Your wedding photographer is not solely responsible for the outcome of your wedding pictures. Their pictorial performance can be enhanced or hindered by the cooperation or lack thereof: cooperation the photographer receives from the bride and groom and other participants on the wedding day. A little extra effort on the part of the bride and groom to work with your photographer's suggested timeline can make a remarkable difference in the quality and quantity of images that are taken on the wedding day -- and ultimately, those that will be filling for your wedding album.
A face-to-face consultation (in today's world this could be over Skype) with your photographer about two weeks prior to the wedding is a great opportunity to make sure everyone is on the same side of the aisle, as it may have been months since you have hired your wedding day historian. During this meeting, agree upon a sensible schedule then communicate with everyone involved in your wedding pictures. Be sure to include a start time, gathering location and directions, and exchange mobile phone numbers for better communication on the wedding day. Having a meeting with your photographer will help ensure that everything runs like clockwork once your big day arrives.
Here are a few other pearls of wisdom I have gathered over my 22-plus years photographing weddings that will help make your wedding day more fluid, with less stress and more time to create great images with your photographer.
Every bride should be responsible for her own wedding dress. Keeping the bride and her dress together avoids the all-too-common problem of a missing dress (and its caretaker) holding up the rest of the day. It also prevents unnecessary pre-wedding jitters.
Designate a driver for the day. The bride or groom should avoid traveling with multiple bridesmaids, groomsmen or family members. If one person in the group is running late, it will affect the entire wedding party, including the newlyweds-to-be. With their own personal transportation and a dedicated driver, the bride and groom can keep their busy schedule and not be delayed by the tardiness of others. If you are going to hire a professional car service allow ample time for traffic and other unforeseen circumstances.
Hair & Makeup:
Allow extra time for hair and makeup. A proven technique I have used successfully for years is having the bride tell her stylists that she needs to be ready for pictures one hour before actual start times. Scheduling things this way, if more time is needed for the bride's or bridal party's hair and makeup, the photo session will not be affected. The bride should be the first one to get her hair and make up done. If everything finishes on time, then the bride has extra time to spend with her bridesmaids, taking in and enjoying each moment rather then becoming stressed out because someone else is making them late, which is completely out of her control.
Be specific with your florist about delivery times and locations. It is important to most couples that the bouquets and boutonnieres be included in the pictures, as they are memorable elements of the Big Day. Again, arrange for a slightly earlier than necessary delivery time so the flowers will be there (and properly pinned!) when the photographer is ready to begin.
If you get your all your photographs done before the ceremony, you can kiss, say "I-do", and walk down the aisle and do whatever you want instead of taking pictures and getting stressed out by your families and most importantly running out of daylight. Imagine actually being a part of your cocktail hour and having more time to spend with your family and friends who traveled long distances to spend time with you.
Communicate with friends and family who will be included in your photos. Depending on the size of the families and bridal party, many photographers allow up to three hours prior to the ceremony for photography. After a private first glance, the first hour is set aside for just the bride and groom. The second hour is generally reserved for immediate family and bridal party, and the final hour is for the extended family and special guests, with a little cushion built in if things run a bit behind. Having everyone where they need to be and on time is key, especially those being photographed during the last hour or the larger groups, which usually includes the extended family.
I have found that sending a personal note or placing a phone call to each person in the extended family who you want to include in your family pictures about two weeks prior to your wedding works wonders for getting people there on time. When people feel special they will go above and beyond to make sure to be punctual.
After your initial phone call, let them know the schedule in advance. Where they should be and at what time should be conveyed by sending them a timeline just for them -- and then remind them again at the rehearsal dinner. The rehearsal dinner should NOT be the first time your family and bridal party members are finding out where and when pictures will take place.
We all have friends and family members who are notoriously late; their familiar habits are unlikely to change just because they're attending your wedding. Adding a little cushion to the schedule to get them where they need to be at least a half-hour early really works wonders.
A photographer is trusted with documenting one of the most important days in a couple's life. Utilizing the time requested by your photographer to its fullest allows him or her to maximize their creative abilities and capture the best imagery possible. I promise your extra efforts will be rewarded if your photographer has time to be creative on your wedding day.
I pose this question; do you want your photographer to have time to play one your wedding day and shoot what they want, or just shoot what they get, with the little time they are left with because everything ran late?
When you smile, smile from your heart...
For more advice on getting the most out of your wedding photos, check out WeddingPhotography411.com