When you’re planning your big day, you have so much to consider when it comes to timings. There’s the guests, the venue(s), the weather, the transportation… if you haven’t done this before, it can be quite a daunting task. Well, that’s where I sweep in as your very helpful experienced wedding photographer to help you out! With over 150 weddings under my belt since 2009 & being a super organised (& slightly OCD) person myself, I’ve put together some top quality tips to help you plan your big day…
Example Running Order – Based on a Church/ Reception Venue Wedding & a 1pm Ceremony
8am – Makeup artist (MUA) & hairdressers arrive.
10am – Photographer arrives at bridal prep location (parents home / hotel) 3 hours before the ceremony.
12pm – Photographer meets the groom & boys for prep shots (hotel / church / venue).
12.30pm – Photographer arrives at ceremony venue, captures shots of guests arriving & ceremony room.
12.50pm – Meet bride at the car & photograph quick portraits of the bride, the person giving her away & the bridesmaids.
1pm – Ceremony & signing of the register.
1.45pm – Bride & groom exit, documentary shot of you as Mr & Mrs being congratulated by your lovely guests.
2pm – Smaller group photographs at ceremony venue & confetti moment (if allowed).
3pm – Drinks reception at venue, documentary shots of you & your guests enjoying the day, any further group shots.
3.30pm – Bride & groom portraits around the grounds of the reception venue.
4pm – Photograph the wedding breakfast table details, leaving you to enjoy your drinks reception.
4.15pm – Large group shot at reception venue, in for dinner.
4.30pm – Wedding breakfast.
6pm – Speeches (normally father-of-the-bride / groom / best man).
7pm – Relax & freshen up in time for evening guests to arrive.
7.15pm – Further bride & groom sunset portraits (depending on the time of year & weather).
7.30pm – Evening guests arrive.
8.30pm – Cake cutting & first dance.
9pm approx. – Photographer finish.
Here’s a little more info regarding the different sections of the day…
Bridal prep – I normally arrive 3 hours before the ceremony begins & start with the bridal preparations. These include shots of the wedding dress (on a pretty hanger, ideally), shoes, flowers, perfume, jewellery & portraits of you & the girls once your makeup is on & you feel happy to let me shoot a few close-ups. Please bear this in mind when you’re arranging where you will get ready; allow for as much space & natural light as possible, as this will give us far better images of this stage of the day.
Groom prep – Once the bridal prep images are captured, I normally leave the girls & go & meet the boys. This will usually be either at the wedding ceremony venue or at a pub close by. I capture shots of the buttonhole flowers going on (I’m happy to transport these to the groom), the order of service (if you’re having one!), rings & of course the portraits. All the boys in the wedding party need to be dressed & at the ceremony venue 1 hour before the ceremony begins.
Ceremony – I prefer to arrive at your ceremony venue at least 30 minutes before the start, giving me enough time to capture the internal & external images of the buildings & your guests arriving. When booking your venue, please ask the question about whether photographs are allowed during the ceremony. I don’t tend to use flash during this part of the day. Some registrars in the North West don’t allow any part of the service to be photographed (believe it or not!) so it’s always worth asking this question at the start.
Group photographs – I always advise that we capture some of the smaller group shots & the confetti moment outside the ceremony venue / church, leaving the large group shots & the bridal portraits of the two of you until we are at the next venue in & around the drinks reception. You will need to allow approximately 1 hour in your timings for all of your formal shots. I always advise couples to work out a list of 10 group shots maximum, emailed over to me before the wedding day. I will also require a responsible usher / relative to help me gather the guests required for these images as quickly as possible. You may also want to have a confetti moment within your group shots. For this you will to buy and bring additional confetti (your guests will bring some, but probably not enough for the shot.) Top tip: more is more; think of what you need then double it! The confetti works really nicely if thrown from paper cones. Paper & petal confetti both work fine on camera.
Drinks reception – Once the smaller group shots have been captured at your ceremony venue, all of your guests will typically rendezvous at your wedding reception venue for the drinks & canapé reception. During this time in the day, I’ll be photographing documentary shots of you guys having fun with your friends & family.
Bride & groom portraits – During the drinks reception, I normally take you somewhere within the grounds of the reception venue for approx. 15 minutes of bridal portraits. This is a lovely time for you guys to relax with each other & have a kiss & a cuddle while I capture some natural images of you as husband & wife for the first time! If the weather allows us, I also recommend taking another 10 minutes out after dinner, around sunset, to capture further bride & groom portraits, when you are both super relaxed & full of love for each other.
Table details – Before your guests go in for dinner, I’ll need to capture all of the details from your reception room. This will include your tables & favours, your cake, your flowers, table plan & name cards. If there are any other details you’d like me to photograph, please make sure you let me know before the day so I don’t miss out anything important.
Wedding breakfast – This part of the day normally takes up to 2 hours. During this time, I’ll capture you guys entering the main reception room, then I’ll take a break while you’re eating your meal. I will require a bar snack & a soft drink at this time, which we’ll pre-arrange with your wedding planner before the day. During this time, I will also be backing up your precious images to my hard drives & capturing any further venue images that we may need. If you would like me to capture images of the different courses of food, please let both myself & the wedding planner know, so the wedding planner can inform the head chef that we’ll need an additional meal & they can prepare it for me to photograph.
Speeches – Speeches can happen before dinner, but in my experience, they are better received after dinner, once everyone has relaxed… except for those who are speaking of course! If you are having the traditional father-of-the-bride, groom & best man speeches, please allow up to 1 hour in your timings. Top Tip: if Dad is very nervous about his speech… why not have his before dinner so he can thank everyone for coming before you eat., leaving the groom & best man’s speech until after dinner?
Cake cutting – The cutting of the cake usually happens once your evening guests have arrived , just before the 1st dance. If possible, please make sure staff at your venue position your cake next to a window, which will enable me to capture much better natural light images of the cake.
First dance – Once your evening is getting underway, the DJ normally invites all of your guests to gather around the dance floor for your first dance. I usually set up additional lighting behind the DJ for these images & capture this section of the day in a documentary style. I then stay approximately 30 minutes after the first dance to capture any further small group shots of you & your evening guests, plus dance floor images of the party!
I hope this advice has helped you a little when searching for the right wedding photographer… good luck & if you would like to book my services, please feel free to either email me or… Zen ♡
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