The Importance of Adding Buffer Time Into Your Wedding Day Timeline

Client Education

Tori Kelner Photography Weddings

It might come as a bit of a surprise, but one of my main objectives as your wedding photographer is to keep your day running smoothly. You’re probably thinking, isn’t that what the wedding planner or coordinator is supposed to do? It definitely is, but I personally want to not only make the entire process, from first hello to hugs goodbye as simple, easy, and fun as possible, but I also want to ensure that your actual wedding day is completely stress-free! Whether you’re working with a wedding planner or not, I try to make as many suggestions on how to ensure you make the most out of your day as you can and in my experience, the absolute best way to do this is by adding in buffer time all throughout your wedding day!

So here’s the thing– I’ve seen so many wedding days and no matter how perfectly type-A and organized you are, there is ALWAYS a chance that something can throw the day off track. I’ve seen so many unintentional or unexpected time-takers that we couldn’t have known would happen, but because I work with my couples to make an entire minute-by-minute timeline, I know why and exactly where to add buffer time into your day. Adding in buffer time is the ONLY way we can guarantee that even if something unexpected disrupts the timeline, we can still get back on track! 

A number of little hiccups are possible on your wedding day that you probably wouldn’t expect. I’ve seen a bridesmaid’s dress get stained right before we were supposed to get the bride into her dress, hair and makeup running late due to an eyelash not staying in place or a piece of hair not looking perfectly curled. There have been times where people get delayed by traffic or someone drives to the wrong location and we can’t take the pictures we need, and so on. There are so many factors that play into your day, but I want you to know that you have extra time baked in here and there, this way, if anything does come up, we’re covered. In the event that everything is perfect and nothing gets off track (heck yes!!), you get some extra time to relax, have a mimosa, and enjoy a few moments with your friends and family without feeling rushed!

Tori Kelner Photography Weddings

Now that we’ve talked about why it’s so important to have buffer time built into your day, here are a few points where I like to add in that extra time:

Morning/Getting Ready

If anything is going to run over time, it’s typically in the morning when you’re getting your hair and makeup done or getting into your dress. I don’t want you to run late to your first look or to feel rushed through your portraits, so making sure we give extra time in the morning ensures that the rest of the day runs smoothly. 

Even if it only takes 5 minutes to zip you up into your dress, there are tons of other bits and pieces we need to do before you are fully ready. Putting on your shoes, jewelry, and perfume, touching up your hair after the dress is on, and getting photos with your mom and MOH or the bridesmaids; this all takes up more time than you’d expect, so I always add 30 minutes in for getting ready! 

Even if we don’t specifically need all of that time, it’s nice to have that buffer in case hair and makeup ran overtime in the morning or if there is a string on the dress that needs to be clipped and we can’t find scissors right away! I can’t stress enough, that so many little factors play into your day, so preparing for it all is key! The same rule applies for the guys – I give a bit of extra time throughout the morning so that they can help get each other ready and get all dapper for the day without rushing or stressing! 

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Portraits

I love giving as much time as possible to portraits because if anything is going to cause some stress, it’s family photos! That’s why we prepare a full list of exact family groups that you want photos of ahead of time, but we still plan for tons of time here anyway because, unfortunately, you can never tell friends and family where they need to be too many times. Someone ALWAYS seems to be in the bathroom, by the bar, or running late right when we need them! I always add in additional time for portraits just to ensure we end up with enough time for everything to get done without sacrificing any time for your portraits!

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Ceremony

Whether you want a 15 minute ceremony or an hour long ceremony, you can never be sure if your officiant will stick to the plan. I’ve had plenty of couples firmly want a 30 minute ceremony, but after the officiant’s welcoming statements, vows, and more, they’ve ended up going over that half hour time frame. This matters most when there is no first look, as we typically only have an hour after the ceremony (during cocktail hour) to complete about 1.5 – 2 hours of portraits, so we need all of the time we can get! In the case that anything does push us off track, it’s almost always your couple portraits that, unfortunately, get cut short.

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Sunset

Sunset is my favorite time to sneak out with my couple for some additional couple portraits! The best part is that this only takes 10 – 15 extra minutes! This is a little extra time that I love adding in for my couple to take some time for themselves, where they can reconnect and share in all of the excitement while also capturing some beautiful photos at sunset! It’s a win-win!

This timing only works though, if we can pull you out at a time that doesn’t take you away from any formalities of the reception, so I always help my couples plan their day around their ceremony start and end time and the sunset!

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Reception

As far as the timeline goes during reception, we usually can run with whatever your venue prefers to do! It’s typically up until the ceremony that we try to run the day as smoothly as possible, getting you all of the photos you want, but once the reception hits, I love just letting you two go party and be present with your guests! 

This is the point where I can step back a bit and be more of a fly on the wall,  documenting the reception as it unfolds! We still plan and structure this time to make sure that I am there for the formalities, like intros, first dances, cake cutting, and sparklers, but it is much less important that we stick to exact times at this point. By this time, I’m simply there to capture two in your element and partying!

Tori Kelner Photography WeddingsTori Kelner Photography WeddingsTori Kelner Photography WeddingsI hope this insight helps to reassure you that adding in buffer time throughout your wedding day is for your benefit! You won’t need to worry about running late, not getting all of the photos you want, and you’ll know that my photo team has it all covered for you! If I’m not stressing, you don’t need to be either. I’ve got you 10000%, and I will do everything to keep your day as fun, stress-free, and relaxed as possible! 

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