The best wedding day schedule for a relaxed day

I’ve photographed hundreds of weddings, and have worked out the best wedding day schedule to make sure you have a relaxed and fun day.

Getting ready

The excitement begins! Getting ready can take longer than you expect, so ask your make up artist when they need to start. I usually start shooting a couple of hours before your ceremony, which should be enough time to capture the end of your hair and make up being done, plus all the giddy excitement of the morning.

Leaving for the venue

Aim to arrive 15-20 minutes before the ceremony, as the registrar needs to have a quick chat. Tell your guests to arrive 30 minutes early – you don’t want stragglers.

The ceremony

Non church ceremonies are over pretty quickly, so soak it all in. I’m not kidding, they’re quick. Take your time walking up the aisle, enjoy it! After the ceremony, it’s a great idea to do confetti as you walk down the aisle or outside the venue as you leave. Hang back and I’ll organise a confetti aisle. These can be some of the most fun photos of the day so remember to smile/laugh/spit confetti out your mouth.

east quay confetti

Reception

After the ceremony it’s nice to have a couple of hours to chat, relax and have some food. Cutting the cake and serving it with tea saves money on canapés and means the cake actually gets eaten – drunk guests don’t eat cake! Make sure you give your guests drinks and food because it’s likely they’ve not had lunch. This is the point in the day when I get a lot of my candid guest photos.

Portraits

You’ll want to greet guests after the ceremony, so we’ll do the portraits later (unless it’s a winter wedding, in which case we can do them before the ceremony). This can take as much or little time as we like. We’ll play it by ear, but save 20 minutes. Check what time the sun sets and schedule 15 mins for some golden hour shots.

Group photos

I do groups right before dinner so it doesn’t break up the party. I usually do around six groups. Any more and you’ll never want to smile again. It usually takes 20-30 minutes. After this (if you want) we’ll do a big group photo of everyone, then while I have a captive audience, I’ll shout that dinner’s ready.

Dinner (or wedding breakfast as fancy people call it)

Save 1.5 hours for dinner (depending on courses). During this time I love to sit with guests for dinner – being part of the wedding is how I get the candid shots you love! Remember to eat something yourselves – a lot of couples don’t seem to get a chance as everyone wants a piece of them!

Speeches

Doing speeches before dinner gets them out of the way, but they often overrun, which caterers hate. Between courses is an option but if I’m not in the room for dinner I may miss them (another reason I like to join you). After dinner is great because guests will pay attention rather than thinking about food. Allow at least 15 minutes per speaker.

After dinner

This is a good time for sunset photos in summer and chillout time for your guests. In winter it’s totally ok to jump straight into the dancing (after a Nice Cup of Tea). A photobooth is a good way of getting people in a party mood. Once the sun goes down, that’s when the party starts. I don’t recommend the band or starting until it’s dark, otherwise no one will dance, or even be in the room.

First dance

The first dance might feel awkward but often a dancefloor won’t get going until you dance yourselves – people are surprisingly polite! A shuffle will do the job. The first dance is the opposite of the ceremony – 3 minutes feels like 3 hours. You’ve got this!

Evening

It’s a great idea to get a food truck or a buffet in the evening. Guests will start to get hungry again – this keeps them happy! To get people dancing, ask them to RSVP with their favourite song to dance to. Don’t end the night too late, or you’ll end up with a room with just a few people in, which can feel a bit sad after a day surrounded by lots of people. You could even duck out a little early yourselves while the party is still going, so you leave on a high.

If you want a photographer who can help you with all this stuff and knows their shit, get in touch!

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