Planning your wedding timeline
One of the questions I hear most frequently is, How do I know how long to book my wedding photographer for?
Tips for Planning Your Timeline
1. Why do I need a timeline?
It’s worth constructing your wedding timeline as early as possible and adding to it as more details are settled.
You and your suppliers will find it useful and it will help suppliers plan their services so they can deliver them at the right time.
It’s easy to start off thinking that you only need three hours of photography but when you factor in travel between your venues, additional aspects of the day you would like photographed and even time for delays, time adds up quite quickly.
The easiest way to plan your timeline is to start from the ceremony, which is usually the first thing you have booked, then work out in either direction.
2. Before your ceremony
Working backwards from the ceremony you need to consider the time you’ll be meeting with the registrar before the ceremony (usually 10 minutes for each of you if done individually).
Add in travel time between venues, if needed, and space for photos once you finish getting ready. You now know when you must be ready by and is the point your hair and makeup team will be aiming for.
Your hair and makeup team will let you know when they will be arriving and will be able to give you an indication of when they will be doing your makeup, hair will hopefully be after this. Ideally, your photographer will aim to start taking pictures of you when your makeup is in the final stages.
You might not feel like it but make sure you leave time to have a good breakfast because you don’t want to be a hangry bride! Especially when you’ve had a couple of glasses of prosecco.
3. Your ceremony and after
Civil ceremonies last approximately half an hour, church services may be up to an hour. Timings after your ceremony can depend upon a number of things. You may also need to consider time to travel to your reception venue and it may be that your venue has requested a specific time for your wedding breakfast. Both of these will limit how much time you have for your drinks reception.
Ideally, you need a minimum of an hour and a half for your drinks reception. This allows you half an hour after your ceremony to meet and great your friends and loved ones and begin your celebrations. Half an hour would be set aside for your group shots and half an hour for your portraits.
It’s a good idea for any formal group shots you would like to be taken at this point before your guests get too drunk, their outfits get too crumpled and they are still looking their best. This means that your guests can then relax now their part of the day is complete.
It is normally during your drinks reception that you would have your wedding portraits taken, however time here may be short if there have been any delays. E.g. a late start to your ceremony. This adds a lot of pressure to get your photographs taken particularly if you have booked a short package.
Don’t worry if not all of your portraits are taken during this period as there will be plenty of opportunities later on in the day if you have booked a longer or full day package.
The benefits of booking more time with your photographer are that your portraits can be taken later in the day, you can have more varied portrait locations and hopefully beautiful golden light in the evening.
I have been known to grab the bride and groom between courses to get outside for those amazing sunset images. And the break between your wedding breakfast and the arrival of any evening guests is a great time for relaxed group shots and more portraits of yourselves.
4. Lake District Scenery
If you are coming to the Lake District because you love the epic scenery you might like to plan more time for your photographs. This means you can travel further to get those wide landscape images.
When considering travelling time remember you need to double it to account for the journey back to the reception! E.g. if you have half an hour for your portraits your schedule might look like this:
Travel to lake: 10 minutes
Portraits: 10 minutes
Travel back to venue: 10 minutes
As you can see, it doesn’t leave much time for your portraits to be taken!
The biggest downside to this plan is that you spend a large amount of time away from your guests. This can be especially difficult if your guests have travelled a long way to be with you on your day.
If you’d love to spend all day with your guests and still want those epic backdrops book your photographer for the following day. Get into your glad rags once again and heading up into the hills. This gives you much more time to visit several locations without the time pressures and removes the guilt of feeling you need to return to your guests and join the party.
5. Intimate weddings
For an intimate wedding or to keep costs down you might be considering a three hour package and this can be a great solution.
If you choose to have all of your photos taken at the venue, and you are not planning a full day of celebrations a three hour package should be able to capture arrivals for the ceremony, the ceremony itself, a small number of formal group shots and the your portraits.
However, if you’re travelling between your venues a big chunk of your photography time will be lost as photographers charge their time from the point at which they start. Therefore, if you select the three hour package and one hour of this is travel time you would lose a third of time your photographer can take pictures.
In these instances please ask your photographer for a custom quote to ensure all your wedding day plans are captured.
6. Other things to consider
During Summer when there is a lot of light so taking photographs in the evening is not a problem. However, during winter evenings can be very dark. This means that any outdoor Lake District photos you’d like are restricted to daylight hours. Depending on your timeline there may not be room for all of the photos you’d like. Options here are booking your photographer the next day as previously mentioned or consider a First Look session earlier in the day for your portraits.
The number of photographers you choose can also impact on the time needed, especially when getting ready. Time needs to be allowed for your photographer to move between both partners if they are working alone. Your photographer will be able to advise you of any extra time needed.
One Final Note
For all weddings seem like long days, time passes very quickly and it’s easy for a series of small delays to add up to a big one. The first area that tends gets squeezed is your photography time. That said, your professional photographer should have alternative ideas for points at which to capture your images later on in the day.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my blog post and it has helped you in planning out your wedding timeline.
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