How Much Is Enough Time On Your Wedding Day?

How early do you book your wedding professionals? How much time should you allow for some gorgeous loved up couple and bridal party photos? How early should you be ready on the day itself? What time should we organise the speeches for? In short, I’ve never heard someone say on a wedding day “dam, we have too much time on our hands”. Code: if in doubt do it early and allow extra time if you can. Now that sounds simple enough but let me explain.
Wedding days fly past, we all know that, so where is the problem in throwing in an extra 15-minutes here and there? Give yourself time to enjoy every single moment. What harm ever came from mingling and chatting a little longer with those nearest and dearest to you?

If a bride’s hair & make-up is done an hour before she has to leave then as a photographer, I always feel that is a enough time to relax, enjoy and get the glamourous snaps we need. For the blokes we tend to roll with whatever but typically the man-scaping is done before we arrive and once again an hour ensures we are capturing more than just happy snaps. Also, the lads are always at a ceremony thirty-minutes before it starts so we get an opportunity there as well. Your ceremony length will be what it is. As a photographer I LOVE the time immediately after a ceremony (#love it love it love it). Guests have only seen the bride, maybe had a brief chat to the groom and mums and dads are so proud of their kids tying the knot (not to mention it is the wedding part of the wedding day), so why not mingle and celebrate with everyone for a bit. Honestly, it is one of the richest times of any wedding day I reckon. Hugs, smiles, tears, joy, raw emotion everywhere. Awesome mingling snaps wherever you look. Whilst everyone is around maybe consider a whole group photo and some family snaps as well?

Next, the bridal party/pictorial/location shoot (or whatever we call it nowadays). In short, (and the same goes for any part of your wedding day), the more time you allow, the more natural opportunity you create. Five-minutes will capture exactly the same quality as five-hours, what it will not allow you to capture is a variety of location, diversity of composition and lighting or provide you with the opportunity to simply hang out and enjoy the day/everyone’s company. Maybe, if there is something you might call a “sweet spot”, say 1-2-hours plus travel time. Another favourite of mine is to pack an esky, enjoy what you’re doing but also realise in most cases you will go from lunch to 7pm-ish without a bite to eat. Most wedding car company’s put on a little bit of a spread for you but top it up or put it together yourself eh, enjoy the occasion and give yourself the chance to breathe, look around and go “how good is this!!!”

I’ve always thought it as a shame when couples provide some yummy drinks and canpase for their guests at a reception but miss out on it themselves, so make your choice ahead of time. There are always more beaut mingling/social candid snaps to be had here not to mention allowing fifteen-minutes (or more) to chill before you are announced into a wedding reception allows you to gather your thoughts a little.

Through a reception we’re generally not going anywhere so time things however suits. For my own wedding we did the speeches straight away, had no cake then for the next five-hours all we had to do was the waltz and live it up. More popular though is the spreading of formalities throughout the night, the theory being speeches don’t drag on in one big hit and there is always something to look forward to as a celebration/showcase.

SPECIAL MENTION: remember sunset in winter can be as early as 4.55pm and in summer as late as 8pm, so if you like the idea of some funky sunset shots as much as we do you will need to plan things around those times. There is also the potential of night shots to consider.

If you are planning a wedding on a weekday then you should save a little $$$ and be able to book things more last minute – notice, I said “should”. Across 700+ weddings I have had couples’ book two-months as well as almost three-years out from their wedding date. The question you need to ask is how disappointed will you be if you miss out on the gown, venue or photographer of your dreams because you didn’t get in early enough? My tip……… book as much as you can as soon as you can then sit back until you are ready to fine tune the details. That way you have the talented wedding gurus you were always looking for and you can plan things from then on at your own pace.

WWDD? What would Dale do? See what I did there? Break your wedding day down into pockets and decide what is most important to you. As far as the photos go when was the last time you had the opportunity to crack the whip on a professional photographer and get all the awesome pics you ever dreamed of? Seriously, use and abuse the fact you have us there, make the most of everything you are planning, everyone you are inviting and all those little and not so little elements you have brought together.

Find out what parts of your wedding day are more important to you and go big. There are so, so many reasons I want to go back and relive my own wedding day and the one thing that contributed across everything I experienced was the fact that we didn’t fluff around on the stuff that didn’t interest us but all the things we were looking forward to we did in absolute excess!

Let me say all of this is one man’s opinion, it is simply what I would do. If there is one thing that photographing 700+ weddings has taught me is that every wedding day is different but also has the same common “we want to have as much fun as possible” mantra. So, more time equals more fun but more importantly more time allows more fun to come about naturally.

Happy wedding planning y’all!

Post and photographs provided by Dale Casey. Dale is the principle wedding photographer and owner of DC Images and can be found on ‘The Wedding Local’ website here.

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