In this blog series, we’re revealing our three-step system for how to make a wedding photography timeline. In the first post, we revealed how we get our wedding photography timeline to start on the right track. In the second post (this one!) we’ll show you how to get your wedding photography timeline to stay on time. In the third post, we’ll show you how to get your wedding photography timeline back on time when things get off track. In case you’re new to this How to Make a Wedding Photography Timeline series, here are links to all three posts for your convenience:
Step 2: Stay on Time
In our experience, there’s one simple truth about wedding timelines: If the bride gets to the first look on time, the timeline stays on time.
If your bride isn’t doing a first look, that sentence could read something like this: If the bride gets to her bridesmaids photos on time, the timeline stays on time.
Either way, it’s all about getting the bride out the door on time — and there are usually two people who have the most power over that.
1. The bride
2. The hair stylist/makeup artist
So, here are two practical things we do at every wedding to make sure those two people are on the same page.
1. FaceTime with the Bride & Groom
We always do a quick 15-minute FaceTime or Skype call with our bride and groom the week leading up to the wedding. It’s nothing fancy. We’re usually in workout clothes and they’re in pajamas. Or vice versa. We don’t have hair and makeup done. Jordan only does his on the weekends 😉 Since we have a relationship established with them at this point, it’s super casual and comfortable. We start just by checking in, seeing how they’re doing and feeling. We catch up for a bit and then gently remind them:
a) what time we’ll be arriving
b) what time the bride needs to be out the door.
We even tell her, “In our experience, if we get you to the first look on time, the rest of the wedding day will run on time, so we’ll just wanna make sure that you’re done with hair and makeup at noon, so you can start getting your dress on and be out the door by 12:30. If we do that, we’ll be good to go, and then you won’t have to worry about a thing the rest of the day!”
2. Communicate with the Hair Stylist/Makeup Artist
Even if the bride knows what time she needs to be out the door, sometimes that isn’t communicated to the makeup artist. So, as soon as we arrive to the getting ready room, after we hug our bride and introduce ourselves to her mom and all of her bridesmaids, we head back to the hair or makeup chair where our bride is sitting and say to her, “Amy’s gonna go ahead and get started with all of your details in the other room while Jordan takes candids of the girls. Remember that we just have to make sure to get your dress on at noon in order to make it to your first look on time. If we do that, the rest of the day will run on time!”
Then, we’ll look to the hair stylist or makeup artist (assuming we’ve already introduced ourselves earlier when we made the rounds) and say something like, “We don’t wanna get in your way. We just wanna grab a few shots of final touches of hair and/or makeup. So will you just holler when you’re about five minutes out from being done? I’m guessing that’ll be about 11:55? That way we can get her dress on at noon.”
By communicating with our bride first (in front of the makeup artist) and phrasing it this way to the makeup artist, we accomplish a few things:
— We Set a Clear Expectation (Respectfully)
We remind our bride (directly) and the makeup artist (indirectly) that getting to the first look on time will have positive consequences for the rest of the day, while not getting to the first look on time will have negative consequences for the rest of the day, and it basically all hinges on the timeline.
It’s not their fault, but sometimes, some makeup artists think it’s okay to run ten, fifteen, or twenty minutes behind because, in their mind, the ceremony doesn’t start for hours. So a few minutes here or a few minutes there won’t hurt anybody. It kind of makes sense, if you think about it. Maybe they haven’t seen the timeline. Maybe they don’t know how long photos are supposed to take. Maybe they assume when it’s “time to take pictures,” it just means a few shots here and there. Or, in their defense, maybe the bridesmaids are being extra picky or have requested multiple rounds of touchups, and that’s thrown the timeline off. Or they added a flower girl or mom to the makeup mix at the last minute. Either way, it’s our job to educate them about the timeline in a way that’s respectful of their craft, because we should treat others how we want to be treated ourselves.
By telling the makeup artist we’ll be back for final touches at 11:55, we give him/her the benefit of the doubt that he/she knows the timeline already and is already on time. If they’re not, this gives them a chance to make up some time!
Truth be told, most of the time, we see the makeup artist take a peek at their watch when we’re talking to the bride about the timeline. We can almost see them making mental notes and adjustments in their head, so by the time we mention 11:55 to them, they’re nodding in agreement and saying things like, “All good! We’ll be ready.” We think if we had come in and told the makeup artist our diva demanding voices, “We need her ready at noon. Are you on time?” that probably would make him/her less likely to want to help us, right? And, at the end of the day, weddings are a team sport, so our best advice: be a team player.
The Next Step…
In the next post in the How to Make a Wedding Photography Timeline series (click here), we’ll show you Step 3 in our three-step system for how to plan a photography wedding day timeline — and it’s maybe the most important, because it’ll bail you out in a pinch! Hint: It’s all about how to re-arrange the timeline on the fly when something happens that’s outside of your control.
Our 10 Custom Wedding Day Timelines!
Lastly, if you need help building your wedding photography timelines, or want access to the 10 wedding day timelines we use at every wedding we shoot — and cover almost every situation — you can get them for just $29 by clicking here! They’re guaranteed to help you create professional timelines faster than ever before, impress wedding planners with timelines they’ll love, too, and know exactly how we organize each section of the wedding day (and why) for the smoothest, most stress-free wedding days.