Wedding Day Overview - Schedule of Common Events
Welcome to the next section in this section. We're gonna focus on the actual wedding day itself more so the structure of the wedding day, the overview of the entire wedding day and what you can expect to know and be prepared for. We're not quite gonna get into the photography of the wedding day quite yet. We just wanna make sure that we know the wedding day in and out so that we're able to decide when and where to be with our cameras. Let's go over a typical wedding day. This is gonna fluctuate from culture to culture, from time to time, different weddings who are what are different lengths or shorter will have more emphasis on one thing and less emphasis on another thing. For instance, if you're doing an elopement or a courtroom wedding, let's say really the emphasis is gonna be on the people that are there and the ceremony itself or just the signing of a paper versus like a big 12 hour wedding which may have getting ready. Uh You know, all the portraits, all the people uh together a ...
first look, maybe the ceremony, the reception, a grand entrance, a grand exit all the things, but here's a list of some typical things that you can expect from a full wedding. So the first thing on the docket is gonna be the getting ready photos. Now, chances are typically you're supposed to be showing up when the hair or the makeup of one of your partners uh from the wedding is being finished. That's usually about the time that you are going to be starting to take photos in a bride sense, that's when her hair is all being done and she's about to be able to get ready in the wedding dress itself. Sometimes photos of her actually putting on the wedding dress, zipping it up towards the end with a family member are important to them. Sometimes none of this is important to them. But this is usually the very first thing that is possible getting ready photos. Now for a groom that would be getting ready with uh the people in his grooms spin party and for the bride that would be people getting ready with her and doing makeup and hair and all those things. So first thing off the list, getting ready photos. Now I'm doing bullets here of big events that are during a wedding. The next thing would be the ceremony. Now there's a lot that can go on between getting ready and the ceremony and it's actually really good time between those two things to take photos of the couple alone. So wherever they're getting ready on their own to separate them from whomever they are with and take photos or just portraits of them. If you can, they're gonna be the freshest, they're gonna look the cleanest and the tightest. And it will also start to build your repertoire with them. So that later when you take photos of them, it'll start to get more and more comfortable. Now, between this time also would also be potentially the time for a first look. Now, a first look is basically when the uh couple sees each other for the first time, that is not at the ceremony. And the reason they may do this is so that they can actually hang out before the ceremony or that we can get things done before the ceremony. We might as well photograph that event. So if the couple decides that they wanna have a first look, we're gonna go, we're gonna set that up and we'll talk about how to graph that later, but we're gonna have that happen and now that they can see each other, it's an excellent time to do couple photos away from the ceremony away from everything. It's also an excellent time to do bridal party photos. You can get all these things done between the getting ready and the ceremony before we get to the ceremony. And that makes things after the ceremony move much easier. So that's something to think about when planning a wedding between the getting ready and the ceremony, get some photos done. If there's a first look, if there's not a first look, you will have to shoot the first look at the ceremony, a traditional way of doing that is see uh the person at the altar will then see their partner at the end of the aisle. And that will be the first time that they see each other. In which case, we didn't have a chance to shoot them together yet. So we will do it after the ceremony. So we've got them getting ready, getting their clothes on. We've potentially shot a first look, maybe not. And now we are on to the ceremony. The ceremony itself has its own uh events just like the reception will later on. But let's start with your typical ceremony. Now, chances are one of the partners in your couple will be at the altar with the efficient or they have walked their family down the aisle, which is a good time to take photos and they will be joined by their friends up at the altar typically. And then you have pretty much the grand entrance of the other coup, the other person in the couple walking down the aisle, which is one of the bigger events of the ceremony and very important to be taking photos of often this person like a bride is being walked down by someone uh like a father figure in their life, being taken all the way down to the end of the aisle. There are hugs, there are handshakes, there's crying. This is a wonderful time to be taking photos. After that. Most of the time the couple will be at the very end of the aisle up at the altar or at the very end in front of everyone to see and they'll be there the entire time. There are other times and other ceremonies where they may need to move to do different ceremonial things depending on the cultural wedding that you're uh shooting. But typically they'll be up there the entire time and we'll talk about uh photographing that later in the course. So while they're up, they're gonna do several different things. There are candle lightings, there are exchanging of rings, there are reading of vows to each other. The really great thing about this is that even though every wedding is generally different, they're not moving so you can move around and get what you need to get based on what's going on. The final thing though, in the ceremony, that is the most important is of course, usually the first kiss and that's gonna happen towards the end of the ceremony. And you have to start to train yourself to listen, listen to the officiate, understand what they are saying while you're taking photos so that you can pay attention and know when that is coming. Typically the officiate will say something like and now ladies and gentlemen, for the first time I introduced to you or they'll say uh before that they'll say, do you take, do you take I do, I do. And then I now pronounce you. You remember to hear for that and hopefully you're in the right position for that wonderful first kiss moment. Once that happens, they're gonna be walking down the aisle and hopefully you are at the end of the aisle as they walk towards you taking all your photographs, everyone's cheering and being very merry and happy and then we're out of the ceremony as they leave the reception and it's just you and them after the ceremony is gonna end up being usually traditionally a cocktail hour and it will lead and take time before you get to the reception. Now right after the ceremony, if your couple has not done a first look, this would be an excellent time to pull them away before they get bombarded by all their guests and do some couple photos. This is also a really good time. If they haven't had a first look to do the uh shooting with the bridal party, you can take everyone away, have a big giant group formal photo and then do the separate photos with just the different bridal parties. This is also a really good time to take the formal photos of all the family members because they all just come off the ceremony. They haven't moved on to the next spot for the reception or a cocktail hour, they're all there. This is something to talk about with your wedding coordinator and definitely the couple beforehand. So, again, it depends on what they're doing. Right. If we had a first look, we were able to knock all these things out before, if they didn't, this is the time to do it before the cocktail hour. After the cocktail hour, we're gonna be leading into the reception. Now, the reception is where a lot of things happen. And so I'm just blanketing saying the reception and then that's it, right? But what happens at the reception is uh you know, plenty. So basically, after the cocktail hour, if you've taken a couple photos, you've taken the wedding party photos, you've taken the formal photos, they're on to the reception where there will be dinner and dancing and talking and speeches and all the things. But typically the reception will start with what's called a grand entrance. And that means it is welcome the new couple to all their friends and everyone gets up and claps and is cheerful and is excited and you wanna make sure to be set up for that grand entrance. Now, that's to kick off the reception, the reception itself has its own breakdown, right? So after the grand entrance, this is when everyone is going to be seated for dinner and they will start serving dinner. Typically, this is a very good time to have some downtime if you need to run out and get some detailed shots that you missed earlier. This would be a good time um at the ceremony since it may still be up, might also be being taken down. This is also a good time to make sure that you have your own meal that you are going to be eating with the vendors during this time. Because when everyone's eating, it's kind of a bad time to be taking photos of pictures. You don't want people shoving food into their mouths in their photos. This is also the time where we will start to think about the speeches leading in. Now, every wedding is different, but typically it goes grand entrance, dinner speeches and then it leads right into the first dance. Sometimes the grand entrance will lead right into the first dance and then they'll go to dinner, depends on your wedding. But this is all, these are all the events that are gonna have to happen leading up through the reception. We don't know if you've been hired again to just photograph them coming in, doing speeches and then you're done or if they want to do a first look or if they're even gonna do any of these other extra things. But these are the times that they're gonna start to pile up. Let's continue to go through a typical uh order of things. So we got grand entrance, we got them sitting down, they're having dinner. We've started the speeches, the speeches are over and now we are going into the first dance and typically, that'll start with the couple themselves that will be their first dance. And then either individually or at the same time, they will choose to have one of their parents or someone that means the most to them to have a first dance with them. And those are always really fun to shoot. But keep in mind that those start to happen quickly. A lot of times it goes speeches, dance, dance, dance, dance, dance, and then the whole dance floor will open at that point. And at this point, this is when everyone's starting to really party and chances are you'll probably need a flash at this point, but we'll get into that. So now we're at the reception, everyone's partying, everyone's dancing. Now we start to get into the little intricacies that all different weddings are different with. There are things like a money dance, which is where all the guests come in and they dance with each couple and they give money to donate into like a purse for their honeymoon or for celebrating or presents like that. There's also the bouquet toss, there's also the garter toss. Then finally, something that uh is very typical in a lot of at least American weddings is the cutting of the cake. Now that sometimes can be moved up towards right after dinner before dancing, sometimes can be very late into the night, make sure you figure out what it is, but it is a very uh big event and very important for the story of the wedding and you should be photographing it. And finally, if there are any other surprise things that your couple may have planned for each other, there is the grand exit and these, you see a lot with like the sparklers and the rice and stuff. Now, not every wedding has that and not every wedding would like to pay for a photographer to stay through the entirety of the reception. This is adding hours for sure, but it does happen and so make sure that you plan accordingly for that. This is your typical schedule for a wedding. Now, normally, if it's a bigger wedding, a wedding coordinator will be planning that. And if anything, your couple will be planning that your role as a wedding photographer is to work with everyone to make sure that you get the photos that they want. You have to find time for when you're going to be taking the specific photos that they need. Not necessarily things that you absolutely need things that they need because they have hired you. Now, it's really easy to just fall into a schedule and just accept whatever they send you, but definitely take a look at it and make sure that you understand how much time it's going to take to do all these things and that will come with practice once you start shooting a couple of different weddings. You'll start to understand how long each part takes. You'll also understand how to work with a coordinator, how to work with your couple to make sure that you're getting the ample amount of time that you need to take all these different photos and fit them in where their specific wedding schedule happens. Again, this takes practice. You can refer to the PDF attached in this section to see the big giant list of what a typical wedding would be like and where things can kind of fit in and go depending on what kind of wedding you're looking at. Refer back to this list as much as you can. It's such a great little guide if you're on the phone with uh a bride or groom and learning about the day of their wedding. So you can make sure that they've got everything organized. Another note about this is that not every couple will have their wedding organized to the t when they first start talking to you again, usually the wedding photographer is the second person they talk to after getting a location, locations are usually first and then they start lighting up vendors. So they may not even have a coordinator yet and they may not even have a schedule yet. But it's good to know what it takes to have a full day wedding because you need to know the ins and outs of that to make sure that you get all the photos that you were hired to take.