Planning the Perfect Wedding – Designing a Wedding Day Timeline to make the most of your Dream Wedding
“True love stories never have endings.” Richard Bach
So you’ve booked your dream wedding venue, your favourite wedding photographer, your perfect wedding DJ, and even had the tasting of your wedding food. But what now? Sure you’ve been to plenty of weddings, but you’ve never organised one before – and now the MUA (Make-up-artist) is asking what time they should arrive? The Venue are asking if we want our ceremony at 2pm or earlier? What do we do?!
There are so many things to consider when planning your wedding – even letting family and friends know when they should arrive is a headache! But don’t worry – we’ve got your back! As full-time experienced wedding photographers we’ve covered hundreds of weddings across Kent, London, Surrey, and beyond across Europe! So we know a thing or two about weddings! A good wedding photographer will have no problem in helping you to plan your wedding and with timeline consults and venue walk-arounds as standard, we’ve compiled a list of things to consider before meeting with us to discuss the final details!
There’s a LOT of Useless Advice Out There…
So you thought it was going to be fun planning a wedding? Well hopefully it still is, but I’m sure you’ve discovered by now it’s not easy! Sure there’s plenty of advice out there, from friends who have been married before to wedding blog sites, to magazines or TV shows, there’s a lot of info out there and you can can easily become overwhelmed with with ideas, traditions – and frankly stupid information. A lot of these blogs and articles are written by arm-chair wedding industry ‘experts’, but as full-time-professional weddings photographers we shoot real-life weddings every week, so we know the difference between a ‘great idea’ and ‘content written just to sell magazines’.
Time-Keeping On The Day
So first things first – your wedding will run late! It just will. They all do. From 15-30 minutes late, to the full-blown 90 minute overrun, we’ve seen it all. And it’s nothing to worry about, because if you are booking professional wedding suppliers who are used to this, we won’t be phased at all!
There are many reasons for it – from traffic, to MUAs taking their time, bridesmaids freaking out, to groom’s getting lost on their way to the venue. But one of the biggest reasons weddings overrun is the simple fact that pretty much everything takes longer than usual on your wedding day. For example: The bride is getting ready at home, and home is 15 minute drive to the venue normally (you just pick up the car keys and walk out the front door right?), so you budget 15 minutes on your wedding day. However… On your wedding day there will be 4 or 5 cars parked out front, multiple people trying to leave at the same time, Bride’s mum is panicking that not everything has been packed, bridesmaids aren’t sure which car they are in, and add to alllllll that – you’re wearing a wedding dress… Everything is harder to do and takes longer when wearing a wedding dress!
For this reason we strongly advise you double (if not triple) all travel times on you wedding day. For that matter, we strongly advise you build in ‘cushion time’ to all your planned events on your wedding day. Most of our clients do this, and find their wedding day runs much more smoothly accordingly.
Getting Ready Wedding Photos
We’ve mentioned (more than just a few times) that the single biggest reason for brides being late to the ceremony (and special picture moments being lost) is the MUA and hair stylist overrunning. In their defence, they are trying to get an entire bridal party ready (which can be like herding cats sometimes), but a good professional MUA or Hair-Stylist will give you an honest appraisal of how long it will take them. Then, as a rule of thumb, we suggest adding 60-90 minutes to that time, and asking them to turn up accordingly. The reasons for this are two-fold:
Firstly, whilst we have the greatest respect for MUAs (especially the professionals you should be booking, and not the part-timers), they are easily the biggest source of delay on a wedding day (at over 90% of weddings we have attended), and the MUA running late has become an industry inside-joke to many.
Secondly, as we mention to all our clients – we don’t actually take pictures of you ‘getting ready’, and don’t agree with any wedding photographer who does. The reason is simple: Do you want to be in your wedding album with your make-up not fully done? Also, with everyone completely ready, we get three times as many photos in half the time (and ten times more wonderful), than if we are stuck at the back of the room photographing the ‘chaos’ of actually getting ready.
After all, isn’t it better to be ready a little early instead of arriving 45 minutes late to the wedding ceremony??
Things to Remember:
- Have food & drink available throughout the getting ready photos, as you’ll be on your way to the ceremony when you normally would eat lunch!
- Have a trusted someone in charge of time keeping (the maid of honour or bride’s mum should be ‘on it’ and ensuring no major overruns). This means you can relax, enjoy your day, and not worry about the time yourself…
- Allow for unexpected moments – like gift giving or other special moments. Let us know of any special moments, details, or events that we should be telling the story of.
Family Photos – Group Shots
Most ceremonies last about half an hour, with Catholic and other religious variations taking about an hour on average. After this we suggest approximately 15 minutes for “wooooh – that just happened! We’re Married!” time! Immediately after this most couples have their ‘confetti toss’ if they didn’t have it as they exited the ceremony.
Immediately after this we often suggest family group shots – unless it makes sense on your wedding day to swap these with your couples creatives.
The group shots will either be a smooth fun process, or a long laborious process. The difference between these two? Planning. Planning. Planning. We can have your group sessions done with even large combinations of family in less than 15 minutes, if we plan… For this reason we suggest allotting 30 minutes, 15 minutes to shoot, 10 minute overrun time (aunty Joan didn’t listen and was at the bar!), and 5 minutes for fun shots!
Planning tips for perfect group photos at weddings:
- Tell everyone who is going to be in these photos where they need to be (and that they are wanted for these photos) well before the wedding day. This should stop people disappearing from the bar, and allow time for elderly relatives to get where they need to be.
- If you have a shot-list, put a trusted person in charge of rounding up the appropriate combinations of relatives and friends (after all – your photographer won’t know who “aunty Sal” or the “the work-mates” are…), and have them get the next grouping ready whilst we are taking photos. This allows for a ‘conveyor belt effect’ which will allow us to get your family and friends back to the party as quickly as possible.
- We’ll try and take you away to another part of the venue for these photos – allowing all other guests to relax at the bar or take part in any entertainment. It’s important that the whole wedding party and all guests don’t follow, otherwise you’ll be chit-chatting with them as they congratulate you over-and-over, which can make the process incredibly long…
- We’ll say it again – make sure important family members who will be in the photos know they will be needed for this session. It’s an important tip, so we’ve mentioned it twice
Couple’s Creatives & Artistic Photos
If you’ve been through the process of one of our engagement sessions then you really have a leg-up here, both in terms of knowing what to expect – and with better imagery!
The biggest problem here is that often the creative session is timed to begin just before the wedding breakfast begins, and therefore if there is any delay at all will mean a reduction in times for your creative photos! Whilst some awesome wedding venues will have both kept things on track and will allow your guests to start dinner a little later (they’re used to this as well), many will demand ‘bums on seats’ at the correct time, and couldn’t care less if you get the wonderful wedding photos you were hoping for. So if stunning wedding photography is important to you, then keeping the day running to time really is important, if for this reason alone!
- Allot extra time (cushion time) for creatives, to allow for the rest of the days overrun that will happen.
- Make sure when your photographer asks you to start your portrait sessions, you listen to them and are happy to go. Maybe an extra 10 minute chat with aunty Sue is important, but the sunset will not wait for you…
- Consider the best time of day and the locations for your creative photos. Often the best time of day is the golden hour before sunset – and a good photographer will offer extra photos at this time if it does not neatly coincide with the creatives session.
- Make use of the timeline-consultation and venue walk-around – one of the biggest reasons we do this is to demonstrate to our clients that the reason we need so much time is because simply walking around the stunning locations in your beautiful wedding venue can take 30 minutes alone, without even taking any pictures at all!
In our experience, the Reception is usually the easiest part of your wedding day (timing wise at least), with only the cake smash, the bouquet toss, and the first dance to consider, often it makes sense to do these early on so the party and dancing can begin in earnest!
If you are having a grand exit then be careful not to leave this too late or not let guests know this is happening… If you leave it too late or don’t let anyone know, then there may not be many guests around to give you a proper send off!
When it comes to time-keeping the best advice is a hiring a professional DJ, as they will de-facto take control of proceedings. Communicate to them early on what will be happening (and when), but also that the final decision on exact time will not be down to them. Don’t hire the DJ who calls for the first dance when the majority of your guests are still outside in the garden or when the photographers aren’t ready!
I hope this information about wedding day planning was useful to you, and if you have any further questions – please do get in touch! Don’t forget there are plenty more articles with tips & tricks on planning your wedding (and avoiding wedding day disasters!) in our ‘wedding news’ section!
Kent Wedding Photographer Mykey Day
Your Wedding Day will never be as important to anyone else as it is to you, but trust us when we say – your wedding will be crucially important to us as well! Please browse our website for examples of our work, and we look forward to making your wedding photographs special too.