Couples sometimes ask us about how to plan their wedding day schedule in terms of the photography, so I thought it was time for a blog post on the subject. We love being asked for advice because it helps us to understand your plans for the day plus it also helps us get the best out of the day for you…which is what it’s all about!
The first thing to say is that even though we’re talking about a schedule here, don’t worry if things aren’t right on time on the day. Use your schedule as a guideline, not a strict rule, and don’t worry if things slip a bit. Running a bit behind isn’t something to stress about–all you should be doing on your wedding day is enjoying yourself!
There are a few things to take into consideration when you’re thinking about your schedule. We’ll cover some of the main points below, but if you need any help during your wedding planning, just ask us–it’s what we’re here for!
Morning Preparations: We love to be able to tell the whole story of your day, from preparations through to dancefloor action. As there are two of us, we can easily split up to spend time with each of you as you get ready (if you want us to). We usually aim to arrive with the bride about 2 hours before the ceremony, and slightly less with the groom, depending on travel time. This is the perfect amount of time to capture details such as the dress, shoes, flowers, and hair and make-up being done (for the ladies anyway!) but more importantly, the excitement of the morning, and all of the special moments that that brings.
If there’s time before you leave for the ceremony, it’s a great opportunity to capture some portrait shots of you and/or shots of you with your bridesmaids/groomsmen/family.
Number of Locations: Keeping the number of locations to a minimum on your wedding day can really help things run smoothly. If you’re getting married at a hotel, it’s a great idea to get ready in a room because it will cut down the time spent driving around (and reduce the risk of people getting lost or being late).
If you have the ceremony and reception at the same venue, or at least only a short drive away, your guests will love you for not making them travel too far. All in all, the more locations you have, the more driving time you’ll need to build in to the schedule, and the less time you might have for everything else.
TIP: After the ceremony, your guests will want to say hello and congratulate you. Don’t expect to dash off straightaway, or start your group/family photos immediately. Factor another 10 minutes into your timeline here for this!
Number of Family/Group Photos: Although we’ll always work with you to achieve what you want out of the day, most of our couples want to keep family and group shots to a minimum. These photos can take up to 5 minutes per group, so for example, 5 group/family photos could take up to 25 minutes…another good reason to keep them short and sweet. We recommend taking these shortly after the ceremony (but see above tip) so that once they’re done, the guests involved can relax and start mingling properly.
TIP: Allow at least 1 hr and 30 minutes from when you arrive at your drinks reception, to when you sit for your meal. This gives enough time for group/family photos (if they haven’t already been done at the church), your couple’s portrait session, and that all important time to relax and mingle with your guests which we love to capture.
TIP: Consider asking someone who knows you well to help out during the group shots. Making a specific list of who you’d like photos of beforehand will really help on the day. We’ll send you a form to fill out before the wedding so you don’t even have to remember to do this bit! Secondly, it’s usually getting the right people together for photos that takes time, rather than the actual photo. So if you can it’s useful to have one or two reliable members of your wedding party helping to round up the relevant people (we’ll even bring two copies of your group shot list for them, so you don’t have to).
Don’t forget, we’ll probably have no idea what “Uncle Eric” looks like and we don’t want either of you dashing off to try and find him, so if there’s someone there to help, we can focus on taking photos and YOU can focus on being happy newlyweds!
Portraits of the Couple: Ideally, immediately after the group shots, and whilst your guests are mingling at the reception we’ll take 30 minutes or so for a portrait session with the two of you. This is one of our favourite parts of the day and we really want you to enjoy it, just the two of you (so no friends or family members tagging along and spoiling the moment, okay?)
It’s a great time to catch your breath before you head back to the reception. If we can, we’ll usually try to catch you for another 5-10 minutes later on in the day too (perhaps when the sun’s going down and the light is amazing) to grab a few more shots. We don’t monopolise your time…it’s YOUR day and for the most part, we’ll be in the background, capturing things as they happen. But we do believe in creating some beautiful photos for you to look back on over and over again.
Speeches: Have you thought about whether to have these before or after you eat? If you have them before, anyone who’s nervous about doing a speech can finally relax and enjoy their meal without worrying. On the other hand, if you think your dad/best man etc. might go on forever, you might have a lot of very hungry guests!
First dance: Colin will be with you until your first dance (which usually takes place around 8-8:30pm) and then for a while after that to capture some of the dancefloor action!
Obviously your schedule can be adapted to your unique wedding day but we hope that this helps with your planning. We’ve been lucky to be involved in a serious amount of weddings now, so over the years we’ve seen what works and what doesn’t, not just with photography.
So if you’re worrying about anything in any way, don’t panic, just ask us. We’re here to help and support you as much as we can. And remember, ultimately it’s YOUR wedding day so we’ll work around you and your plans in the best way that we can.
Need more help with your wedding day schedule?
If you’re booked in with us and need more help, just ask! If you’re not booked in, but would like to be, we’d love to hear from you! Just fill out our contact form and tell us all about your plans.
Natural, relaxed, creative wedding and portrait photography from a husband and wife team based in Skipton, North Yorkshire. Serving Yorkshire, Lancashire and the UK.