How to Plan Your Wedding for Epic Photos

WHEN IT COMES TO WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY, TIMING IS EVERYTHING


So you have never done this wedding thing before. OR maybe you have and the first one was a total train wreck!! If you don't have the budget for a wedding planner, read on for my top tips for planning the timing of your day so that you can feel relaxed, let the day flow, and get amazing shots all day and night.


I have been the all-day guest (aka wedding photographer) at many, many weddings and I think I have seen it all.....what works, what doesn't. I have spent a lot of time analysing why the awesome weddings were awesome and why there was too much stress at others.


Now aside from mum getting drunk before dinner (has happened), the veil getting ripped before you even left the house (also happened), woke up to realise that drinking champas whilst applying dark brown fake tan the night before your wedding was NOT a good move (also happened), lost half the bridal party on the way to the photoshoot (true story), you can at least START with a watertight plan of events. YES things may go pear shaped, but starting with a great plan is going to make your day so much LESS stressful. So read on for my top tips for great photos and timing:


Preparation Tips


GETTING READY GIRLS

For awesome getting ready shots you will need to have one room that is tidy! Sounds obvious but I can't tell you how often I have rocked up and there is no clear surfaces and it appears that the bridesmaids luggage has literally exploded all over the room. This one room needs to be clear of all clutter and have some decent natural light. Put one of the bridesmaids - whoever is finished makeup first, in charge of making this happen. I have been known to move couches and push a vacuum cleaner in order to create some space next to some good window light but of course if its all set, that is more time to create epic photos. In this room also have the bride's gown hanging on a nice wooden hanger for the photographer with all of the accessories and shoes nearby.



TRIALS

Do trial your hair and do hire someone who is not family! I shit you not, one wedding the bride, her mother and every bridesmaid was a hairdresser. Needless to say the hair time was about double and there were tears. Getting trials done is so crucial and makes the whole process super quick.



TELL THE MAKE UP ARTIST/ HAIRDRESSER

I have a love-hate relationship with the makeup artist. Look - its not always her fault, VERY often I find that they have a totally different timeline to me and have not been given the photographer's timeline. But all too often they seem not to really give a toss about going over time - so long as they've got their INSTA shots, who cares how long they take. 65 touch ups later, I have lost an hour of portrait time and the stress has now set in. SO - give them a timeline and maybe even chuck an extra half hour for additional faffing on top, just to be safe. Shout out to all my awesome makeup artists who recognise they are a cog in the wheel and its a team effort - you know who you are!



GETTING READY BOYS

Because I am a one woman band, I actually go to the guys first and do a mock getting ready shoot. This takes about one hour and then they all de-suit and chill out, drinking beer or hitting the golf course or whatever guys do on wedding days. It really pays if a woman or gay friend (no seriously!) has checked that they have indeed all got their shoes (yes missing shoes and belts is COMMON), that the shirts are in fact the correct shirts for cuff links (yep also has happened), the pants have been hemmed (true story - groomsmen all lining up wearing said too-long pants while some poor aunty finds her sewing kit and gets to work....meanwhile the photographer waits), everything is pressed and hanging, again - a tidy space is really helpful.



DELEGATE

Do NOT, I repeat DO NOT allocate setting up and transporting jobs to members of the immediate family and the bridal party. This happens. I once transported and set up the flowers down the aisle - talk about going the extra mile huh? BTW if you ask me to do this now the short answer is NO. You and the ENTIRE bridal party need to be present and available for those amazing candid action shots. Some of my best work is in the in between moments and if you are rushing off to get flowers or whatever - it just doesn't work. Think about who is going to manage children, pick up flowers, set up the cake and delegate. One week out - go through your list (yes - this should all be on a list or spreadsheet) and check that every single person helping has the contact phone number of the supplier or a friend who holds the master timeline (NOT the bride or groom) and knows what they are doing. Photos of a bride frowning into a cell phone do not a masterpiece make.



Following are two sample timelines and completely different approaches to the day - think about what will work best for YOU, the size of your wedding, where you are, whether you have to travel between, what you want covered in the photos.


SAMPLE TRADITIONAL FORMAT



10:00am Photographer with boys, boys to be in casual gear when photographer arrives

11am Travel from boys to girls

11:30am Photographer with girls, candid getting ready shots and all the details

1:00pm ALL HAIR AND MAKEUP TO BE FINISHED

1:30pm Dressing - do not underestimate how long this takes!!!!!

2:00pm Bridal portraits, bride alone, head shots, bridesmaids, group shots

2:30pm Leave for the ceremony venue, half hour drive

3pm Wedding Ceremony

3:30pm Congratulations, hugs and kisses, reception line, whole group shot

4:00pm Formal family and group line ups

4:30pm Creative photos: allow one hour plus any travel to other locations

5:30pm Bridal party return, touch up and join cocktail hour

6:00pm Bridal party announced and some speeches

6:30pm Dinner served and more speeches - don't leave dinner too late or your guests will be hammered!

SUNSET Bride and Groom pop out for sunset photos

8:30pm Band/DJ starts, first dance photos

9:00pm Photographer departs


This is 11 hours coverage which I offer in my top package. If you need to fit into an 8 hour time package, you can flag some of the getting ready shots and start later, maybe 11:30am through to being announced for dinner, having a mock cake cutting shot and the photographer would leave, which would make the photographer's time 11:30am - 7:30pm.


OR THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX: GET THE CREATIVE SHOTS FIRST (my fave)



For this shoot, you both get ready, then meet for a creative shoot before the ceremony. We set up a first look to capture all the emotion of the walking down the aisle moment and then do the creative shoot before heading off to the ceremony together.


Here is what we did for Roman and Lidya. You'll see that in this example you have HEAPS more social time with your guests. Other advantages are that you have privacy for all the emotions of the first look and time to really soak all that up. As a photographer we know early on that the shots are done and every great photo after this is a bonus! Again, you can shorten this up by not covering the whole reception and dance but capturing all the table details then mock or real cake cutting and the photographer departs.


10am Boys prep

11am Girls prep

12pm Dressing

12:30 Portraits

12:45 Set up boys for first look

1pm Bride arrives, first look shots

1:15 Creative shoot over two locations

3 Touch ups and in cars

3:30 Ceremony

4:00 Congrats and group photo

4:30 Family photos

5:00 Candids of guests and cocktail hour

6:00 Seated for reception

- 9pm Whole reception and sunset shoot onsite




I hope you find this useful, check out my other blogs for other tips for helping your big day run super smooth and dreamy. You can read all about my wedding services here.