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Photographers: How to Create the Perfect Wedding Day Timeline

January 15, 2020

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I’m so excited to share today’s blog post with you because it’s all about something I totally geek out about … timelines! 

Now … you might be wondering why I’m so thrilled about this topic, but you’ll understand why very soon!

Creating timelines for my couples has been such an incredible way to serve them! Making sure that we don’t miss all the important moments that take place on a wedding day is TOP priority for me! 

There are so many things happening on wedding days that I wouldn’t want to completely rely only on my brain power to remember every single detail about my couples’ special day! It’s just not humanly possible!

My hope is that after reading this blog post you’ll have some helpful tips and tools to use when creating your next timeline for your couples!

Tips to create the perfect wedding day timeline by PA wedding photographer Renee Nicolo Photography

Format I Use to Create Timelines

I use Google docs to create my timelines! I’m a HUGE fan of ALL that Google offers and it’s super helpful when sharing the timeline with my couples! 

If there are any additions or changes that my couples want to share with me, they’re able to add their comments right to the Google document, and I’ll be notified by Google! AMAZING!

Everything is in one place and can be seen by myself and my couples! I’m also able to share the Google document with my second shooters, too! I’d say this is a triple win!!

Questionnaires I Send Before Creating the Final Timeline

Prior to sharing the finalized timeline with my couples, I send the following three questionnaires to my couples:

  1. Preliminary Timeline Questionnaire: Gathers information about their ceremony/cocktail hour/reception start times, if they’re doing a first look or not, etc. It’s very basic, but allows me to get a feel for my couples’ big day!
  2. Wedding Day Questionnaire: This one is longer and captures all the nitty gritty details of the wedding day! Details such as the list of family formals, addresses for all locations (getting ready, ceremony and reception addresses), contact info for maid of honor/best man, etc. This questionnaire allows me to fill in all the final details for the finalized timeline.
  3. Vendor Questionnaire: I’m able to capture all of the talented vendors that will be a part of my couples’ special day! This is super helpful so that I’m able to tag all vendors in any social media and blog posts! I also love to introduce myself to the entire creative team BEFORE the wedding day!

After my couples have completed all the questionnaires, I have all of the essential details that I need in order to finalize their timeline! BOOM!

Tips to create the perfect wedding day timeline by PA wedding photographer Renee Nicolo Photography

Using a Hard Copy Vs. Digital Copy on Wedding Days

Call me old fashioned, but I really love having a hard copy of the finalized timeline with me on a wedding day! I like to be able to make notes (if needed), reference it quickly and cross off names when it comes to family formals! 

I always print out a second copy for my second shooters to have on hand, as well!

Timeline Must Haves

There are some items that I include in my timelines other than just the hour by hour details!

Below, I’ve listed what has been most helpful for me to include in my timelines for EVERY wedding day! I reference these things multiple times throughout a wedding day, and I’d be totally lost without them!

  1. Contact information for maid of honor and best man. It’s rare, but sometimes I’ll need to get in contact with the bride and groom, and I’d much rather call the MOH or Best Man! I encourage my couples to not have their phones on them on the big day so that they can be totally present, so having another person’s contact info is super helpful in a pinch!
  2. Addresses for ALL locations that I’ll be at to photograph the festivities! For example, the getting ready location, in addition to the ceremony and reception addresses.
  3. Family formal list with first names AND how each person is related to the bride and groom. For example: Bride + Groom + Groom’s Mom + Groom’s Dad = Renee + Herbert + Bonita + Herb
  4. A list of any special details that my couples have communicated to me! These could be special bridal details (family heirloom jewelry, for example), reception details that my couples worked so hard to create, etc. Even though I always photograph these items on a wedding day, I want to make sure they’re noted just in case! I don’t want to miss a beat!

Sending Timelines to Vendors

After the timeline has gotten the stamp of approval from my couples, I make sure to share it with their entire vendor team!

This has been such a game changer!! The reason why is because not only am I able to connect with my couples’ creative team, but if there are any items have been changed or added from other vendors (say from the venue, DJ, officiant, etc.) I’m able to note those in the timeline! 

That way we’re all on the same page and we can work together to serve our couple in the best way on one of the most important days of their lives!

Tips to create the perfect wedding day timeline by PA wedding photographer Renee Nicolo Photography

When Do I Finalize the Timeline

I aim to finalize the full timeline three to four months before the wedding day! By that point, my couples are probably getting asked by vendors and family about when certain aspects of their day will be taking place! 

Not only is it beneficial for me to have this done ahead of time, but it helps my couples, too!

I’ve found that waiting until closer to the wedding day (even a month out) is cutting it way too close! By that point my couples are super busy finishing all the prep work for the big day! It’s much better to get this done ahead of time, so that they aren’t bothered by my emails trying to get info from them four weeks before they get married! It’s much better to get all of this done ahead of time!

There you have it! All of my tips for creating the perfect wedding day timeline!


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