Bridal Preparation – Every wedding is different, but I’ll give you an idea of my approach and timings, which can then be tailored to suit your needs. I normally start around 2 hours before the ceremony. Depending on distances, and therefore travel times between your bridal preparation and the ceremony locations this gives me time to capture the final stages of your preparation, a few portraits, and then I’m off to the ceremony to photograph your fiancé with his groomsmen, and the guests arriving.
It’s best if you can arrange for the room to be tidied of anything you wouldn’t want in the back of photos before I arrive, so I can concentrate on taking photos, but if you’re happy with the room looking a mess and showing the true manic state of the moment, that’s fine too.
This being the start of your wedding day, it’s very important that things run on time as if you’re late here, it will push everything else back. Let your hair and make-up artists know what time you’d like to be ready for portraits, not the time you expect to leave for the ceremony or they will work towards that. And, allow extra time if possible as it’s always best to have time spare, than not enough.
The Ceremony – it’s worth checking when you book your venue, if there are any restrictions for photography during the service. I’ve heard some nightmare stories from vicars about inconsiderate photographers and they therefore some have a starting policy of very tight restrictions on when photos can be taken and where the photographer can stand. In my experience, this is simply because of someone in the past not showing proper respect during the ceremony, and the vicar’s concerns can usually be put at ease with a brief chat. I’m extremely considerate and unobtrusive, allowing you and your guests to concentrate on the important event at hand.
After the ceremony – I recommend having 1.5 to 2 hours before your wedding breakfast starting. Once again, the amount of time here is heavily dependent on a number of factors such as the travel time between the ceremony and reception locations, the number of formal photos you’d like, the time of year, and whether you are having a receiving line. The important thing is to give yourself enough time so you can just mingle, and chat with your guests during this period along with all the other things. On our wedding day, this was one of my and my wife’s favourite times because we were so happy after the ceremony, were enjoying the sunshine, and loved just chatting with our nearest and dearest.
Formal photos – I recommend keeping to less than 8 groups, starting with a photo of all guests. The shot of all guests can take some time to put together but you then have one photo of everyone at your wedding. After that, I’d suggest sticking to small groups of your closest family. I understand there is always pressure from other family members, but I think it’s important for couples to do as they wish on their wedding day and not get pushed into spending an hour of their (extremely fast moving) wedding day, standing still for photos that may not necessarily ever put on the wall. Having said that, I’m there for you. If you’d like lots of group photos, I will of course photograph them for you. This is just some guidance from my experience of couples saying they wished they’d chosen fewer groups and just mingled more.
The Receiving Line – One tradition that is not very common any longer is the receiving line. It involves the bride and groom and their parents standing in a line and greeting all of the guests on the way into the wedding breakfast room. It can be very time consuming, and although it prompts you to speak to every guest, you could question the quality and therefore point of a 15 – 30 second conversation. My advise is to not do one, and allow time to properly chat before the meal, or as some couples do, make your way around the tables talking to everyone in between each course.
The Wedding Breakfast / Speeches – Venues normally allocate 2.5 hours for the wedding breakfast (2 hours) and speeches (30 minutes). Once again, this can vary dramatically according to your caterers, your food requirements, and the duration of the speeches. It’s good to find out from the speech givers beforehand how long they think their speech will be so you can let the venue, myself and other service providers such as the band / DJ know. You then have the opportunity to coax them into reducing their speech down if one person says theirs will be 45 minutes.
Some venues require up to an hour to change the room around after the meal ready for the first dance, where as others have a different room / area and could start it immediately after the speeches if you wished.
Bride & Groom Portraits – I take the bride and groom away for portraits at two points during the day. Firstly, in the period between the ceremony and wedding breakfast and secondly, after the speeches / meal finishes, and the first dance begins. If you’ve had a pre-wedding portrait session you may know exactly how you’d like these portraits to be tailored, but if not, let me know your thoughts and what works best for you both.
I pick a few locations based on the venue and where the lighting is best, put you both somewhere that looks best, and then drop back and let you be. It’s one of the few times in the day when you’re (practically) alone together and is nice to just spend some quiet time enjoying the time together. The longer you allow for these photos, the more relaxed you will be for them.
I like to photograph a mix of portraits with some of you both looking at the camera (if I didn’t do this, your family would be devastated), but mainly I like to capture portraits where it’s more about the interaction and emotion between you both, keeping the feel as natural as possible. I can talk you through this if you wish, or just capture you both as you are.