Our couples invest not only in our artwork and our reputation, but also in our experience. To date our team has photographed nearly 500 weddings in just about nine years. Given our level of experience, we know that our clients are expecting us to help advise and assist on their wedding photography schedules.
And we love doing it too
With that in mind, we thought it wise to write up a little reference blog for our couples to use while considering how to structure their big day. This article is largely written to couples whose wedding dates are a bit further out in the calendar. Maybe you’re still deciding your ceremony time and the invitations haven’t gone out yet? Yup – this is for you!
It’s the Same Difference
Every wedding day we photograph is completely unique in it’s character, it’s personality, it’s people and it’s story. But after being a part of about 500 wedding days, we’ve noticed a certain trend. The truth is that nearly all wedding photography schedules can fit into three typical day-plans. We affectionally call them by the three following names:
1. All Up Front
2. The Mid-Day Creative Gap
Timeline Option #1: All Up Front
Commonly used with a “First Look” or “Private Introduction’ this schedule is the predominant schedule we see most of our couples work with. Reason being? It gives you the oppurtunity to have a a relaxing and easy paced day, and ensures your guests aren’t left waiting.
Did you know that most couples these days are not waiting until the wedding ceremony to see each-other for the first time? Nope, they’re adding in a special, private moment into their day at the beginning, before anyone else sees the bride. A good wedding photographer can make this “First Look” memorable and private. Seeing each other before hand can really help you relax – you actually get to spend time talking and being with each other throughout most of your wedding day.
An Example of an “All Up Front” style schedule
|TIME START||TIME FINISH||EVENT|
|1:00||1:20||Private Introduction (First Look)|
|1:20||2:30||Couples Creative Session|
|2:30||4:00||Bridal Party Creative Sessions|
|4:00||5:00||Arrive at Ceremony Venue and Prep for Ceremony|
|5:30||6:00||Family Formal Photos|
|6:00||7:00||Cocktail Hour with Couple in Attendance.|
We call it the “All up Front” because this type of schedule is typically characterized by an early afternoon couples introduction (First Look), followed by a relaxing and fun afternoon of creative imagery with your bridal party. After that? You’ll be stress free and excited to see your family and friends at your ceremony, and instead of having to ditch everyone for a lengthy creative photo session, you are free to actually enjoy your own cocktail hour
We’re never pushy about schedules here – but this sort of a schedule is highly highly encouraged if you’re having your ceremony and reception at the same venue (one directly after the other).
- Less stress / less rushing around
- Your photographer has more time and freedom to craft creative wedding images
- More fun during the creative photography process
- Ensures your guests aren’t left waiting
- Ensures you can BE with your guests during a cocktail hour
- There are really no downsides to this approach – unless you are fundamentally opposed to seeing each other before the wedding, otherwise it’s a pretty seamless approach
Timeline Option #2: The Mid-Day Creative Gap
Jumping to the very other end of the spectrum of timeline planning, you could always do the bulk of your creative wedding images in between your wedding ceremony and your wedding reception. Depending on how much time you have in between will dictate how much sense this makes – but we typically see couples have a gap of 2-4 hours between the end of the ceremony and the beginning of the reception to pull of this sort of a schedule.
Like option 1, all the creative images are done in one section of time – but this is usually because you have a wedding ceremony scheduled for late morning or early afternoon. Due to that, you have a pretty large gap of time in between and it makes sense to do your creative images right then and there.
An Example of a “Mid-Day Creative Gap” style schedule
|2:15||2:45||Family Formal Photos|
|3:00||6:00||Couples & Bridal Party Creative Photos|
|6:00||7:00||Cocktail Hour with Couple in Attendance|
**Note – if your “gap” is less than two hours, we’d encourage looking at Timeline Option 3: “Splities”.
The only real downside to this sort of schedule is that your guests will have to keep themselves busy for a few hours. Often times we’ve seen families organize luncheons or day outings for guests to keep entertained, but most often guests will either simply not attend the ceremony, or just take an afternoon to explore the city in between.
- As long as the gap is long enough, you have plenty of time for a healthy creative session
- If your opposed to a “First Look”, this schedule is a good alternative
- Your guests usually have a pretty lengthy wait
- If your ceremony is in the late morning, your day will start very early
- If your ceremony and reception are at the same venue- this is a PITA for your guests as they’ll have to leave and come back
Timeline Option #3: Splitsies
Funny name – we know The name is derived from the idea that you’ll be “splitting” up your creative photography sessions throughout the day. Most often we see this sort of schedule when a couple is not excited about the idea of doing a “first look” and has a small gap of time between their ceremony and their reception.
What this means in practice is that we focus on doing the creative sessions of the two parts of the bridal party (guys and gals) separately prior to the ceremony. We then focus on capturing the bride and groom images, as well as the entire bridal party together in the window of time between the ceremony and reception.
An Example of a “Splitsies” style schedule
|TIME START||TIME FINISH||EVENT|
|2:00||3:00||Bride and Bridesmaids Creative Photos|
|3:00||4:00||Groom and Groomsmen Creative Photos|
|5:45||6:15||Family Formal Pictures|
|6:15||6:50||Couples & Full Bridal Party Photos|
|7:00||Entrance to Reception|
I will be up front – this schedule is usually a bit more stressful on the couple, and usually the photographer as well. This isn’t always the case of course – but we always aim for the creative session with the bride and groom to be relaxed and easy going, and it can be hard to fit that into a short window of time.
Given that line of thought – we always encourage couples to really consider either doing the entirety of their images prior to the ceremony (see option 1: “All up Front”) or focusing on them in a larger window of time in between the ceremony and the reception (see option 2: “The Mid-Day Creative Gap”). We are never ever pushy though – just realists. We want our couples to have a GREAT wedding day and to have a joy about them as they celebrate, and we do feel that this particular style of schedule can make things a little crazy at times.
- Easy going morning and afternoon – you have lots of time to relax
- Ensures your guests aren’t left waiting
- Frantic and fast paced post ceremony schedule
- Rarely can you attend you cocktail hour
- Often less amount and variety of full bridal party pictures
- Often less amount and variety of pictures of just the couple together
Food For Thought
We love our couples – and we love what we do for them. A good schedule can make or break your wedding day – and I write this article to help couples begin the process of thinking through all the goods and bads a particular day plan can be. Please, take some time and really think through your wedding schedule – it’s hugely important to the way you’ll experience and remember your wedding day.
Final tip? Hire a professional wedding / event coordinator. Feel free to call in to our office – we’d love to make a few suggestions for some awesome professionals in the area!