Here are some of my tips and ideas for a fun and relaxed day from my experiences over the years 🙂
1. Handbags & Gladrags.
- Allow at least 1.5 hrs for your bridal prep to be photographed. Prep generally includes a few detail shots like your shoes and dress but mostly candids of you and your bridesmaids/family getting ready together. If there’s time I also like to shoot a quick portrait of the bride or groom before I leave for the ceremony.
- Get ready at the venue or as close to venue as possible! I’ve had couples hire cool/quirky houses/apartments on air b&b (like Eledie did below), being close to the venue means less travel stress and you’re not paying your photographer to travel when they could be at the venue capturing important things like your guests arriving. It can also be much cheaper than a hotel and looks great in your photo!
- Time always catches up on you and you don’t want to feel rushed so I advise getting in your dress at least 25 minutes before I’m due to leave so I can document it before I leave for the ceremony which is normally about 30mins before you do.
2. Let’s Go!
- Allow a good amount of time for transfers between locations. No one can prepare for accidents or road works so factor in a little extra time. If it’s over 1.5 hours travel for me and includes motorways I normally suggest the couple factor a nights stay before the wedding for me in a local Premier Inn for peace of mind.
3. It’s Official!
- If we have to travel to where the ceremony is taking place (so you’re not getting ready and married at the same venue) I like to leave about 30 minutes before you do so that I can capture your guests arriving, your bride/groom waiting for you.
- Remember to talk to your officiant to see if there are any restrictions on photography. Some churches don’t allow any photography!
- Some registrars take great pride in setting up a cheesy mock signing, complete with a blank page and fake pen! They don’t realize that most couples don’t want cheesey staged photos so don’t be afraid to tell them beforehand if you don’t want one, I normally like to shoot the real signing ninja style, shhhh 😉
- Dont forget to go Unplugged! 99% of my couples did this last year! No ruined isle shots! More on this here
- I like to give my couples at least 30-45 minutes after the ceremony before doing groups shots, it gives you time to eat, drink and have fun with your guests! You’ll feel much more relaxed by this point too.
- Forget portion control with confetti! Read my post on achieving awesome confetti shots here
- Allow 2 hours between the end of the ceremony and the wedding breakfast, this allows you over an hour to chat with guests, play games, enjoy the entertainment and eat and drink something then 20mins max for group shots, 15mins bridesmaid and groomsman shots and 15 mins for a mini portrait session. (I often like to shoot the main portrait session after dinner if your wedding is April-October, more on this later).
- Feed your guests! Most people including yourselves have probably not eaten since breakfast and so it’s a good idea to provide everyone with some nibbles otherwise rumbling tummies = Hangry guests!
- Have some kind of entertainment in the 2 hours before dinner, it doesn’t have to be expensive, fancy dress (guests love this!), a cool flower or ribbon backdrop selfie wall (look at Pinterest), hay bales with tins and an air rifle…! It keeps it fun and your guests are kept entertained whilst you are having family shots and portraits… More entertainment ideas can be found here
- I like to keep these relaxed and informal. Allow 20 minutes for group shots. This covers the big group shot, 5 family shots (max) and fun bridesmaids/groomsman shots. I keep these to a max of 5 so that you and your guests can enjoy the day and it won’t feel like a photo shoot! I advise giving parents a heads up on this too as they can get a bit excited bringing in aunts, uncles, cousins… and it’ll start to feel stressful.
7. Nom Nom Nom
- By this point you and you guests will still be hungry so although there’s a tendency to rush the speeches and get them over with sometimes it’s nice to do it after the first course, everyone is relaxed and not thinking about food so much!
- Please make sure you ask your caterer to feed your photographer at the same time as you. Caterers have a tendency to feed the photographer last which just doesn’t make any sense. I like to make sure I’m there for all the bits where you are not eating (guests prefer to not have their photo taken during the eating part of the meal) and it just makes sense that when i’m eating you’re eating! Feeding your photographer right at the end means that they are not making good use of the time available and I could miss out on some great candids at the end of the meal 🙁
- For weddings taking place April-October I will probably shoot the main couple portraits after dinner when you are relaxed, settled in to the day and the light is generally better at this time of the day too. But this of course is dependent on location, weather and time. Allow a good 30 minutes for these portraits.
- If your wedding is November- March i’ll probably do these in the 2 hour gap between the end of the ceremony and wedding breakfast. Sometimes it’s a judgement that needs calling on the day so allow 2 hours either way.
9. Party time!
- Evening guests normally arrive about 7-7.30pm so this is the time to cut the cake and have the first dance! Some couples have even done both of these outside if the weathers nice! A super cool alternative!
- Make sure the cake is positioned somewhere nice and so that I can get behind it, it’s nicer to have a pretty background or your guests behind you in the shot.
- This is the time guests start to let their hair down so you might like to add an hour or two for the fun dance shots! Remember though music is super important! You might love death metal but it probably won’t get all your guests in the party mood! unless of course you all love it 😉 – Popular chart songs from the last couple of years or old skool classics seem to work the best! These types of shots normally happen after the first dance.
10. Golden Hour.
- This hour (the hour before the sun sets if the skies are clear) is so pretty. The light changes and you can get a really gorgeous soft glowing light. You can find out the time for sunsets here. You may wish to add more hours to your package if it’s a Summer wedding to get these Golden Hour shots. Sometimes these can’t be achieved if it’s overcast as the golden hour is happening above the clouds!
Extra top tips!
- Don’t forget to bring some cool wellies and umbrellas – UK weather is super unpredictable! Clear or white umbrellas are best as coloured ones cause colour casts on the face. Have enough for the bridal party too for portraits.
- Don’t be precious about your dress, we can get some pretty fantastic shots if you are willing to embrace it and have some fun, my dress got pretty dirty (and it didn’t even rain!) and the shoulder slightly ripped from all the dancing but these things can be fixed. My dress is almost as good as new after a bit of sewing and a dry clean and it tells your story – you had fun! 🙂 Read more about getting your dress dirty here