon? No worries! Your photos are already DONE!
You deserve great photos AND a chance to maximize your time with your guests. And you can have them both!
Don’t Forget About Travel Time
Travel time needs to be factored into your wedding timeline!
Remember those “buffers” I was talking about before? This might be one of the most important places to make sure you have them.
If you have a 15-minute drive between your ceremony and reception locations, you don’t want to only include 15 minutes in your timeline. I recommend at least 10-15 minutes extra, just in case!
Remember that everything you do takes up time. That includes grabbing all of your belongings, loading everyone into their vehicles, and driving the 15-minute trip. There is also always the chance for traffic delays due to construction, accidents, etc. You’ll be able to breathe easy knowing you’re still on schedule even if your drive takes longer than you expected!
Limit Your Family Shot List
I recommend keeping your family shot list to your immediate family members and any VIPs. This should help keep it within a 30-minute window! Anyone else can get photos with you during cocktail hour (if you’ve had a first look and aren’t using that time for photos!) or during your reception.
If you try to fit in photos with your entire extended families, even as group photos, it can easily start to take up much more time than you were expecting!
When Will The Sun Set?
Another important factor is figuring out when the sun is setting on your wedding day.
If you’re having your wedding in the fall, winter, or early spring, the daylight will be limited and the sun sets early! If you’re getting married in July or August and you’re hoping for nighttime photos but your photographer is finished at 5pm, it’s still going to be far too sunny!
Also, keep in mind where you’ll be in relation to where the sun is setting! If you’re working with a Kelowna wedding photographer and are near tall trees or a forest, or even mountains, you’re going to lose the light a lot sooner. But, if you’re somewhere like a beach or near an open field like we see here in London, you’ll be able to use some existing daylight until the very last second.
To find out when the sun is approximately setting on your wedding day, just go to Google and type in “(Your wedding date) sunset.”
How To Write A Timeline
Here’s how I write up a wedding photography timeline for my couples before their big day:
- Find out the non-negotiables – typically the ceremony start time, and when dinner service begins. These are two events that have been set in stone and can’t be adjusted. Everything else needs to work around these moments!
- Start with the ceremony start time, and then work backwards to include travel and any getting ready photos.
- Next, skip ahead to when dinner service begins, and work forwards to include any moments of the reception you would like covered up until your photographer has finished for the night.
- Bonus Tip: The time between your first ‘event’ of the day (getting ready or your ceremony), to the end of your timeline, shouldn’t exceed the number of hours included in your package unless you’re able to pay for additional coverage!
- Lastly, fill in the space between the end of your ceremony, and when your dinner service begins. This is when your guests will be at cocktail hour, and you’ll either be doing photos (family, wedding party, etc) or enjoying cocktail hour as well if you had a first look!
Don’t forget to talk to your photographer before you start finalizing any timeline plans. Figure out if there are any specific time requirements on their end! They know how much time it takes to get the photos you’re dreaming of, so they’re going to be your best resource as you work through the details.
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