One of the first and most common question we get from our clients is, “how much coverage will we need?” Typically the best way that we have found to help answer this age-old question is to have a quick phone call with the client in order to discuss some of the details and their vision for the wedding day, and then provide the client with a wedding day photo timeline. After the phone call is over with the client, I usually write them an email thanking them for their time and send over a rough draft wedding day photo timeline. Some of the main things we ask the client in order to make a timeline are the following: Are you wanting getting ready photos? Are you wanting a first look? What time is your ceremony? How many bridal party do you have? Are you wanting coverage until the very end of the reception? There are some more detailed questions that can be asked, but these are a good starting point to at least construct a decent wedding day photo timeline that will help the client (and day-of-coordinator and/or wedding planner) get a good visual of the flow for the wedding day in regards to photography.
For any clients who have bridal party, are wanting getting ready photos, are doing a first look, and wanting all family portraits and bridal party photos done before the ceremony, we typically recommend us starting coverage at least 3 to 3.5 hours before the ceremony start time. Some other major factors that will also influence the wedding day photo timeline are things such as amount of photographers, wedding location/venue, getting ready locations, distance to each photo location, landscape, inside or outside, etc.
When making a wedding day photo timeline we almost always make certain to leave a little buffer time, what I like to call breathing room, between each major photo event. For example, the bridal party photos might only take 15-20 minutes in reality, but having a 30 minute time slot is a really good idea. The reason for this is that while a client might want to make a more constrained and “time efficient” timeline, in reality many wedding days don’t flow perfectly according to the timeline. In other words, there needs to be time allowed throughout the day for the unexpected things such as a delay from the makeup artist or a misplaced veil. In our experience, the wedding days that flow perfectly with the timeline is because the timeline was made with plenty of breathing room. As much as a client might want to have literally everything detailed perfectly in black and white text on the timeline, it is our job to encourage them to allow some breathing room on the timeline and not be so focused on the timeline during the wedding day. I like to tell our clients that the timeline is really just a guide. Amazing photos come from trust and collaboration from the client and photographer. We can create awesome photos when our clients are intentional about being present and enjoying one of the most special days of their lives rather than attempting to make sure they are following the timeline perfectly.
Below is an example of a wedding day photo timeline we might make for an 8 hour/2 photographer wedding taking place in October.
An example of a wedding day photo timeline:
1:30pm – Photographers begin coverage
1:30pm – Photos of details (dress hanging, rings, invites, etc.)
2:00pm – Getting ready photos (robes, final clothing, candids, etc.)
3:10pm – Get groom ready for first look
3:15pm – FIRST LOOK
3:20pm – A few bride & groom photos
3:30pm – Bridal party photos
4:00pm – Family photos
4:30pm – Done w/ all pre ceremony photos
4:35pm – Photos of ceremony details
5:00pm – CEREMONY
5:30pm – Bride & groom sunset photos
6:07pm – SUNSET
6:15pm – Photos of reception details
9:30pm – Photographers end coverage