Where to start?
It is important to plan when in your wedding day key photography moments are going to take place, and how long they are going to take, even if you are having documentary coverage as you need to ensure your photographer is in the right place at the right time.
If you are having pure documentary coverage, so no images are posed, prompted or set up, you won’t necessarily have to build in any additional time. But any coverage involving any aspect of setting up photos will require dedicated time within your schedule.
Make A Schedule
Speak with your wedding planner if you have one, your venue co-ordinator, and your suppliers, to make a plan and schedule for your day starting from when you wake up, all the way through to the end of the night. Although you almost certainly won’t run exactly to timings, it will be an invaluable guide, and will give suppliers chance to feed back in advance of your day where tweaks may be required. Your photographer and videographer will normally be those that can offer you some of the most valuable advice on how long different elements of the day will take.
There are various considerations for this part of the day where timings are concerned. Do you want detail shots of rings, flowers, and jewellery? If so your photographer will ideally need 30 ish minutes of time between when flowers arrive and before you start to get dressed. During this time they will just be photographing the details, not you or your wedding party! These images take a while as extra care is taken with lighting and composition.
Do you want prep photos of both halves of the couple in different locations? If so you need to factor in travelling time, and if a groom is involved they almost always start getting ready later than planned! In this situation two photographers really are preferable.
If you ideally would like images after you’re ready, but before you leave you need to factor time in again. Unless getting ready on site of the ceremony venue, the photographer will normally want to leave 10-15 minutes before you to give time to speak with the vicar, celebrant or registrar ahead of the ceremony.
A vital reminder from me is prep will always take longer than you realise, and although you may feel all lovely and relaxed at the start of your prep, by the end 99% will be running over their intended timings which can limit oppourtunity to capture the images you would like.
Otherwise referred to as ‘formals’ these are without doubt the most time consuming images of the day especially on a photo to time ratio. Personally I advise couples to have a list of approximately 10 groups at most, and that they can take up to 3-5 minutes a photo to organise people and sometimes more with larger groups.
Personally I always ask for a helpful person who knows the majority of the guests required for images to assist me with rounding them up. I also try and choose a location near to where everyone will be mingling to speed up the process, and it’s more practical if any guests have mobility issues.
Group photos normally take place either at the ceremony venue after the ceremony or at the reception after arrival. For both you need to be generous in working how much time it will take to have guests ready to be called together for photos. Once out of the ceremony people will want to congratulate you. No matter how bullish or brash your photographer there will be at least 10 minutes before you can be peeled away for group photos unless a very small intimate wedding.
If travelling to a different reception photo you need to factor in a surprising amount of time for people to make that journey, get a drink in their hand, and then be ready for photos. It can be surprising just how long it takes people to make a 5-10 minute drive. This is is because guests will start chatting and get delayed/distracted. Some may even stop in at home to let the dog out, or more commonly for my weddings, pop home to turn out the horse!
The amount of time required for couple photos will depend on location (do you need to travel?), type of photography (documentary or posed, natural light or off camera lighting) and your personal preference regarding the importance of couple photos. Your photographer will be able to advise you but it’s worth keeping in mind you may want to schedule anything from 10 minutes, to 2 hours, or more!
It’s often worth having a back up time factored in as well, normally between the wedding breakfast and evening reception. This time has two benefits, if it rains earlier in the day you get a second chance, or if things run late cutting out your earlier planned time you can still capture some beautiful images. Sometimes you may like to use both, especially as you normally get more beautiful light in the evening sun.
There are other moments that you may want to have photographed, but may not either appear at every wedding, or may not involve extra time needing to be scheduled for photos.
Some of the moments that could involve extra time for photos even if just a minute or two include:
Beautiful/novel/unusual mode of transport
Guard of honour
Fun & Games!
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