“The more time you have, the less stressed you are, the better the photographs”
How to manage time on a wedding day…
Wedding days can be stressful, especially for the bride – in the morning, with hair and make-up to co-ordinate for the wedding party, getting into the wedding dress and fitting the veil and making sure that you have everything essential packed before you leave for the ceremony.
To ensure that your memories of this special day are fully captured you will also need to set time aside for photographs. At that time of the day, your hair is perfect, your make-up is perfect, your dress is perfect and that is the perfect time for bridal portraits, photographs with your parents and bridesmaids and any flower girls and page boys that are at the house.
In my experience, most people underestimate how long everything takes and that can make the last 30 minutes at home before you leave a bit of a panic. The last thing you need in the build up to your wedding ceremony is to feel flustered and stressed out.
I have been shooting weddings for 10 years and over this time I have developed a wedding day schedule that can be applied to any wedding and which allows plenty of time for the preparations, for photography and a bit of a breather before you leave.
All photographers have different priorities and ways of working, but I have found that this system ensures that all the photographs the bride has outlined get taken and my brides really appreciate having an organised timeline for their day.
Let’s look at The Morning first…
Bridal hair can take anything up to an hour and make-up usually takes around 45 minutes. You should request that your hairdresser to give you a realistic time estimate, based on how many bridesmaids you have. Don’t forget to include your mum in the timing as well. I recommend that the bride goes second or third for hair and make-up and we fit everyone else around her.
Allow yourself 30 to 40 minutes, after hair and make-up, to get into your wedding dress and veil. It may seem like a long time, but trust me, wedding dresses are fiddley to button or lace up, and veils can be tricky to fit properly. Ensure that your mum and one bridesmaid dressed and ready ahead of you, so that they can help you into your dress and look good in the photographs you being buttoned up.
By the time that the bride is ready for the Photographer, her parents, bridesmaids and any flower girls / pageboys who are at the house should be ready as well. If the bride wants any other family members in the photos at this point, they should also be ready.
I set aside 30 minutes for photographs in the house when everyone is ready and then I go to the church or ceremony location.
I like to arrive at the church 30 minutes before the ceremony is due to begin. I will have arranged for the groom, the grooms parents and groomsmen to be at the church waiting for me.
I will spend 10 to 15 minutes photographing the grooms party before the guests start arriving and then I will photograph the flowers and details in the church and introduce myself to the celebrant.
I recommend that brides arrive at the church or ceremony venue at the time that their ceremony is due to begin, if you arrive any earlier, nobody is ready for you!
By the time we have taken some photographs in the wedding car, got the bridesmaids lined up, started the music and had the procession down the aisle, it is usually 10 or 15 minutes after the official start time, which is perfect for everybody.
If you have an Irish catholic church wedding with 150 guests and you decide to have your formal family photographs at the church before you go to the hotel, it will take two and a quarter hours altogether.
If you have a one o’clock wedding, you will be leaving the church in your car at about 3.15. If you have more guests it will take a bit longer and if you have a civil ceremony, knock about 30 minutes off the time.
The location shoot…
This is my favourite part of the wedding day. All the stressful bits are over and now all you have to do is enjoy yourself.
We would decide in advance where and how long we want to stop for photographs on the way to the drinks reception, but ideally, I want to get you to your hotel for around 4.30 so that you can have an hour at your drinks reception with your guests before they ring the bell for dinner.
When we arrive back at the hotel, it’s nice for the couple to take a look at their dining room all laid out and ready for their guests. We usually take a shot with the wedding cake at this time as well.
When the venue rings the bell for dinner, the couple have around 20 -30 minutes before they are announced into the room, and that is a good time for a few relaxed photos in the bridal suite and it gives the couple the chance for a few minutes alone before they head down to dinner, the speeches and the dancing.
Sometimes couples have me stay on for the speeches and dancing after dinner. That would also include a creative night shoot somewhere in the grounds of the hotel after dinner and coverage for the first dance, but mostly, couples are happy for the photography to finish when their meal begins.
Here is a typical wedding schedule that I will have agreed with my couple and that we try and stick to throughout the day.
10.30 I arrive at The Brides house to begin the photography
11.00 The Bride’s hair and make up finished, mum and bridesmaid dressed and ready for photography
11.10 The Bride’s starts into her wedding dress, mum and bridesmaid assisting
11.40 The Bride + her parents, bridesmaids and flower girl dressed and ready for photography
12.10 I leave The Bride’s house and go to the Church
12.30 Photos at the Church with The Groom + his parents, groomsmen and pageboy
01.00 The Bride arrives and the ceremony begins
02.15 Greeting line with the guests after the ceremony
03.00 Formal family photographs at the church,
03.15 Leave Church and go to the location
04.10 Leave the location and go to the hotel
04.30 Arrive at hotel, photo with wedding cake and drinks reception casual photos with friends
05.30 Ring bell for dinner, photographs in the bridal suire
06.00 Enter dining room, speeches after the starter.
I hope that this post gives you an insight into how to manage time on a wedding day, if you would like any more info or a chat about your own wedding day, give me a call on 086 806 4613 or
I post a lot of my wedding photographs on my instagram page