This is some general advice which to help with planning your wedding day photography, but remember - your wedding day is about you and your partner.Everything else is important, but ancillary.Do what you want.
If you are having photos taken of the bride’s preparations, please make sure you allow plenty of time for the hairstylist and makeup artist to finish their work before you have to leave for the ceremony. You’ll need at least half an hour to 45 minutes once everyone’s ready for all those lovely bride and bride with bridesmaids images (when everyone looks their freshest and everyone’s hair is perfect) before you have to leave for the ceremony.
Before your photographer arrives you should make sure the room is reasonably tidy and remove anything you would not want to appear in the photographs - there’s only so much I can photoshop out!
Prep time can be stressful, so try to cut the crowd down and just have the really important people there.
I will do plenty of detail shots during this time, so make sure you have all those beautiful items that you’ve spent so much time selecting easily available. This will include your dress, veil, shoes, perfume, bouquets, the rings (engagement and wedding), jewellery, wedding invitations and anything else that is important to you.
If you have a strapless dress, remember to remove your bra several hours beforehand so that you don’t have pressure marks from the straps.
It is really worth arranging for a professional makeup artist to do your makeup. Experienced wedding makeup artists know exactly which style and type of makeup photographs best. It’s important to have a hair and makeup trial to make sure you are 100% happy with the result. You can also arrange an engagement shoot on the day of your makeup trial so you can see how it will look in your photographs. And please avoid glitter on your face or in your hair as it doesn’t photograph well!
The timing of your ceremony is one of the key things for your wedding photography.The quality of the light is so important at all stages of your wedding day.Keeping in mind that the best time for your location photos is the hour before sunset (it’s known as ‘the golden hour’ for good reason!), work backwards from sunset time on your wedding day.Allow at least an hour for location photos (this will depend on how far away the locations are so you may have to factor in a little more time for travel), then 30 minutes for family portraits and approximately 30 minutes for the ceremony itself.So as a general rule, your ceremony should be about two to two and a half hours (plus travel time) before sunset.And try not to arrange to enter your reception before sunset.
The light during your ceremony itself is also very important.If you are getting married outside or on the beach it is worth looking into hiring a beautiful covered archway or arbour for you to stand under.This not only protects you from the sun, but it makes a lovely backdrop and also ensures even lighting on your faces which is great for your photos.Full shade under a big tree is fine, harsh shadows and dappled shade are a photographer’s nightmare!I’m always happy to meet up with you at your chosen ceremony location and give you some suggestions to ensure the best possible lighting on the day.
Some of my favourite shots from a wedding day is the bride and groom’s walk back down the aisle after the ceremony, especially when the guests are throwing rose petals.This is really worth considering and your florist can usually supply the rose petals.
Consider having an ‘unplugged’ ceremony. This is when you ask your celebrant to request that your guests put away their cameras and cellphones during the ceremony itself and connect and be present with what is happening in front of them, instead of looking at the back of a screen. There will be plenty of time for them to take photos afterwards!
If you are getting married in a church, double check if the minister allows photography during the ceremony. Most are happy to have the photographer there as long as they don’t get in the way (which I never do!), but there are exceptions.
It is a good idea to make a list beforehand of which family groups you want photographed. Arrange for someone (eg your MC or a groomsman) who is familiar with both families to round up people for each group shot (eg bride’s parents, groom’s family etc). That way the bride and groom don’t have to run around trying to locate various family members.
For your location photography shoot after the ceremony, as mentioned before the best light for these photographs is the hour before sunset. It is best to arrange for your location shoot, which is usually just for the bride and groom and the bridal party (if you have one), to take place away from the rest of the wedding guests. This should be a relaxing time for the couple between the ceremony and the reception, a time to enjoy each other and have some fun.
While it’s not always possible, the ideal scenario is to have the bridal party present for the first half hour or so, and then let them rejoin the wedding guests while the bride and groom have some time alone with the photographer.
One important thing to remember - your dress is probably going to get dirty. Those magical shots of couples strolling through beautiful fields of long grass or vineyards or spectacular mountain backdrops don’t happen without dodging the odd muddy puddle or cow pat! Even the sand on what looks like a clean beach will leave dirty marks on the bottom of your dress. Somebody will probably spill or wipe something on your dress anyway during the day, so if you accept that you’ll be sending your dress to the dry cleaner afterwards, you will feel much less stressed when the inevitable happens. (A baby wipe usually works perfectly to remove smaller marks - I usually have a stock in my camera bag - and of course there’s always the magic of photoshop if necessary!).
On that subject, if you are wearing heels and your location photos are on the beach or in the countryside, pack some pretty flat shoes for yourself (and your bridesmaids).
I’ll always try to arrange to meet up with a couple in the week before their wedding day so we can discuss timings, check on the ceremony venue and visit various locations if necessary, so we can check on light, accessibility, weather forecasts, tide times etc and are fully prepared for the day.
With an evening reception, please make sure you don’t plan to enter the reception before sunset if possible. This is my favourite website to check on sunset time for your wedding day :
If you’ve booked a package with half an hour of reception coverage, you can often fit in your cake cutting and even your first dance if you want coverage of those formalities.
With full reception coverage, try and schedule your first dance for fairly soon after dessert has been served, as I find that lots of elderly guests tend to leave shortly after the meal has finished. Allow yourself a little time alone together on the dance floor before inviting the bridal party up - it’s a time that the two of you should enjoy alone together and can make for some beautiful photos.
Finally and most importantly - please remember to enjoy your day!Weddings can be stressful, and things will go wrong – they always do. Try not to stress over the small stuff, but enjoy the day as it unfolds.Be happy. Smile. Try to slow things down and enjoy all the moments. But most importantly, enjoy the company of your new husband/wife. Happiness + fun + love = beautiful wedding photos