Getting the most out of your photography and tips on how to have a more enjoyable wedding day. 

No one wants to spend their wedding day feeling rushed! With some planning and organisation, it will be so beneficial. Weddings are fast paced. Ask any photographer and any couple who have been married and they'll tell you the day absolutely flew by! And it does. Why? Because they are BUSY! There's a lot on the agenda. You could say some are downright chaotic which unfortunately can cause unnecessary stress on a couple. The chaotic ones I find are where the couple has left it too late to be ready, didn't have a backup ceremony plan for wet weather or are expecting too much to be crammed into an unrealistic timeframe. I've seen timelines set out at 3 minute intervals, crazy! I never want my couples to feel their day is regimented, but if the ceremony is an hour late, then that just ate into your location portrait time. This is not only about getting great photos but so you can thoroughly enjoy this day. Most couples plan their wedding over 2 years in advance. There's a lot of pressure for one day to be the best it can. 

By understanding how long things take, your day will be so much more pleasant and memorable. With over ten years of shooting weddings, I have found that the most enjoyable weddings for me and more importantly the couple are the ones where they have prioritised their photography by being ready on time, they followed a realistic time schedule, co-ordinated all vendors and allowed enough time between ceremony and reception to get beautiful photos. 

When hiring a photographer, you want to know they are going to take the best images they can, photos of all the details you've worked so hard to put together, whether it be your dress, jewellery, shoes, flowers, you've hired a decorator to put together something amazing, photos of your guests, and lots of candid moments. I have a pretty thorough list of shots I know my couples will expect memorised. I've been shooting for a long time so it's second nature however it all comes down to not only how efficient I am as a photographer, but it also comes down to you and what you can do to help make sure these shots come to life. 


for a groom

Things you can do:

Have all your accessories together - the rings, buttonholes, bouquets, cufflinks, gifts you may have given your tribe (engraved mugs, special socks, that type of thing). 

Keep the main living area clean. You don't want empty bottles and rubbish in the back of your shots, give it a quick tidy before the photographer arrives. I prefer to shoot outside but if there is nowhere suitable, inside might be essential so a clear space is great. 

Make sure you and your bridal party KNOW what time the photographer is arriving. I tell all my couples when to expect me, but you would be surprised how many times I've turned up and there are groomsmen missing, and/or they haven't even showered! Ahhh! I've had one missing because he was on his morning run, that's commitment and hats off to this fella but mate you have a job. 

I prefer everyone here to be completely dressed in their suits when I arrive. It's so much more efficient and less time for you to be in front of the camera. After I leave, change your clothes if it's still a couple hours before ceremony.  If it's hot, you don't want to be sitting around in suits or spill anything on them. Your partner won't be too happy if you turn up with sauce on your tux! 

TIES!! This is the main thing I see people struggle with and an hour can be wasted trying to put them on. A lot of people do not wear ties, so it makes sense they have no clue how to put them on. Please practise before the day. I'm good at buttonholes but not a tie. Have your suit supplier give you a lesson.  

Tell your parents what time the photographer will be here and what time the photographer is leaving. I think most parents would love professional photos of them with their child on their special day. I know I'm going to be this Mum if my child gets married, it's such a proud moment! If this isn't an option at this time, it's not compulsory, plenty of time for photos with Mum and Dad at the ceremony. 

Most importantly - if you are having a beverage at this time, I love a shot of everyone having a cheers. 


The getting ready photos

Usual time I spend here is approximately 45 minutes. 

TIP: I have seen a few people not know they are having buttonholes until they turn up on the day. They often stare at me blankly because they have no idea how to put them on. I do not mind helping here because I'm the only one available, however this takes me away from shooting. When purchasing buttonholes, have your florist show you how to put them on because some are quite a challenge. Same with cufflinks - if you've never worn them, have a practise before the day. 

For a bride

the getting ready photos

My take on this part - I'd rather get more photos of a bride completely made up than a heap of shots with rollers in her hair.  If you're having a videographer this is something they like to get footage of.  I don't mind getting a couple of shots though but generally I make my arrival time when you should be on the tail end of your hair and make-up. I'll get shots of your accessories and by the time I'm finished that, your hair and make- up is completed. 

Things the bride or her tribe can do to help get the best shots:

Minimise clutter where possible. Perhaps choose one room where you can put things out of the way quickly. Whenever I get to any location the first thing I do is look for a spot where I will take most of the photos. I don't expect you to know where that is. If there is a room without a lot of clutter and lots of natural light that is nice and fresh, that will be the room I'll likely use. It may be the main living area and often as mentioned above the kitchen is part of this. A quick tidy before I arrive goes a long way. You don't need to be mopping floors rather just clearing off benches. The less clutter the better. 

Have all your accessories together: jewellery, including engagement ring, special perfume you're wearing, shoes, flowers (generally they are kept in water, you can leave them in there, I'll take them out when I need them), your dress hanging up. I don't expect you to know the spot to hang it because I can change that. Just having it out of the bag and tags cut off.
If you have a special hanger, make sure the dress is on it. It can sometimes take around 40 minutes for the detail's shots. 

Your bridesmaids should all be completely ready by the time I arrive in terms of hair and makeup. Not necessarily dressed in their dresses, lots of brides have some pretty robes for them and their girls (or guys!) and it's nice to get photos of this. I would have given you a time I'd like your hair and make up to be finished by and this is what you should tell your hair and make up artist. It's always best to be early. Your makeup is not going to wear off. Professional makeup lasts. Usually I want the bride to be completely ready 1.5 hours before the ceremony depending on how far she is from the ceremony location. 

After some photos in the robes, it's time to get dressed. Zips are the easiest. The bridesmaids can get dressed first and then help the bride. Buttons take time and it's easier if you have a crochet hook. Often acrylic nails make it hard for mums or bridesmaids to do them up so it's easier with a hook. 

Tie Up Dresses. Very important that someone knows how to do it up correctly. I have so many brides who say 'it just doesn't feel as good as when the lady in the shop did it'. If it's your Mum or Maid of Honour, get them to practise on you before the day. A couple of times if possible. It's a shame to miss out on beautiful portraits because it took an hour to put the dress on. This can also make the bride feel stressed because she knows she's running over time. I really don't like seeing my brides get upset on their special day. 

Immediate family is important and it's nice for them to be here for photos with the bride: Mum, Dad, siblings, it may not always be possible and that's fine. There will be plenty of opportunities after ceremony so don't worry too much about this. 

Bridesmaid Dresses: If the bridesmaids are wearing the dresses that can be worn multiple ways, make sure they know the style they are wearing before the day. 

I like to minimise anything going wrong on my end on a wedding day, so my system is to be at the ceremony location half an hour before it's due to start. Often ceremonies can be at locations where parking is lacking so I need to not only find a spot but to unload all my gear. With some packages which didn't include the other partner at their getting ready location, this is where I'll do these photos, before the ceremony. 

As I leave earlier than the girls and now that everyone is ready, they can gather themselves, use the bathroom, maybe have a drink, a quick touch up and they're not feeling rushed before they leave for the ceremony. 

Make sure you let your bridal party know what is expected from them. If you have certain jobs you would like your bridesmaids to do, let them know. Don't assume they know. Many have never been a bridesmaid before and this is all new to them. 
I've seen many brides get frustrated with their bridal party but it's up to you to convey your expectations beforehand. You don't need to bark orders, but a simple 'would you mind fluffing my dress' or 'helping me with my shoes'. I generally encourage giving me the contact details of one of your bridesmaids on the off chance I need to call. 

I'm generally with a bride for 1.5 - 2 hours


Things you can do: 

If your ceremony is outdoor have a wet weather back up plan. Make sure your guests know where this new location will be. Often it's at the reception location. Please don't 'wing' it. It's very stressful on a rainy day to try and come up with a back up ceremony plan. Not only that, you need to get this information out to your guests. Your decorator also needs plenty of notice so they can create something special. 

Don't be too late to your ceremony. Ten minutes is sufficient. I've had brides over half an hour late and this means less couple and bridal party photos as that is where the time has to be caught up. It's important your reception starts on time because the kitchen is cooking meals for many people and they can't let them sit. 

If you're having a 3pm ceremony my recommendation is to have your invite say 2.45pm. It never ceases to amaze me how many people will turn up right on 3pm or even a few minutes after. Totally understand things happen, traffic jams etc. No bride wants guests running past her as she's walking down the aisle and believe me I've seen it happen so if you say 15 minutes earlier - you can be 5-10 minutes fashionably late and by that time, all your guests should be there. 

Leave a good amount of time between your ceremony time and your reception time. Unfortunately this is where a lot of couples go wrong because they think 20 minute ceremony and then straight off for photos right? Not so. Let me explain. 

Let's say your 3pm ceremony goes till 3.30pm. The newlyweds walk back down the aisle and then all of your guests would like to offer their congratulations and rightly so! I was a bride too and I know I'd be very disappointed if my photographer dragged me away without letting my Mum, my Nan, my new in laws and the rest of my family and friends hug me and say congratulations. This is a big moment and I never want to take my couples away from that. I also love getting photos of these moments. Some of my most treasured images is during this part.  After the congratulations are said, we begin to snap those all important family photos and depending if you would like to go beyond immediate family, we may need a little extra time here too. My rule of thumb is a little over an hour for ceremony, guest congratulations and family photos. If we are driving to another location that is ten minutes away, by the time we load everyone in cars, it's probably 4.30pm before we start shooting the bride and groom and bridal party. I like at least an hour here, so that's 5.30pm. You'd love me to get photos of the reception room all set up before all the guests come in and by the time we get back and I get to the room - it could be nearly 6pm. Maybe 10-15 minutes for me to do my thing, guests enter at 6.15pm and bridal party at around 6.30pm. 

If your ceremony and reception is all at the one location I generally suggest at 2 to a 2.5 hour gap. Times can also be adjusted if you have a very small guest list, obviously things aren't going to take as long. Adjust according to your locations. If there is no bridal party, you can save time there too. This is to help as a guide - each wedding is different but it gives an idea of the general procedure of a wedding day. 

I often hear couples say 'we don't want to keep our guests waiting'. Let me say this. 
This is your day and friends and family understand that the couple have photos after the ceremony. Most of the time they go and have some drinks and canap├ęs and have a catch up and are enjoying each others company. Many people are simply loving the fact that you invited them to share your special day and feel very happy to be there. Some are parents who are having a break from the kids. This is rarely an issue. 


What you can do: First and foremost, immerse yourself in a great time! My images look heaps better when people are happy! Talk to your guests, work the room, don't worry about me, I'll be off quietly snapping away. 

MC: If you're not hiring a professional MC, please make sure your chosen MC knows the importance of keeping as close to time with formalities as possible. The venue is under so much pressure to cook beautiful meals and they are working to times they are given. The MC is the one who runs the night and ensures that it goes smoothly. A professional MC is recommended but I totally understand the need to make it more personal and many couples know instantly which one of their family or friends would make the perfect MC. An MC will liaise with the venue, check that everything is on time and will know to give the photographers a warning when the next formality is up. For the speeches, cake cutting or first dance, I usually have a light to set up and a quick word by the MC gives me time to get ready. Different formalities can require a lens change too. 

Table Photos: If you want to get photos with each table of guests: This is something I will only do at the start of the evening and the reason is it's the only time everyone is seated. If you would like table photos, don't have your entree's come out as soon as you are announced in and let the venue know you are doing these. They will then know to give you 10 minutes before they start bringing out entree's. 

My suggestion is to get your formalities done earlier on in the evening and don't drag them out for most of the night. This ensures there is plenty of time to mingle and dance. As I said in the beginning, the day really does fly by and I always feel a little sorry for the couples who's formalities took way longer than they should have and who are left with only an hour of dancing before they are told that their time is up. In terms of speeches, some people absolutely love the microphone and although I love a funny, heartfelt speech, I've had a speech go on for 45 minutes! It's too long, your guests get restless and quite often a little bored. Your speakers must be aware of their time limits - especially if the speeches are between entree's and mains. 

Sunset Photos: Often the best light is when the reception is underway. If you're at a location where an epic night time or sunset shot might be a possibility, have a 15 minute time slot in your run sheet. This might be after you've eaten your main and you can duck outside. I discuss this with my couples and it depends on the time of year and the weather on the day.

My approach to your reception: If you opted to do table photos, after we do this, I don't drag my couples around during their reception. You've spent some time in front of the camera by this stage and I truly believe this is your time to relax. I'm there to capture candids, couple or friends photos, the speeches, the cake, first dance and party dancing. What you can do here is laugh and have fun and I'll be doing my thing capturing you having the best time of your lives. 

If you've made it this far, thanks for reading. 
Hope this helps make your day memorable for all the right reasons.