How to Make the Most of Your Wedding Photography
I have written this Guide to help you plan your day and to ensure you get the best out of me and your photos.
Because no wedding day is the same, the tips and time frames below are meant to serve as a starting point.
I am of course available to help you with your timeline and ideally we should work on this together so that I can give you the best possible images.
General Timings for the Day
Allowing enough time for all the different parts of your wedding day will ensure you get the absolute most out of your wedding photos.
Getting Ready – Groom – 45 minutes to 1 hour
Getting Ready – Bride – 1 hour to 1.5 hours
Family photos – 15 minutes to 30 minutes (depending on how many groups there are)
Location photos (wedding party) – 10-30 minutes (depending on size of wedding party)
Location photos (couple) – 40 minutes to 1 hour
Reception – this depends on the package you have chosen as to how long I stay for this part of the evening – if you wish the dance floor to be documented then I suggest you allow about 30 minutes for me to cover the dance floor (from when the dance floor opens).
* Please be sure to also factor in all the travel time (and parking time for me) to get between all your locations.
* Important Tip – Allowing enough time between the end of your ceremony and start of your reception
There are quite a few things to fit in after your ceremony ends: congrats and a few minutes of hugs and mingles, family photos, wedding party photos and your portraits.
If we are doing your portraits on site (i.e. same location as your ceremony) or somewhere nearby, I suggest you allow at least 2 hours between the end of your ceremony and the start of your reception – so if your ceremony ends at say 4pm, your reception should not start until at least 6pm, ideally 6.30pm for your entrance.
If we have to travel to different locations or if your reception is located a fair drive away you need to add up all the travel time too – I would say at least 3 hours is ideal and maybe even more depending where you want to go for your portraits.
The Preparations (Getting Ready)
GETTING READY – GROOM
I like to start shooting the details first (shoes, boutonnière, watch, cufflinks, bow-tie etc) and ideally you’d have these ready for me in the one spot for when I get there (no need to set anything up, I will do all of that). I then spend the rest of the time shooting the boys getting ready together (putting on shirts, cufflinks, having drinks etc) and usually finish by getting some relaxed portraits of the groom and all the boys together (ideally outdoors).
GETTING READY – BRIDE
As with the Groom getting ready, I like to start with the details. For the most part, I will stay out of your way and will shoot the details, the hair and makeup artists at work, and the general atmosphere in the room. If there are any specific photos you must have (i.e. the girls in their robes, specific details etc, please let me know).
My aim here is to capture the ‘real’ moments that happen so I like to take a fly on the wall approach for the majority of the time. After your hair and makeup has finished it’s time to get in your dress – some brides are happy for me to shoot them getting into their dress (with the help of their bridesmaids) while others are happy to put their dress on in private and for me to capture just a few photos of the bridesmaids helping with the final touches (buttons, veil etc).
I absolutely love to capture a few portraits of the bride all dressed and ready to go – so please allow enough time for this (see next tip).
*IMPORTANT TIP – HAIR & MAKEUP
When planning things with your hair and makeup artists I suggest you ask them to be finished no later than an hour before you have to leave for the ceremony – if however I am leaving for the ceremony a lot earlier than you then I would say your hair and makeup should be finished an hour before I head off. This will allow me time to photograph you putting on your dress and doing those last minute touch ups, as well as to take photos of you with your bridal party and any family members that might be present.
September to April – If your ceremony will take place outdoors, I strongly suggest that you schedule it after 3pm (avoid scheduling it between the hours of 10am and 2pm as the light is harsh and shadows are strong).
May to August – During these months, and especially in winter, the light disappears very quickly at the end of the day. Your ceremony should start no later than approximately 2-3 hours before sunset.
WHERE TO STAND
When planning your ceremony with your venue and celebrant make sure that you will be standing in a spot with even light – you should ideally visit your ceremony space before your wedding and around the same time as your ceremony will be held so that you can see what the light looks like. I’m happy for you to send me photos of the ceremony spot and I can give you my thoughts.
Avoid lots of dappled light under a tree and avoid ceremony spaces where one of you will be standing in light and the other in shadow. This type of light makes it extremely difficult to shoot in and also gives you images that are less than flattering.
CELEBRANTS AND PRIESTS/PASTORS
Every celebrant and priest is different and conducts ceremonies in their own unique way. While it’s absolutely not my job to tell them what they should do during the ceremony, I’d like you to think about where they will stand during your first kiss. I’ve shot a number of weddings where the priest is standing over the couple during their first kiss or where the celebrant has quickly tried to move away and the resulting photos are of the couple’s first kiss and the celebrant running off in the background. I really don’t want this to happen on your wedding day. So when you catch up with your officiant, I suggest you have a conversation with them about where they will stand for this last part of the ceremony and if you can, gently suggest to them that well before you’re announced and before your first kiss, they move off to the side so that the first kiss photo does not include them in the background.
I usually shoot the family photos straight after the ceremony (after you’ve had a moment for congratulations and hugs). To make this process quick and relaxing for everyone the best thing for you to do is to make a list of all the groups to be photographed. A good idea is to give copies of this list to two people (one on each side of the family) who can help gather all the family members you would like photos with.
ALLOWING PLENTY OF TIME
It is so important to allow yourself (and me) ample time for this part of the day. After all, you are not hiring a professional photographer with all their skill and creativity to take a handful of photos and call it a day. When couples say to me that they just want one or two good photos of the two of them together and then allow 5 to 10 minutes for this part of the day, they don’t realise that beautiful and natural photos don’t happen in 5-10 minutes.
You need time to stop and breathe, time to go for a wander with your new husband/wife and time to just be in each other’s presence.
Please allow some good time for this part of the day. You might think I’ll be constantly shooting but that’s not the case – I like to use this time for us to explore our surroundings, chat and have a laugh and for you to relax and have some alone time with your partner. The best and most natural photos come from moments that are not rushed.
I am a big believer in less is more – and that also goes for the locations you choose for your portraits. I would rather you choose up to two favourite locations than spend your time driving between multiple locations and doing everything in a rush (including you sitting in traffic and me stressfully looking for a car park). You will be way more relaxed and I will be able to capture many more memories.
TIME OF DAY FOR THE PORTRAITS
You would be surprised just how much light affects the final result I provide to you. Late afternoon light is the best, it means softer shadows and even skin tones.
If at all possible this part of the day should take place an hour or two before sunset (and not in the middle of the day – in summer, I prefer to shoot portraits after 5pm and in winter after 3pm).
I will of course always do my best to make sure I shoot in even lighting but there is only so much that I can do in harsh light (i.e. a beach or an open field in full sun at midday may result in harsh shadows on your face).
Ah, rain on a wedding day… All I can say is don’t worry too much. It is what it is and if it happens to rain on your wedding day I will do my absolute best to work with it. In fact, some of my favourite memories are from weddings where it rained all day long!
I always do some research on wet weather portrait locations so if the rain is too heavy or you’d rather not shoot in the rain we will have somewhere to go. And if you are happy to use umbrellas and get out in the rain for a little bit, I will be very happy.
TRAVEL TIME, PARKING & TRAFFIC
You also need to factor in all the travel time (and parking time for me) to get between all your locations.
If you are able to organise a parking permit for me at any of your locations (or have a parking spot reserved for me) that always helps. Some hotels provide complimentary valet parking which is always very handy. And if I cannot park nearby, a good rule is to allow an extra 10-15 minutes on top of travel time for me to park my car and get to your ceremony/reception.
Please also consider traffic when planning your timeline and be prepared and plan ahead by factoring in any major events that might also be happening on your wedding day.
CLUTTER (GETTING READY)
You might think I’m being overly pedantic but you’d be surprised how much clutter can impact on the final images. While I don’t expect you to be getting ready in a spotless room, it is always helpful to remove extra clutter that is not needed (water bottles, clothing and underwear, coat hangers, used packaging etc).
LIGHT (GETTING READY)
If possible, I prefer you get ready near large windows – the light is much better and ensures beautiful and even skin tones.
VENDORS I LOVE TO WORK WITH
If you’re still on the hunt for other vendors to complete your big day, I’d love for you to check out some of my favourites here.