Timeline vs Wedding Day Time

I know what my clients are thinking when I tell them how long it will take for portraits on the wedding day. “There’s no way we need that long!” And they're right. I know we’ll never see that entire hour for bride and groom portraits. There’s no way. Weddings always run behind. And some weddings run REALLY behind.

On the wedding day, the timeline is never exactly what we wrote down, but it always works out, no matter how far behind we are. Here are some real examples from past weddings:

- The bride was an hour late getting dressed and we were taking all the pictures before the ceremony. Instead of 2 hours for bride & groom, bridal party, and family portraits, we had just over an hour. We had planned 30 minutes for the family portraits, but got it all in 10. (Thank goodness it was a short list!) We had planned 1 hour for bride and groom portraits, but had to crunch it down to 24 minutes.

- The ceremony ran long and family pictures started 35 minutes late. Sometimes there's only so much you can do, especially when you have a lot of family portraits to get through. But we managed to shave 15 minutes off of the estimated time and the bridal party entered the reception only 20 minutes later than we had planned.

- The bridal party got ready at a separate location and were 45 minutes late leaving for the venue. In order to keep the rest of the day on schedule, we lost 20 minutes of our bride and groom's portrait time. (And we were already planning to use some of our portrait time to drive to a second location.) But we worked fast and got a lot of beautiful portraits.

These are just a few examples where I compared the timeline to the time stamps of the photos we took on the wedding day. It is rare for us to run this far behind schedule, but sometimes it does happen.

In most cases, the first thing that gets sacrificed is portrait time for the bride and groom. You can only photograph a bridal party so quickly, especially if there are a lot of people! That's why I try to allocate an entire hour for the bride and groom. Because I know it's very rare for us to get the entire hour. Bride and groom portraits are SO important, so a buffer is really necessary.

Wedding days always run late somewhere, so each portion of the timeline has a few minutes built in for a buffer. Yes, it's possible to shoot a first look with dad in 7 minutes and a short list of family portraits in 10. But it's definitely not ideal. And so I write down 15 minutes and 30 minutes instead.

Running behind on the wedding day is also why I love having Ryan with me on the wedding day. When we're in a time crunch, I can round up the family members while he's taking the shots. Ryan can grab photos with the groom and each groomsmen before the reception entrance, while I'm on the dance floor ready for them to walk in. And he is able to get quick detail shots, like photos of the venue, while I'm shooting something else. And when we're both shooting bride and groom portraits, we get twice as many photos in the same amount of time!

So that's why the timeline looks so long. Trust me. I know we need that extra time built in. And if by some miracle we aren't running late at that point in the day, we'll have some extra time for beautiful portraits!


Want More Wedding Photography Tips?
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Timeline VS Wedding Day Time
The Family Formal List
The Must Take Shot List
Budget Wisdom from Every Last Detail
Sunset Time on the Wedding Day
What About a Rainy Wedding Day?
Options for Your Wedding Exit
What To Do With Your Wedding Photos