May 14, 2015 JT

5 Things You Need To Know Before Your Wedding Day

5 things you need to know before your wedding day

You have a lot to think about on your wedding day: your vows, is he/she going to turn up, is uncle Dave going to get drunk and try dancing on the tables with the bridesmaids… all vitally important stuff!

Wedding photographers are one of the few people who witness weddings from start to finish in a vantage where we have to look, but seldom interact. Thus making it a great place to see things others don’t.

If it’s your first wedding — even if it’s not — there may be a few simple ways of making the day run that bit smoother; things nobody really remembered to tell you about. As a ‘civilian’ I hardly go to weddings – I don’t know whether it’s because I just associate with single people or if I’m just (un)lucky. If you’re in the same boat you’re probably a little shy of experience when it comes to wedding day practises.

Wedding photographers are one of the few people who witness weddings from start to finish in a vantage where we have to look, but seldom interact. Thus making it a great place to see things others don’t.

Here are a few pearls of wisdom that can help your day go a bit smoother without expending too much extra time or money:

1.Flow – most people understand the ceremony – if not they tend to pick it up quite quickly; that’s usually because there’s someone leading it (vicar). Walk in, sit down, stand on command, (pretend to) sing, and laugh when the couple look around in fear as the congregation is asked of anyone knows of any reason… simple stuff.

But where guests struggle is after the wedding. If there’s no structure or — program if you like– they don’t really know what to do with themselves. This can mean a lull while everyone waits for someone to make a lead.

You have to book times anyway: ceremony (factoring time for being late of course), wedding breakfast, first dance etc. So why not let your guests know? Give them a timetable and on occasions where they’re standing around, feed or entertain them (they will thank you for food and drinks… as will I!).


2.Ushers – having ushers is a common wedding tradition, as I’m sure you’ll know. But suiting up a few of the groom’s mates isn’t something you do just because it’s traditional.

Ushers usually do a good job of people management when it comes to the ceremony. Handing out hymn sheets and helping your gran to her seat are usually taken care of with aplomb.

Where it all goes wrong is after the ceremony – a soon as they get a beer in hand the usherial duties are out the window. As a photographer or any other wedding professional, it really, really helps if you can just get them to help out when it comes to getting people organised. Personally I’d prefer to hand over the wedding ‘shot list’ and get them rounding up people for the next shot – you, as couple don’t want to be worrying about that sort of thing and we don’t have a clue who everyone is.

3. Stay fresh – weddings are hot. Even if it’s a winter wedding and the church was freezing during the rehearsal; you go packing 50-150 people in that small space and it’s rapidly going to turn into a sauna.

I will often take two shirts to a wedding and stealthily change between the ceremony and arrival at the wedding breakfast.

You probably won’t have that option if you’re reading this as a bride-to-be, so maybe pack some baby wipes (that’s what bridesmaids are for) – I probably don’t need to give you advice on things like this, but you might want to remind your other half.

4. Factor in plenty of time for photos – my style of photography is to step back and capture people in their natural habitat, enjoying themselves. But most couples want at least a few nice staged shots of them on their big day.

Set shots require time to be set up, so in order to ensure I have the time to look for the best location, assess the light and set up the lights etc I’ll need time.

Ideally, to ensure we get a good shoot I’d factor an hour for a shoot and be open to popping out later in the evening when the sun is setting and the light is at its best.

5. Drink water – this is such a common mistake couples make. You’ll no doubt be drinking the night before, and there’s every chance you’ll be making a toast with champagne at some point. The diuretic effect of all the alcohol combined with the near constant talking and heat from the church can really dry a person out!

I’m yet to see a built in drinks system in a wedding dress (maybe there’s a gap in the market? No stealing my idea!) so it’s a good idea to have some water stashed at strategic locations around the wedding.

In the car is an obvious choice – out of direct sunlight obviously. So you can top up before and after the ceremony. But when it comes to the reception, make sure you have a highball amongst the wine flutes, topped up with ice and a slice.

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