Wedding planning is a huge undertaking. It’s no easy task, especially for a “first timer”. I see a couple dozen wedding days unfold every year and I think I can offer some advice about how to make the experience better and end up with even better photos.
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If the average length of wedding day coverage is about 8 hours, 480 minutes, the length of a standard workday or a medium sized netflix marathon, I can tell you from experience it flies by. Fast! I often hear that couples planning their wedding want to spend as much time with their wedding guests as possible. Here’s some advice to help you make that happen:
1. Do a First Look
If you’re open to seeing each other before the ceremony then you can complete some, most or all of the portraits before the wedding. So when you leave the ceremony you can carry on with the guests to the cocktail reception. It’s probably one of the easiest ways to rearrange a wedding day so you’re not missing out on the party.
It has a practical advantage, but I do understand that some couples would want to go the traditional route. That’s ok, there’s some other ways to maximize your time.
2. Have a Longer Cocktail Reception
So it is usually called Cocktail HOUR, but if you want you can make it longer. Why not? You probably spent an afternoon before the wedding tasting and selecting passed hors d’oeuvres, maybe a signature drink. You should get to enjoy it with everyone else. There will be a lot of people that want to see you too!! Even just extending it by a half hour could make a difference.
3. Plan a Longer Wedding Day
If you have all the typical wedding events (getting ready, ceremony, portraits, cocktail and seated reception, dancing) you can carve out time to just slow down. Most weddings are fasting moving, go-go-go, but they don’t have to be. Can you give your guests an activity after the ceremony? Maybe a guided tour of your venue, a break to explore the city you’re in or maybe lawn games! While they’re busy with that you can finish off those portraits, then everyone regroup for food and drink.
Here’s some guests playing lawn games at this Codman Estate Wedding in Lincoln, MA
4. “Front Load” the Reception Events
This is something to discuss with your DJ or band but I do notice that receptions can drag if the events take up too much of the reception or guests feel like they’re just sitting, waiting for the next thing to be announced. My advice is to find a way to schedule the events so that they happen early in the night. Your guests will be focused for the parent dances and toasts and after that everyone can get into party mode. That’s always a highlight when the guests are out of their seats, well fed, a couple drinks in, dancing and celebrating.
The bride and groom had their parent dances at the same time, to the same song at this Union Bluff Hotel Wedding in York, Maine.
Not that it’s a time saver but it can be fun to share the dancefloor.
5. Short & Sweet Toasts
Have you ever been at a wedding with a long toast? I have.
Once a DJ told us about a wedding that had an 80 minute toast! He ended up intentionally cutting the mic and blamed it the batteries running out. He said there was a round of applause that it had ended. Wowzers. (I don’t have any stories on that level)
When you’re inviting friends and family to speak, express to them how important it is that it be short and sweet. Maybe save the real long tales for the rehearsal dinner when it’s a tighter group.