Over the past few years, couples have been asking me all sorts of questions about the Full Day package and how to plan their wedding around it. I have decided to put everything together in this tidy wedding day planning helper. I will guide you through the bridal preparation all the way to the last dances at the wedding reception venue. This post is intended for the bride to read, but grooms should feel free to read ahead as well.
First off, if you already made your decision to book the Full Day Photography package, congratulations, you’ve made one of your best choices in the wedding planning stage. The Full Day photography package stands for its name and covers the whole wedding day.
Expect the photographer covering your bridal preparation to show up a bit early. As a rule in She Said YES, the photographer will arrive earlier than the agreed time to set up his equipment. Better early than sorry. Right? For this post, let’s assume that I am the photographer.
The first thing I will be looking for is the wedding dress. If you want to be better prepared, choose a spot with good light to hang it. A place that compliments your wedding dress, it’s not too busy with stuff, and maybe it’s of some significance for you. I will suggest reading this article Getting Ready Photos Are Essential Part of the Wedding Day to learn a bit more about the bridal prep.
Next, I will be taking photos of the little details and accessories that you will be wearing at the wedding. Your shoes, perfume, earrings, necklace, bracelets and possibly the engagement ring.
At this point, you shouldn’t worry about your looks or posing skills. The portraits and fun photos with your bridesmaids will come right after the details and accessories. It usually takes about 40 minutes to complete the wedding dresses and accessories shots and another 40 minutes to create some unforgettable images with the girls. I would like to have the opportunity to make some photos during your hair and makeup session. You will love them. Remember, with the Full Day photography package you have all the time you need.
A good meal at this point is essential for your survival through the rest of the day. Your next snack will be at the reception, so make it a large meal. If you skip it, your blood sugar will drop during the ceremony, and you might be a bit nervous during the Bride and Groom photo session.
Next, we can do some shots of you getting in the dress. I will wait in the next room until you are entirely descent but leave the buttons or back laces for the pictures. Let the girls do them up in front of the camera.
A great idea now is to bring your parents to the stage. Wait behind a closed door and tell your dad or mum, to walk in. They will be so emotional that they will forget about the camera in the room. These will be one of your favourite images with dad and mum.
If the bridal preparation photoshoot goes by the plan, I will tick all the boxes in an hour and a half. The best way to finish it is with some photos of you posing in your dress, some with your parents, some with the girls in their gowns and finally boarding your limo. Please allow an extra 30 minutes for those shots.
The second photographer included in your Full Day package will be at the groom preparation address just a tick early from the agreed time. Similar to the bridal preparation, the photographer will start with detail shots of the accessories. Tell the boys to be ready to suit up half an hour after the photographer arrives. Groom preparation is usually more silly and less emotional.
The only formal shots would be of the groom alone dressing up under low-key window light.
Plan for the groom prep to start about same time as the bridal prep, but as the boys need to be at the wedding ceremony venue before the bride it should be 30min shorter. Allow one to one and a half hours for the groom prep photography.
Once the groom photographer is ready with the prep photos, he/she will head off to the ceremony venue. Then, he/she will take pictures of the flower arrangements and the decorations of the place. Next, some photos of guests arriving.
I, in the role of the bride photographer, will arrive at the ceremony almost at the same time as you (the gorgeous bride). Please don’t run out of the car if you can’t see me. Take a breath and relax for a moment. The big step is next. Allow a few minutes for my team to set up the cameras, the lights and sound before you exit the car. We want everything to be perfect for the perfect day. If you see me waiting for your arrival, everything is fine and ready for you.
The driver will exit the car first to cover the rear wheel, so your dress doesn’t get dirty. Here is an excellent opportunity for a window shot of you holding your bouquet and smiling. The driver will probably open the door. I always like when dad does that. He will be proud to do it, but you might need to remind him before the wedding. In the following minutes, my team and I will try to be as discrete as possible and let the ceremony run its course.
Final tips for great photos during the wedding ceremony:
Formal photo session and congratulations
Congratulations! You are now a married couple, and the stress is over. Next event is a bit chaotic, but I will help you with the following tips.
All of your guests will rush toward you to express their love and congratulate you. Most couples don’t plan for this part and it pushes their whole wedding day schedule back. It will take about 15min for small weddings of 50-60 guests and can go up to 30min for larger weddings. Accounting for this time will not eat your Bride and Groom photo session time and you won’t lose that golden hour sunlight.
I will be right behind your shoulder shooting your guests’ emotional expressions. The second photographer that comes with your Full Day photography package will be behind your husband’s shoulder, shooting similar portraits. In my opinion, the best way to stand is next to each other, so the guests can queue from the left side, congratulate you, then your man and continue to the right side.
The group shot comes next. Prepare to see my crowd managing skills in action. All you need to do is stand together with hubby, facing the same direction at the location I point. I will arrange the guests around you. Right after the formal shot of all standing and smiling, I like to break things up a bit. I will instruct your guests to raise one hand in the air and say “YAY” on my signal. It will reward you with a great shot.
Bride and Groom photo session
That’s where we have the chance to make some epic images for that luxury wedding album that you looked at earlier. Remember, with the Full Day package you receive $200 complimentary credit towards your premium wedding album.
Ideally, the Sun will be shining on an angle. That is 2 hours before sunset. It is called “The golden hour”, and it’s the most flattering daylight to make epic wedding photographs. Plan your couple photo shoot around this time of the day and allow at least one and a half hour for it. I would suggest 2 hours, but it all depends on what you have planned for your guests during that time, which brings me back to your second photographer. He/she will be taking candid shots of your guests during the so-called cocktail hour. Plan some entertainment for the guests as they can be bored pretty quickly without your presence. The 50% discount off the Photo Booth included in your Full Day photography package can come in handy here.
During the Bride and Groom photo session, we will shoot at a few places at the location you have chosen. By this time you should be pretty comfortable in front of the camera as we’ve done your included Pre-Wedding photoshoot, which is all about getting used to the camera.
Including your bridal party in this photo session can create some amusing images and it’s an excellent experience to remember. Just make sure to take some drinks with you on the field as you will get thirsty. You haven’t drunk anything since you left the bridal prep, and I hope that you had that meal that I suggested earlier.
That’s it. You survived. You are one tough bride. I’m genuinely proud of you. Next events might unfold a bit blurry especially if you already had a few. That’s OK. No one expects form you to be sober, but be careful. Know your limits.
The second photographer included in your Full Day photography package will take photos of the reception venue before the guests barge in. Some wide shots, some details and highlights of the decorations. That will conclude his/her services for the day.
The best plan for the reception is to put the important events like cake cutting, first dance, bouquet toss and garter toss in the early hours of the reception as the all mighty Full Day photography package is about to reach its limits.
Plan the important events like cake cutting, first dance, bouquet toss and garter toss to happen in the early hours of the reception as the all mighty Full Day photography package is about to reach its limits.
Reception starts with the Grand Entrance. Take it slow like you did your walk on the aisle. Look around how are people cheering, make a little gesture or a funny swing and head towards the head table. Remember, an extra second for your photographer will reward you generously. I like to take a photo from your back towards the crowd and then move in front and walk backwards while taking more pictures.
Wedding Bands and Rings Photo
During the next half an hour, I will be going around the tables, entertaining the guests and making lovely portraits. Once dinner is served, I will take your wedding rings and create one of my signature wedding ring shots. That’s my way to step aside while your guests have their meals.
There is not much to plan about the speeches. I still like to throw a bit of creativity in those shots and make them look like I made them during Oscar awards. Few looks, couple of fun expressions and gestures.
Cutting of the Cake
Cutting the cake next will be an excellent time to start the dessert serving. If you are after some good shots from the cake cutting, take the cake table in the centre of the venue so everyone can see and will be able to take photos from several angles. Also, don’t forget to give me 5 min notice so I can set up some advanced lighting. Slice the cake into the middle and pause. Remember? Extra second for your photographer. I will take my signature knife shot and then go back in front to catch that long-awaited kiss.
It is not common but it’s good fun to feed each other with the cake. It creates some extra photo opportunities and entertainment for the guests.
The First Dance is the last chance for some excellent photos of you two together. Remember the extra time for your photographer? Advice your DJ or MC to run the whole song and keep the guests off the dance floor until it finishes. Shooting photos in near complete darkness have its technical challenges, in order to create some fairytale photos, we need that whole song. Hug and kiss, talk to each other and be in love.
Bouquet and Garter Toss
The best time for bouquet and garter toss is right after the formal first dance and the Bride and Father’s dance. Line up the girls behind you and aim for the ones at the very back. This way you will receive a photo of the whole group jumping together. Just mind the hight of the venue.
A send-off and night photo session are two things that you may add to the finish of the wedding day. It creates unique and rare photographs, especially if there are some intersting light decorations. Jars with lights, fairy lights above, fireworks and sparkly fire are some to consider.
Well, this pretty much wraps it all up. Thank you for taking the time to read this long post! I hope I have been of some help with your wedding planning.
Below you will find a typical wedding day timeline that runs the main evens in an optimal way around the Full Day photography package. After all, I’ve created this package to suit most weddings, and I hope that it might apply nicely to your idea of the perfect day. I have calculated a December timeline with the “Golden Hour” Starting 4:30 pm (2 hours before sunset). If your wedding is in June, shift the schedule 1.50 hours early. Plan the whole wedding day according to the golden sunlight.
Sunset time minus two hours = Start of Bride and Groom photo session.
I will be truly honoured if you remember my hard work after you see your wedding images, and leave us a review at ABIA’s website, so we can reach more special people like yourself. Ellie will register your awesome wedding day in order to receive a review link. Remember, only 100% scores win the award.