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Why do photographers need wedding day timeline templates? Let’s face it… shooting the wedding day could be stressful for both you and your clients. With so many things taking place and so many people to coordinate with, the chances of running behind schedule are quite high. When wedding activities run late, you might have to shoot important moments in a rush. This can cause your (as well as your clients’) stress levels to shoot up. So, how do you simplify and streamline the process before the shoot to help minimize time crunches and keep the wedding day stress-free for your clients as well as yourself? Prepare a wedding day timeline! But, the question is how can you create one every time you set out to photograph a wedding? Would it not be a time-consuming and tedious job? We say - not really! You can use timeline templates that you can customize according to each wedding without having to take the pain of preparing the whole of it right from scratch.

A wedding photography timeline will help you ensure everyone is on the same page and keep the day moving on time and schedule. We believe that a fast and streamlined workflow dedicated for each part of the client processes can help avoid any confusion later and allow you to offer a great photography experience to your couples. That’s why we’ve shared tips to create wedding timeline templates so that on the wedding day, you are able to focus on creating stellar images instead of losing your mind over running late or missing out on capturing key moments. 

Amazing Tips To Creating Wedding Day Timeline Templates

Infographic stating use wedding day timeline templates to stay organized & keep your stress levels in check

Just like every photographer is unique, every wedding day’s schedule too varies. When you aren’t stressed over missing out on covering all the events of a wedding day, you can focus on shooting the special moments of the day and give your creative best to every shot you take. Plus, your positive take will lead your clients to have confidence in you, and their experience will continue to be superlative. And when there’s no stress to spoil the wedding experience, a memorable occasion is guaranteed for everyone involved!

By developing a killer wedding day timeline template with our tips, you can stay organized & focused on photography. With every wedding you shoot, there are many opportunities to capture the important shots of the day. The order of the shots depends on the clients you are working with, especially if they have an idea of when they want certain images taken.

Whether you are covering 5 or 8 hours of the wedding, it is necessary to have a wedding photography timeline to guide you. Creating a wedding day timeline to let you know which images you will be shooting at a certain time of day can help you avoid stress and confusion. It will also show the clients you are invested in the entire wedding day, not just the images.

Wedding Photography Timeline

Infographic stating creating wedding day timeline templates will help you streamline your schedule quickly

While documenting the images that are necessary is important, showing clients you are concerned with the overall success of their day will help build trust. The more organized you are, the more your clients will notice it and will put their trust in you to take the best images possible. Just like you might use email templates to streamline communication, a wedding day timeline template can ensure you capture every moment and make your clients’ day an unforgettable one.

We put together some wedding photography timeline tips and advice to keep you on track and help you document every little moment that matters.

Discuss The Wedding Day Timeline With Your Clients

Infographic stating exchange information with clients when preparing a wedding day timeline

Before the wedding, the bride and groom plan out the details of the day. From when the bride will get her hair and makeup done, to where both parties will get dressed, and how each will arrive at the ceremony location, there are specific times laid out for this. In addition, it is your job to add in time to take the images that tell the story of the wedding day. Reach out to your clients shortly after they book you to find out what schedule they are working with. This will help you plan out your day, from what time to arrive, what images to capture first, and how long you have for each event.

Since you know how much time you need to take certain shots, make sure you inform your clients of what time frames are most realistic. Once you work with your clients to see how much time you have to shoot each part of the day, discuss what shots they are looking forward to most. The images they list from the start are the ones you want to make a priority. Many times, the bride and groom do not know every single image they should include. This is where you can provide your expertise and share with them what would be the best images for you to capture.

If you sell prints after the wedding day, you can use your expertise on which photos are requested the most by your clients and their loved ones. This helps both you and your clients. For one, you will benefit because you can shoot images you know your clients will buy after the wedding day. Your clients will benefit from the beautiful memories you create and put in their album, and their family members will also appreciate the images you share.

Create Realistic Time Frames

Infographic stating avoid having unrealistic timeline expectations from clients & yourself

Since the bride and groom usually book you for a certain time frame, you know exactly how much time you have to capture their images. When you create a timeline, make sure you give yourself realistic time frames to work with. As a wedding photographer, you know what images you need to capture and how long it usually takes you to do so. Your wedding day timeline should reflect your previous experiences, but should also give you breathing room just in case things do not go as planned.

1. Getting Ready

Before the ceremony begins, your clients and their bridal party spend time getting ready. Put this on top of everything else on your timeline template. When scheduling a timeline for specific weddings, you may give yourself at least an hour to capture the getting ready shots. This means you can split your time between the bride and her bridesmaids, as well as the groom and his groomsmen. This time frame gives you plenty of time to document every important part of the getting ready process without having to rush or miss anything (and you might even be able to capture some detail shots!).

In this part of the wedding photography timeline, you can document what will happen during the getting ready process so you don’t miss those moments. It can also be helpful if you have a second shooter with you. Make sure to write on your timeline what images you need your second shooter to capture so they can focus on those while you work on shooting additional images.

2. First Look

This can be the second thing on your template. During the first look, the bride and groom have the chance to see each other before the ceremony. This moment is special and can help tell the story of the wedding day; so be sure to allow at least half an hour to capture every important moment. By giving yourself this amount of time, you can capture candid and natural moments between your bride and groom, and then you will have a few minutes for the posed shots.

3. Ceremony

Usually, the next thing at weddings would be the ceremony, so give it that place on your wedding day timeline template. Before the bride walks down the aisle, there are many photos to take. These include the detail shots, the ceremony site images, the arrival of the guests, and the bride and bridal party walking down the aisle. When creating your wedding itinerary, be sure to add in how long it will take you to capture each of these moments. You want to give yourself enough time to get all shots of each detail of the ceremony. Be sure to block out at least 30 minutes for the ceremony itself so you can take photos of the bride and groom saying their vows, sharing their first kiss, and walking back down as a married couple.

4. Portraits

Not all weddings follow the same structure, but, many times you will get to shoot the various portraits after the ceremony. There are multiple portraits for you to take during this time - the bride and the groom, the bridal party, the family, and more. In your wedding day photography timeline, you’d need to make a note of how long each of these shots will take.

Start by taking the bridal party and family portraits so those guests can go into the reception. Schedule at least 30-45 minutes for these. This way, there will be fewer people distracting your couple during their portraits. Then you will have at least 45 minutes to devote to the bride and groom’s portraits.

5. Reception

Now that you have finished detailing out the time you need to take the various portraits of the wedding day, it is time to focus on the reception. During the reception, you have plenty of opportunities to capture your clients celebrating with their family and friends. The reception is full of many events, such as the first dance, the cake cutting, the parent dances, the bouquet/garter toss, and (of course) the dancing. When creating your schedule, be sure to document how long it will take to capture each of these moments. On average, receptions can last anywhere from two to four hours. Give yourself plenty of time to capture the important moments from this part of the wedding day.

Before your clients are introduced at the reception, it can be helpful to send your second shooter inside the venue to capture detail shots. If you do not have a second shooter, be sure to set aside a few moments to capture this before they are introduced. This includes the look of the location, the details on the tables, and any unique features that relate to your clients. Give yourself at least 15 minutes in your schedule to document the details of the reception.

6. Exit

One of the last moments of the wedding you should include in your timeline template is when your clients exit the ceremony. Set aside 10 minutes to capture the bride and groom saying goodbye to family and friends and heading off to their honeymoon. Also, if your clients want to have a queue of guests waiting for them when they exit from the location, use a few minutes to capture the guests anticipating the couple’s exit. Another item you should discuss with your clients is if they would like to do a sparkler exit. This will allow you to schedule the correct amount of time to get the sparkler exit set up and shoot it effectively.

An Ideal Wedding Day Timeline Template

For your benefit, we’ve chalked out a typical timeline template to take you through the wedding day. You could follow this, add to it, modify the list to suit your needs, or take inspiration from this one and create your own template in collaboration with your couples. And as you progress through the day, keep checking off tasks from your timeline checklist. Simple!

Wedding photography timeline template checklist

Wedding photography timeline template checklist

Finalize The Wedding Day Timeline With Your Clients

Though you are an expert and usually know what happens during the wedding day, it is important to check in with your clients to ensure they agree with your planned wedding day timeline. If you are capturing the images that are most important to them, they will likely have zero or minimal changes for you. Finalizing the schedule with your clients will also give you an idea of what your day will look like. This will help you stay organized and focused throughout the day, even if the schedule falls behind a bit. Another benefit to discussing your schedule with the clients would be learning if they are going to have any additional wedding events or would be excluding some. You can edit or customize your wedding day timeline template accordingly. Developing a wedding photography timeline that helps you stay on track will allow you to capture dynamic images of the bride and groom, as well as their family and friends. The more organized and focused you are during the wedding day, the better images you will be able to shoot. This is where our tips on creating wedding day timeline templates will likely come in handy. Do you have any timeline template formats of your own? Let us know in the comments section below! 

Further Read: How To Streamline Your Wedding Photography Business Workflow

At ShootDotEdit, we love sharing tips and tricks that can help you focus on your skills as a wedding photographer. Another thing we love to do is to provide professional photo editing services to you so that your post-production workload is reduced and you can work on refining and streamlining your workflow. To learn more about how we do this, take a look at our pricing plans.

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