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South Australian photographer Sarah Petrusma's photography blog. Full of thoughts, ideas & favourite stories


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Tips for scheduling your wedding

Planning a wedding can be a very daunting thing, and often people have no idea where to start with planning let alone scheduling their day. Every single wedding is unique and every single wedding day will run slightly differently. That is more than ok! Your day is yours, and it can be anything you want it to be. To help you make the most out of your day, I’ve put together these scheduling tips that I’ve collected after shooting more than 100 weddings. I hope this helps you when planning your special day!

Plan for things to run late

Most weddings will fall behind schedule at some point during the day, with not all of them catching up again. The biggest culprits are makeup, congratulations, speeches and food, these are the most underestimated in the time it can take to get things done right. Anything can run late on a wedding day, so I always recommend keeping your schedule a little bit relaxed. You can aim to have things happen at a certain time, but make sure you plan to have a little leeway just in case. So there’s no need to stress on your wedding day if makeup takes longer than expected or entree comes out 30 minutes late. Things you can do to reduce the stress of running late are:

  • Shoot bride preparation photos after groom preparation photos, guys generally don’t have make-up done or big difficult dresses to put on, so there is less chance they will be running behind schedule.
  • Consider giving yourself an extra 30 minutes between the end of your ceremony and the official start of the reception (this can be filled with extra pre-dinner nibbles and drinks). At the very worst, you’ll run on time and have more time to spend socialising with your guests.
  • Don’t schedule your photography to finish 10 minutes after your first dance or speeches. I recommend having 30 minutes leeway again, so you don’t have to stress if things fall behind a little bit.
  • Ask your MC to not just make announcements but to keep on top of your schedule. Give them permission to ask the band or photographer etc to stay late if needed (at their pre-determined costs) up to a pre-discussed amount of time if your budget will allow it. If things are falling behind, you can ask them to help get things back on track too.

Plan to spend some time with your photographer just before sunset

As a photographer, I can tell you my favourite time of day to get absolutely stunning photos is the hour before sunset. In winter, the sun can set at 5:30pm or earlier! Which means you could plan to finish your wedding portraits at 5:30pm or 6pm, just in time for a gorgeous sunset and getting the party started with your guests. However in Summer, the sun can set at 8:30pm or later. In this case I recommend putting aside 20 minutes of your reception time to sneak away and capture some stunning sunset photos as your guests party on. (This can also be a great way to break up what might otherwise be a long photo session).

Plan for your guests

I think that formal family photos and bridal portraits are super important, but I also understand that you want to spend time with your guests and you don’t want them waiting around with nothing to do while you sneak away to have some beautiful portraits taken. Here are a few things you can do to make sure your guests never get bored, and you get to spend some quality time with them:

  • If you want to have a group photo, ask your celebrant to make an announcement after the formalities that a group photo will be taking place directly following congratulations and to please not go anywhere.
  • If you’re not having a group photo, it can still be beneficial to ask your celebrant to make an announcement that immediate family should please stay close by as we’ll be taking family photos directly following the congratulations.
  • Pre dinner drinks, canapés and even lawn games are a great way to keep your guests entertained while you have your family & bridal party portraits done. Having these in a separate area to your ceremony can keep things moving smoothly, as any guests not required for photos can move on leaving family members undistracted for their photos.
  • Have a plan for your bridal party and couple portraits. You can ask your photographer to visit your venue/s with you to figure out the best timings for locations and how to keep things short and sweet if you’re eager to get straight into the party yourself.
  • If you want to keep times as short as possible between the ceremony and you joining your guests for the party (and don’t mind going against tradition) you could consider having your bridal party and couple portraits before the ceremony.

Plan around the light

If you are able to, I recommend asking your photographer to help you plan your wedding around the best possible lighting for you and your guests. I include a visit to the venue with every package, not just to find the best spots for portraits, but also to give feedback on the light and the best positions to take advantage of this. If you’ve booked with me and want to lock in a time to visit your venue and get some help with your schedule please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I’m more than happy to help. xx

If you'd like more information on recommended times for each section of your day you can check out my blog on "How Many Hours You Should Hire Your Wedding Photographer For". xx