‘Bride to bride’ wedding top tips for brides on their wedding day
As we approach your wedding day, here is a whole list of top tips that we have picked up over the years from our past brides, and from our own observations.
Please take from the list what you will, and disregard the rest. Your day is your day, you can do things however you like, however – we find that in most cases, the advice below holds good.
We have seen all sorts over the years and I have a general rule of thumb – if we can avoid the obvious going wrong on your day, we only have to deal with anything else that comes up. Chilled brides lead to relaxed weddings and great photographs. The key to everything is to plan plan plan ahead, allow more time than you think will be necessary, and don’t squeeze things too tightly. Things always take longer than expected on the day, so please build in breathing space, and everything will run like clockwork.
OK, here goes.
What time will you be with the bride on the day?
The following answers assume that we are starting the day with the bridal prep shots.
For civil ceremonies, where the bride is getting ready at the venue, we will be with you 90 minutes before the ceremony.
This allows for us to be with you throughout the preps, for an hour, then to join the lads 30 mins before the ceremony. We only need to be with the lads for 5 mins, but that needs to be 30 mins before the ceremony to allow for the registrar to see the groom, and the ushers to usher once the guests start arriving. Once I have photographed the lads, I will usually return to the bride and take pics on the way to the ceremony.
For church services, we will be with you 90 mins before the ceremony plus travel time between home/hotel and the church. Travel time includes time to get to my car from the hotel room, load my car, and park at the church (which is often easier said than done!). We will always leave you in good time to be with the groom 30 mins before the church service.
Do I need to be ready when you arrive?
Not at all, in fact if you are ready when we arrive, you may feel that you are running too early. If we are with you for an hour, then the first 15 mins are for shooting detail shots – shoes, flowers, dress hanging, etc. We recommend that for button up and lace up dresses/corsets, you begin to put your dress on 15 mins after we arrive. We will leave the room for you to do this. Please allow 30 mins for your dress to be put on – 15 mins is enough for dresses which just need zipping up. That will leave you 15 mins clear before we leave. If you are completely ready during this time, I can photograph you with bridesmaids, mum, dad, and various combinations of those attendants, whilst your dress is pristine and your flowers are perfect. For this to happen of course, all other parties must also be completely ready and available for photography.
TOP TIP – whoever has been asked to help dress you should be completely ready themselves before they begin to get you ready. This means that they can concentrate on helping you and (fingers crossed it won’t) should something go wrong, the complete focus is on getting you ready. Your dresser should, if at all possible, visit the dress shop with you for the final fitting and learn directly from the dress fitter how to put your dress on and lace/tie/zip it up. This will save so much time on the day.
TOP TIP – I am often told by a bride that her dress took 5 minutes in the shop to put on, only to find on the day it takes half an hour. When you are in the shop trying your dress on it may feel like only 5 minutes because of the excitement, but please remember that the dress maker/fitter is likely to be much quicker at fitting your dress than whoever is due to assist you on the day of your wedding.
You will need to ensure that your hair and make up is complete before you put your dress on, and will need to back-calculate the starting time for your hairdresser and make up artist accordingly.
TOP TIP – I reckon this is the most important hour of your wedding. If things go smoothly during this hour, the rest of the day will go like clockwork.
What if it rains/snows/blows a gale?
Please try not to worry about the weather, there is nothing we can do about it anyhow, other than make the best of the day.
First of all, the UK long term weather forecast is notoriously negative. If it predicts sunshine long term, generally we can expect sunshine. If it predicts rain, we can expect anything from sunshine to showers to rain. Even if it rains, it very rarely rains all day, we can often photograph outside at some stage anyhow.
Secondly, we can handle whatever is thrown at us. You’re in safe hands.
We don’t want to spend ages hanging around for group shots
Agreed. We can photograph 80 people in 20 mins, 100 people in 25 mins, 140 in 30 mins, max, as long as we are organised and use our ‘system’.
The system is as follows, all shots include the bride and groom.
Friends (all friends, defined as any non relatives).
Groom’s full family
Groom’s Immediate Family
Bride’s Immediate Family
Bride’s Full Family
Bridesmaids and Ushers
Any ‘specials’ – suggest maximum of 2 small groups.
If you move outside this pattern, you are in danger of hanging around for much of your afternoon having photographs taken. We really try to avoid this.
It’s not necessary from our point of view to have the full set described above, we will discuss your groups with you before the day so we know exactly who you would like us to photograph.
How long do we need for the afternoon reception?
For spring/summer/autumn weddings, we recommend a minimum of 90 minutes from arrival at the venue to when you are called to dinner (not when you sit down, which could be 30 mins later). For a more chilled out wedding, I would recommend 2 hours.
For winter weddings, please allow 2 hours. The reason for this is that group shots become logistically more challenging, especially in bad weather.
TOP TIP – If you are considering a formal receiving line this would need to start after the timings suggested above, and you should allow 1 minute per 2 guests in the line. Maybe less than 5% of all our weddings have receiving lines and when they do, the brides write in my top tips book ‘don’t have a receiving line!’.
Should we do speeches first or last?
That’s entirely up to you – traditionally they were always after dinner but the trend in recent years is to have the speeches first so the gents can relax and eat their food afterwards. That’s fine of course, but remember that extended speeches may affect the quality of the food served through no fault of the kitchen, and if you’ve paid a lot of money for it, you may be scoring an own goal!!
TOP TIP – The combination of a receiving line for guests and then speeches ‘first’ can be very tedious for hungry guests and hosts alike.
We’re planning a surprise for the guests
Fantastic, but please let me in on the secret nice and early. First, because I can keep a secret, and secondly, if it’s a surprise to me also, how do I photograph it? So, please tell us if you have anything planned that you need photographing, so we can be ready for you.
Our wedding cars are taking us for a drive after the ceremony
That’s fine, but please remember to build it into your schedule. If you leave church for a 10 minutes drive to the venue, and your driver takes a 30 minute detour, then your 90 mins at the venue will start when you arrive. If you don’t account for the time, it can only come out of your afternoon reception time, and put you under pressure for your photos. As a general rule of thumb, please ask your driver to go directly to the venue, or alternatively be sure to discuss timing implications with us first.
When will our photos be ready?
Generally they will be ready for you to view as soon as you are back from honeymoon. We will add some previews on our blog whilst you are away, and put a full gallery online once you have viewed your images in the studio. It is a good idea to book your viewing appointment before you go away, to give you the best chance to see your pictures asap when you get back (remember to reserve holiday if necessary, we are under heavy demand at weekends and can’t always accommodate weekend viewing time requests).