The Ideal Timeline Planning Guide | Part 2 | Transcription

Let’s take a look now at the traditional timeline. All right, so this is the ideal sample timeline guide for a traditional wedding timeline, where the bride and groom won’t see each other until the altar. Now, for the most part what you’re going to see here is that the preparation side is going to stay pretty much the same, but let’s scroll down to the pre-ceremony portraits portion. This is where we’re going to have quite a bit of change, because what we’re doing here in pre-ceremony portraits is that we’re shooting the bride and bridal party and family portraits all separate. Again, these are always covered by the lead shooter, unless the bride and groom, they planned otherwise.

All right, so what we have here is from 11:15 to 11:45, the bride and bridesmaids, we do their portraits on the property. Again, we’re finding a location where the groom is not going to be able to see them as we’re doing these portraits. We shoot the bride, we shoot her bridesmaids, we get all those different shots, then from 12:00 to 12:45 is the bride plus the bride’s family portraits. At that point, we retire the bride to the suite so she can basically relax and prep for the ceremony, and I’ll go out and I’ll do the groomsmen as well. We do the groom and groomsmen at another location where the bride’s not going to see. We’ll do that from 1:00 to 1:45, then from 2:00 to 2:45 is the groom and groom’s family. Now, we’ve basically covered, kind of, all these separate shots, but the thing is that we haven’t done any photos of them together with the wedding party or with the family.

We finish this up around 3:00, 3:15, and again, this is one of those timelines where it’s what we call a lead shooter timeline, which means that we can, the lead shooter can shoot everything, the second shooter can shoot second angle on everything the lead shooter is guiding and directing. I love these types of timelines because they do yield better photographs in general, because you can be more consistent with your vision and execution on both the bride and groom’s side.

After the ceremony, so everything in the ceremony’s going to stay the same, after the recessional, we clear the guests to cocktail hour, now this changes. This is the next major portion. From here, from 4:45 up until 6:30, we need a longer duration of cocktail hour, or otherwise, all the pictures are going to get crammed into a really short period of time. Here, we’re going to do basically the bride and groom family portraits, we’re going to do the bride and groom plus wedding party portraits, and then we’re going to do our couple’s portraits. Notice that this is the first time we’ve shot the couple together. We do the golden hour sunset portrait session, but that’s it. We didn’t do any photographs of them earlier. Notice that we are having to do basically the wedding party photos and the bride and groom family photos in a relatively short period of time.

We’re getting, basically, shots of them all kind of ready to go and so forth. Look at this, a typical session like this would be 5:30 to 5:45 we’re doing the bride and groom plus wedding party portraits. When this was planned earlier in the day, we used an hour to do it, but there’s no way that you can take an hour to do family portraits, an hour for wedding party portraits, and an hour for couple’s portraits after the ceremony. The guests are going to go home, that’s three hour long cocktail. There’s no such thing as a three hour long cocktail, reception thingy, a cocktail party. Is it a cocktail party? Cocktail hour, it’s called cocktail hour, not cocktail three hours. I feel weird saying, “Cocktail,” over and over and over and over.

Anyway, what’s happening now is that we are cramming a lot of photos. Yeah sure, we got nice amount of separate photos on each side earlier, but all those shots of them together, together with their wedding party, together with their family photos, all of those are being condensed into a much shorter period of time, and that’s going to yield not as large of variety, and it will have an impact over the quality and so forth of the images.

Also, I like to tell my bride and grooms that with a first look, you guys kiss at the altar, you come down for the recessional, and then it’s party time. We do maybe a few minutes of formals after that, but after that it’s just having a good time rather than this. This can be a little bit stressful when we’re trying to get so many images done in this little block. It’s stressful for the photographer, it’s stressful for the clients, because brother’s missing, and mom’s out, already at cocktail hour. “Why is mom at cocktail hour? Why isn’t she here? She should be here. Someone go and get mom, we got to get her. We’re running behind, we got to go and do this. We have to do our couple’s session still. We haven’t even got any photos together after like anything. We didn’t even get any photos together just me an him.”

I don’t know why I referred to myself as the bride. Maybe it’s because I photograph brides a lot? Who knows? Either way, it’s kind of a stressful situation, but the rest of the day will go just as we talked about before. The two major changes is going to be basically the types of portraits you’re capturing before the ceremony, you’re going to have them separated, and then the types of portraits you’re capturing afterwards during post-ceremony, it’s going to be a condensed block of time. The most amount of time you’re going to have during that piece is going to be sixty to ninety minutes, generally, for cocktail hour, and then you got to go.

Hopefully this all makes sense. These are our two ideal timeline guides, and these are the pieces that we give to the clients early on in that planning process, because we want them to incorporate and understand as much of this as possible. What this yields is better photography, we receive a final timeline that’s almost identical or exactly like what we would want, and the changes we make are very minor. We add on time to the package, because they realize that they’re not going to need an extra four hours, so we get to up-sell and we get to make additional revenue while keeping our clients happy. It just helps to provide them with this additional information up front.

Give them your ideal timeline guides, be sure to take these, you can revise them, you can do whatever you like, you can design them however you like, place them online, put them in PDFs, but get them out to your clients, and help them to help you.


The Initial Meeting

Prepping for the Engagement Talk Through

Engagement Shoot Prep & Communication

Prepping for the Wedding Day Talk Through

Wedding Day Preparation & Communication


Let SLR Lounge guide you in your photography journey with the best photography education and resources. Browse our complete, comprehensive solutions and take the next step in your photography.