“I didn’t have enough time.” 

“I didn’t know what to do.” 

“I couldn’t get all the shots I needed.” 

“I don’t feel like I delivered my best work.” 

“I never want that to happen again.” 

Has this ever happened to you? Early in our career, it happened to us. And like so many photographers who email us, we never wanted it to happen ever again either. Because it felt helpless. Out of control. And scary. We were so excited to shoot the wedding, but on the big day, the timeline went awry –– and, from that moment, it was over before it even began. 

From then on, we vowed: never. again. 

So we developed a three-step system (the Three Ps) for making sure our timelines started on time, stayed on time and gave us wiggle room in case they still got off time. 

So instead of being the people above, we could be the people below: 

“I had just the right amount of time.”

“I knew exactly what to do… and so did everyone else.”

“I got all the shots I needed, and then some.”

“I felt like I delivered the highest quality, fullest gallery of my career.”

“I can’t wait to do that again!” 

If that sounds too good to be true, it isn’t! And we can help YOU do the same.

Over the next three days, we’re going to GIVE you our Three Ps for making wedding days as smooth as a good shave.

Today, let’s start with Step #1: Preempt

If building a wedding day timeline was a military strategy, we’d title it Operation: Strike Fast. Strike First. Because in our experience, the person to recommend a timeline first usually gets most of what they want, because the venue coordinator, wedding planner and bride are reacting to you, not the other way around. Earlier in our career, when we waited for someone else to make a first draft of the timeline, it wasn’t always photographer-friendly. Not because the person making the timeline didn’t care about photos. They did.

They just didn’t know (realistically)…

1. How much time we needed for each part of the day. 

2. The order we needed everything to happen in for a good shooting flow. 

3. How the light would affect everything from the first look to the ceremony to the sunset portaits… and more. 

So, we were left in the awkward position of trying to deconstruct a wedding planner’s (or bride’s) timeline, which took a lot of work, and explaining. Because once the skeleton of a timeline has been established, it’s harder to change it in people’s minds than it would’ve been just to suggest an alternative from the start –– ESPECIALLY if invitation’s have already been printed! 

Thus, Operation: Strike Fast. Strike First. was born. Every time we secured a wedding, instead of waiting for a wedding planner to send us a timeline or asking the bride what time she wanted her ceremony to start, we sent a custom “recommended” wedding day timeline at booking “for a smooth wedding day and the best possible light.”

And everything changed.

From then on, since our timeline was first, ours brides and/or the planners used ours as the foundation for theirs. At most of our weddings, other than a few minor tweaks, not only did we get as much time as we wanted for shooting, we also got it in the order we wanted, too.

Which meant we were able to deliver our best possible work to our bride and the wedding planner, while providing a comfortable, organized, streamlined wedding day experience for everyone involved.

It was a win for everyone!

So, if you haven’t had enough time at your weddings, try sending a custom wedding day timeline as soon as you book your bride. Even if you don’t get everything you want, you’ll get most of what you want… and a lot more than you would’ve got if you would’ve waited until later in the process for someone else to go first.

If you’re not sure where to start with building a wedding timeline for your bride, or you just want to feel extra confident when presenting one to a wedding planner, check out our 10 wedding day timelines that we use all the time. They’re bride tested and wedding planner approved!

Click below to read the rest of the posts in this series:

Step 1: How to Preempt

Step 2: How to Prepare

Step 3: How to Pivot

filed in: Education

    Yes! Wedding timelines are a must in our industry! Creating such moments also to me help me paint the picture of the wedding day so I can visualize what they would like to happen and give them a better idea how to make it happen with realistic traveling time. ;)

    Amy & Jordan

    Hi, Loraine! Absolutely!! We're so glad you agree! Thanks so much for sharing that with us! We're cheering for you! <3