Planning a Wedding?
Planning a wedding can be an overwhelming task. There are so many things to think about in so many different areas and as the guest list increases, so does the cost and stress. I've photographed over 150 weddings through years and have seen what does and doesn't work and can suggest how to iron out the kinks.
Indoor or Outdoor?
Once you have a budget and a rough number on the guest list then you can start to plan the food and venues.
Do you want an indoor or outdoor wedding? You may want to have a back up plan for an outdoor ceremony if it rains.
Does the outdoor venue or area have an undercover marquee or large room you can quickly move into if rain sets in?
If it starts to rain during the bridal party photos, some simple matching patterned or colourful umbrellas can look nice.
If you are planning on using a few different locations, keep in mind the travel time between each location and if there is parking available. It can be tough to find parking for inner city weddings on a busy Saturday afternoon. If you choose to shoot in a city, select only a couple of locations to drive to. This will minimise the risk of someone being late due to parking issues and traffic. Big city parks are always good as they tend to have a few different areas to shoot in. The more space the better when it comes to great bridal party photos. Having a deep background filled with leafy trees is always a winner. Location weddings on a farm or winery can be great. Having everything in the one location saves a great deal of travel time between locations which means more time spent enjoying the day. It's much easier to capture awesome photos of guests when the location offers great vistas.
Bride and Groom Preparations
The start of a typical wedding are the bride and groom's preparations. On a standard wedding I will shoot the groom's prep first. Usually for 30-60 mins, then head over to the bride's prep for 30 minutes - 2 hours. Sometimes more depending on the day and how far along the bride is in getting ready. These prep sessions are a great way to capture the excitement and nerves while getting ready for the big day. This is also a good time to get some family and group photos, as well as some nice, natural candid photos.
Make sure you speak to your priest or celebrant to discuss how the ceremony will run. Some people do ceremony rehearsals if there is a lot of info and segments.
Again, if it's an outdoor ceremony, keep an eye on the weather in the coming days so you can have a back up plan if needed.
Family and group photos usually run after the ceremony. If you are after a large group photo of all the guests, it's best to get this straight after the ceremony when everyone is still gathered together. People take a long time to arrange, especially when it's a family reunion. It's best to ask some bridal party members to help round people up if it's a big crowd. Family group photos are usually done at the ceremony venue or the reception venue. The photographers won't know who everyone is, so ask or notify a bridal party member or close family member who knows both sides of the families to help gather people for the group photos.
Bridal Party Photos
Bridal party photos usually start after the family and group photos and tend to take place at one or more of the chosen locations-a beach, a park, a headland. Ideally you want to pick a location with nice, natural light. I prefer a beach or large, green leafy areas with a mixture of trees and open spaces, or maybe a good spot to see the setting sun. Time can get away on this photo shoot so be sure to explain the travel details as clear as possible if there are a few locations.
The "magic hour" is what photographers call a period of time when the sun is setting. Twilight. It's closer to 45 minutes than an hour. It provides an amazing cast of pastel colours and soft light. A good idea is to plan your bridal couple photos around this time period and work backwards. Bridal party shoots usually finish with the couple photos at sunset. e.g - If the sun sets at 6pm, plan to start these photos by 5pm at the latest. The group bridal party photos should start at 4.45/5pm, depending on how big the group is. Start with a few large group photos. Some photos of the girls, some photos of the boys. Couple portraits. Single portraits. When there are a few people involved, it is best to keep in mind the buffer time to manage and move people around, especially if many locations and travel are required. To be clear, you want at least an hour to get all of the bridal party photos.
The reception is where the couples' style and personality comes out. It's in the decor, the food, the music, the cake and the first dance.
Some people have all their speeches in one block, others break it up in segments throughout the night. Some people have sit down formal meals, others have stand up finger food. Some people have lavish, grand wedding cakes, while others have unique cheese boards or cheesecakes. Do it your way. The guests will remember it and thank you for it. Receptions can last a long time, so if you are trying to cut down on hours for a photographer due to budget, think about when the moments you want to capture happen during the night. Usually all the key moments are at the start of the night. At the tail end it's mostly all the crazy dancing. Having a send off for the couple with all the guests can be popular too. This can include fire works, sparklers, drums, dancing.
Timing is everything with weddings so it's best to get everyone on the same page. Write down your start and end times for each segment, i.e. groom's prep, bride's prep, ceremony. Look up in Google maps the travel time to each location and write it down. Calculate the time, plus a few extra minutes for traffic and also take into account the traffic on certain days.
Is it weekday wedding? Peak hour work traffic etc..
Is it a weekend wedding? Saturday traffic etc..
If it's a location wedding on a farm or in a rural area, check if it's even on Google maps. I've been to many weddings that don't register on Google or Apple maps, and it can get a little stressful. If it's not in Google maps, describe the directions in clear and simple detail . You can even make up a few wedding street signs that point guests in the right direction.
It helps to list important contacts and numbers in the itinerary. The bride and groom's contact number and a groomsman and bridesmaid's number. A lot of the time the bride can't carry a phone on her, so having someone next to her who does is a good idea.
Some celebrants can be a little over the top and think they are having a special sold out stand up comedy night for themselves.
Watch out for those ones. Do your homework and pick one that suits your style and nature.
Once you receive your wedding photos on USB, it's best practice to back it up more than once. Ideally you want to store it in 3 seperate locations.
I quite often get asked if I supply a second shooter. While this is pretty standard in the industry, it can sometimes become an issue when there are 3 other video and photography people around the main focal point. Too many cooks spoil the broth. I have shot plenty of weddings with a second shooter, as a second shooter but more as a solo shooter. All of the weddings on my site have been photographed without a second shooter. So it's not a necessity, but if you want one, I can accomodate.