Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Wedding tips: Wedding day schedule

It may seem a little overwhelming to figure out when to plan certain things on your wedding day.  I will let you know from a photographer's perspective what is ideal and leaves you time for all the pictures you want and won't make you feel stressed or rushed.

For temple weddings: If you will be doing all of the pictures after the ceremony, leave 2 hours between when you expect to be exiting the temple and when you would like to leave for the next event.  If you could do pictures before your sealing that would be nice and leave you more time afterwards so you can just do group photos and then go to your luncheon quicker.  This also gives you the unique opportunity to do a 'First Look' session.  At temple weddings there is not really a specific moment that the groom sees his bride in the dress for the first time (many don't even get married in their wedding dress) and a First Look gives you a chance to have that special moment recorded.  From experience I can say that it is pretty common for the bride and groom to exit later than they had expected, so planning in advance for that will give you plenty of wiggle room.  Temples generally allow photographers 20 minutes to use the steps (or other ideal group photograph spot), and photographers will move things along as quickly as possible to get as many photos taken in that time as they can.  After that, there should be enough time to get the obligatory temple shots as well as some creative and unique photos that really capture you as a couple and the feeling of that day.
The next event that usually takes place is a luncheon, which doesn't usually require much schedule planning from the photographer's perspective.  Again, just place it so that it is two hours after you expect to be exiting the temple plus however long it takes you to get there.
Finally, at the reception you want to plan on the whole thing being set up at least an hour before guests should be arriving.  This gives the photographer a chance to photograph all of those details you put so much hard work into without having people in the background of the photos.  I always love a wide shot of the whole reception that has no people in it, documenting exactly what your reception looked like.  If you are anything like I was, you will barely have time to really see what your reception looks like because you will be too caught up in enjoying the company of your friends and family.  My job as a photographer is to capture those memories for you, so long after you have forgotten those little moments, you can look back on your wedding photos and remember how you felt that day.  Don't be afraid to plan more group photos or formal pictures of the two of you before your reception.  Just make sure that you tell people to be there earlier than you need them (because someone is bound to have something happen that makes them late).  As the reception gets going, be sure that the photographer is given a heads up before the bouquet toss, garter throw, cake cutting, and/or first dance is going to happen, so that they have time to switch out their lenses and equipment if necessary.  Other than that the photographer just needs to know what time you will be exiting.  The rest of the time your photographer will be roaming the reception photographing away and recording all the things that happen there.

For traditional weddings:  Generally these happen in the afternoon/evening.  If there's any way you can have formal bride & groom pictures taken before your ceremony this is ideal.  If you feel like you want the moment he sees you in your dress to be a little more special talk to your photographer about a 'First Look' session that morning leading into a formals session.  Another great thing to do an hour before your ceremony is have group pictures taken.  Taking them before the ceremony will let you go straight from your wedding ceremony to visiting with guests, and flows much better than pulling people out after your ceremony for group photos.  If you want First Look, formals, and group pictures before the ceremony, try to start them 2 hours before and ask the guests you will be including in group pictures to show up 45 minutes to an hour before the ceremony. It is also really nice to give the photographer time to photograph your ceremony location after it is all set up but before guests arrive.  It makes for some really beautiful and editorial-style photos that capture all of those little details of your location without the distraction of people walking through them.  As traditional weddings usually flow right from ceremony to reception there is not alot of scheduling to be done here, but if you will be changing the layout of the location between ceremony and reception again try to allow for the photographer to photograph the space before the guests move there.  This may not always be possible, and that is understandable.  Your photographer will at least get your details (centerpieces etc) in as clean and beautiful a photograph as possible.  The same applies to these weddings in regards to bouquet toss, cake cutting, first dance, garter toss, and the exit; let the photographer know as soon as you can so they can have time to change memory cards, lenses, etc if necessary before you start.  Other than that there is not really anything you need to plan and you can just enjoy the day with your new spouse!

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