Why Timelines Are Important on a Wedding Day


For the most part, I am with my wedding clients for a majority of their wedding day.  I typically arrive about an hour before the bride is ready to slip into her dress, documenting the details and anticipation of what the day will hold, right on through to the ceremony, reception, special dances, toasts, dancing and more.  

If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me, “Hey, Emma! When do I need to be…”, I’d be rich.  Because your photographer is the one there with you recording the details, it only seems fitting that they also carry the role of “informal” timeline keepers!  

For the most part, I am with my wedding clients for a majority of their wedding day.  I typically arrive about an hour before the bride is ready to slip into her dress, documenting the details and anticipation of what the day will hold, right on through to the ceremony, reception, special dances, toasts, dancing and more.  Timelines are key to creating an amazing client experience and smooth wedding day.

I’m a huge advocate for wedding day timelines and this post is dedicated to diving into not only why I think they’re important but also how to go about creating one for your wedding day whether you’re the bride or photographer reading this post!  At the end of the day the most important thing to me is that my couples get the very most out of their wedding day and with a timeline, we’re better able to steer away from added stress or missed moments.

Work closely with vendors and have open communication.

It’s super important to be in touch with vendors when it comes to the details, especially if there is a wedding planner helping the bride and groom!  I’ve found that some planners think there needs to be 45 minutes set aside for family photos whereas I know that I can get them done in 20-30, tops. It obviously depends on the wedding and numbers, but with open communication about how long each element of the day will take, can only make things go more smoothly.  

  • Ask hair and makeup for an exact time bridesmaids and bride will be ready.  This is something I have to know so that I can best gauge when to start photographing details.

  • Have an idea of how long it will take the bride to get into her dress.  I’ve had dresses take 30 seconds, and others 30 minutes. This is really important information to know ahead of time so that you can best coordinate the timeline to use those minutes to do something else if the dress is a challenge to get into because I typically don’t photography any getting dressed photos until the bride is basically in her dress with a tiny little zip or one last button to secure.

  • A conversation with the florist beforehand is a must, especially if you love styling details with fresh greenery and florals.  I try to ensure I will have a little grab-bag/vase of items I can use upon arrival!

Consider “breaking tradition” to allow more time with your guests.

There’s a reason I have a 6 page spread in the wedding magazine I mail my clients about first looks because they are a great way to make the most of the time on your wedding day, hands down.  It’s the most perfect way to not only spend more time with your husband-to-be, but eliminates the rush through so many of the other photos like bridal party, family, etc.  I’ve been to weddings where right after the ceremony the bride and groom don’t appear for well over an hour, and I think it can impact the flow of the rest of the day and guests scooting out early.

Timelines create space for down time.

While wedding days are fast-paced and non-stop, I truly believe in creating spaces for the bride and groom to take breaks.  I work closely with my couples to make sure they have time to themselves to simply soak up what’s happening around them and enjoy each other away from the crowd.  Setting this up in a timeline is one of the best gifts we can give to our clients!

Nothing is ever set in stone!

The truth of the matter is that things change and there are sometimes things out of our control to stay perfectly on track with a timeline but it’s okay!  This is when open communication with vendors throughout the day will best serve everyone. Being flexible and thinking on the spot is one of my favorite duties as a photographer because it keeps me on my toes and always exploring ways to be creative with my work as an artist!

I send out a wedding day questionnaire about 8 weeks prior to a wedding day that helps me gather all the essential details I need to properly assemble a wedding day timeline for my couples.  Once the bride and I have confirmed the timeline, I will then send it out to any vendors necessary and tweak with them if needed to ensure we all have enough time to do what we need to do! I personally use HoneyBook (start your free trial with my link for 50% off your entire first year!) for all my client management and can’t say enough good things about how it’s served my life and business!  Being able to send questionnaires and timelines that are straightforward and professional looking is so important to me and HoneyBook allows me to do that. I also love that I can easily add vendors to the workspace if they need to be included.

I hope that helps shed some light on why I love timelines for weddings (and any event!), because they not only help create a smooth event, they also allow you as the photographer to enhance your client experience.  I have had brides shoot down the idea of a timeline and I’ve gone ahead and made one anyway and guess what? They were extremely grateful that I did!  You can never be over prepared on a wedding day and utilizing a timeline is just one way to make sure that’s the case!

Grab a copy of my go-to wedding day timeline below!

Timelines graphic with opt in 03

I firmly believe in being as organized and prepared as possible on any wedding day! This timeline has proven to be the most ideal one I've used and hope you are able to pass it along to your clients, too!

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Emma Rose Company, Squarespace Website Designer and Fine Art Photographer, offers website services and photography services, photographers in Seattle, Olympia, and Tacoma, specialize in portrait, engagement and wedding photography in Seattle, Olympia, and Tacoma Washington.
Emma Rose Company | Squarespace Website Designer for Photographer and Seattle Wedding and Portrait Photographer

Emma Rose is a Squarespace website designer and photographer based out of the Pacific Northwest.  She helps photographers not only stand out online, but dig deep to find the why in what they do.  She strives to work with like-minded entrepreneurs who want to grow an audience, start and thrive their online business and change the freakin' world.  She aims to help people create not only meaningful businesses but lives.  For more about Emma, click here!


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