You’ve probably been (and seen) at weddings, or heard from friends who have been recently married say that their wedding day was one big whirlwind. After months of careful consideration and preparation, the day was supposed to be laid back, elegant and slow-paced leaving everyone with happy memories of a day of fun and laughter.  And it does, but often, for the bridal couple its a haze of a few great moments but mostly of rushing from one thing to another and it is so sad.

At Shoots by Design we assist all our clients for this very reason to work out their wedding day timeline in such a way that we schedule for enough time for travel between places, allocate time for the must haves images and allocate time for those images you really really want that you see online or on our portfolio and hope to have something similar but unique to you, and your venue, and your vision…

Discussing and considering the aspects of your on the day wedding schedule with your photographer BEFORE your invites are sent out, is so important because there could be many things you haven’t considered or things that can be scheduled at different times to cut out wasted time and leave more \time for the things you want to include. Remember, your photographer does this week in and week out, and they’ve seen timelines that add to the value of the day and timelines that simply goes wrong!  Your photographer is just as concerned as you are about the timeline as they need to ensure a full album and really want to ensure the best possible images outcome.  So, do consult with them, it would be of benefit to both of you! I mean you both want a gorgeous album of images right?!!?

A few considerations your wedding photographer will take into account when scheduling your wedding photos: 

  • Pre-Ceremony Images – getting ready is not merely about getting into your gown, but also the fine detail of every piece of your attire, often that of your bridal party and mother of the bride too. Once this is taken care of you get dressed, the nuances of these precious moments cannot be described and followed by portraits of the bride, bride with her girls and bride with her parents before departing for the ceremony, this does not take a few minutes, but needs to be planned
  • Ceremony – Often an hour is set aside, you need to establish if this includes signatures, confetti and mingling with your guests or if time for the latter needs to be scheduled for.
  • Formal Family Portraits – this is usually immediate family and there is no way a family of 12 takes as long as a family of 45, so this needs to be planned and your photographer will be able to assist you in setting up the list, as well as advising you on how to best have this scheduled and managed to avoid delays on the day.
  • Bridal Party Portraits – how much time needs to be allocated here depends on what you the client expects from this, discuss what type of images you require, the quantity and allocate sufficient time for this.
  • LoveShoot Portraits – If your photographer is a professional they would have shot at your venue before or they will scout the venue prior to the wedding day to select a few good locations for photos of the bridal couple during their first shoot as husband and wife. Most professionals will try to keep driving time to the minimum as this allows more time for shooting and thus less stress, so finding a suitable area at your venue is preferable, but in the absence of a short distance from the venue is second choice.  They will avoid long distances as this will create a travel time deficit and this will mean that your guests will be left waiting long hours, which is highly frowned upon.
  • Bridal Portraits Golden light images – Any reasonably experienced photographer will advise on working your whole day’s schedule around the shooting time for your love shoot to take place in the hour JUST before the sun sets. THIS is the best light of the day and often referred to as magical hour for that reason.  Depending on where your venue is, it may be scheduled a little earlier (mountainous) or later, for silhouettes, but chat to your photographer about this and work out when this ought to happen, schedule your reception to start AFTER that and work the whole day backwards in terms of time planning to establish when ceremony ought to start etc.
  • Travel time – if you can avoid any travel time between the sections on your timeline, this will create a more stress-free day. Should you have travel between home and church, church and photo location, photo location and reception, chat to your photographer to allocate time for travel between these locations and also how many people need to be accounted for between that will affect the timeline if they are delayed for whatever reason.  Ensure transport for everyone is arranged for and confirmed in advance to ensure no transport issues that may delay things as well.  

Typical Scenario of what can happen on a wedding day:

  • The time for prep in the morning is interrupted with phone calls about last-minute things that are still being planned. All plans ought to be done the day before, with the exception of the flowers to arrive as they need to be as fresh as possible.
  • Rather book accommodation at the venue the night before and after, this often works out less costly than all the up and down travel costs, let alone the stress about travel delays. This too, often offers specifically designed photographic areas for the bride portraits and that with her girls before the ceremony which is not often the case at home.
  • The ceremony is a 5-minute drive from the photoshoot location/reception venue, so the couple allows 10 minutes
  • The ceremony time did not include signatures so confetti happens 15 minutes after the supposed end of ceremony and the couples didn’t know this so now we are going to be late. Confetti happens and guests start congratulating the couple.
  • The bride unaware of time, embraces each guest and entertain chitter chatter about her gown, why wouldn’t she, she had taken months to decide on it, and imported the silk. Another 15 minutes passes
  • The mother of the bride is missing (probably arranging for the flowers to be transferred from the church to reception, but she can’t find the driver), in the meantime we wait thus guests come to congratulate the couple some more. Finally, mom arrives and we can depart, but the bridesmaid needs to go to the bathroom quickly.  We depart 45 minutes late.
  • Traveling takes 15 minutes due to traffic. We arrive an hour behind schedule.
  • When they arrive, the bride needs her veil re-attached as it pulled out during the drive and that takes 10 minutes, while one of the vehicles hadn’t arrived yet carrying the mother of the bride, and she finically arrives 15 minutes later
  • The photographer knows that reception is to start in 45 minutes and the time allocated for formal family portraits, formal bridal party portraits (40-60 minutes are now over and the 45 minutes left for the couples shoot now have to make provision for all of that as well. What is the best light of the day will now be spent on finding all the family members for the formal portraits and by the time we find them and have this done, there will hardly be good light left for the bridal party portraits let alone the couple.
  • It is therefore important that the timeline be worked out with your photographer and the information on it be transferred to the priest (to stick to time), the bridal party, that they can not disappear after the confetti, the family, as to who will be photographed and where, also when, so that they arrive and are readily available when asked to.
  • It is key that the catering manager be aware that reception starts at x for y so that there are a 30-minute leigh way for delays for unforeseen aspects like traffic and the veil for example.

Although the above is exaggerated somewhat (or of those of you who find this familiar, is it?), it often happens that multiple of the above happens on one wedding day and it would be ideal to plan the timeline and advice parties involved to avoid this)

This exactly the kind of stress you do not want on your wedding day! Take time to go over your day from start to finish with your wedding photographer to help reduce scheduling issues and optimise your timeline in such a way that everything is included and then some so that you, too, can enjoy your day and have memories to fall back on.

Shoots by Design are professional wedding photographers with 5 years of extensive wedding photography experience who have this down to a T and will as such guide you every step of the way during your wedding day timeline planning, something we include in all our packages, from our basic to our full package.

Let us help you prepare for your day so that you can sit back, breathe it in and let us tell the story of how it all unfolds through image art!  For those of you who are planning your own wedding and would love or us to consult with you regarding your timeline planning – we offer consultations for this purpose, whether we will be photographing your day or not, at a fee of R450 for 90 minutes (T&C’s apply).

Shoots by Design
Dee Walters
[email protected]

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