We’ve seen just about every form of the wedding day schedule imaginable. From cocktail hours to 15 minute receptions, we’ve experienced it all. We’ve also seen schedules planned out to the second, and at times- the schedule has pretty much been left up to us as photographers (more often than you’d think). While we certainly don’t mind nudging our clients so they don’t forget to cut the cake, the wedding day always runs much smoother with a set schedule, especially if you have a planner on site to help move things along.
However, there are times when a set schedule can work against the photographer. Not allowing enough time to set up for, or even capture certain events could cost a client some great photographic opportunities. Photographers love to create and capture great images, but sometimes those images may take a little time that may not be available in the schedule. Let’s chat about some wedding day images and about the planning and time allowed for each of them. Hopefully, this will help you create a wedding day schedule that will allow for your photographer to create and capture some amazing images that he or she may have missed without the extra planning.
1. Getting ready details:
Plan on the photographer to arrive before you put your dress on, so that they can find a more creative spot for the “dress shot” than of the back of the closet door. This also allows for great “shoe shots”!
It’s even better to plan on the photographer to arrive before your maids get dressed- for shots like this one:
If you want detail shots of the groom and his groomsman, make sure you have selected a package with two photographers (so one can travel to the groom’s location). If you and the groom are getting ready at the same location (like a hotel), it is possible for one photographer to get a few shots of the groom since no travel is required.
If at all possible, ask the florist to bring the flowers to the place where you are getting ready (instead of the church). That way, the photographer can get lots of great flower shots, and your maids will have them for any group portraits taken before you leave for the church.
2. Ceremony and Group Portraits (with bride and groom together)
If you’ve been following our blog for a while, you know that we highly recommend a “first glance” if possible. Setting aside time before the ceremony where you can see each other in a private intimate environment is a great way to help the wedding day run smoother. Once he sees you in your dress for the first time, and you are able to share hugs, thoughts, emotions, and tears- (which of course will be documented by your photographer), then you can knock out all of the group shots including family portraits before the ceremony. Just think- no waiting around after the ceremony! You get to go straight to the reception (or somewhere with your photographer for even more creative portraits together).
The first glance:
Make sure everyone knows where to be and when to be there for group portraits. Most portraits can be taken quickly. The stress and delays are usually because someone has stepped away, and others are searching for them. For family portraits- we recommend limiting them to Grandparents down (Grandparents, Parents, Siblings, Couple). Aunts, uncles, and cousins can all be captured more casually at the reception. This will help portraits go much quicker!
Allow time for a some alone time with your photographer for some more creative portraits (unless all you really want is a portrait of you two at the alter in the church).
3. The Reception!
This is the area that we struggle with the most. Usually, photographers are last to leave the church, and last to arrive at the reception venue. This usually means that we must find a parking space far away from the venue, then carry our gear from there. During this time, the bride and groom are usually arriving at the front door via the limo. They get out- and walk right in (while we are still street lights away with our gear). We urge everyone to make ample time for the photographer to arrive and set up whatever lighting equipment may be needed. This only takes about 5 minutes- but those 5 minutes can be critical. For example, if the first dance starts right off the bat- the photographer may not be able to set up lighting for shots like the one on the left. (By the way, the shot on the right was made possible because the couple allowed extra time for portraits).
Sometimes, couples don’t go straight to the first dance, rather they go straight for the cake cutting. We totally understand getting this out of the way early so that the guests don’t have to wait, but just give your photographer a few minutes to get some great cake shots for you if you want to remember what the cake looked like before it was cut open:
The farewell. If you want to make sure your photographer is there for the farewell, make sure to check the hours allowed in your contract- then adjust accordingly. Sometimes, you may need to decide between earlier detail shots, or the farewell shot if enough hours aren’t included.
We hope these tips help you come up with a wedding day schedule that allows for some amazing images! Happy planning, and feel free to leave any comments or suggestions below.