Planning time for pictures on your wedding day is an important part of the wedding planning process. Each couple’s preference is different – some like to have lots of portraits and others would rather not be away from their guests for too long. Either way it’s good to have an understanding of how long things usually take so you can work out how to schedule your wedding photos.
However, this is just a rough guide. Don’t be surprised if you feel differently on the day! On my wedding day, I’d scheduled photos at sunset and sparkler pictures in the evening. We had the most perfect sunset but everyone was on the dance floor and I was having an amazing time so we only went out for five minutes when the band took a break. We decided against sparkler pictures because everyone was having such a good time and we didn’t want to disrupt the evening. I don’t regret not doing those photos at all, I have great pictures of us all on the dance floor and that’s how I want to remember it! It all comes down to what’s right for you on the day.
Some photographers like to plan lots of group portraits of the bridal party and close family members during bridal prep although I rarely do. This part of the day can often be full of emotion, whether it be happy tears or nerves and doesn’t feel like the right time to be posing for too many pictures…especially if things are running late. If there’s time for one or two then great!
I usually recommend aiming to get dressed around an hour before the ceremony – longer if you have to consider travel time – because getting into the dress and hair and makeup finishing touches can often take longer than you think. I do like to take a few minutes where possible to get a couple of portraits of the bride in some beautiful light. This is the perfect time to do it as your make up will be freshly applied and there won’t be a hair out of place!
Most of the photos I take during the ceremony are completely documentary. There are occasionally a couple of posed pictures whilst signing the register which has to be set up because the real register can’t be photographed.
Confetti usually follows shortly after the ceremony so it’s worth checking with the officiant if there are any restrictions. Sometimes they ask everyone to move outside and often only biodegradable confetti can be used. It’s important that there’s a lot of natural light for these pictures so, if you’re unsure, feel free to contact me and I can give you some alternative suggestions if necessary.
Formal group portraits can take longer than you think but I have a few ways of ensuring you get all the family photos you need whilst not taking up too much time on the big day. I usually schedule them just after the ceremony so, once they’re done, your friends and family can relax and enjoy the rest of the drink’s reception.
It’s important to make a list of all the group photos you want to get ahead of time. This ensures none of your must have photos are forgotten and it also gives your photographer a rough idea of how much time you’ll need during the reception. I always reorder the list so people are away from their friends and family for the shortest amount of time possible and usually have a couple of ushers who know a lot of the guests to help me gather people together.
If you’re unsure about how many group photos you’d like then I’d suggest writing them all down and putting your must haves in bold. I always get these photos first so if you decide on the day that you’d rather have more time with your guests and fewer formal photos, we know the most important ones are done.
Large group photos of everyone can take a good 10 – 15 minutes so that’s worth bearing in mind when working out how to schedule your wedding photos. Large groups work best either straight after the ceremony – before the drinks and canapes come out – or just before everyone is seated for the wedding breakfast. Large group photos of 50+ people only really work if the photographer can get high up. Due to the time involved and possible venue limitations it may be worth letting this shot go unless it’s really important to you.
Couples have different preferences about how long they’d like to spend doing portraits and I create a rough plan based on each couples’ individual requirements. I tend to break this part of the day up so you’re not away from your guests for too long and to give you more variety throughout your images. The best time to do couple portraits is dependent on several factors including the time of year, weather and light on the day so I always have a couple of back up plans in mind.
The best light is usually around sunset, so it’s a great idea to schedule some portrait time around then. I also like to include some nighttime pictures during blue hour to add variety to the final set of images.
Some couples prefer to have their speeches before the wedding breakfast but, from a photography point of view, it’s usually best to schedule them after the meal. This gives the photographers plenty of time to analyse the light in the room and set up additional lighting if necessary. The limited amount of time between the ceremony and the meal is usually taken up with portraits, documentary style pictures of guests and details of the reception room. It’s also a good idea to allow extra time for speeches as they often last longer than you think.
Some venues require the room to be turned around for the first dance which is an important consideration when working out how to schedule your wedding photos. This usually coincides with sunset so it’s a great time to pop out for five minutes to get some amazing portraits.
SPARKLERS AND FIREWORKS
If you’re looking to have sparklers or fireworks, blue hour is a great time to do it. This is just after the sun has set and the orange sky has disappeared. During blue hour it’s dark enough to see the sparklers but it’s also light enough to see everyone clearly which makes for much better photos.
If you have any other tips about how to schedule your wedding photos, please comment below! To see some more of my work you can view my portfolio page.