I’ve never been a huge fan of surprises. I’m the sort of person who, if I get the merest whiff of a surprise on the horizon, will do everything I can to spoil it for myself. I like to know things straight away. Honestly, I’m terrible at being kept in the dark. The mental battles I go through to try to prevent myself from reading spoilers for a film that I really want to see are ridiculous. I know that if I read the spoilers, I’ll ruin the film and won’t be bothered about watching it and yet the temptation is still strong. I think that this need to be in the know makes me a terrible film fan (and probably an annoying husband) but an excellent wedding photographer.
Wedding photographers HATE surprises. Well, good ones do. They need to know every detail about your wedding day because it helps them to plan how they are going to capture your day: where they are going to need to be at each point throughout the day in order to tell the story of your wedding and not miss anything vital.
I remember several years ago when, at the last minute, a couple changed when they were having their speeches. They had originally planned to hold them after the meal but a terrible bout of nerves from the Best Man meant that they decided instead to have them after the first course. They told everyone except me. I photographed the newlyweds entering the room and sitting down and then I went around the tables as I usually do, looking for candid portraits of guests. Once the food was being served, I left the room to start backing up the photos that I had taken that morning and eat my own meal.
I was sat in the bar when one of the staff asked why I wasn’t photographing the speeches. In a sudden cold sweat, I hurried back to the reception room and fortunately hadn’t missed anything but now I always make a point of asking the couple again, once they’ve sat down for the meal, exactly when they are planning to have the speeches.
Experienced wedding photographers will have a system in place in order to capture all the information they will need for your wedding day. I use an online questionnaire which is available to my clients through their client dashboard; this organises all the information for me so that I have it at my fingertips throughout the day.
But what information will your wedding photographer need before the wedding day? Here’s a quick list of the usual information they might request:
- Where each of you is planning to get ready;
- Who will be with each of your during the morning and a contact telephone number for at least two of them – the photographer won’t want to bother you directly if they need to get in touch on the morning;
- The addresses for the venue (or venues) including post codes. Be specific – if you are getting married in the Hall at Shottle Hall and then having your reception in the marquee, your photographer will need to know this;
- Parking arrangements at each venue;
- Any restrictions on photographing the ceremony. This is usually more of a concern if you are having a religious ceremony. Please check with your celebrant and then let your wedding photographer know;
- Detailed timings for the day. What time do you expect to leave for the ceremony? How long will the ceremony take? What time are the venue expecting you to arrive? What time will guests be expected to sit down for the meal? What time is your first dance planned for?
- Any surprises! I’ve mentioned this above – wedding photographers hate surprises! Ha! If you are planning a particularly well-choreographed first dance, or on releasing a dove, or on having a lightsabre arch after the ceremony, or on having confetti canons in the evening – let your photographer know. They’ll keep the secret, but they’ll also be ready to photograph it!
- What group shots will you want? Do any of the groups have mobility issues? In which case, the photographer can organise a chair or bench for them, if necessary. Are there any awkward family situations that the photographer needs to be careful about?
Sometimes your wedding co-ordinator will provide you with a detailed sheet of timings for your wedding and this is a very useful document that can be passed on to your photographer.
I’ve produced a blank template that you can download for free, to help you to plan your wedding day timeline and gather all the information that your wedding photographer will need. You can download it for free here.
Also, you may like to have a quick read of my guide to planning your wedding day timeline, which gives some ideas of how long each part of your day might last. You can download that guide for free from my homepage, here.