I have been photographing weddings for over 10 years and each time I book a wedding I have an in-depth chat with the couple about their schedule. I make recommendations based on my experience and their locations. Although each wedding is unique, there are some things I can pass on that every couple can benefit from when planning their day. Here are four of my top recommendations and tips for engaged couples.
1. Don’t Rush Your Day
Your wedding day is a once-in-a-lifetime-event and there’s no reason not to enjoy every moment. One way to make sure you make the most of your day is by having a relaxed schedule. Plan to have plenty of time between each event so you’re not rushing from one thing to another. As a result, you won’t be rushed during the photography portion of the day. It’s very difficult to get candid and emotional photographs when you are concerned about the time. People often keep their schedule tight because their photographer, or videographer, is hired by the hour and they want to get as much covered as they can. If you can, look for vendors who either have packages that have a generous hourly rate or even better, are invested for the day to record your story as it unfolds without time constraint.
2. Leave Plenty of Time for Photos
People often ask me how much time is needed to take photos and I respond by saying there are a lot of factors you need to consider. I usually say to plan on bridal party photos taking 45 minutes, which would be about three different groupings with everyone and then several shots of the bride with her friends and the groom with his. If you have a larger wedding party (4 people plus on either side) it may take longer. After the wedding party photos are done, you’d probably be looking at an additional 45 mins to an hour to do couple portraits. Travel times would be on top of this. Your primary consideration when scheduling will be the location of your venues and photo location. If you want to do multiple locations, or you have a single location that has a lot of great photo ops that are far apart, you will have to account for that.
In short, these are the main considerations for deciding how much time to schedule for your wedding party, family, and couple photos.
- Amount of people in your wedding party.
- How many photos you want and how many locations you want to go to.
- List of family groupings you want captured (it’s very helpful to make a specific list of all the photos you want beforehand and think that each picture will take 2-5 minutes).
- Distance between venues for each event (getting ready, ceremony, photo location, reception).
- Time you’ll set aside for doing a receiving line.
- Unexpected delays for traffic or reception speeches running later (I usually say add on 15 minutes if you’re unsure).
- Time you’ll need to freshen up before joining your guests at the cocktail hour/reception.
All of these factors will contribute to how much time you’ll need to set aside for photos and schedule your day.
3. Give Your Family Time to Relax Too
My number one recommendation to couples is to ask their family to meet them immediately before the reception at the venue to take the formal family photos instead of directly following the ceremony, or at another location. I’ve found that the less people you have trying to meet at a third location the better. I’ve also found that asking family to do photos immediately following the wedding ceremony can be difficult as they are often busy helping with taking down decorations, or chatting with your other guests. Asking them to arrive 45 minutes early for the reception has always worked really well for any wedding I’ve photographed.
4. Don’t Forget to Have Fun
I’ve had a lot of couples ask about incorporating some fun activities on their wedding day that reflect the two of them and I think it’s a great idea. Whether that’s taking time to get a slurpee, making a Starbucks run, stopping for lunch at their favorite fast food restaurant, or going for a carriage ride, there can always be time to relax and have fun. Taking time to plan these mini breaks during your day will give you so many fun memories to look back on. Remember, is is your day so don’t let outside pressures make you make concessions you will later regret.
Your wedding day should be the happiest of your life and you should give yourself plenty of time to enjoy every detail. I will always have my packages structured by event and not by hour, so you won’t have to worry about any time constraint if you hire me to document your wedding. Please contact me if you’re interested in wedding photography services.