We're quite often asked by our couples how they should best schedule their day.
How long is your ceremony?
Once you have booked your ceremony time there are several things that need to be thought about. Firstly how long is the ceremony going to take? If you're getting married in a church then it can last up to an hour depending on how many readings you're having and if you're going to have a communion, a big choir and an orchestra then your ceremony could easily take an hour and a half.
However, if you are having a civil ceremony in a hotel or register office then these tend to last about 25 minutes. We've been to some some fast track register offices where the ceremony has only taken 10 minutes!!
Once your ceremony is over all your guests will want to come over and congratulate you. We usually leave you to chat with them for about 10 minutes whilst we're setting up for the Formal Groups and then we'll start organising the Groups around you.
How long do Formal Groups take?
When we photograph Formal Groups we usually take about 20/30 minutes but again this can all depend on several situations. If your ceremony is at a church it is a lot easier to keep track of your guests as they can't disappear off to a bar or off to their hotel room for a 'quick freshen up'. We have lost valuable time on some occasions where one of the guests has gone off to their room and this can mean that a good number of the photographs have to be delayed until they return.
Another consideration is how many Formal Groups are you going to have? We have a standard set of Group photographs which we discuss with our couples and use as a starting point. They cover most situations at most weddings but extras can always be added in - especially if you have someone who is visiting from a faraway place who you rarely see. Just remember that guests don't like to hang around for dozens of pictures to be taken. They prefer to just have a few and then disappear for a chat and a drink.
The main consideration for Formal Groups is keeping everyone in easy distance of where the photographs are being taken and having good ushers to help your photographers get all your guests ready for the next Group photo.
The more people in a group, the longer the shot will take to organise.
After the Formal Groups have finished you will want to relax with your guests and have a drink and a chat with all of them and if you were married in a church or register office then you will need to consider travelling time for yourselves and all your friends and family. Plenty of time needs to be allowed for families to get to your Reception venue because of traffic or the possibility that some guests may have stopped off on the way for a cup of tea...or a burger - it's happened - believe us!
After you have arrived at the Reception Venue your photographer will probably want to take you off somewhere for your private Portrait Session. You should allow 20 or 30 minutes for this if you can, especially if your venue has stunning grounds and interiors and you want to get the best photographs you can.
Checking Your Reception Room
About 15 minutes before you and your guests are to be seated for the meal and speeches you will normally be asked to go in and check the room to make sure that the staff have got everything right and that there's nothing missing from your tables. This is worth doing - we have had incorrect menus on tables, guests placed on the wrong tables and favours put in the wrong place which all needed sorting out before the guests were invited to take their seats.
How to Enter Your Reception Room
Another consideration is whether or not you are going to have a Receiving Line before your Wedding Breakfast. These can really take a lot of time especially with a large number of guests. You should allow a good 20 minutes if you have both sets of parents, Best Man, Chief Bridesmaid and yourselves in the line up.
If you are short for time in your wedding day schedule or your meal is late in the day and your guests are hungry, the quickest way to get you in is for your guests to simply be shown into the room, to find their seats and then for you to be announced by either your hotel's Wedding Co-ordinator or a Master of Ceremonies.
A compromise is to have a Receiving Line that only has the bride and groom in. If you restrict your exchanges to "Lovely to see you, thank you for coming" ...or something equally brief, even a large number of guests can be received surprisingly quickly.
Speeches and Cake Cut
Our recommendation is that you plan to have a little too much time, rather than too little...a wedding in a rush is not nearly so much fun as one that you can savour.
by Jacqui Dunster
2 December 2013