How to Make the Most of Your Wedding Photography
Allowing enough time for all the different parts of your wedding day will ensure you get the absolute most out of your wedding photos. I have written this Guide to help you plan your day as best as possible. 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 always 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
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 this (a lot happens on the dance floor in a very short amount of time and I’ve found that 30 minutes is perfect to capture a good amount of the action).
The Preparations (Getting Ready)
GETTING READY – GROOM
I like to arrive early so that we can have a chat before I start shooting. For this part of the day I like to capture the details first (shoes, boutonnière, watch, cufflinks, bow-tie etc) and then spend the rest of the time shooting the boys getting ready together (putting on shirts, cufflinks etc). I usually finish by getting some relaxed portraits of the boys (ideally outdoors).
GETTING READY – BRIDE
As with the groom getting ready, I like to arrive early. I will mostly 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 on 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 putting on the final touches to the dress buttons etc.
*EXTRA 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. 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.
The best time to schedule an outdoor ceremony is about 3-4 hours before sunset.
Spring/Summer Weddings (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).
Autumn/Winter Weddings (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 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 at the exact same date and time as your ceremony is scheduled 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 not very flattering.
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 also give this list to someone on both sides 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) plenty of time to do this part of the day without rushing. 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 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 the whole time 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.
TIME OF DAY FOR THE PORTRAITS
You would be surprised just how much light affects a photo and 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 this means before 5pm and in winter before 3pm).
I try my best to deal with any lighting situation and 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 wedding in full sun at midday may result in harsh shadows on your face).
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. A good rule is to allow an extra 10-15 minutes on top of travel time if I cannot park nearby.
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 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 (empty water bottles, clothing and underwear lying around, used packaging and wrapping paper etc).
LIGHT (GETTING READY)
If possible, I prefer you get ready near large windows – the light is much better than it is in a dark room which makes the colours pop and it also evens out 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.