I often find that time is limited at weddings, so I thought I would write a brief guide on timings and things to consider when planning your special day. This is just a guide; so if your timings don't quite meet these recommendations please don't panic! At the end of the day, no matter how short the time is, I will always remain fun, friendly, polite and professional. I will always use what time we have wisely, and make the most of any given situation!
Starting at the very beginning, coverage of the bridal preparations usually commences 2 hours before the ceremony. On arrival, I will shoot a mixture of detail shots, such as the dress, shoes and flowers etc. I will also shoot plenty of 'fly on the wall' shots of the general goings on, hair and make up etc. It is worth bearing in mind that I have to leave 30 minutes ahead of the bride, so if you are looking to have any bridal portraits or groups at this point, it is recommended that everyone is ready in time to allow for this.
Once at the church or venue, I will arrange some shots with the groom, best man and ushers before the bride arrives. I will also be looking to capture candid shots of guests arriving at this point too. I will then photograph the bride's arrival, and providing permission is granted, the ceremony itself. It is worth pointing out that I never use flash or cause any distractions during the wedding ceremony or while signing the register.
After the ceremony, I recommend allowing 90 minutes for your main wedding photographs to be taken. If you are having more than one location, allow additional time for travel and parking. If you are having a receiving line, then allow extra time for this too. Most venues allocate 90 minutes before the wedding breakfast, which is ideal, but this doesn't allow for scenarios such as the bride arriving late and the ceremony being delayed, or them calling your guests in early to be seated. Often couples will land up with only 60 minutes or less to play with, so it's a good idea to ask your venue if there is any flexibility on the day. The old saying that time flies when you are having fun, certainly applies to weddings!
The order in which the photographs are taken will vary from one wedding to the next, but at some point I like to allow couples 30 minutes to grab a drink and mingle with their guests. Not only do couples appreciate this, it is an ideal time for me to get all 'journalistic' capturing some of those natural moments that make such great photos.
Most couples will want some group photographs with family and friends, so I recommend allowing 30 minutes for this. Each one will take a few minutes to arrange and shoot, larger groups or those that include small children will often take a bit longer. The key point is to keep it simple. I have what I call the essential selection, which consists of the happy couple with everyone, parents, families, bridesmaids, best man & ushers and friends. This selection can be done in half an hour, and covers the bride and groom with all of the key people.
Once the groups are done, it's then time to capture some stunning shots of the happy couple by themselves. I will generally use a variety of locations for these, and like to provide a good mixture of backgrounds and poses, so again allow another 30 minutes for this.
After the wedding breakfast and speeches, I will often sneak away with the bride and groom for just a few extra special shots prior to the first dance, making use of the lovely evening light for example. Generally timings are less important for the evening, as I will tend to shoot more natural candid shots in this time.
So to sum up, the thing to remember is that good photography takes time. Allow 30 minutes after the ceremony for groups, 30 minutes for natural shots (also known as documentary, unobtrusive, natural, informal, reportage or journalistic) and 30 minutes for couple portraits.
I have had the pleasure of working with many local wedding service providers in Sussex, as well as Surrey, London, Kent, Hampshire and beyond. Here are links to just a few of them as well as some wedding directories too.