Sooo much of what we do is creative and fun.
But let's get one thing straight - timelines are not one of those things.
Creating them doesn't take a ton of time if you have a solid questionnaire (see mine below) but it's not exciting work like shooting or editing is.
But, timelines are so important.
Think of it like this: a solid timeline is the vehicle that allows you to have space to actually do the creative and fun things.
"But do I still need to create one if the couple or the planner has already created one?"
Yes. Yes, you do. And here is why:
You are the only one with them for the full day
You are the only one who knows the best time for portraits
You are the only one who knows how much time you specifically need for the different segments that make up the day (getting ready, wedding party, couples portraits, family portraits, etc.)
You are the professional and in most cases, this is the couples first rodeo so they just simply don't know how it goes. Planners are so freaking amazing (seriously love the good ones) but they just don't see the day through our lens (dry jokes are dumb, I know, but here we are) and I'm positive they are thankful that we do some work on our end that benefits everyone.
Now that we have established the importance of the timeline and the fact that you need to create one for each couple, let's move on to how to effectively do this.
Step No. 1
If you currently use a CRM (customer relationship manager) like HoneyBook, you can easily add in a questionnaire and customize adding in any questions that you want to send to each client couple.
This is the wedding day questionnaire that I personally send
(feel free to get inspired and create your own!)
Oh! & if you don't currently use a CRM, and you'd like to start, you can use my referral code to receive 40% off your first year - CLICK HERE TO REEDEM.
Now that you've created a super helpful questionnaire for day of information (hello, no more putting mom next to dad when they've been divorced for years and can't stand each other haha) it's time to piece together the timeline.
Step No. 2
Creating The Timeline
(*caveat* - my timing blocks may not be the same that you should allot for.
It may take you more time or less time so plan according to the time that each segment takes you.)
1. Start working backward from the ceremony start time.
2. Then ask yourself: is there a first look?
2a. If there IS a first look, what photos does the couple want to get done before the ceremony?
2b. If there is NOT a first look, what time do you need to arrive to get details and getting ready photos? Also clarify if they even want those!
3. Consider drive time if there are multiple locations and add in each exact location so that there is never any confusion.
4. Add in cushion between each transition for the unpredictables.
Crap happens, yo.
Hair and makeup running late? No problem.
Groom splits his pants right after first look? Oh well ;) We have the time to sew them!
Haha. Seriously. Cushion allows for the freedom to be laid back and calm as life happens. I sprinkle in about 10-15 minutes throughout the day.
5. You are going to notice in my real life timeline examples that I don't add in my timelines the order of events that happen during the reception. That's because I always touch base with the planner or venue coordinator to make sure we are running on schedule with the caterer still in line of the time they originally planned to be announced in and then I will always introduce myself to the DJ and get the order of events from him or her. I do this for a couple of reasons. Number one, it's amazing to get to know the other vendors and work together. Number two, they will be the one announcing it all so they know the DL annnnd they will make sure I am present for it all.
Here are some examples to help ya visualize even more:
Lastly, something that is so important to pay attention to for couples getting married when the sun sets earlier: what time is the ceremony?
If they are having a later ceremony, which is totally okay, you do need to encourage them to do a first look. Normally, I just let our couples decide if that's for them or not and don't encourage or push them either way but if your couple has their ceremony time set in stone and leaving you little to no time before the sun is down, you will be doing all of the portraits in the dark so they should be made aware of this (hence why I would encourage a first look!)
That's all I have for now! If you need further help or have any questions at all, feel free to shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will gladly help you.
Warm Hugs and A Whole Lotta Love,