This is an article I wrote that was published in “Brides to remember” Magazine before the digital age!
It helps answer the question: “How much time should we allow for the professional photographer?” read on….TIME…
How will you remember your wedding day?
As a pleasant, enjoyable fun day? … or as a stressful, rushed, exhausting day?
Co-ordinating the timing of the events of the day can be confusing and tricky. It is also very easy to forget to leave enough time for the photographer to do the job he or she has been hired to do!
All too often, everyone worries about what the guests are going to do in between the ceremony and the reception. Many ceremony times are booked with this issue in mind. The times chosen for the ceremony are very late in the afternoon with the reception starting at 5;00 or 5;30 , so that the guests don’t have any time to waste in between the 2 events.
However… doing this, does not allow the necessary time for the photographer to do his or her job !
What to do… What to do …
As a Niagara Photographer who has photographed hundreds of weddings, the advice I give is this: STOP worrying about what the quests are going to do! It is YOUR wedding day, on THEIR wedding day you too will find someone to have a coffee or drink with for a couple of hours. In Niagara there is PLENTY of things to see and do for a couple of hours, which go by very quickly. I wouldn’t recommend they go to the Casino however, in case they don’t come out!
The best scenario is to book the photographer of your choice as soon as you book the reception and church. The reason being is that a seasoned photographer will be able to help you to co-ordinate your day! If you book early enough, you may be able to change the time of the ceremony to better suit what photography package you have chosen.
Out of all the services that you will hire for your wedding day, the photographer is the one that spends the most time with you on the actual day. Depending on what type of coverage you chose, he or she will be with you from bridal preparation in the morning, to the start of your receiving line at the reception and possibly all evening.
Your photographer has seen every possible type of timing disaster that can be imagined !
RULE # 1
Don’t worry about what your guests are going to do in between the ceremony and the reception. It is a social event! Two or more hours can go by very quickly once they find a relative or friend to have a coffee with !
Remember: It is YOUR day! You don’t want to be rushed. you are spending alot of time , energy and money to plan this one day of your life and you should be able to look back and say you enjoyed it and have the beautiful images you were expecting.
RULE # 2
Plan to leave at least 2 hours for the photographer. For example: Your ceremony is set for 2;00 pm and it will take approximately 30 minutes. You have a 15 minute drive to the park of your choice. The photo session would start at approx. 3;00pm and finish at approx. 5;00pm (or possibly earlier) Your receiving line on your invitation is 5;30. You arrive at the reception in time to freshen up and then greet your guests! (this is providing it is only a 15 minute drive from the park to the reception)
The above mentioned scenario leaves you at least 2 hours for your formal portaits.
It also gives everyone in your wedding party and yourselves plenty of time to freshen up at the reception hall, rather than rushing around to get there, and then having to stand in your receiving line as soon as you walk in the door. What is also upsetting for parents is if you arrive late for your receiving line and guests are left waiting.
There are a number of things to take into consideration for your photo session: Travelling time to the park, the amount of cars travelling with you, heavy traffic, possible road construction delays, not to mention arriving at the park to find 8 other wedding parties sharing the location.
If you plan to leave the correct amount of time, the day it much less stressful for you and the photographer!
The wedding photographer is often expected to pull the preverbial rabbit out of the hat every saturday! Arriving at the brides home to find NO-ONE is ready! (hair appointments that went awry, make up still being applied…) Being expected to do a 1 hour job in 10 minutes so that everyone can get to the church on time! Being expected to shoot 2 hours worth of coverage for the bridal party and family members in 45 minutes because one of the cars went to the wrong park, or the limo driver took the scenic route!
I have often used this analogy: It would be like asking a dentist to perform a route canal in 1/3rd of the time it normally would take to do. Then expecting it to be a perfect job, and for it to be done right on time !!
In order to save huge amounts of time on your day, plan to NOT have a receiving line at the church after the ceremony. If you have 100 guests and they all take 30 seconds to congratulate and kiss you etc… it is very easy to be at the church for an additional 45 minutes, that you didn’t anticipate in your original itinerary for the day!
Instead, have your receiving line at the reception. This way you are only doing it once, and most likely will be seeing everyone, as some guests do not make it to the church.
PLAN OF ACTION: If you plan on not having a receiving line at the church then you must have a plan of action or you will get stuck with one. Most clergymen do not mind reading an announcement to the guests. Something to this effect: “Thank-you for coming, and we appreciate your co-operation, the wedding party will be going directly for their formal photos and will receive you at the reception”
Then you are pronounced man and wife, and walk down the aisle and literally right to your getaway vehicle! IF you hang around at all, you will get stuck greeting everyone. It is very difficult to get away.
THE FAMILY: The family photo session can go much more smoothly if you make a list of whom you want in your photos. Then make people aware of the plan. “Uncle Joe, you are needed for family photos, please come directly to the park after the church” You can also give them printed out directions prior to the wedding day !
If people are not aware where they are supposed to be, then they won’t automatically come. It can be stressful and frusterating when everyone is waiting for a particular family member to do a group photo and that person is 1/2 hour late or simply does not arrive.
Each wedding will have it’s own different set of circumstances. You may have booked a winery or hotel and have decided to have everything in one location. This is very common and makes it a very enjoyable day for the guests and family since there is no driving from location to location throughout the day.
You may have booked ord’oerves and cocktails for the guests after the ceremony while the photos are being taken. In this case you may not wish to have 2 solid hours away from your quests. The photo session can still be accomplished with co-operation from everyone. Communication is the key !
Making sure that all of your wedding party and family members who are to be photographed are aware of exactly when they are needed (since cocktails and the mingling is usually more appealing !)
Having an announcement made at the ceremony for the guests so that they understand they can have you after the photo session is complete will make the photo session go more smoothly (this is also so that your guests are not following you and your photographer around with their own cameras… (another dentist analogy: This would be like when the dentist is doing the route canal , the people in the waiting room are all trying to get their tools in the patients mouth too !!)
Discussing with your photographer exactly what kind of time is necessary for the package you have chosen and communicating the plan to everyone will make your day a smiling success !!