Planning a wedding is full of incredible highs. Menu-tasting is pretty wonderful, as is the first time you try on ‘The One’ – but don’t be deceived. There are also some – well, not lows exactly, but perhaps we could call them less thrilling moments involved in creating the day of your dreams.
I’m going to break it to you gently: at some point, you’re going to have to sit down together and plan your schedule for the day: your itinerary, timings and transitions. Yes, it’s one of those wedding admin (wedmin?!) tasks you just can’t avoid; even the most relaxed of weddings takes a lot of planning and preparation to look convincingly laidback!
I do have some good news, however: you don’t have to go it alone. Your photographer is well-placed to advise you on your schedule, having lots of wedding day experience and plenty of ideas about what works well. I always give my couples a sample schedule so that they have an idea of what’s possible (and realistic!) time that I’m with them – ask! A good photographer will be happy to oblige.
So, onto more nuggets of wedmin wisdom: there are two points in the day when I see couples visibly relax, and that’s after the vows and then after the family/group photographs. Therefore, if you’re having group photos (and I really would urge you to – take a look at my recent blog post to discover why!), I’d recommend that you do them as early as possible. Straight after the ceremony works well as everyone is still milling around and easy to round up; then you can do your couple portraits while everyone else is heading over the reception to check in and grab a drink.
Where and when to do your couple’s portraits? Well, if there’s an option of a stop-off en route to your reception venue, that can work well; or alternatively, you could do them as soon as you arrive at the reception. Speak to your venue about what other couples have done and gather some ideas to discuss. Also, ask your photographer for their thoughts: if they’ve photographed there before they probably know the best/more secluded parts of the venue and grounds to catch some intimate moments between you and your new spouse. If they haven’t, then they’ve probably checked it out thoroughly in advance and will have some suggestions for where to do those all-important couple shots. Either way, doing portraits as early as possible means that you’re free to relax and get back to your guests as quickly as possible – and then the fun really begins!
Another pearl I’d share is that it’s best to avoid big gaps in your schedule. When these do occur – and I’ve seen it plenty of times, often between the meal and the party – guests become restless and bored, and brides and grooms can get flustered. Keep the excitement and flow going by asking your DJ or band to start up straight after the meal (or as soon as possible after the room is turned around – and make sure you’ve asked your venue for timings on this in advance if relevant). You’ve spent months – years, even – planning the perfect party – why delay it for an hour?
And a final word of advice: some aspects of the day you might consider ‘immoveable’, but ask yourself if that’s really the case. You don’t have to get married at a ‘traditional’ time if that doesn’t suit, and you don’t have to have your reception in a hotel just because ‘that’s what people do’. Despite all of these talk of admin, don’t be afraid to think creatively – a schedule is just a way of keeping events on track and shouldn’t be a straitjacket.