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CREATING A TIMELINE

The #1 thing that can make or break your photos

When the wedding is all over, and you get that email from me linking you to your finished gallery, what do you want to see? If it's a massive collection of all of your little details beautifully styled to show of your theme, tons of cute getting-ready photos, shot after amazing shot of you and your partner in every possible pose with every possible backdrop in the prettiest possible light.. then you need a good timeline that will allow me to make it happen. I can help! I know exactly how to schedule everything so that I have the time that I need for each piece of your day in order to give you the collection of photos that fully tell your story. Read on for help creating yours, or if this is too overwhelming or your wedding plans just don't fit in with what you read here, please feel completely free to schedule a planning phone call with me and I can walk you through building a perfect custom timeline!

THE BASIC RULES

Obviously weddings can vary dramatically depending on your plans, but most often they fall into this general set of rules. To get all of the shots that I aim to capture at a typical wedding, assuming you are opting to not have a first-look I will need a minimum of:

  • 45 minutes for styling and shooting your details (more about this here)

  • 30 minutes for getting-ready candids and any cute pre-wedding shots (ie. bridesmaids in robes)

  • 20 minutes for getting dressed/final touches

  • 30 minutes of portrait time with the bride + bridesmaids

  • 30 minutes of portrait time with the groom + groomsmen 

  • 30 minutes before the ceremony to shoot the venue and decor (this is when I can count on it all being set-up and ready)

  • The ceremony is usually about 20-30 minutes, unless you're having a full hour mass. Aim to schedule this for whatever time is about 2 hours before sunset. This is when the light will be beautiful but still give us enough light for the portraits we'll be doing afterwards with enough wiggle room incase anything runs late (for my style, too much light is always much much better than not enough light!). You can find out the exact sunset time for your wedding date by Googling "your date, location, sunset time"

  • 5-10 minutes for guests to clear away from the ceremony site and for your family members who you've chosen to stay for formals to gather at the alter.

  • 20 minutes of family formals (read more about this here)

  • 15 minutes of the full bridal party together

  • 25 minutes of solo bride+groom portraits (most people would consider these shots some of the most important of the entire day, which is why some might opt for a first-look in order to have more time for many more of these portraits. Read more about the benefits of a first-look here)

....in that order.

After the post-ceremony portraits, it's dinner time, and then I get to relax a bit and pretty much just keep watch and document whatever happens. 

Now what does all of that look like in practice? Let me show you! Here is an example timeline using the rules above. For the sake of this example, let's say this hypothetical wedding is happening on June 24th in Austin.

 

I'll first google "June 24th Austin sunset time" and see that because the sunset will be at about 8:30pm, our ceremony needs to be scheduled for about 6:30pm. From there, I'll just work backwards to fill in the time that I need for everything else! It will look like this:

3:25pm | I arrive, get your bridal details from you and take them somewhere with good light

4:10pm | Getting-ready candids, bride + bridesmaids get posed photos in robes

4:40pm | Everyone gets dressed

5:00pm | Bride + Bridesmaid portraits 

5:30pm | Groom + Groomsmen portraits

6:00pm | I shoot venue and decor - couple + bridal party are in hiding

6:30pm | Ceremony begins

7:00pm | Ceremony ends, family gathers at alter for formal group portraits (more on this here)

7:10pm | Family formals

7:30pm | Portraits of full bridal party together

7:45pm | Bride + Groom (I just realized that I'm using bride and groom for my example, if you are not a straight couple this timeline will still work haha!)

8:05pm | End portraits, enter reception

So, that's a pretty typical timeline, but here's something to think about:

That's only 25 minutes for couple portraits in order to keep cocktail hour to what's it's named for: an hour. Any more than an hour and your guests will be miserable, but 25 minutes doesn't seem like a lot of time for your most important photos of the day, right? It's enough, sure, I can get you roughly 30-50 portraits of the two of you in that, assuming we don't waste much time moving around the venue that much, but at your engagement session you'll get 80-100+, wouldn't you like the same kind of shooting time for the wedding day too? You'll never be able to go back and shoot more portraits of you together on your wedding day, it's now or never.

 

Now think, if you did a first-look before the ceremony, got all of those full bridal party photos over with early in the day...that's all now time we can use for your couple portraits after the ceremony! That's almost double the couple portraits! and what if we get your family to meet before the ceremony to get family formals out of the way, too? Now the entire hour after your ceremony, when the light is the absolute prettiest and best for portraits, is allllllll yours. You now have a full photoshoot hour for me to take my time and get as many poses, candids, cute shots, funny shots, romantic shots, under-the-veil shots, and anything else that I can think of to fill your gallery with portraits that you'll cherish for the rest of your lives. So with all of that being said...

EXAMPLE TIMELINE #1

TIMELINE EXAMPLE #2 | HAVING A FIRST-LOOK

Let me show you how doing a first-look before the ceremony, instead of waiting to see each other at the alter, affects your timeline and gives you SO MANY more portraits of the two of you together. For this example we'll also have the family formals happening before the ceremony, instead of after.

3:25pm | I arrive, get your bridal details from you and take them somewhere with good light

4:10pm | Getting-ready candids, bride + bridesmaids get posed photos in robes

4:40pm | Everyone gets dressed

5:00pm | First-look, bridal party all together, bridemaids+bride, groomsmen+groom, family formals

6:00pm | I shoot venue and decor - couple + bridal party are in hiding

6:30pm | Ceremony begins

7:00pm | Ceremony ends, family gathers at alter for formal group portraits (more on this here)

7pm-8pm | THIS ENTIRE HOUR FOR COUPLE PORTRAITS!

8:00pm | End portraits, enter reception

I'll also say that doing it this way is dramatically less stressful for you and literally everyone involved, because this takes away the possibility of running out of time for couple portraits if anything runs behind on the day of. It stops us from feeling rushed, and it gives you more time to enjoy time together away from the crowd.

STILL NOT SURE?

Seriously, I can help. If you've booked me for your wedding and need my guidance on building the perfect timeline, I'm always just an email away! :)

Not booked yet? Let's change that!

Hi! I'm Harper, lead photographer/owner. I'm a resident of New Braunfels, wife and mom, and as I type this I'm drinking coffee that's so hot I won't be able to taste anything for the next 2 days.

©HARPER BLANKENSHIP PHOTOGRAPHY   |   AUSTIN / SAN ANTONIO / TEXAS   |  FINE ART WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER