As we all know, preparation for a wedding day is a daunting task for those involved. The list of things to do for your wedding, leads to you asking yourself ‘Where do we start?’
Of course, venues, the wedding dress, rings, cars, the church and so on are usually at the top of a couple’s to-do list.
When it comes to wedding photography, it can often come after those mentioned above.
Unbeknown to many booking your wedding day photographer well in advance of the wedding has many benefits.
If hiring an experienced professional with many years under his or her belt, they can provide a lot more than just advice on photography and videography for the day.
Part of gaining experience with wedding photography is mastering time allotment and a whole host of other factors that lead you to be regarded as a professional in the field.
In this article, I am going to focus on time allotment with your wedding photographer. By finding your wedding photographer and spending time together well in advance of the wedding day itself you spark up a personal relationship. The more you get to know each other and the more information you share, the more comfortable you will be on the day.
It will translate to the finished shoot and help you in other areas of the day and relieve some anxiety. That can’t be a bad thing, can it?
I live in Bath; Somerset and I know a wedding photographer Somerset can double up as a wedding coordinator! Helping with advice before and throughout the day.
Couples find help with make-up artist recommendations and bridal gown advice from people you may have worked before invaluable!
It takes a lot of stress and time out of searching, especially when your chosen photographer can show you a gallery of the dresses and make-up and the groom the suits and so on. The relief on couples faces when they quickly start ticking off their to-do list, especially when it is the serious items is priceless!
So, let’s focus on time allotment, what does it mean?
It’s about setting the layout for the entire day with the wedding couple, what, where, and when we are going to this, this and that. Once you have a working relationship before the day, it’s easy to get right. Once you have that established, you’d be surprised how much that helps you as a couple focus and relax on the fun part of the day.
We start with:
THE COUPLES SESSION AND THE FIRST LOOK
Ideal Time Allowance:
We want soft natural light so outside.
The first look should be in and around 45 minutes, but no more. What your wedding photographer needs to achieve in this time, is capturing the moment the bride and groom see each other for the first time, they are pivotal shots.
The first look should take between 5-10 minutes.
Then move quickly on to portraiture pictures of the bride and groom. The wedding photographer can save time for another couple’s session later. Still, it’s better to get the lion’s share of it done when the bride and groom are fresh and look their best.
If the day runs behind due to unforeseen circumstances, then having done this, it will help other aspects come back to the right timeline. Plus, a Bath wedding photographer knows how quickly the weather can change, it’s good to get it done!
Some couples are not familiar with the first look.
They think that is when the bride walks down the aisle. Wedding days trends are quickly changing.
Weddings days go incredibly fast. By choosing a well-lit intimate location, you’ll get a few moments alone before everything starts moving fast.
Some couples now stage their own first look for artistic effect. Remember, it’s ALL about your style, not your wedding photographer or the videographer. A professional wedding photographer will help to advise around what you want.
Early in the day offers photojournalistic quality opportunities. Plus, it comes with no distractions. It’s your last moment alone until all the proceedings are complete, so if you like the idea, go for it. Let your wedding photographer and videographer know, and they’ll help work it out and make it count.
If you are not sure about this idea, check the weather forecast. In my area a Bath wedding photographer would check the 7-day forecast, then the 3-day before the event and advise accordingly.
If you are not going to do a first look that’s fine, it’s not for everyone. It is advisable to make sure the ceremony is early enough to give the wedding photographer enough light to get the best out of the scenery.
WEDDING PARTY PHOTOS
Ideal Time Allowance:
45-60 minutes (variable due to the number of guests)
For inland photos, if there are fields or parks nearby that offer soft natural light, this would be your best option, especially with beautiful architecture.
No more than one hour – 45 minutes is ideal and enough at this point.
Your wedding photographer will look to gather several different shots and poses. Beautiful candid’s and classic portraits are commonly asked for.
Typical requests are:
- Bride with a Bridesmaid (Individually)
- Bride with every Bridesmaid (Together)
- Groom with a Groomsman (Individually)
- Groom with every Groomsman (Ushers with and without)
- Bride and Groom complete with the Full Bridal Party (Users with and without)
IMMEDIATE FAMILY FORMALS
Ideal Time Allowance:
30-60 minutes (variable due to the number of guests)
Ideal Time of the Day:
Either before or immediately after the ceremony
Location with soft natural light, anywhere outside with the best backdrop
Depending on the family size, the family formals usually take around the 45-minute mark. It is advisable to get the immediate family done or preferably photographing extended family one group at a time.
Large family and group shots are not time friendly and often lessen quality. You can’t control 8 out of 30 people blinking for example, while three were distracted. Again, time is essential so consider this if you have a medium to large size wedding.
You want to look at around 3 minutes for a group. Work together with your photographer to decide on the groups in advance, so 10 smaller groups, 30 minutes, PERFECT! And give 15 minutes for any slight delays and hiccups.
A recommendation – try to get the immediate family fitted in before or immediately after the ceremony.
With the larger groups of extended family and friends, they can be photographed at the reception.
If the weather is not looking friendly. A room at the venue can be arranged for portraits if necessary. There’s always a plan B and sometimes C!
Alter pictures will take a little more time, as flash photography and negative space will be needed.
An Immediate Short-List
To help you take the stress out of trying to do it on the spot, organise yourself and make a list. In order of what you want, make it your own.
Here’s a quick example to give to your wedding photographer:
- Bride and mom
- Bride and dad
- Bride and mom with dad
- Bride and siblings
- Bride with groom and her parents
- Bride with groom plus her mother, father, and siblings
- Bride with groom plus her mother, father, siblings and grandparents
- Bride with groom plus her grandparents
- Bride with groom plus the bride’s immediate family – mother, father, siblings and potential spouses and their children
This also applies to the groom.
As with many of today’s weddings, there can be divorces on either side of the family. This is natural. A professional, experienced wedding photographer will look to get a clear picture of this as early as possible.
So different combinations will need to be made. It’s a great idea to make your list and specify this beforehand. The organisation is something the photographer will be an expert at, so there is no need to stress about it.
Suppose you want memorable photos for other people such as godparents, for example. In that case, the best time to do this is right after your family photos.
We know that not everyone can or will come to the reception. Therefore, it’s never a bad idea when you send your wedding invites to follow-up with people you want these memorable photos with to confirm and ask them.
See photographers can make you think of things you may not have thought of when you’re so busy on other necessities!
CEREMONY DETAILS PLUS YOUR VENUE
Ideal Time Allowance:
Usually, look to allow around 20-25 minutes completely set-up without guests in the area.
Your wedding photographer will look to capture the ceremony site scene at it’s very best, so this should take place before the guests are seated.
In general, outdoor ceremonies are at their best for photography and videography 1-2 hours before sunset. When the sunlight is falling, there are numerous opportunities. It falls on you both, and the use of negative space at this moment without harsh shadows can be spectacular.
The couple’s session is included in this and is a vital shoot of the day. If it ended up raining you may want to have switched to what I said about ‘THE FIRST LOOK!’ If, not then everyone hopes for colourful skies during sunset for a beautiful outcome.
Just a reminder, even the most unemotional of your bridal party need to smile for the camera!
With a church wedding, it’s nerve-wracking for the bridesmaids. All you need to let them know is keep the bouquets waist-high as your wedding photographer needs to get all the faces in the picture.
For the ‘Couples Session’ this should be done 1-hour before sunset.
Timing is everything on your wedding day – preparation is also. These are your best friend. Try to put everything together as far in advance as you can with your wedding photographer, then you are on a winning formula. It’s the first step towards realising weddings days don’t have to be as stressful as they appear. Good luck!
Michael Gane is a professional wedding photographer Bath, with over 25 years of experience. He has worked with leading brands such as Disney, HELLO Magazine, Sky Sports, and Sky.
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