Your wedding day goes fast (with a capital F) and can be absolutely manic, so having even a rough plan will help.
As a wedding photographer, I can have a lot of control over the flow of your day (which I don’t want) but I can also help you plan out your day and keep you on track …for some of it at least.
So let’s go through the different elements of the day and what to watch out for:
Makeup & Hair – Go first then last
It’s always good to go first, for 2 reasons.
- If you’re running late, your bridesmaid’s hair isn’t as important (despite what some of them might say) so they can make do with a quick styling.
- When your photographer (that’s me ☺) arrives, you’ll be ready to look fab in all your photos. Just plan for 10 or 15 minutes before you get into your dress for touch ups.
Ceremony times depend on what type of wedding your having (church, civil, Humanist, multi-faith, Pagan, spiritual, etc.) so have a chat with your celebrant about the expected length of the ceremony; most celebrants will know the rough timing once you’ve agreed what elements you’re adding (readings, poems, hand tying, sand pouring, etc.). Then allow for you to arrive late and for it to go a little slower than planned.
More people = longer receiving line
After every good Irish wedding, it’s time for your receiving line. This is the part where you stand at the doors/outside and say hello to everyone leaving the church/venue. Now some couples do forgo this, particularly in the winter months when we’re losing daylight but it’s a great time to say hello to everyone and thank them for coming. No one expects to spend time with the couple on their wedding day and although some people hate this part, it is the perfect time to “do the rounds”; just remember, the bigger the wedding, the longer the receiving line, the more time it takes.
You’re getting married in your local church but your perfect venue is an hour’s drive away. This is totally fine and completely do-able; for some couples, it’s time alone to decompress but it does cut into your day a lot so factor it in. If it’s a dilemma, an earlier ceremony or getting married in a church closer to the venue is the best option. Again talk to your wedding photographer to figure out logistics and timings.
Photograph Time – “priorities people, priorities!”
Of course, the most important part of your day is your wedding photography and as your proudly appointed wedding photographer (that’s right, you picked me), I want to make sure that you get everything you want from your photos, including making them quick and painless. Your wedding photos are important, they’ll capture the memories of the day for a lifetime but that doesn’t mean you have to miss the party to get them. So talk to your photographer …*cough* that’s me *cough cough*… about timings of the day; what you want to capture and how realistic the time frame is. A good photographer, like me (ok I’ll stop now) will be able to guide you through the day and set your expectations for what wedding photos you can get in the time you have.
Much like your photographer, a good videographer will be able to outline what they’ll need from you for the day and how much of your time they’ll take up which, to be honest, is usually not that much. Wedding videographers are very skilled at capturing the moments of the day without the need to direct you. Also, if you haven’t booked them yet, talk to your photographer about who they like to work with. This can save loads of time and hassle.
Time to chill with your guests and have a drink
I’m fairly sure this is something you’ll want to do. Like I said earlier, the day goes by in a flash, so try to work in some time with your guests and soak up the atmosphere of your wedding reception. Especially if you’ve booked some great reception entertainment. This is also a great time for your wedding photographer to get relaxed, natural shots of you and your guests.
Venue – dinner call vs when you eat
When it’s time to eat, the bell will ring to signal dinner being served and Irish people are notoriously bad at listening to that bell. For us, it’s a cue to order 1 more, freshen up, pop out to the car or up to the room for that thing we left behind. Wedding venues are well used to this and your wedding coordinator will have allowed extra time to get your guests seated and dinner orders taken before you make your grand entrance (usually around 30mins). This is a great opportunity for you to freshen up, take some time with your bridal party or snap those last few photos. Personally I prefer not to be photographing couples at this time because it interrupts your break but it is great to have if weather or anything else delays the day.
Around the room during dinner
Earlier I mentioned people’s expectation (or lack thereof) of spending time with you on the day but obviously you want to see everyone. So, in between courses, pop around the tables, say hello, see if everyone is enjoying themselves, take the compliments and apologise for having to keep moving. Everyone understands and feels equally important that you came to chat. Quick tip: the day is a whirlwind, and although you want to be with everyone, make sure you spend time with the people you really want to and (most importantly) with each other.
Speeches – “I won’t be long” he said
This can be a killer; some people love to talk, some hate it, either way, they’ll still be longer than they said they would. So before the day, figure out who’s going to be giving speeches, ask them to write it and time it and give them a rough time slot 5 mins each, which will end up translating into 7 for the dads, 10 for the groom and 15 for the best man …but don’t tell them that. Remind them to practice and time themselves; that’s all you can do. So sit back and enjoy them.
Band – set up time
Unfortunately wedding bands can’t set up in the blink of an eye, it usually takes between 40-50mins. Again, it’s another opportunity to freshen up, chat to your guests or grab extra photos with family and friends but if you’d like to move this along and get the party started, there’s a couple of things you can do. If the room is big enough, some wedding venues will have a separate space for the band to set up while you’re having dinner. Failing that, the band’s waiting on access to their set up area, which is usually where you’re sitting, so the sooner you get the top table cleared, the sooner they can get going. Have a chat with your wedding coordinator to figure out the best solution.
Spend time together. My best memories from my wedding day are of the times I spent with my wife. I was lucky enough that she kept pulling me up to the dance floor and I regularly went looking for her and joined the conversations she was having. I always remember having the most fun with her on the day. After all, that’s what it’s all about.