Updated: May 2
When planning for your wedding day it is really worthwhile spending some time thinking about all the photos you want to capture and how best to fit that into your wedding day schedule. The reality is that when the day is done and you wake up as the new Mr & Mr’s, that parts of the day will feel like a blur, and you will only be able to relive the day through the memories of your photos and video. Photos really do last a lifetime and you will no doubt want to be able to pull out your wedding albums in years to come as well as proudly print and frame some of your favourite shots of the day.
Hello, I’m Georgia, a wedding and lifestyle photographer and I want to share my experience and knowledge to help you lovely couples in all of your wedding planning and preparations. I am sure that my tips, inspiration and advice will help relieve some of the stress and help answer some of those questions you may have. Many people have no idea what to expect when it comes to the booking processes, prices and payment plans, insurances, etc. and to be honest, a lot of people just don’t know where to start and who’s advice to listen to – family and friends are happy to share advice but often it is what THEY like/dislike and think you should do, and it often contradicts what another person has told you. I cover all things weddings and not only the photography side of things and I include interviews with other suppliers so that you get to learn from their expertise as well.
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Make the most of your wedding day photography!
It is important that your time in front of the lens is enjoyable and stress-free, and so you don’t want to feel rushed when you’re having your photos taken as the new Mr and Mr’s. So here are a few things to consider for your photos and how they will affect your wedding day schedule.
Do you like your photos being taken?
It is good to let your photographer know whether you like your photos taken, or if you don’t mind them being taken but just not with lots of people watching on. If you are the latter, and you want to capture lots of group photos (bridal party, family and friendship groups), then you may only want those that are in the photos present. As a result, you may decide to do group photos at particular staggered times or at a time when you can stand somewhere privately and can send someone (the best man is always a good choice) to round up the family or friends as required.
If you don’t personally like your photo being taken, then you may want to go to a particular spot where the photographer can almost be out of sight. You may also be tempted to give yourselves a really small timeslot if you don’t like your photos taken, but I would suggest you leave a little extra time so that you can just chat, laugh and relax in each others company and then the photographer will just capture those natural moments. Obviously, this depends on you as a couple as you may both not like your photos being taken. I often find that one of the couple doesn’t like having their photo taken whilst the other does. So a restricted timeslot just means one of you will be stressing to get the photos done whilst the other is just wanting to run and escape. When you have more time to just walk and talk the photographer will use their skills to get the shots you desire but in a more natural and relaxed environment. Looking for a photographer like myself who specialises in helping you create natural moments without 'posing' too much will really help too!
For more advice on choosing your photographer, check out our post on 'What to Ask Your Wedding Photographer' - it's packed full of must-ask questions, and advice to help with this big decision.
Out of the way or staggered?
Would prefer to get them all done straight away so that you know they are done and out the way, or whether you would prefer to stagger them so that people aren’t having to wait about, and/or so that you aren’t feeling rushed off your feet straight after your service. This decision may be influenced by a whole host of things. For instance, if you have older relatives who aren’t very mobile or healthy then you may want to get the photos done with them immediately so they aren’t hanging around. Or if you are getting married in the winter, you may not want your guests standing outside waiting in the cold. And if you know some of your guests have to leave early then you may want to get those photos done first. The number of group photos that you want may also influence this decision as well.
These decisions are to some extent entirely up to you, and you can tailor them depending on your personal preferences and family needs, although some of these decisions may be taken out of your hands. You may be getting married in a venue where the outside isn’t very picturesque and so may want to wait until you get to the reception destination anyway to take the group photos. Or on the other hand, if you are at one destination for the whole day then you may decide to stagger different portraits so that it isn’t full-on. If you are getting married in a Church with nice grounds and then having a wedding reception at another lovely location, then you may want photos at both places of certain groups such as the bridal party and your close family. You may also be governed by the time that you getting married as you may not have as long between the ceremony and the sit-down meal, and therefore you may want to get them done so that you can then eat and relax or you may need to stagger them because of the lack of time between the ceremony and meal.
The point is that photographing these portraits are an important part of your day and they can be time-consuming depending on how many group photos you want to capture and how quickly you can round up the necessary people – relatives and friends sometimes just wander off or if a child is having a tantrum then sometimes it just takes a little longer to calm them down and get the photos done. You may want to get them out of the way when you know that everyone is there at the ceremony and then you’re not having to try and round them up. Or on the other hand, you may want to stagger them out because you know that you have plenty to get through and you don’t want to risk anyone getting cold or the kids getting fed up. Again it is all about making the moment as relaxed and enjoyable as it can be.
A little more on the weather
Whatever the time of year, in this country and the rest of the UK we all know that rain can come at any time. So with that being said, have a backup plan for photos if it is pouring it down. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to have them inside. It could be that you just have the ability to slot the photos in elsewhere in the day when the weather perks up. But if it is that you will have to take them indoors, it may be that you can no longer get everyone together how you first wanted because of the space, and you will have to stagger the shoots out instead.
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Know yourself and your guests
A lot of this depends on what sort of person you’re to be honest. I know some people that just wouldn’t be phased if it rained or if things didn’t go according to plan, and can happily go with the flow and don’t get stressed out, but there are others who are completely different and have to have things running to schedule, and that is absolutely fine too. Having a bit of a contingency plan, whether that is in case the weather is bad, or if children are refusing to have their picture taken may help you out on the day and stop you from panicking or getting stressed. Be aware of the sort of person you are.
The same goes for your guests. I have already mentioned people’s age and health. If someone is very old and frail they may want to leave early, or they may not be able to be on their feet for too long. I have already mentioned children, but even those children that normally like being in photos can feel overwhelmed by the day or freaked out by all the guests. If this is the case then perhaps you will want to have a timeslot that you hope to take the photos along with a backup slot/slots in case that doesn’t work out. Or you may decide that the group photos with the kids will be done privately without lots of others gathered around. Or you could decide to have a bag of goodies that you use to bribe them into having their photos taken!
You know your guests, you know whether your brother is a pain for doing anything when you ask him to, or if your Auntie is going to be complaining that she doesn’t want to be in many photos, so just prepare yourself, plan accordingly, and make a decision to not allow anything or anyone to stress you out on your big day.
Just chat it all through with your photographer and they'll be able to help with the logistics of it too!
Golden hour is a photographers dream time to capture photos. It is the time when the sun starts to set (or rise) and you capture the beautiful rays of light shining in the background. The light helps produce stunning photos, magically removing blemishes and adds a glow to you and your surroundings. If you want to capture photos at this time then you will need to look online to see when golden hour is at your location on the day of your wedding. I definitely recommend you do this, but the time slot is short and you may only get glimpses of it if it is a really overcast day, so you have to make sure you have the time allocated and are ready to go chasing the sunset.
Have some alone time
I already mentioned earlier that if you don’t like your photos taken then make a little extra time for your portraits so you can just walk and talk whilst your photographer captures you both with their camera. But in truth, I would suggest you give yourself a nice alone timeslot where you both can go for a walk and some time alone with just your photographer. It will just give you a chance for everything to sink in, for you to have some quiet, and to just relax and not have to be ‘on duty'. A wedding day is full-on and when it’s your day then you will find that you are constantly having to be on duty saying hello to guests, thank you and meeting new people (partners side). People will want to pull you from one place to another and you will find there's not loads of time to just stop and rest.
Your day can also be emotionally sapping. I know that may sound negative, but what I mean is that there are parts where you will feel nervous, you know everyone is looking at you, you know that you are about to have to talk and be vulnerable in front of everyone. The groom will be waiting anxiously for the bride to walk down the aisle, trying to hold in the emotions because they don’t want to be a blubbering mess. The bride is often trembling as they walk down the aisle as well, full of joy and emotions but unable to express them fully. Again this is a little different depending on the person you’re, but even the most confident person can find this whole moment overwhelming and find themselves full of nerves. And for the groom, I have found that many of them don’t fully unwind until after they have given their speech. Again this will depend on whether you are used to public speaking etc. but 9/10 grooms I speak to say that once the speech is over that then they could finally relax.
I have found personally from my own wedding and from photographing many others that having a good 45min slot to just go off with your photographer really helps you enjoy your day and take it all in. And if time allows it, later on during golden hour, just help you unwind and brace yourself again to be the star of the show.
How long does each part need?
The problem with this question is that weddings vary so much now. I suppose to some extent they always have but the variety today is far wider than ever before. So whilst I will share the average times that are photos taken, you will have to adapt them to suit your needs. You need to decide exactly what you want to capture, and where you are going to have the photos taken. I have had couples who get married, have some group photos, and then we drive to a location to just take the couple portraits whilst the guests all go to the reception, whereas I have had other weddings where everything is at the one location. This obviously makes a huge difference in how long things take, and how long you can allow.
So much depends on how much of your day you want to capture, the size of your bridal party (bridesmaids & groomsmen), the number of guests you have, whether you’re at 1 or many locations and whether you have a huge photo wish list. If you only want 1 big group photo of all of your guests instead of 1 big photo of all of your guests plus X amount of smaller friendship group photos then of course that will take less time. If you want to have fun behind the lens and capture lots of different silly, fun and quirky photos of your bridal party then you will want a bit more time than if you just wanted a few formal ones. The size of your family and whether you have particular relatives that you want individual photos with will also impact the time.
Do you want to capture golden hour? Do you want to capture all the traditional moments like cutting the cake, speeches and first dance? Are you having a sit-down meal, a whole day wedding or just a late afternoon one that will go on into the evening? And are you planning on staying until the end or are you leaving early to go to your honeymoon suite or the airport?
The 4 main things that you want to know first so that you can work out the rest of your day and your photos around are the following:
1. Time of the ceremony
2. Time of the meal
3. Time that the evening guests arrive
4. Time that you are leaving
The other thing you will need to know if you want to capture photos during it is when golden hour is on your wedding day because you don’t want to be having your meal at this time.
All of these times will be dependant on the one before it. So the mealtime will depend on when you’re getting married and the evening guests will arrive after you have had your meal and done all the speeches. On a side note, I have known people to do their speeches first so that the groom can actually enjoy his meal – believe me many have said they couldn’t eat because they were too nervous!
Then the other thing you will have to know is where everything is happening. Is everything at one destination, including getting yourselves dress and ready, or is it in multiple locations. Factor in your travel times if needed and then you will be able to start to plan your photo timeline.
Average times (not including travel):
Bridal prep – 1-3hrs depends on size of party and how much you want to capture.
Ceremony – 1hr
Portraits (group and couple) – 90mins This can be spread out rather than in one hit.
Golden hour – 30mins When this is will vary so you will want to make sure that you’re not eating at this point if possible.
With the reception through to evening, your photographer will just take shots throughout and assuming that you want them they will take the photos of the speeches etc. The same goes for the evening so you don’t necessarily need to know about how long photos will take unless you are wanting to capture some late in the night to capture some more stunning photos that look completely different to those taken in the day.
Hopefully, this has given you plenty of food for thought and has been helpful to you. If you want some free example timelines then download my wedding planning bundle, and why not subscribe to the blog and my YouTube channel to get much more wedding tips and inspiration. If you are interested in me photographing your wedding day then I would be more than happy to check my availability, so please drop me a message or give me a call and we can chat about what you are hoping to capture. And if there is anything else you need help with or want to ask then feel free to get in contact.
I am always cheering you on…