Planning your day to get the best photos possible

John Erskine Photography tell us how to plan your day to help give your photographer the time they need to capture your wedding perfectly…

You can spend months – even years planning your wedding, and in less than 24 short hours (the blink of an eye by comparison) it’s over! This isn’t a blog about how important it is to choose the right suppliers to capture your day – there are hundreds of articles dedicated to that. I’m here to help you plan your day to make sure that you’re giving your photographer enough time to preserve your day in the way that you want!

For many couples, the photographer will start with bridal prep, but in order to get the images you want, it’s best to work timings back from the time of your ceremony. Work out how much time it takes you to get from your bridal prep address to the ceremony (allowing a little wiggle room for traffic). If you would like images of you and your bridesmaids or your parents, all in full makeup and ready to go, you’ll need to allow at least 20 minutes for this – which means you want to get getting into your dress 45-60 minutes before you need to leave. It might seem like a lot, but getting into the dress can often take far longer than you’ve allowed, and it’s those gorgeous bridal portraits that go out of the window (or run the risk of being late for your own wedding!!) when time runs short! While we’re here, it’s an idea to give a thought to your backdrop. Is there lots of clutter around that will look messy in your photos? And where is your make up artist setting up? Setting up by a window is best, both for make up application, and for light for your photographer to get you looking your absolute, flawless best!

The next part of the day that is often underestimated is the group, or formal photos. I always advise to leave at least 3-4 minutes per group, and have a couple of ushers or friends on standby to help call the relevant people (think Uncle Ted who’s nipped to the loo, or your work friends who’ve snuck off to the bar…). If you’ve asked for 10 different group shots, you can expect to be there for around half an hour. I prefer to get the group photos over in one chunk (within reason) in case the weather suddenly turns, but if you want lots of different group shots, it might be worth considering splitting them across the day, and building time into your schedule to capture them.

Drapers Hall Wedding (1)

The reportage photography on the day should pretty much take care of itself – your photographer/s will be working their way around the crowd throughout the day. Some venues need to be reminded to serve the photographers’ meal at the same time as the main meal at the Wedding (nobody wants photos of half empty plates or of people chewing, so this is the ideal time for the photography team to take a quick break). Some of the other suppliers might be fed once the main service has gone out, during the speeches for example, but your photographers should be back on duty by then!

“…take a few breaths and reconnect with the person that this whole day is really being shared with.”

Finally, you’ll want to give thought to – and allow time for – some couples portraits, just the two of you. If these are important to you (and there’s no obligation to have them!), I advise that we nip off for 20 minutes or so during the drinks reception, then for another 15-20 minutes after the meal (perhaps between the meal and cutting the cake), and then again for another 10-15 or so minutes at some point during your evening reception. This allows for beautiful, natural light photography earlier on in the day, as well as the more spectacular, dramatic ‘wow’ shots using flash and creative light. These little pockets of time are also really lovely for you to just be by yourselves, away from your guests and to take a few breaths and reconnect with the person that this whole day is really being shared with.

At the end of the day, it is just one day and you should do with it exactly what you want. Hopefully, with a little bit of thought, you and your photographer can freeze those precious moments and preserve the memories for you to enjoy reliving for the rest of your lives.

For more advice or a general chat about stunning wedding photography, come and visit us on stand B12 at the London ExCel show – or visit our website at