How to plan a relaxed Wedding Day

So exciting times are ahead… Its already February, how did that happen! Which means you are into wedding planning if you are getting hitched this year.  But don’t panic, I’m here to spread a bit of light on planning a relaxed wedding day. My previous couples have all been pretty chilled, I love that about them all. I seem to attract that quality which is absolutely fine by me, a mix between a little bit of tradition with all the quirks in-between! However I do get asked frequently at the start of your journey, “what can we do to make sure it all goes smoothly?” So I’ve put together some tips and timings from my experience as a Wedding Photographer so far in the hope you might find it useful for your day!

Firstly, EVERY single wedding is different but as a general rule of thumb there are still some set timings so hopefully this will still apply to your day! The reason why I go through this so much with my couples is so on the day I know exactly where I need to be and you guys can relax and now and again if needed, just ask me “what are we doing now” etc no surprises for you guys and some gentle structured flow to your day from me. I can then be in the background catching all those moments you booked me for in the first place! I thought it might be helpful if I break it down into sections that as your photographer I’m mostly involved with, you don’t need to get bogged down with the logistics of the day so let me take that away from you; especially as there is so much “wedding” stuff out there, don’t let it put you off from the start! Right lets get started.

Morning preparation & getting dressed // Time allocated 1hr – 1.5hrs before the ceremony.

I love this time I get with you. Its THE best, so much fizz and excitement in the air. I get to see everything you’ve planned come together in one room. This is my chance to grab those stylised shots I love setting up of your shoes, wellies, hair accessories and anything in-between. Its absolutely essential that you only have people in the room that have their positive pants on and are there for you. Don’t go overboard with it either, more people, more chaos! Less interruptions are the key.  I love the documentary element to this part so just relax, be pampered and have fun. Definitely create a playlist to have fun with, a good mix of all sorts that will keep your toes tapping. Food is also a vital part of this time, if you haven’t already had your breakfast then get a little spread of fruit, croissants, cookies and plenty of water to keep everyone going.  Think about where you are getting ready, the space in-particular. No one wants to put their gear on in a tiny cupboard! Equally important is light, you’ll hear most photographers get over excited about light, we can’t help it, its our thing! So think about natural light. I’m known to kind of come in and move things around if I need to, I might face you a different way for example, but trust me I’m always doing this for you. To get the best shot. Wear something you are happy to be seen in too, treat yourself to a new PJ set or gorgeous kimono dressing gown, oh and think about how you will get it off to put your dress on as well. I’ve cut tops off before now that wouldn’t stretch!

Chinese bride looking in mirrorbridesmaid helping bride with dressexcited bride ready in her dress

Leaving for your ceremony and travel // 15 minutes buffer time.

I’ve only included this part as it can get a bit forgotten. Try and create spare time here. You will want to show your mum, dad or whoever is giving you away your finished look, amazing lets get a shot of that, we need to shoot that quick group shot too, shall we do it outside the weather is gorgeous, “can I grab the cat and include her” yeah sure lets do it… and boom 15 minutes has gone by and you should have left already. It’s good to have that buffer and take a breathe and think we’ve got 15 minutes UNTIL we need to leave but we’re already good to go. Also I tend to leave at this point so that buffer helps me get to the next part of the day knowing that I’ve shot all I need to in the morning. Plus that journey to your ceremony is just a breath of fresh air for you to relax and just sit, in your gear and think wow I’m about to get married! How amazing! No rushing just smiles of happiness and excitement. If you simply just have to walk down the stairs of your venue, that buffer is the nicest time to just spend time making sure you’re happy with your hair, any touch ups and a practice dance off with your bestie!

bride waiting with groom on stairsbride fussing puppy before ceremony

Your ceremony and straight after // Time allocated 1.5 hr

I’ll hopefully be at the front with you, although generally to the side so I’m out of the way. Throughout the ceremony make sure you touch your other half, appropriately of course! I find it so odd when my couples think they can’t hold hands, or be close during this time. Get stuck in and that goes for the kiss too!! You should be proud of yourselves. Depending on the type of ceremony I’ll give you a couple of instructions if they are needed, like for the signing of the registry or a family shot for example. If it’s an outdoor one then we’ll always just go with the flow! Then, whoop you’re married. All that build up and your walking hand in hand with rings on. Awesome! A couple of things can happen next. You can just walk out and have your guests follow you or you can walk out and be blasted with confetti. It’s quite nice to do the confetti at this point as everyone is together and it’s easy to set up by just holding you both back or to the side in a room; which is also nice for you guys to just say hi to each other!! Your guests will want to come hug, kiss and generally congratulate you. Which is a lovely moment for me to grab some candids and just slip into the background for a bit. Make sure you grab a drink/canapé or get someone to get you one if you don’t get handed one, you’ll be chatting to everyone!

groom with head in his hand in ceremonybright colourful confetti canonoysters at a wedding

Group Shots // 30 minutes

Ok so some photographers dread this part. Mainly because of the organisation. But I LOVE doing group shots, I didn’t get enough of them at my wedding and I regret it. Most of the couples I shoot don’t want loads as that’s not the kind of formal wedding you are planning. I normally say about 10-12 in one block is plenty. If you’re reading this and you do have a long list of group shots, don’t worry if it’s important to you, we can work through it. I once did over 30!! It was important to the couple at the time, as friends/family had travelled all over the world and were rarely together. The day is unique to you and for that couple it was about creating that little piece of history for them, a legacy. I’m more than happy to shoot them, but be warned they take time. It’s perhaps good to think about splitting them up if you do have more than 10-12. Also you guys will be standing there and I’ll be moving people around you, I will give you instructions NOT to move, ha! Therefore think about weather, warmth and I can’t put enough emphasis on prep for group shots. Its what makes it work. We will chat about them way before your wedding day so I get exactly what you what. You need two people that will know your friends and family and will be willing to work with me, so they can gather groups together and get them ready and push any oldies along! Oh and don’t be surprised on a glorious sunny day when I put your in the shade, I know what I’m doing. Trust me. This time is a really good chance for candids too, however if you are having a wedding of 100 guests or more I would highly recommend a second shooter. They can then grab all those candid moments, whilst I do the group shots.

wedding group shot with dogbohemian wedding group shotlarge male group shot on beach

Your couple shoot // Ideally an hour – reality 30 minutes minimum.

Of course the more time the better with you both. I like to take the opportunity to take you away from your guests and just grab some awesome creative shots of you both. Oh god I hear you panic, up close and personal… yep. ALL my couples have said this. As a photographer I freeze up in front of the camera too but with my experience I’ve learnt lots of methods to relax you both and make it fun. I will never ask you to do anything that you don’t feel comfortable with. It’s hopefully like just going for a walk with a friend! You’ll be surprised how quickly you get into it and spending time away from your guests gives you the chance to take a good look at each other have some fun! Creating something authentic is the goal. It’s a great time to just have a chat about the day so far as well, it goes by fast so taking stock of these moments and freezing time a little will always be something that I fight for. I don’t have a definite approach I’ll be fuelled by you and your chemistry, your gentle insults for each other!! The shoot can be a little spontaneous too if we’re having a little walk so be prepared for me to randomly say “stop… there, just stand there” ! Off the back of that if we are walking about, it is sometimes good to consider a trusted friend to come with us with a change of shoes, and a bit of lippy touch-up, hold a brolly, a coat etc sometimes this is my second shooter  if you have hired one for the day. My best advice for this part of the day? Let go. Just let go of all the negativity and remember that moment in the proposal, that excitement and knowledge that you just married the love of your life!

couple shoot in peak district couple in sunshine at compton verney wedding venuebohemian couple in grass

Your venue // 30 minutes

One of the biggest decisions I think any couple will make is where they are getting married. The main room you are holding your meal or dance-off night in, will be a huge factor in your day. This normally goes along with the type of wedding you are having too. A DIY marque, a barn reception with open fires, an art gallery white space, a boggy field with an amazing tipi! You will have taken time to dress it. With either loads of DIY details or just a few small ones that showcases you as a couple. Either way I need time to shoot it. I love doing this too, seeing your vision of what you wanted for botanicals and flowers, any quirks and of course the cake! There is cake isn’t there? It’s great to get a shot of the room empty before your guests enter. If it’s only me on the day and you haven’t hired a second shooter, be aware I can’t be everywhere at once. I will need some time to be able to shoot your room. This will normally be after your couple shoot. Sometimes it can be done on the morning, if you’re getting ready at your main venue for example but again it will depend on when any other suppliers are arriving and setting anything up. That’s why its so important to chat to me about how you are creating your day.

gardens at the royal crescent bathchristmas wedding at dewsall courtceremony area at matara centre

Everything else // eternity 

Ok so many planning guides will continue to give you other suggestions, what time to eat, cut the cake, dance… but really… I think you ought to just stop and forget the time after you get back from your couple shoot. Why? Well I mentioned before how quickly the day goes and the thought of living each moment to the clock doesn’t really play out well for me. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be aware of the time and whats happening and you’ll be guided by your meal and speeches a little, but it will all run into the next thing so just let it play out. The real heart of the day is all the interactions, so I’ll be walking around capturing all of that for you both. At any point of the day you are free to grab me and ask me for a certain shot. I sometimes tend to do the same, especially if you are lucky enough to get a beautiful sunset, I will take you for a little walk in the warm sun! So I think that’s it. This is just a general guide to a full coverage day, I’m more than happy to chat about your extensive details for your day. I get so excited about hearing about everyones ideas, I love my job! What are you waiting for, get in touch and drop me an email.

embroidered napkin for bridecelebration drinks at speechesbest mans speech bookcutting the cheese cake at Chinese weddingshots shots shotswild dancing at compton verney wedding

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