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.
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 like to have a 2nd photographer with me. Having an extra person to round up family members, take bridal party individuals, and grab a quick shot of the outside of the venue is so important when we're in a time crunch! 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!