A photographer for everyone but which one is right for you.
First of all I apologise if this is a bit long winded but if you consider your wedding photography is important to you it may be worth spending 5-6 minutes reading to the end.
There is a preconception by some brides is that in some way photographers are trying to rip you all off.
Let me start out by saying this: everybody should have a photographer at their wedding and because of this it’s great that there are a selection of prices, skills and talents in the marketplace to choose from. There is no strict rule about what you should budget for your wedding photography. You may have heard that you should spend at least the same on your photography as you did on your wedding dress! In reality, what I find is that people who have an interest in their wedding photography and want stunning photographs that they will treasure forever and have the budget will want to spend more on it.
Like everything else in life, there are a variety of options out there for you to choose from. To put it into context, you could buy all of your clothes online or from regular high street shops but for a special occasion you may shop for that special outfit in an upmarket boutique. Well your wedding is that special occasion and just as you will spend time choosing “The Special Dress” for your day from a range of bridal boutiques in varying price categories you can also choose your photographer from a variety of pricing options.
What are you paying for with a more expensive photographer?
An experienced wedding photographer is also a choreographer who will help your wedding timetable run smoothly by coordinating with your hair and make-up team, videographer, bridesmaids and groomsmen, florist, transport company, priest/celebrant, friends and guests, reception venue contact, entertainers, band/DJ,
At the lower end of the price scale, the photographers are more likely to be either photography students, weekend opportunists, that is, they are not full time wedding photographers but they do photography for a bit of extra cash, or they may be new wedding photographers starting out. It is also more likely that what you will get is either a link to download your photos or a USB of photos with minimal if any editing carried out. It is great that there are these low budget options available because everyone should have a wedding photographer and if you are not particularly interested in the final result then a low budget option may be perfect for you. However it can be a gamble (you may be lucky or not) and when you get your photos afterwards you may or may not be disappointed.
You will all have heard horror stories about so called “wedding photographers” ranging from bad, out of focus, blurred photos or heads cut off, too bright, too dark, no detail in the wedding dress, important guests left out, must have photos that were never taken etc. Or it could be that the couple either could not contact the photographer afterwards or were left waiting months for their photos.
Unfortunately you only get one chance at capturing your special wedding day in a memorable way, once it’s gone it’s gone forever. Maybe you think that you are getting a great bargain at the time but it could turn out to be the most expensive mistake of your wedding. You must decide how important your wedding photographs are to you and then decide what you feel you can afford for a wedding photographer.
I saw a horror story unfolding at a wedding at which I was a guest recently, the couple wanted me as a guest rather than working at their wedding which meant that I was able to relax and enjoy the day. Although I did suggest a few photographers to the couple they found one themselves. I watched the photographer, who was not really dressed appropriately for a wedding with ripped jeans, runners and a tee shirt, as she photographed the ceremony she was constantly changing position much to the annoyance of the priest conducting the ceremony. By doing this she was also wandering into the videographer’s shots. The videographer was a professional who knew what he was doing and I could see he was getting really frustrated with her antics. At the reception venue in the gardens the photographer posed the bride and groom and the bridal party with direct sunlight in their faces meaning that everyone was squinting in the photos. She did not have appropriate lenses for group and close up shots and from what I could see had no backup equipment in case of an emergency. Although she was supposed to capture the day until the first dance she was nowhere to be seen during the speeches (much to the delight of the videographer). Her one battery for her camera died before the first dance so that was missed also. That wedding was six months ago and the couple are still waiting to see their photos. As I said before, couples who value top class photography for their wedding will be prepared to pay for it, those who don’t won’t pay more than they feel they absolutely have to.
I’m telling you of this experience because I would not like anyone else to have the same experience. Every couple has an overall budget for their wedding and they decide how to divide it up. For some couples it’s all about the venue or the entertainment or extras such as chocolate fountains or exotic candy carts etc. and while this may impress your guests on the day it’s the photographs that you will have long afterwards and if you have any interest in having a selection of stunning photos you will want the best you can get without breaking the bank. If they are of poor quality or do not tell the real story of your magical day or capture all the details and you may come to regret your decision to go down the bargain basement road .
Owning a professional camera does not automatically make you a professional photographer. You also have to know how to use it properly and when and how to adjust the settings according to the conditions. You also need to have the eye to spot a good photograph, it may only involve moving a metre or two to change the angle to improve the shot dramatically, but if you do not have the eye to recognize this you will miss it and get what may be an acceptable rather than a stunning shot. Not all photographers are the same that is why you will see different styles of wedding photography. So why should you pay more to one photographer than another?
Firstly you should look at experience as it counts for a lot. The more experienced a photographer is, the more he or she normally charges. A wedding day can be very stressful for the inexperienced photographer, there is a lot more to it than turning up on the day and clicking the shutter. An experienced photographer will get to know the couple a little before the wedding day, the more you know about a couple the more you can capture their true relationship, nature and character.
As for technical issues on the day the lighting conditions change from bright outside the church/ venue to dark with a mix of lighting sources in the church. Sometimes flash is not allowed during the ceremony and if a photographer is not familiar with his or her camera and the various settings it can turn out to be a disaster.
An experienced photographer will know how to pose a couple without it looking stiff or un-natural too. Most couples say that they don’t want posed photos but they will show a photographer photos that they have seen in magazines or from other websites and although they look natural they are in fact subtly posed or for want of a better word, directed.
It is rare that a couple are the same height and if they are not directed into flattering positions that compliment each other everything can look stiff and un-natural. This is not easy and it can take a lot of weddings to get it right. If you get it wrong you can make a bride look larger than she actually is and not bring out her good points. With the groom you can also get it very wrong and make him feel very self conscious about how he looks. If a couple feel uncomfortable it will definitely show in the photographs. But an experienced photographer will know how to make a couple feel more relaxed in front of the camera.
The buzz words that couples use these days to describe the type of photography they want are reportage and storybook style photography. When I meet a couple for an initial chat about their preferences they may say they wanted reportage photography but the large display prints that I have showcased are not reportage, they are subtly directed images that look natural but that is what usually sells them on me when they see them. The definition of Reportage is documentary photography or photojournalism. That means the photographer stays in the background and doesn’t get involved but just goes with the flow during the day. While I do this for certain elements of the day there are also parts that I will subtlety direct so I offer a mix of styles.
Another thing that you pay for as prices go up is the ability of the photographer to use different lighting sources and conditions and to know how to enhance the existing light with the equipment he or she should have with them. Natural light is great, but a lot of churches are dark and need flash. So if flash is allowed an experienced photographer will know how to get the best out of it . If someone says they are purely a natural light photographer, their skill-set may not be suited to shooting a winter wedding. Apart from Spring and Summer weddings flash is a great bonus to a photographer if used correctly and even in Spring and Summer on dull or dark days it can be a great bonus.
A lot of inexperienced photographers either never use flash or use it too much because they don’t understand it and then they just produce bland or flat looking photos. A good photographer will experiment with lighting equipment off the job and if they feel they need training they will get it.
Most people think that a wedding photographer works one or perhaps two days a week and that the photos appear as if by magic at the end of the day. The reality is a lot different. every wedding we photograph takes a lot of work. Before the wedding there is the initial meeting with a potential couple and when they confirm a booking probably at least one more meeting to sort out details, the pre-wedding planning, possibly an engagement or pre-wedding shoot. For me the typical wedding day itself involves 12-14 hours which is physically and mentally tiring, then after the wedding there is typically 20 + hours of sorting and editing to give the photos the WOW Factor and then showing them to the couple, designing an album can take about 4 hours. It takes a lot of time and time is money. A typical wedding involves about 40 hours believe it or not.
And regarding time, more experienced photographers will charge more for their time. It’s like any profession, the more experienced you become at your job the more promotions and salary increases you will get and so the more experienced a photographer becomes surely they also deserve to earn more.
Photo editing is another skill that holds a lot of value in photography and most experienced photographers will do their own editing. Some photographers do outsource the editing due to the fact that they photograph so many weddings in any given year.
I know that in my case I limit the number of weddings that I photograph in a typical year to a maximum of 50. When I take a photo I have an image of the edited photo in my mind and it is not easy to explain that to someone else so I edit all my own work. A lot of brides (sometimes jokingly) ask if their photos will be retouched. My answer is that all photos taken will be checked and all will receive a certain degree of editing even if it only minor cropping or colour correction.
In the lower price ranges the digital download or USB of photos you get may not even have been viewed but simply transferred onto a USB straight out of the camera and sent to you without any editing at all. Editing and retouching takes time, as I said earlier it is typically 20+ hours for each wedding which means it costs money. People who have heard of Photoshop think it is a magic system that can correct anything and there are indeed automatic settings within it that can be used to process all images taken at a wedding but this will not take into account different lighting conditions and various locations during the day.
If a price sounds too good to be true it probably is.
What the package includes is another thing that can affect the price. This can be anything from the time spent shooting on the day, to whether or not an album or parent albums or other extras are included. Not every photographer offers the same package and even if there is an album included in a package there are cheap and cheerful as well as high quality albums available to photographers. Always insist on seeing and feeling the albums offered to check the quality. With an album a photographer may offer only one image per page or may offer more creative options with multi image designs on individual pages and may also offer complimentary background images which are faded to highlight the main images. Good album design isn’t easy and you should view several albums to see which style you prefer. The more creative that the design options offered are, the more you may expect to pay.
Would you expect the same spec and comfort levels if you bought a budget car model compared to the more luxurious options in the range? Customer service is something else you may pay for as the price goes up. Customer service covers everything from the initial contact such as how the phone is answered or how quickly your emails are replied to when you get in touch to every contact you have with your photographer right through to delivery of your final album. There should be no excuse for bad customer service but at certain times of the year perhaps allow a day or two for replies to emails as your photographer may be particularly busy.
However I believe that a photographer should never take on more work than they can handle while keeping existing clients happy with their customer care service. It may sound impressive for a photographer to say they shoot 100 weddings a year but is that necessarily so? How much individual attention can they give to each couple and will they ever be able to offer top quality editing within a reasonable time period? They may be constantly under stress and will burn out and you do not want a tired, burnt out and over stressed photographer capturing your magical day. I believe that quality rather than quantity is a better measure.
Of course top quality professional photography equipment is expensive, at a wedding I have about €15,000 worth of equipment with me, including backup equipment. That equipment needs to be replaced and updated regularly too so there is a large investment involved.
Running a business means you have a lot of expenses such as the equipment mentioned already, transport, insurance, training, websites, broadband, phone, electricity, computer equipment, data backup, software programmes, marketing and display costs, advertising, and travel. Photographers have to live too and have all the costs that people with regular salaries also have such as income tax, mortgages, food, pensions, clothing, etc. Also training courses to keep skills up to date take time and money.
Remember that a good wedding photographer will work hard at your wedding. They will charge what they feel they are worth because they feel that’s what their experience, creativity and customer care and costs are valued at.
Regardless of your wedding budget and the venue you choose, the size of your guest list or the extras you have booked for your wedding, all of which may put a strain on your budget, a top class, experienced wedding photographer will put in a lot of effort and work in the lead up to the wedding, on the day and afterwards.
I am one of those photographers who is passionate about their work and I give 100%+ to every couple whose wedding I photograph. I offer stunning photography in whichever style a couple requests.
I have been nominated for and won many awards over the last 15 years and I am currently nominated as a finalist in two major Awards Ceremony nights in February 2024
For the dedicated service that I provide to all my couples I currently offer very flexible packages where you decide how much or how little coverage you would like and also what optional extras you would like to include in your wedding photography package. This year will shoot about 48 weddings. In order to provide a top class photography, post production editing and customer care service right through to album delivery including a delivery time of 4 weeks maximum from date of wedding for fully edited images I would not take on more than 50 weddings per year.
When I take into account all of the costs in running my business I do not think that I am ripping anyone off or making a fortune. In my calendar I already have 41 bookings for 2024 and 12 so far for 2025 so things are looking good as far as I am concerned.
My prices on my website show what my packages cost for 2024 and 2025 DMC Photography | Photography Packages
and for 2026 weddings there will be an increase of about 8% over my 2025 prices, so if you like the sound of how I operate my business and may be interested in booking me for your wedding then check out some of my work here DMC Photography | Spring Summer 2022 wedding gallery DMC Photography | Summer Autumn 2022 wedding gallery
If you like what you see then get in touch. DMC Photography | Contact
ARE YOU CONSIDERING ASKING A FAMILY FRIEND OR HAS A FAMILY FRIEND OFFERED TO PHOTOGRAPH YOUR WEDDING?
As regards asking a friend of the family or them offering to do wedding photos for you, by all means go ahead if you are happy with this. This particular family friend may be a talented photographer who may progress on to becoming a very well-known wedding photographer, but just a few things to look out for which may be of help to you in deciding. These are things that I had to consider before tackling my first few weddings. I know when I began photographing weddings years ago I used film cameras and you did not know until you got the films developed whether everything had worked out OK. These days with digital cameras you can check your work as the day progresses.
1. Is the friend a member of a camera club? If yes that is an advantage as they will have experience of displaying their work and having it critiqued by other members. Most professional photographers came up through the ranks of camera clubs.
2. Have they done a wedding before or will your wedding be their first attempt? If your wedding is the first that they have done will it affect your stress levels and your ability to relax during the day? If they have done other weddings before try to get to see the results of those weddings, if they can't produce results beware.
3. Do they have quality equipment such as a good quality digital SLR camera with a minimum of 10MP resolution with a variety of lenses such as a good wide angle lens for fitting everybody into group shots, a telephoto lens for getting intimate shots during the ceremony without crowding you, a quality low light lens for taking shots during the ceremony in case flash is not allowed and a sturdy tripod to hold the camera steady in this situation. Do they have a good quality flash unit to give sufficient light where this is allowed during the ceremony and to use as fill light outside in areas where shadow could be a problem. Will their flash unit charge sufficiently quickly to capture those spur of the moment incidents which can really portray the mood and emotions of the day. Do they have sufficient memory capacity to store the 800 -1000 plus photographs at high resolution that a professional wedding photographer would typically take during a wedding? Do they have sufficient battery capacity to handle all of the necessary shots to be taken during the day?
Are they confident in knowing which lens to use in a particular situation?
Do they have back-up equipment to cover all of the above in case of equipment failure? I carry 2 of everything for such an eventuality and I carry sufficient memory capacity for up to 3000 photographs? Remember if a camera or lens or flash starts to act up you have to be able to change over to a replacement instantly and continue shooting.
4. Will they be able to anticipate what is coming next at all times to capture the true story of your special wedding day in reportage/storybook style.
5. Will they be able to choreograph any necessary group shots and are they good at working with people that they have probably not met before the wedding day?
6. Will they have laid out a mental or written script for themselves so that they capture all of the main elements of the day and do not forget to capture vital shots which may have been requested and which cannot be repeated?
7. For those necessary posed photographs will they have an understanding of posing for the Bride and Groom to get those intimate romantic shots and also for posing the families and bridal Party?
8. Will they be able to capture all of the shots that you require in a limited timeframe or will they keep you away from your guests for longer than necessary?
9. Will they be constantly on the look-out for the casual and candid shots that can really capture the atmosphere of the day, those moments that even the bride and groom do not see as they unfold?
10. Will they have the skills to work with, yourself and your fiancé/husband (as the day progresses), the bridesmaids, the groomsmen, a flower girl, a pageboy, the parents of the flower girl and pageboy, the parents of the bride and also of the groom, grandparents, aunties and uncles, the cousin who wants to feature prominently in most of the photos, the priest, the videographer, the drivers, the reception co-ordinator and the rest of the guests while keeping his or her stress levels and nerves under control?
11.After the wedding day is over do they have both the time and the skills to use good photo editing programmes to sort through all of the images from the day and carry out any necessary cropping and editing in the form of adjusting highlights and shadows and any touching up or airbrushing that may be necessary in order to show you top quality images which would be suitable to present in a wedding album or will they simply present you with a CD of un-edited images which may or may not require considerable work carried out on them before they can be printed or presented in an album?
I know that I spend an average of 3-4 days viewing and editing the images from a wedding in order to produce the stunning results that every bride and groom have a right to expect. The professional photographer’s job does not end when they pack away their equipment at the end of your wedding coverage. The unseen and sometimes forgotten elements then come into play such as the editing and selection of proofs, the presentation of and subsequent viewing of proofs and then the choices for layout of the photographs in the album. The ordering of the prints, assembly of a traditional wedding album or designing the layout of a storybook album and sending off the order for it. Then the best part in my opinion, the delivery of the wedding album to the happy couple and the expressions on their faces as they re-live the day all over again through their wedding album that tells a story of a magical day that they will treasure forever.
12.Do they keep several copies of your photographs either on discs or hard drives, (both the original un-edited photos and the fully edited versions) in separate locations so that in years to come your photos are available should you need them.
13. Does the friend of the family have access to professional quality wedding albums if that is the way you want your wedding photography presented?
Everyone who has an internet connection can get access to digital photo books but while they are great for general use the quality or durability of these photo books cannot compare to the look and feel and general presentation of a professional wedding album.
14.Bearing in mind all of the above is it worth saving money on possibly the only record of your wedding day by using a friend of the family rather than an experienced professional wedding photographer and will your nerves and your stress levels stand up to it?
If the friend of the family is a part-time or hobby photographer they probably do not have any form of insurance either. (check whether or not your venue requires this, a lot of venues now insist on it)
So in conclusion a professional wedding photographer has to be skilled and familiar with his or her equipment, they need an artistic eye, they need to constantly look for those candid and casual shots, they need to be cool, calm and controlled in potentially stressful situations, they need duplicates of all essential photographic equipment, they need negotiating and crowd control and general people skills. They need the ability to blend into the background and operate un-obtrusively. They need access to good post wedding editing skills or have the ability to do the editing themselves. They need to have access to professional wedding albums and or framing materials. They need access to a good quality professional photo lab and they need to be able to do this day in and day out while keeping their own stress levels and blood pressure under control.
All of the above has to come into consideration when you are deciding whether to book a professional wedding photographer or trust this very important day to a friend of the family.
I hope this helps in the family friend with camera versus the professional wedding photographer choice.
Feel free to print this and pass it on to the friend of the family as in agreeing to photograph your wedding they may not have taken all of this into consideration and may not feel so happy to do the job for you when they realise exactly what is involved. It may be easier for you to show them this, ask them to read it and then consider if they still wish to act as photographer for your wedding, rather than trying to figure out how to turn them down without offending anyone.
I hope this helps if you are in that position. Please feel free to reply to this post if you wish.
Do you treat your choice of wedding photographer with the same care and attention to detail as the search for your perfect wedding dress??
*There are after all certain similarities between these important choices.
*Your perfect dress will make you feel really special, just as your photographer should.
*Your perfect dress will make you the most stunning person at your wedding just as your photographer should do for you with his or her photos.
*You choose that special shape of dress with the perfect material, detail and design and you want all of that to be reflected in your photographs. A good photographer will capture the style and detail in your dress while the wrong photographer may just capture a bland white dress with no detail.
* Your perfect dress should outshine everything else you have seen in your search up to that point and you will know that it is "The one for you" just as you will know which photographer is right for you when you when you meet them. With the right photographer it is a combination of style, personality and value.
* You will have a budget in mind when searching for your perfect dress but you do not buy your dress on price alone,and may go over budget for the perfect dress. Just as you will have a budget in mind for your wedding photography but you should not book a photographer based on price alone and you may be prepared to go a bit above your original budget for the right photographer for you.
*Just as the bridal shops that you visit in the search for your perfect dress should listen to you and show you dresses based on your preferences, so your photographer should listen to you and the styles of photography you like and be prepared to give you what you want.
*You will accessorise your dress with shoes, jewellery, perhaps a veil or fascinator to get the perfect combination and your photographer should be flexible enough to offer you a package that meets your requirements.
* Your photographer will probably be with you from before you put on your dress in the morning until you take to the dance floor that night. So as much as you want to feel comfortable in your perfect dress you will also want to feel comfortable and relaxed with your choice of wedding photographer.
*Just as you will feel comfortable and relaxed all day in your perfect wedding dress, if you feel comfortable and relaxed with the photographer you choose this will shine through in your photographs as they will perfectly capture the atmosphere, the emotions and the craic of your special day.
Remember when choosing a photographer you should be looking for someone who is passionate about their work and also enjoys what they do, they should be prepared to go "the extra mile" for you to produce photographs that you will treasure forever.
I am a photographer who is prepared to go "that extra mile" for all of my couples.
All I ask is that you consider me in your search for the perfect photographer for your wedding. First check out my work in the various galleries on my website.
If you like what you see in the galleries you can also see details of different package options on my website and if I can offer you a stunning wedding photography package within your budget why not get in touch to see if I am available for your special day.
Remember as with everything that you will treasure the cheapest price is not always the best value.
What is the easiest way to avoid stress on your wedding day?
Well the answer is simple, you need a timetable for your day and one of the best people to help you plan this timetable in advance is your wedding photographer as they will be with you for a lot of the day. An experienced wedding photographer will have photographed hundreds of weddings over the years and will know where the pitfalls are that can lose you time and will be able to advise you how to avoid them and keep things running smoothly.
A wedding day can start as early as 7am for the bride and her bridesmaids/family and it can be about 10.30pm before you take to the dancefloor for your first dance and the aim should be to get from that 7am start to the first dance enjoying your day, and not feeling rushed or stressed.
The day can be broken into segments and if you know in advance how long to allow for each segment and keep close to that timetable that is the key to a relaxed stress free day.
At this point I would like to advise you to be sure to let your bridesmaids and groomsmen know what is expected of them and to be aware of the timeline. And then I will go into the breakdown of the suggested timetable for a relaxed wedding day.
What is expected of the bridesmaids and groomsmen?, well from quite a few of the weddings I have photographed a lot of the bridesmaids and groomsmen seem to think that once they have organised or attended the hen or stag party then all they have to do is be there for the ceremony and then hit the bar once you get to the reception venue, then sit down and enjoy a great meal, apart from the best man who has a speech to make. There have of course been weddings where the bridesmaids and groomsmen have been great throughout the day and this is usually because the couple have taken my advice and explained to them what is expected of them.
Briefly the bridesmaids are there to help and support the bride on the morning of the wedding and throughout the day, to have a bit of craic during the hair and makeup sessions and to help the bride get dressed. At the ceremony they are there to walk up the aisle ahead of the bride and the chief bridesmaid or maid of honour will normally be at the side of the bride for the exchange of rings and then witness the signatures on the paperwork. As a bride you should always try to keep one bridesmaid close to you to help arrange your dress and touch up lipstick etc. There may be bridal party photos taken immediately after the ceremony for which the bridesmaids will be needed. Then after the ceremony they will also be needed for a wedding party photo session either at your reception venue or at any other location of your choice, with an experienced wedding photographer this should normally only take a maximum of 30-40 minutes and the bridesmaids and groomsmen should make sure not to wander off before this is finished. After that they normally mingle with the other guests, enjoy a great meal and make sure they are at the side of the dancefloor for the first dance.
For the groomsmen they are there to support the groom on the morning of the wedding and make sure everyone is dressed and ready to leave in plenty of time for the wedding ceremony and when they arrive at the ceremony location, normally about half an hour before the time of the ceremony they greet the guests and try their best to keep the groom relaxed. They support the groom at the altar as he waits for his bride to walk up the aisle. The best man would normally be responsible for making sure hat he has the rings and the required paperwork for the legal end of the ceremony, he will also normally be at the side of the groom for the exchange of rings and then witness the signatures on the paperwork. There may be bridal party photos taken immediately after the ceremony for which the groomsmen will be needed. Then after the ceremony they will also be needed for a wedding party photo session either at your reception venue or at any other location of your choice, this should normally only take a maximum of 30-40 minutes and they should make sure not to wander off before this is finished. After that they normally mingle with the other guests, enjoy a great meal and make sure they are at the side of the dancefloor for the first dance.
I know from photographing hundreds of weddings over the years roughly how much time to allow and here is my take on it.
For the first scenario let’s say it’s a Church wedding at 1.30pm and the Church is 10 minutes from where the bride is getting ready and the reception venue is a 30 minute drive from the Church with all family, wedding party and group photos to be taken at the reception venue and that there are 3 bridesmaids and three groomsmen.
Lets start at the brides preparation location and work backwards from the 1.30pm official wedding time and assume that you will be a fashionable 10 minutes late arriving and then allow 10 minutes to get out of cars and have a few photos outside the Church so that means you should aim to be walking up the aisle at 1.50pm, it would be great if you arrives at 1.20pm and actually walk up the aisle but that is very rare.
The groom and his groomsmen will normally arrive at the Church half an hour before the ceremony, in this case at about 1pm so they should time their preparations and the time they leave the preparation location to arrive at that time.
So to arrive at 1.40pm you have to leave the house at 1.30pm. You will normally want some photos and maybe have a glass of bubbly with your bridesmaids and family before you leave and its great if you can give 20 minutes for this so that means you need to be fully dressed with your makeup and hair touched up and perfect by 1pm because most family members would be leaving 10 minutes ahead of you at 1.20pm. Allow 20-25 minutes to get your wedding dress, shoes and jewellery on which means you should start getting dressed at 12.35pm. With hair and makeup for a bride, 3 bridesmaids, the mother of the bride and possibly one or two others and allowing 30- 40 minutes for each you would need your hair and makeup artists to begin by about 8am at the latest.
If I am the photographer at a wedding I will normally give friendly prompts during the last hour or so in the leadup to the departure time because I will normally have been there from about 11am to photograph the preparations and all the little details like dresses, shoes, jewellery, perfume, flowers, good luck cards, wedding signs etc.
Ok so let’s continue as you walk up the aisle at 1.50pm, a typical wedding ceremony followed by a few photos at the altar afterwards takes about an hour, then you walk down the aisle and greet your guests at the door as they leave the Church which can take up to another half an hour. That brings you up to about 3.20pm leaving the Church.
You arrive at the reception venue at about 3.50pm to be greeted with glasses of bubbly and hopefully your bridesmaids, groomsmen and family arrive at around the same time. It can take 10 minutes to round up the wedding party and family for photos at this stage as if you are missing even one bridesmaid, groomsman or family member you can easily lose another10-15 minutes here. If everyone arrives more or less together that is great and you can get on with the wedding party, and family photos and couple which an experienced photographer should be able to complete within about 45 minutes. So by 4.45pm fingers crossed you could be back mingling with your guests with all the main must have photos completed leaving you time to relax before the meal call. Most reception venues will do the meal call at 5.30pm so in this scenario you would have about 45 minutes to mingle with your guests and enjoy any drinks reception entertainment you may have organised.
Please, please, do discuss well in advance with the wedding coordinator at your reception venue the time of the meal call as you need at least one and a half hours and two if possible from the time you arrive at the venue until the meal call. If you get this time then you can enjoy your wedding photography without getting stressed or feeling rushed and still have time to mingle with your guests and enjoy any entertainment you may have organised. While you are mingling with your guests your photographer should be getting lots of casual or candid photos featuring yourselves, your families and guests.
The reception venue may be flexible and offer a later meal call if they realise what your timetable is like but if they will not budge on the time of the meal call then you may have to bring the start time of your ceremony forward or make sure that you arrive in time to walk up the aisle at the official start time.
One big mistake to avoid if possible if you have less than an hour and a half until the meal call is to go in to your guests when you arrive at the reception venue as once you are in it is almost impossible to leave again for your photos and you can easily lose half an hour or more then.
Ok lets assume everything is going to plan and the meal call is at 5.30pm. the guests find their seats and give their food orders and you enter the room at 6pm. A normal wedding meal service takes about two and a half hours plus speeches either before or after the meal. If you can limit your speeches to half an hour that is great, shorter is even better but even half an hour gives 6-7 minutes per speech giver, assuming there is one speech from a parent of the bride and the groom and then the groom and the best man. Any longer than this and your guests will get restless. Now that brings you up to about 9pm for cutting the cake which with the actual cutting and lots of guest photos can take 10 minutes.
Now the tables will have to be cleared and the room re-arranged for the dancing and the band need to set up their equipment. On average this takes about an hour but I have seen bands that take an hour and a half to set up ready for the first dance. If everything goes to plan and the band are set up, your guests back in the room and the bridesmaids and groomsmen all available you should have your first dance between 10.15 and 10.30pm and then the party really begins.
So to simplify the timetable for this scenario. 8.00am hair and make-up 12.35pm bride gets dressed 1.00pm family photos 1.20-1.30pm leave for Church (five and a half hours from start of hair and makeup to departure)
1.40-1.50pm walk up aisle 2.40 -2.50pm walk down aisle 3.20pm leave Church (an hour and three quarters from arrival at Church to departure for reception)
3.50pm arrive at reception venue 4.00pm wedding party and family photos 4.45pm join guests to mingle before the meal call 5.30pm meal call for guests 6.00pm bride and groom enter the meal room (Two and a quarter hours from arrival at reception venue to meal call)
6.00pm to approx.. 9.10pm Meal and speeches and cake cutting (Three and a quarter hours)
9.10pm to approx. 10.30pm band setup and this is also an ideal time for some stunning night shots for the bride and groom. ( An hour and twenty minutes)
10.30pm First dance and the party really begins.
A 2nd scenario is for a civil ceremony at the reception venue and the timetable is basically the same for the preparations and up to the ceremony however the ceremony normally lasts about half an hour so it is shorter than a Church ceremony, don’t forget to allow half an hour to greet your guests after the civil ceremony. But remember that you still want to leave up to two hours from the time you finish greeting your guests after the ceremony until the meal call for a relaxed photo shoot and time to mingle with your guests. So for a 5.30pm meal call you should not book a civil ceremony for later than 2.30pm otherwise you will not be able to enjoy your photo shoot and still be able to spend time with your guests before the meal.
If you can arrange your civil ceremony at the reception venue for no later than 2.30pm then after you have finished greeting your guests at the end of the ceremony the timetable is the same as the Church wedding scenario.
For a Church wedding, If your travelling time from the Church to the reception venue is longer than the half an hour in the example above then you may need to to bring the time of your ceremony forward to keep on track for a 5.30pm meal call or if the hotel insist on an even earlier meal call you may also have to have an earlier ceremony.
Remember it is your day and if you plan things and allow the times suggested above for the various parts of the day you should be able to stay relaxed and stress free and really enjoy your day. On your wedding day you will be dealing with a range of different suppliers all supplying goods and services to make your wedding the best day of your life. We all have our different jobs to do at different times of the day but your photographer is probably the only one who will have contact with all of the others and whose job it is to record the work and services of all the other suppliers. So bear this in mind and choose your photographer wisely as an experienced wedding photographer can choreograph your whole day. But if you choose an in-experienced photographer your day may not run as smoothly and they may not capture all the details as well as the atmosphere, the emotions and the craic.
While price may be important there is a big difference between price and value, the cheapest price could turn out to be an expensive mistake.
The things to look out for when choosing your wedding photographer are, the quality of their work, their reputation, their eye for detail and a good photo and of course their personality because it is very important that you trust your photographer and feel relaxed with them. David McLean www.dmcphotography.ie [email protected] ph. 086 0684415
Having worked on many bridal shoots as a model and involved in several real weddings before, I’ve picked up some things that I hope might help a few others. If you’re part of the wedding industry then please feel free to share this tongue in cheek guide with your clients, whilst understanding that although it’s a bit brazen, it might actually be what they need to know!
Posing for the camera: There are certain posing tips that apply to all women whether they are wearing a bridal gown or not. However, your wedding day is the time when you’ll really want to put theory into practice and believe me it makes all the difference. Here are my top ten bridal posing tips;
1. Where to hold your flowers – Aim for just below belly button level. Not too high and not too low. This pushes your arms out with a slight bend at your elbow, avoiding crushed skin and bingo wings. It also acts as bonus stomach coverage. #Winning
2. Separate limbs – as with the above, keeping your arms away from your body also slims down the thickness of your overall body shape through illusion (see more of this in a past blog titled Dear Model). This works for men as well as women, although it is less noticeable in a suit and limbs may need to be brought out more obviously.
3. Find your waist – when your photographer says “put your hands on your hips”, what they actually mean is your waist. By putting your hands on your waist you elongate your legs and draw attention to your smallest width. Whereas your actual hips are far lower and essentially the widest part of your figure. Look in the mirror and you’ll see, it’s a little cheat that’s priceless to know.
4. Chin chineney chin chin charoo – the brides enemy is her second chin, even the size zero model has one hiding, I promise! Practice by pushing your jaw down and out, whilst stretching your neck and rolling your shoulders back. Obviously there is a limit on how far and you’ll know when too far is too far.
5. Leaning – if you lean forwards or backwards in a heavily boned corset, it’s hard to avoid back fat and the double-boob-fold-over by the armpits in a strapless dress. It’s really important to find a flattering dress that fits correctly for this reason and tailored to your shape. Try to ensure you can dictate to it where you are wanting to lean, rather than the dress staying in one place and you going in another.
6. Relax – Easier said than done I know, but try to let your face and shoulders relax. If you tense up each time the camera points at you then every shot will show your shoulders around your ears and your bones will be aching by the end of the day. If you’re worried about needing to breathe in then try spanx control undies for a great curvy shape in your dress.
7. Smiling – it sounds really silly to say practice smiling, but hey if it releases good endorphins and makes your life a little better then by all means please do! I’ve found that I can’t disguise a fake smile very well, so I try to do a little laugh before the shot to avoid the typical school photo forced face. If all else fails, just look at your other half and remember what a happy day it is!
8. Don’t always look to camera – it’s often said by brides that the natural shots are their most favourite. A set up is arranged but then it’s often the in between shots that sell. Well, here’s some news…the ‘set up’ is usually to capture those moments, crafty photographers hey! The ones where you and your guests are naturally smiling and joking together, or when you as a couple are caught in a real moment of love. It’s all in the eyes and you can’t force those looks, so just act as you would normally and I’m sure those moments will be photographed.
9. Pose appropriately – if your photographer has you doing something that you really really don’t like, then do tell them. Most people aren’t used to having their picture taken, so it’s ok to feel shy and a little bit embarrassed at first. But if you really do detest what they’re suggesting, then just have a quiet word and they will move onto the next shot quickly instead of wasting both of your time on something you won’t choose for your album. It’s reasons such as this that pre-comms with your suppliers is so vital and practice engagement shoots come in so handy.
10. Practice with your partner – just like you would for the first dance, it’s ok to practice posing in preparation…and your photographer will probably love you for it! Pre-wedding engagement shoots are a wonderful way to get some casual and natural shots of you both together (perfect for save the date cards actually) and will save so much time with posing direction on the actual day.
Bridesmaids: Onto the girls…whilst selecting your besties, remember their breasties. There is no dress in the world that suits everyone. However there are certain styles that hide a multitude of sins and you need to keep this in mind when dressing them with dignity. Big boobed pals are not going to thank you for a strapless number, whilst the skinny minnies aren’t going to be too chuffed with a gaping open neckline. It might be a good idea to get your girls together to discuss what they’d hate before deciding what they’d like, in an attempt to cover the basics.
A small note added – if they wear floor length dresses then you can usually get away with them wearing their own shoes, saving on additional costs that can go towards more wine for the tables! Hurrah!
Vintage: If you’re going down the cupcakes, teacups and bunting route, then it’s a good idea to give your suppliers a more detailed term than ‘that vintage look’. Your make up artist/hair stylist might especially thank you so they don’t get the decade wrong. Ask yourself if you are referring to the 1920’s, 1930’s, 1940’s or 1950’s? Remember, that’s already a forty year span of very different looks regarding era specific trends…and the word ‘vintage’ isn’t exclusive to just those years!
Generally meaning ‘old’ (which to be fair, could be that decaying loaf of bread in the kitchen that you haven’t yet parted ways with), you must decide which type of vintage you want to replicate, so you’re not disappointed with what you’re given. However if you are aiming around the looser term with what may alternately be known as a retro wedding, then Pinterest is a great place to build up ideas spanning various decades and styles.
Shoes: If you’ve arranged with your photographer to go walking in a local park for your group shots and bridal portraits, you may wish to bring along comfortable shoes. Treading on grass in heels is not fun and will soon stain your satin Valentino’s in mud as you sink. Also walking further than three feet takes longer in shoes that you’ve never worn before…and today is when time really is of the essence – a day that you’d rather spend supping buzz fizz and relaxing, than posing for hundreds of smiles with your new Mother in law.
Standing tall: Exceedingly high heels create long legs and height for good posture in a heavy bridal gown…fabulous! Until of course, you realise that your other half is now three inches shorter than he or she used to be. When you decide what you’re wearing on your feet, tell yourself repeatedly “it’s not my day, it’s our day” and everything you choose affects your partner.
If you are already taller than shorty, there are poses that can balance out the height. BUT saying this (and this is a big butt but) if your partner is already shorter, you’re probably already comfortable with the aesthetics, so it doesn’t really matter for this day out of all of them. What’s a few missing inches anyway?! **cough cough**
Fashion fads: if you want timeless pictures, it’s probably best to avoid anything that is overly current or considered especially modern, as these will be the things that will date your album first. If you look back at an older relatives wedding, you’ll likely notice what decade it represents. This is all very well if they married during the ‘vintage’ era (you know the one, that forty year span we spoke about earlier)…but not so much when you hit the eighties and nineties. Poofy long sleeved dresses, big boffs, thick framed glasses and huge veils that flowed for half a mile past questionable perms (just look at Charles and Diana; so very very eighties). Not to everyones taste these days, but certainly decade recognisable if that’s what you want. Look at what you’re using and ask yourself if it’s timeless. But of course if you’re happy to represent the year that you wed, then by all means go ultra modern.
Print your pictures, laptops die: Whilst we’re on the topic, lets talk about those priceless photographs. Please, please, please remember to order an album! It’s a cherished heirloom and computers can (and will) destroy treasured memories by wiping hard drives completely never to be returned. Technology is your best friend and your worst enemy at times. Much like that second muffin you’re about to eat…
Group shots: It’s nice to welcome Suzy to the family who has been dating cousin John for three weeks. But with his track record he probably won’t still be with her in another fortnight…and to be honest, it’s a right ballache to clone out unwanted guests. Remember to get your group shots with immediate family as well as extended family. It won’t take the photographer that long to get those few extra shots, but it will take him or her hours and hours in photoshop to remove them after the event. P.S. “you can just remove it in photoshop can’t you?” will not sit well with your photographer, so do what you can in the moment. Wediting was meant for refining, not reconstructing.
Trust your photographer: Hopefully you have done your research and picked a person who is trained, experienced and knows exactly what they are doing at a wedding with a camera. So don’t be surprised if they do unusual things like standing you in the shade on a glorious sunny day. They’re simply using top shade to avoid squinty eyes and nasty shadows on your face. Just go with it, they will have shot many weddings before and will probably have reason to what they’re doing. Trust them. Note: do try to give reasonable time to the photographer where you can on the day instead of just ten minutes and then expecting miracles. After all, the pictures are the one thing that last after the day.
Inspiration: Try not to send your inspiration (FYI beach pictures when you’re marrying in a city hotel are irrelevant to your photographer) to your suppliers just days before your wedding. Chances are they have already sorted it. Plus they might not even see the new email in time. Avoid disappointment by having advance clear communication including all the final plans laid out in writing to avoid potential cock ups. Things like where, when, who, what, how much and how soon. A detailed guideline with the plan of events will enable them to figure out what they can do with you in the time that they have. Just don’t give them ten minutes and expect miracles.
Kids: Some people love kids. In fact many people have kids before they say their own nuptials these days. But not everyone shares the same adoration for the little folk and it’s worth bearing in mind that children are quite often uncontrollable at special occasions when caught up in all of the excitement.
Be careful who you invite knowing that little Tommy toerag from three doors down will be the one legging it up and down the church aisle with a toy trumpet on your wedding video and nobody will ask him to stop because he looks soooooo cute in a three piece suit. It’s perfectly acceptable to declare your day as an ‘adult only zone’ – a chance for Mums and Dads to do their own thing without the mini me’s to care of.
So if you do want to tell rude jokes in the speeches and stay up talking about the old times until dawn, then you do that. Children welcome or not, either is as acceptable as the other. Do whatever suits you and your wedding, kids can make or break it.
Wedding day politics: If you’re from a divorced family like me, then you have my sympathies when it comes to politics. From the seating plan, to who gets to walk you down the aisle, any kind of tradition flies out of the window. There really is no right or wrong these days regarding what should be done. So be firm, reminding the relatives snubbing their noses that this is YOUR day before you even begin. Oh and the highest bidder doesn’t necessarily get their own way. It’s so lovely that Great Aunt Mabel wants to donate the largest chunk of the finances, but that doesn’t mean to say she gets to pick what colour the bridesmaids wear because she paid for them. Be strong – your day.
Alcohol: Oh we all like a tipple in celebration, but for goodness sake don’t get leathered before you even arrive at the church. It’s a long day and a little champagne breakfast on an empty stomach and sleepless night can only end in complete disaster with a bath and bed before your evening guests have had chance to arrive. Take it slow, pace yourself, eat sensibly even if you’re not hungry (you don’t want to faint at the altar) and try your best to wait until the evening if you really want to nail the hard spirits. You’ll appreciate your wedding night a lot more if you can remember it!
Don’t panic if it doesn’t go to plan: On the morning of your wedding, it would be brilliant if you could hand over all responsibility to someone you trust if you can. You’ve spent months preparing so why ruin the next twelve hours by fretting over cold canapés and missing croutons? This is what bridesmaids and ushers are there for, or better still, hired help like a wedding planner or master of ceremonies who will carry the celebrations along for you. The day is long but will fly by so fast that you need to cherish each moment as it happens. By heaven you’ve paid enough, so have fun!
Pick your suppliers wisely: A dress off eBay is a risk, a student photographer with only their family in their a portfolio is a risk, flowers from the garden are a risk, a cake made by your Mum is a risk…I’m sure you get my point. I’m not saying go all out and splash the cash on anything and everything, in fact I’ve seen many budget weddings done wonderfully. But do have trial runs where you can and do order products in advance so there is plentiful time to change plans where necessary. There are places to cut costs (like on invites, favours and table decorations), but there are places where really you can’t. As with anything, prioritise with your budget and choose wisely according to your own preference according to what means most to you both.
Personal appearance: As a serious note from your future self; please don’t fake tan, dye your hair, apply a face mask, wax visible areas, get laser eye surgery or anything else out of the ordinary just hours before your big day! Your body might have a melt down, react to a substance badly and then you’re well and truly screwed. Give yourself enough time for recovery but not enough time for regrowth where applicable and you’ll be just fine. Also remember when you’re on holiday sunning yourself, that tan lines last a long time and are not so removable with scrubbing.
With all this being said, I’ve never known a wedding be exactly the same as another and some things you just can’t predict. No amount of money can persuade the weather Gods to do as they’re told and no amount of pre-warning can prevent some family members from squabbling on the dancefloor. Just remember to enjoy celebrating your marriage with your nearest and dearest. With perfect preparation everything that can, should go to plan.
About the author: Jen Brook is a creative fine art, conceptual and fashion model from UK. You can find her on her website, Facebook and Twitter. She also blogs over on Tumblr. This article originally appeared here.