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Getting More Photo Time on a Wedding Timeline

May 28, 2013 - How To, Photography

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Sometimes I get asked when I get time to photograph details on a {typically} busy wedding day. I dream of having a plethora of time to shoot wedding/reception detail photos, but the truth of the matter is that it doesn't happen. Seven years as a wedding photographer and I can say you don't get time, you make time.

Sounds esoteric, right?

Not really…let's use a recent wedding as an example of how to take a timeline with relatively little time designated for reception detail photos. The key is to:
1. Request for extra time before the wedding day.
Asking a wedding coordinator or day-of planner (even if it's a bride's friend) to hold guests past cocktail hour is near to impossible and will likely ruffle feathers. You must request in advance where you can squeeze out extra time. For my last wedding, I asked to amend the timeline and have the bride dress ten minutes earlier than originally planned. This allowed me to use those precious ten minutes to shoot wedding ceremony details (when I otherwise wouldn't have been able to).
2. Ask for details in advance
It's always a good thing to plan what you'll need. For example, be sure the bride brings her wedding invitation to the preparation site so you can photograph it amongst her wedding day details. Most brides don't think of this, so it's my job as a wedding photographer to ask for what I need. This also goes for reminding the bride to pack a silk hanger instead of a plastic one (if she cares how it'll appear holding her wedding dress in photos).
3. Assign times for details
Once I review the wedding day timeline, it's common for me to follow up with questions to ensure we're on the same page. For example, I ask what time the seating cards/table assignments will be ready. Because I'm busy shooting during most of cocktail hour, guests will usually take their seating assignments by the time I'm free to photograph the reception details. When possible, I shoot the seating assignments before the ceremony begins (when the ceremony and reception are at the same venue). At a recent wedding, I asked the coordinator for specific times I'd be able to shoot details (like the seating cards) and I also asked her to provide a time for me to clear out the reception venue so I could get an overview photo. This photo requires me to empty the room, so I want to ensure we're on the same page and this is accomplished for establishing a set time to make it happen (in this case, it was 5:55pm that all servers, staff, and help had to step out).

At my last wedding in North Carolina, I knew I was working with an extremely tight timeline, so I needed to shoot as much I could of the reception details before the designated slot in the timeline. After reviewing the timeline, I emailed the coordinator and explained I'd need more time, so if a few reception elements were prepped before the ceremony, to please let me know. She was so kind and let me know I could shoot the following before the ceremony:
Signage (welcome signs, drink menus, food menus, drink stirrers, etc)
Drink stations
Large floral arrangements
Lounge

Okay, so that was a start! Because the bride and groom didn't see each other before the ceremony, we opted to have them walk through their reception tent for a sneak peek of details during bride+groom photo time (after the ceremony). This was great because I was able to capture:
Their reaction to the reception venue
The dance floor monogram
The wedding cake station
The s'mores station

This is their reactions to seeing their reception and details…loved this moment…

After bridal party and family pictures, I ran down to the reception site and had just enough time to finish the photos I needed to complete the reception details:
Illuminated chandeliers
Candles lit on table
Centerpieces
Food stations (including plates, forks, and napkins, etc)
Groom's cake in lounge
Overview photograph of reception venue

I hope this information sheds light into how I work on a wedding day to capture details with a tight timeline, but the key is to make time where you can. If you'd like to see me work behind-the-scenes at an actual wedding making time for details, you can check out THIS VIDEO for more information.

Happy Tuesday!

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FREE PRODUCTIVITY PLANNER

Life is about to get a whole lot easier.  

Desperate for change, I created a Productivity Planner to help streamline my workflow and I kissed stress goodbye. 

[With cherry flavored chapstick.]  

FREE INSTAGRAM GUIDE

Oh, friend, it's time to start growing your business on Instagram.
  
Sign up to receive a free Instagram marketing guide, helpful tips, and free stock photos you can use for your business.  

It’s basically an Instanote sent to your inbox to help push you toward your social goals and help grow your following.

FREE STOCK PHOTOS

You're busy, pulled in lots of directions, and trying to run a business. 

In addition to all this, you know you should be posting on social media, so how do you balance it all? 

I'm dedicated to your success, so download five free stock photos to use online...I hope this empowers you to attract dream customers along the way!

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