Planning a wedding day.
Typical wedding day timeline
“in the beginning there was time, Now time is just the beginning
Time is always starting but is never ending, Give me a camera and I can freeze time”
Quote: by John Price Photography
I thought the best way I could write this post is to talk about myself and how I like to approach each and every wedding and the reasons why. I shall talk you through my day from start to finish allowing you to see how much time would normally be given.
Shortly after booking, I meet with all my clients for a consultation discussing all there wedding plans and any ideas they may have. By the time I leave we would have created a timeline giving structure to the day. You do not want a day of chaos not knowing what and when things will be happening.
In this example I shall assume the couple is getting married in June at 1:30pm, the bride is getting ready at the venue. The ceremony is a civil ceremony.
This is what a typical 1:30 wedding timeline would look like. I shall describe a little more below each section.
10:00 Bridal preparations.
Upon arrival I would visit the bride and say hello to everyone, I would start on photographing the wedding dress, the shoes, flowers (if they have arrived) and everything in between, as well of course as the mayhem of the morning and everything in between.
11:30 Venue shots.
At some point in the morning there will be time where I will be able to leave for half an hour. This is where I will then introduce myself to the staff and your wedding planner. I will also scout the venue, even if it is one I have covered several times before. (things change) As well as all this I would photograph the venue from the outside front and back maybe even the ceremony room if it is ready.
11:30 Where is the sun?
During this time I will also be looking at where I would like to take the group family photos. This is where I will check the position of the sun for around the time when they will be planned. The last thing I would want is for everyone to be looking into the sun Squinting. So careful planning will be carried out.
12:00 Return to bride
This is where I would check on the bride and bridesmaids and see how everything is coming along, Maybe even get everyone together in there brides and bridesmaids dressing gowns.
12:30 Arrival of groom and grooms men
An hour before the ceremony, I would expect the arrival of the groom with his grooms men. This is also a perfect time for the bride and bridesmaids to be getting dressed. I don’t need to be there while everyone is getting undressed so this is where I will go back out and await the grooms men. I will be there waiting to capture there arrival. Chances are they will need to have there buttonholes putting on
, Yes the chances are, it will be myself who will be putting these on the men. Once all ready we shall go for some casual relaxed photos of all the groomsmen.
12:45 Arrival of guests
Guests always like to be early, This is where I can get some candid shots of the guests arriving.
1:00 Back with the Bride.
The bridal party will have all had chance to get dressed and so now time for me to capture some beautiful images of the bride in her dress, I also like to mock some images up of the bridesmaids pretending to fasten or lace up the brides dress. This is when we also allow the father of the bride to enter the room and see his daughter for the first time in her dress. I am always poised and ready to capture and freeze frame that emotion. There will also be time to capture the bride with her parents and with the bridesmaids.
1:10 Groom meets with registrar
Nothing for me to do here as this is a private meeting between the Groom and the registrars. It is all about confirming your personal details and a few questions.
1:20 Bride meets with registrar
Nothing for me to do here as this is a private meeting. At this point I make my way into the ceremony room, dial in all the right settings on my cameras and capture some of the family and guests along with an anxious groom waiting.
The full ceremony will be captured from the bride walking down the isle and the groom turning to take his first look, to the readings, the exchange of rings and the Kiss. Towards the end of the ceremony we shall mock up the signing of the register as it is forbidden to take photographs of the actual signing of the register. WHY!.. It is because the register will contain confidential information, names, addresses, date of births, parents details, maiden names etc.. all of which could be photographed in great detail and used in fraud.
2:00 Welcome Drinks
Or as the Americans would call it, Cocktail hour. From here on, time will be of the essence, the venue will be expecting you to be seated for dinner later and meanwhile your photographer is expected to work miracles and provide ever lasting memories in less time than it will take you to eat your meal. For this reason the welcome drinks will last around 15 minutes, just enough time for everyone to have a glass in there hands.
2:15 Traditional family / group photos
I shall announce to your guests that they are all invited to step outside for the family group photos. This will typically include a photo of everyone in attendance along with individual family shots and other combinations that I would have established before hand.
Guests do not like having to wait around for hours on end for photos, not knowing if they are required or not, They like to chat, eat and drink, not bossed around. For this reason (and to keep the time line flowing) I like to take no more than 30 minutes on your group photos. Keeping everyone happy.
2:45 Private photo session.
This is where I like to take the Bride & groom away for some beautiful photos. This is called a private photo session simply because it is just myself with the bride and groom away from all the guests. This will be the first chance the couple will have had to have a breather and take it all in. Forget about posing,this is all natural with a little help of me setting the scene.
With the bride and groom in position, I am capturing that first look as man and wife, that first smile and giggle, the holding of the hands and the twiddling of the rings, the kiss of joy and happiness. This is true unforced emotion being captured before me. Beautiful.
The session will continue taking in various landscapes, backdrops and features inside and outside of the venue.
( If time is restricted on the private photo session then time for that true emotion will never happen, the photos will be rushed, your photographer would not have time to maybe capture all the locations they would like to use. ) i would normally request an hour but at a push get away with 45 minutes.
3:45 Photograph the reception.
Time for the bride and groom to arrive back to there guests, meanwhile a chance for me to photograph the reception room, Table center pieces, The cake, etc. This will only actually take 5 minutes.
3:50 Guests to be announced in
Your guests will be announced in to take there seats ready for the speeches / wedding breakfast (Wedding breakfast is another american term which we have adopted, it basically means this is your first meal as a married couple and thus called breakfast)
4:00 Bride and Groom Announced.
Ladies and Gentleman, please be upstanding and welcome your bride and groom the new Mr & Mrs…… Your wedding breakfast will average around an hour and 45 minutes leaving half an hour free for the speeches. Of course it is up to you if you prefer speeches first or after the meal.
6:15 Turn around (Contingency plan)
Typically, most reception venues will hold your evening function in the same room as your meal in which case they will need time to tidy up after the meal, move tables around, create space for a dance floor, replace table clothes etc.. meanwhile your guests will be typically enjoying the outdoor sunshine or in another bar area.
** Top Tip **
I always build contingency time into my plans, What would happen if it rained during the afternoon at the scheduled private photo session? Having this time available while the room is turned around can be used as a backup contingency plan. Quite often, if it rains during the day, you can bet it will turn out nice come the evening.
There has been many of times I have sat at home in the evening having rained all day and said to my wife, Look at the weather now.. Best part of the day.. (Evening contingency time)
** Double Top Tip **
However.. Please do not actually plan photos for this time of the day.
Let us imagine you wanted more time at your welcome drinks session and planned to do the family photos after the meal while the room is being turned around ! Now imagine that it is poring with rain.. Now What!… You would have wished you had done them earlier when it was beautiful outside.
So stick to the plan that your photographer recommends and do not try to steer from it. They would have planned and covered hundreds of weddings and will know what is best.
7:00 Evening guests
Invite your evening guests to arrive around from this time, this allows plenty of time to welcome them.
8:00 Cutting of the cake / Throwing the Bouquet / First Dance
Your final traditions should take place once your evening guests have arrived, allow them to witness something from your special day.
It always flows nicely with these 3 elements following on from each other. Starting with the cutting of the cake, followed by the throwing of the bouquet if required. I always work with the DJ on this one, put a little beyonce’ on playing “All you single ladies, All you single ladies..”,Once the bouquet has been tossed the groom will join his wife on the dance floor for the first song. Some brides like to then follow this up with a father and daughter dance.
The evening party, be it a DJ or band can not start and get into full swing until you have had your first dance so delaying this any longer just prolongs the day for everyone, Let them get up and party..
Optional Evening Twilight Photo Shoot
If time allows and depending upon the time of year (ie. gets darker later in summer than in winter) why not pop out and have a twilight mini photo session and capture a beautiful sunset or just the beautiful ambient lighting of your venue grounds, Trust me your photographer will have plenty of ideas. This shot will take no more than ten minutes so is great to do just after the first dance and then you can arrive back and party!
This is the end of all your traditions. Time to get them dance floor flip flops on and boogie the night away.