My couples getting married in the Manawatu are often unsure how long do we need a wedding photographer for?
I've put together an easy-to-follow six step process so you can plan your wedding timeline; and work out how long to book your wedding photographer for.
This guide is most suited to couple getting married in front of guests, followed by a reception of some description. Stay tuned for an elopement edition soon!
Step 1: Start with your ceremony
Planning your wedding timeline should start with your marriage itself: the ceremony. That is why you're here!
Allowing for some time to be running late, write down your ceremony start and end times. Have a chat with your celebrant about duration and timings.
Your guests will want to hug and congratulate you immediately after the ceremony, so make sure you allow some time for that. Even if there are just the two of you and two witnesses, you will want a minute to breathe in the excitement of just being married!
Traditionally, any family formal photos and a whole group photo will be done straight after the ceremony. If you choose to have these, it's a great time to have them as everyone is in the same place. Photos of parents, grandparents, extended whānau, different groups of friends, work colleagues etc. form an important part of your social and family history. I allow 3 minutes per group. Efficient family portraits can be achieved by preparing a list of groups you would like in advance and having a trusted person to gather people together.
You may choose not to have formal family photos and instead capture people candidly as the chat to each other throughout your wedding day. This is a beautiful and natural way to have a record of people who witnessed your marriage. Just bear in mind it may not be possible to receive a photo of every single person. Also if family groupings don't occur naturally, you won't have photos of those people together.
Do you have a wedding party and would you like some photos taken with them and also just the two of you? Some couple have photos taken at their ceremony or reception venue; or go elsewhere. I love to photograph couples at places that mean something to them. Allow approximately 30 minutes for wedding party and couple portraits, depending on how many people are involved; plus travel time.
A great way to maximise time with your guests after your ceremony is to have a first look. You enjoy a private meeting with your soon-to-be spouse. This is a really special moment that helps to take the nerves out of seeing them for the first time in front of your guests. A first look can be followed by couple portraits, wedding party and family formal photos.
Step 2: Bride (if any) hair and make up start time
When you've sorted your ceremony start, go back in time. What time does hair and make up start? I really regret not having many photos of Mum and I getting ready at our wedding. It was one of the only times during the day we were together.
Have a chat with your hair and make up artists: whether they are professionals, talented friends or if you're doing your own. What time to they need to start? I like to start documenting a wedding day when the bride is halfway through getting her make up done. This gives me time to capture your wedding party, details like your flowers, rings and shoes naturally. Plus you getting your final make up done (pictures with no make up on are often not so flattering). The atmosphere whilst getting ready is so exciting and full of anticipation!
Step 3: Getting ready locations: together or separately? We're lucky these days that anything goes at weddings. You can choose to get ready with your partner in the same room; at the same venue but in different rooms or buildings; or at different properties altogether.
I really believe it's important to capture all elements of your wedding day story. Which means documenting both partners getting ready. Reflecting in the weeks, months and years ahead; on the moments just before you become married will be especially meaningful. Especially if you weren't there (getting ready separately). Super powerful stuff!
Often if the couple is getting ready at separate locations I will pop to one earlier in the day, in order to arrive at the other half way through make up being done (or just as suits are being put on).
Allow for travel time for your photographer: between locations and to the ceremony location. Now you have your photographer's start time yay!
Step 4: Reception: when and what!
Now your timeline will be complete from the start of the day until just after your ceremony. Now it's time (!!) to consider your reception. What time will it start? Write this down.
Let's have a think about what will happen at your reception. You can choose to do anything and everything that reflects you as individuals and represents your values as a couple. Such as:
Being announced to your guests as you enter your reception (yay or nay?)
What style will the food be? Sit down dinner of three courses; a gathering of food trucks; grazing table with a champagne wall, gourmet picnic on rugs by the ocean? Discuss what time the people preparing your food will have it ready to serve. For me as a photographer, this is one time that is non-negotiable during the day. Caterers prepare food to be hot/cold and eaten at a certain time. They can't be kept waiting!
Will there be any speeches? Is there a cake to be cut with your guests? Will you be having a first dance? Will there be waiata and a haka?
Whatever age old traditions or modern interpretations you choose to include, they must be important to you. Make sure your photographer is able to capture them so you can remember them in the future.