Let me tell you a secret about my life as a wedding photographer: at almost every wedding, at some point during the day, things threaten to run late. And when things run late, you know what usually gets cut? Time for photos. That means that all those great photos we were planning to take of you, of your family and wedding party, they get rushed or cut altogether, and you for sure don’t want that, right? So I’m here to tell you the things that people forget to allow time for, so you can set up your schedule and keep things flowing, and most importantly, get the images you want!

I’ll tell you this too… some of these things don’t take a LOT of time individually, but when you add them up, they sure do.

  1. Lacing or buttoning the dress. If your wedding gown has just a zipper, you’re fine here, but if you have a corset back or individual buttons, that’s gonna take some serious time. I know, when you were at the bridal shop, they whipped you into that thing in one minute flat, but that’s only because they do this EVERY DAY, ALL DAY. Trust me when I say mere mortals like us take lots of time to get it done, and sometimes it takes not just one but 2 or 3 people to make it happen. I’ve seen dresses get laced, undone, and laced again three or four times, to the tune of a lost 30 minutes of precious wedding day time. My tip is this: PRACTICE, and TIME YOURSELF as if you’re a Nascar pit crew. Seriously, no kidding. And not just the dress, but EVERYTHING: veil, jewelry, garter, shoes, all of it. Have your Maid of Honor, or Mom, or both, give it a try pre-wedding, and see how long it takes, and then allow for it in the schedule. Time to allow: 10-30 minutes.
    corset dress lace
  2. Opening your gifts to each other. You’ve taken a lot of time and expense to give special gifts to each other, and maybe you’ve even written special tear-inducing letters of wedding-day sentiment to each other. so give yourself time to do this, and to touch up makeup afterwards if there are tears. Time to allow: 5 minutes, 10 if you’re a cryer.

  3. Revealing yourself. Lots of brides now want to do a special reveal of your finished wedding-day look to your bridesmaids, father, or other special people. If you do, it takes time to set this up in a nice spot, gather people, and make it happen. Time to allow: 10 minutes.
  4. Special moments with loved ones. Now, I’ll tell you this, you can’t manufacture special moments. But, if you think your mom or sister will want to give you a special last-minute talk, or you just want a moment alone to remember a departed loved one, Plan for it. Time to allow: 5 minutes.
  5. Video interviews. If you’re working with a wedding videographer, chances are they’ll want to take time with you both separately before the ceremony, and together afterwards to do an interview and ask you a few questions. This should be separate from any getting-ready plans you have, and separate from the general photography time we allow. Time to allow: 10-20 minutes, ask your videographer.

  6. Tying bow-ties. Ok, here’s the thing about the guys getting ready: they can usually get dressed in 5 minutes. But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been shooting a wedding and the men plan to get ready in 10 minutes, only to be flat-out flummoxed by how to tie their bow ties. They look up videos, consult instruction sheets, tie, re-tie, undo, pause for a frustration beer, and then try some more. If your men aren’t used to tying bow-ties, I suggest they practice, and allow extra time to figure it out and fuss with that little sucker until it looks straight. Time to allow: 10 minutes.

  7. Group prayers or toasts. One of my favorite moments during the day is when all the bridesmaids or groomsmen gather for a pre-wedding prayer. It brings everyone together and can be such a beautiful moment. If you want to do this though, make sure you allow enough time to gather everyone from their last minute touchups, and put it in the schedule so your photographer can capture it. Time to allow: 5 minutes.

  8. Extra travel time. If your wedding day involves more than one location, you already know you have to allow time to get there, but how much? Most people say, okay, it takes me 25 minutes drive time, so they allow 25 minutes. You know how much time it actually takes? 50 minutes. And here’s why: wedding days involve a lot of people, and a lot of STUFF. From the time you think you’re ready to go, you’ve got to gather all your things (shoes, purse, touch-up makeup, emergency kit, flowers, luggage, everyone’s personal effects), then make your way out, wait for the valet or board the limo, or find your way to your parking spot. Then after you get there, it all has to come out and you get settled in the new location. Time to allow: 15-30 minutes in addition to the actual travel time.

  9. Viewing & photographing the ceremony or reception before guests. You’ve been planning a gorgeous reception for months, make sure you take the time to see it all set up and ready before your guests are allowed to enter. This is also a great chance to do a few photos of just the two of you in the beautiful space you created. And your photographer will want time set aside to capture it all so you’ll be able to remember the details you worked so hard to create. Time to allow: 10-20 minutes, ask your photographer.

  10. Keeping everyone separate. If you’re not seeing each other before the ceremony, you’ll probably do photos of the bride and groom and your family/wedding party separately instead. Since you both can’t be in the same place at the same time, that means there’s extra time involved to get one group hidden away and secured before you get the all-clear to bring out the other group. Time to allow: 5-10 minutes (depending on how far each group needs to go)

So there you go! Hope this helps with your wedding day preparation, happy planning!