Wedding Day Timing

My post entitled ‘A Wedding To Do List’ is helpful in working out what needs to be done leading up to the wedding day.  What about the actual wedding day timing? 


Around a month before the wedding day, I chat with all my wedding couples in regards to finalising their wedding photography.  Here are some of my tips, thoughts and suggestions that I go through with all my couples.


Start your timing plan with the wedding ceremony.  Even if you are unsure of the exact time you wish the ceremony to commence, write down an ideal time and then later everything can be adjusted accordingly if needed.


Let’s say the ceremony ideal start time is 3pm.  Now the ceremony duration will depend if you are having a church wedding or civil ceremony.  As a guide a traditional Catholic mass can be around one hour, while a normal church wedding is around 45 minutes including two readings, minister’s sermon, signing the register and walking out.


However a civil ceremony ranges from 15 to 30 minutes.  Speak to your minister or celebrant who will help you finalise a more accurate duration time.


After the ceremony, there are three possible areas you need to be aware of in regards to time.  Firstly do you wish to have a large group shot of all your guests (approx 10-15 minutes)?  Secondly think about how much mingling time you would like to share with your guests.  Thirdly are the family photographs. 


Working out the time to allocate for family photographs will be hard but as a rough guide allocate 5 mins for the first family photograph and then two minutes for each family photograph after that.  I strongly recommend you speak with your photographer in detail about your family photographs and in particular the timing.


From this point, now jump ahead in the timing planning to the reception arrival time for the bridal party.  Let’s say you want to arrive at 6pm to your wedding reception.  Now you can work out the time you will have remaining for travelling and ‘location’ bridal party photographs.


Recapping: wedding starts at 3pm and the duration is 30 minutes (civil ceremony).  Afterwards let’s say you want a group shot (10 min), mingling time (30min) and then ten family photographs (20min).  This will mean you will have one & half hours for travelling and ‘location’ bridal party photographs.


If an hour and a half is not enough time (or too much time), then you can decide to change the ceremony starting time, have longer mingling time or perhaps even arrive earlier to the reception to share pre dinner drinks with your guests.


I will share more information in future posts about timing before the ceremony and at the reception.

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Finding A Good Wedding Reception Venue

On Friday, I travelled north along the Northern Beaches Peninsular to photograph a wedding at Whale Beach.  The reception was at Moby’s Beach House, which is one of my favourite wedding venues.  Yes the venue has an amazing view of Whale Beach and yes the food is exceptional but the service is what I love the most about Moby’s.


After each wedding, many bride and grooms will often share details with me about their wedding.  What they loved, the highlights and even anything about their wedding that they were disappointed in.


On the drive home from photographing Friday’s wedding, I started thinking about how I have never heard any bad reports about Moby’s – only flourishing and glowing testimonies.


To be honest, I am not surprised.  The reason is I have long since believed that a way to tell how a wedding couple will be treated by the venue’s staff and mangers can be gadged by how the ‘hired hands’ are treated.  By ‘hired hands’ I mean the photographers, videographers, musicians and DJ etc. 


Moby’s staff, owners and managers have always treated me as the photographer with courtesy and respect therefore I am not surprised that they would be even more supportive and caring of their wedding couples and guests.


The best tip I can offer any couple in deciding which wedding reception venue to book is to ask the ‘hired hands’ on their experiences of the possible venues.  You may be surprised on what information you will find out.


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Family Members Behaving Badly at Weddings

I can still recall many years ago, one of my very first weddings as a photographer.  The bride and groom were excited to have me photograph their wedding however they neglected to share that the bride’s mother was not.


Actually it wasn’t until their wedding day that the couple revelled their fears to me.  Apparently the bride’s mother wanted her brother (keen amateur photographer) to photograph the wedding and not a stranger.


Talk about feeling unwanted!  From the moment I arrived, there was no doubt in my mind the mother was unhappy with my presence.  Figuring it was too late to problem solve this with the happy couple, I decided to do my best to avoid any confrontation with the mother.


With five minutes before the bride was due to arrive at the church, I walked outside to find a good vantage spot from where I would photograph the cars as they drove down the road.  In finding my spot I crouched down ready for the cars arrival.  Not long had I squatted did I feel a hard thump on the back of my head.  I span around quickly to find the mother standing behind me yelling “move away, I want to take a photograph from this spot”.


Nursing my head with one hand while holding my camera in the other, I responded relatively calmly “Mrs Robinson that is assault and if you do that again I will have no other option than to call the police after this wedding is over”.


I don’t remember ever hearing or seeing the bride’s mother for the rest of the wedding and the bride and groom never mentioned the incident to me after the wedding.  I assumed the mother realised she was being a bit neurotic and thought it best not to mention the incident to anyone so not to increase the already strained relationship she had with her daughter.


Weddings bring out the very best and the absolute worst behaviour in people.  I think after 17 years of being a wedding photographer, that family are the worst offenders in regards to bad behaviour.


I will write a lot more about dealing with problem family members (and sometimes friends) in future posts.


For now I think you may enjoy a little lighter side of this topic.  This video captures a family celebrating a wedding in Russia.


Enjoy with the knowledge your family is not this bad





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Things to Remember to take with you on your Wedding Day!

I write this post from my sunny balcony overlooking the ocean in Thailand (enjoying some time out).  Back in Sydney soon……..



8 Things to Remember to take with you on your Wedding Day – for the girls:



1)     Lipstick for touch up’s during the day.

2)     Hankie or tissues (there may be tears).

3)     Your speech notes for the reception.

4)     Bobby hairpins.  This is especially a good idea if it is a windy day, as your hair and veil my give you some issues.

5)     Needle and thread.  I don’t see bride’s doing this much anymore but from time to time a button will come off or a hem comes down.

6)     Band-aids for the back of your shoes when you can’t take it anymore.

7)     Maybe a sugar lolly or two, which you may need especially if you suffer, low blood pressure (it can be awhile till dinner).

8)     Along the lines of the band-aids, you may consider taking some comfortable slip on shoes when you are ready to ditch your high heels.


8 Things to Remember to take with you on your Wedding Day – for the boys:


1)     Your speech notes for the reception.

2)     Safety pins because often the florist doesn’t supply enough or strong enough pins to secure the boys flowers to their jackets.

3)     The rings (don’t laugh as forgetting the ring happens more often than you think).

4)     Refreshments for after the ceremony.  Sometimes the hire cars will offer this as part of their service.  You will appreciate been given a drink of wine, water or soft drink along with crackers and cheese as soon as you arrive at the photography location.

5)     Wedding day schedule.  Everyone has some kind of list or timetable for the running of the day.  If you do, don’t leave it at home.

6)     Mobile phone numbers of the photographer, wedding hire cars, videographer, minister/celebrant, ceremony musicians and reception venue.

7)     Are you walking down or up the aisle to your own favourite music?  Don’t forget the CD!

8)     If for some reason you go over your allocated time for the hire cars (e.g. the bride was running late, photographer took longer than they should etc), they may ask you to pay the extra amount when you arrive at the reception.  Make sure you leave with some cash in your wallet for these unexpected expenses.

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Wedding Coordinators


Don’t be surprised once you have announced your engagement that amongst the congratulations you will start to hear the horror wedding stories.


You know the stories I am talking about; ‘the photographer left the lense cap on’, ‘the best man lost the rings down the toliet’ etc etc etc.


Personally, I have lost count of the number of times over the years bride and grooms have rung me weeks before the wedding, sharing their issues with the reception.


On reflection, I think many of these reception issues come about because the reception function coordinators regulary change their jobs. I don’t have statistics on this but I bet the average time would be around 18 months.


This means if you have establised a realationship with the function coordinator at the time of booking, by the time your wedding comes around don’t be surprised if someone new is looking after your wedding now.


It isn’t the change of a new coordintor that is exactly the problem but the change over of information.  Anything written down of course is as they say ‘in writing’ but it is the ‘little verbal notes’ that are forgotten.


For example at the time of inspecting the reception before booking, you ask “are our guests allowed to mingle in the courtyard before we arrive”.  The response is “guests usually mingle in the foyer beforehand but if you prefer we can make the courtyard available”.


This is one of those ‘little verbal agreements’ that if not written down is easily forgotten or lost if the coordinator leaves.


A very simple suggestion is to send an email to confirm any of those ‘little verbal conversations’ and ask for them to respond.  Then you will be able to prove later, all your past agreed conversations.


Not a bad idea to use this strategy with all your wedding suppliers.

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Caring for your Unframed Photographs

A little ‘add on’ from my post, ‘what to think about when comparing wedding photographers’.


You have received your photographs back from your wedding photographer or you have been given photographs that your friends took on your wedding day – what now??


Of course you would like to protect and care for the professional photographs but I would encourage you to also consider the future well being of all your wedding photographs (even the ones Auntie Bessie lovingly captured).  Often it isn’t until many years later, when viewing damaged, wedding photographs that people regret they didn’t take better care of them.


Here are the golden rules of care for all your treasured wedding photographs……………


Avoid touching the photograph on the image side. Instead hold and pick photographs from the side edges.


Direct sunlight, high humidity, UV light, cleaning products will damage your photographs.


If you have chosen to frame your photographs yourself:


Select a glass that will give the highest protection against UV light. 


Select matting that is acid free (make sure it is not just acid buffed i.e. there is still acid in the inner core). I always use pure ‘rag cotton matting’.  Do not put a photograph straight onto the glass as in years to come you will find that the photograph will have stuck to the glass.


Avoid hanging your frame on a wall that direct sunlight hits. 


Try to hang on an internal wall if possible instead of an external wall.  An internal wall has fewer changes in temperature.


Avoid areas of raising damp or high humidity when hanging your frame.


If you have chosen to place your photographs in an album yourself:


Unfortunately for couples that apart from ‘dry mounting’ albums, (albums that you stick or mount the photographs to the page without matting) most professional albums can only be purchased through a professional photographer.  The reason for this, is album companies don’t want to sell ‘one off albums’ as it takes them a while to teach the buyer to assemble the albums, ready images for the albums and how to place the album order.  Album companies know that once a photographer is up to speed with their process that they will continually order from them, while a wedding couple will most likely only order once.


There are some great dry mount albums out there that are 100% acid free (check out ‘corban & blair’ albums). Be careful as some tapes used for securing photographs to albums will actually harm your photographs so check before using.  Read the album manufacture’s notes before purchasing the album and purchasing the tape.  When attaching your photographs to an album, use a small amount of tape (i.e. do not secure the whole photograph to the page).  This will allow the photograph to contract and expand with temperature changes.


If however you were wanting a more professional album (like a matted, digital or library bound album) then I would strongly suggest you select a photographer that offers these types of albums (please read my notes on what to think about when comparing wedding photographers, as this post has more information about this).


One last thought on albums, if you have your digital negatives then your options just got wider with the new world of ‘coffee table’ albums.  Many of these coffee table album manufactures offer web based software that you can design your own album online and the company will print your album for you (but this a whole other blog topic for another day).


Hoping you enjoy your photographs forever.


Sarhn McArthur

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