Above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places
— Roald Dahl

I always, always plan for a wedding.

First there's the easy stuff, the stuff that only takes an hour or so to sort. Logistics to make sure I'm in the right spot at the right time. Checking my equipment - rechecking it - before checking it again. Recording address details in my google maps and allowing an extra 15 minutes in case Ms GPS gets it wrong. Which she will.  Packing my lunchbox of snacks to shovel in my mouth when on the road between locations.

Then, the stuff that takes a little bit longer - the thinking, imagining, visualising stuff. My morning walks are consumed with how I can best showcase your dress, or where exactly we need to be at sunset. I imagine glorious sun-filled days and I plan for those days when Mother Nature has other ideas. 

Then, after all that planning is done, I start the "unplanning" process. This is the hardest part of my preparations (being the control freak I am) but the most important of all. It's where I drop the planning - knowing it's done, knowing I've done all I can possibly do - and switch on to seeking out those unplanned moments. My eyes are WIDE open, my ears straining for clues to when those moments might happen - the little brushes of the fingers, the whisper at the top of the aisle. These unplanned moments are nothing short of magic. 

When it comes to your own planning, the preparation of a timeline or run-sheet for the various parts of your day is important.  Just as my easy-stuff planning is a MUST, so too is a well considered run-sheet or timeline that clearly states where I - along with your other vendors - need to be and at what time. As your photographer, my number concern will always be how much natural light there is available as natural light equals amazing pictures. So from that perspective, I have prepared some general points as a starting point for you that really centres around maximising light. 

The take-away here? Planning is good. Planning will let me sleep at night knowing that you have enough time to get that special portrait up the top of the mountain at sunset and still get that photo after the ceremony with Nan that you promised. Planning lets you reassure your parents, your friends, the barista at your local, that "YES! It's all in hand!"

Then as the sun rises on your big day, stop planning. Unplan. Enjoy. Be spontaneous. Just simply be.


Getting Ready – General Information

The time before your ceremony should be a time where everyone is relaxed - perhaps a little jittery - but above all, excited.

This is the time where we get familiar with one another and you get used to having me scale the bed like a ninja, or shoot like a sniper behind the dining room table. It's also a time where I will be observing the connections and dynamics between people, gauging the emotions of everybody and doing my very best to put everyone at ease.

Now, I get it - the night before, you've probably ordered 100 pizzas, had a few beers and kicked back watching a DVD with your mates. My plea is that before you head off for your beauty sleep is to do a sweep of the area so that it is as clear and clutter-free as possible. Dark, messy cluttered rooms can be challenging. Getting ready can be a nice time to capture genuine emotions, but the atmosphere of the messy room can distract from the genuine moments happening and the beauty of the morning. So here are some things to consider:

Clutter – there is usually a lot going on, but try to keep clutter hidden and to a minimum. Keep bags, suitcases, laundry and so on in a different room or wardrobe. I usually do a sweep of the room when I arrive to declutter and clean up the area, but its helpful if the mess is kept to a minimum.

Light – natural window light is my favourite kind of light and the most flattering. Rooms often have fluorescent or tungsten lights which give off weird colour casts, usually green or orange tones, which is not ideal for natural skin tones in your photos (particularly with spray tans!) As a natural light photographer, you'll see me turn all lights off and rely only on window light where possible.

Where – typical motel rooms often don’t provide the best light or setting for your images. If you can, I recommend looking into other options to provide you with the perfect backdrop for the start of your day. AirBnB has a whole range of options such as cute little Bed & Breakfasts, or character-filled Queenslanders that look superb. 


Groom Preparation / Portraits of Groom & Groomsmen/Groomswomen (allow 45 minutes - 1 hour)

This part of the day applies to Grooms who are about to marry their Bride, or Grooms who are about to marry their Guy. Today, we see not just Groomsmen but Groomswomen (hoorah!) and even Groomsdogs. Isn't diversity just wonderful?

I'm yet to see a Groomscat.

Groom & Groomsmen/Groomswomen should be dressed in pants and shirt ready for my arrival.

Parents and any other family members should be fully dressed ready for portraits.

Have all the Grooms details laid out, such as shoes, suit, cuff-links, written vows and/or speeches and any other items of special significance.

Typical photos taken during this time :

Groom Details & Wedding Bands { allow the first 10-15 minutes }
Candids of the Groom & Groomsmen/Groomswomen getting ready
Portraits – Groom, Groom with all the Groomsmen/Groomswomen, Groom with individual Groomsmen/Groomswomen
Groom with parents
Groom with any additional family members present (including pets because let's face it, they are family)

Bride Preparation / Portraits of Bride & Bridesmaids/Bridesmen (allow 1.5 - 2 hours)

Bride & Bridesmaids/Bridesmen are usually still in hair & makeup when the photographer arrives. Parents and any other family members should be fully dressed ready for portraits

The best spaces for getting ready photos have lots of natural light, whether it’s a home environment, hotel suite, BnB or Queenslander.

Where possible, I prefer to take your details outside, hanging your outfit on a verandah or in a tree, with the utmost care. This can take some time, but well worth the effort. If you are against taking your dress outside, please advise me prior to the wedding day. It would also be great to have one of your bridesmaids on hand to assist.

Where possible, I prefer to do the portraits in the hotel lobby or a shady garden area. Usually the lighting is also more flattering in the lobby or garden.

Typical photos taken during this time :

Bride Details { allow first 15-30 minutes }
outfit on hanger, flowers, shoes, engagement ring, hair pieces, jewellery & perfume
(please have these items laid out together on a table/bed prior to the my arrival)
hair & makeup should be finished except for final touchups for photos

Candids of the Bride & Bridesmaids/Bridesmen getting ready {allow 45 minutes } including:
Final touchup for hair & makeup, photos in robes/tracksuits, etc
Bridesmaids/Bridesmen (fully dressed and ready) to help Bride into her wedding outfit
Bride Preparation – bride gets in her outfit, puts on jewellery, shoes, perfume, veil, etc with assistance from the Bridesmaids/Bridesmaids
Bride reveal to her parents

Portraits { allow 30-45 minutes } including:
Bride, Bride with all the Bridesmaids/Bridesmen, Bride with individual Bridesmaids/Bridesmen, Bride with children
Bride with parents
Bride with any additional family members present (roll on the pets again)

First Look (allow 20-30 minutes)

First Look portraits are growing more and more popular but at the same time, can polarise views of people. As a photographer, I LOVE first looks but it's not about me. This is your day and it's entirely up to you as a couple to have a first look or not. To help you decide, here are points about first looks that you may not have considered.

Firstly, lets start with what is a first look session. It is when the couple see each other for the first time in a more private and intimate setting before walking down the aisle. Apart from a few directions from me about where this can take place, these moments aren’t staged, but genuine reactions of the couple seeing each other for the first time on their wedding day. They are super romantic. I've been known to cry.

Reasons why you might consider doing a first look:

1.There is nothing that relaxes nervous couples more than the couple get to finally see each other and enjoy a few moments alone together, before all the official wedding events begin (where they are surrounded by a number of their guests with all eyes fixed on them).

2. It gives you time to take it all in. You can share what you are feeling with each other, you can hug, you can speak freely - all things you can’t do when you are at the front of the aisle with everyone watching. For any couple concerned about showing emotion or tearing up at the alter, then a first look is a chance to get that out of the way.

3. If you are having a late ceremony, a First Look means we still have ample natural light which is the key ingredient to natural wedding photos and makes the timeline easier to work with. Also for those couples that don’t want to be away from their guests for long, with photos out of the way, the couple can enjoy cocktail hour with their guests once the family portraits are over. Basically, you get to party sooner.

If however, you dream of walking down the aisle and getting the first glimpse of each other, then it’s no problem skipping the first look. It’s your wedding day!


Pre Ceremony (allow 20-30 minutes)

Typical photos taken during this time :

Location & Ceremony Details
Candids as wedding guests arrive

It's also a chance for me to ensure that I'm set up in the best spot possible to capture your ceremony. I'll be making sure there is a clear path for me to capture your walk down the aisle, checking in with your officiant and just generally getting psyched for the big moments ahead.

Unplugged Weddings

If you don’t know what an unplugged ceremony is, its when you ask your guests to refrain from taking photos during the ceremony.

Asking your guests not to use cameras or any device that can take photos, allows your guests to be present as you make your vows, rather than trying to take a photo or firing off flashes as the bride and groom exchange moving and sentimental words, and in many instances where the photos are pretty ordinary photos at that.

Unplugged weddings are no longer a new thing. We’ve all seen articles about unplugged ceremonies, and we’ve all seen the photos where guests are leaning into the aisle blocking the couple from seeing one another as one walks down the aisle. For me, having guests taking photos isn’t a huge concern. I have never had to ask people to move from the aisle, nor have any guests posed a problem for me during the ceremony. To be honest, I kind of enjoy getting those shots of the guests lining up taking shots and if someone has been in my way, it takes nothing more than a quick "excuse me" to rectify the situation.

If you choose not to go unplugged, I would at least recommend that guests refrain from leaving their seat and standing in the aisles, and for them to just take photos from their seat. If anyone is in the aisles during any part of the ceremony, at some stage they will most likely be in my way as I move about and restrict my view. It’s even more important guests are not lingering in aisles if you have also hired a videographer due to the extra manpower in the aisles and potentially blocking the view of the cameras.

If you are planning on having an unplugged ceremony, I encourage you to let your guests know ahead of the day with a simple message in the wedding invitations, as well as a sign placed in the ceremony area, and asking the officiant to make an announcement before the ceremony begins.


Ceremony (allow 30 minutes to 1 hour)

Most outdoor garden ceremonies are around 30 minutes, whereas most church services are around 45 minutes – 1 hour but I suggest you check with your officiant for a more accurate duration once you decide on your vows.

Ceremonies in nature are my favourite: surrounded by nature, a magnificent tree as the backdrop, the light, and the freedom for me to shoot from a variety of angles. Love, love, love.

For outdoor ceremonies, light and sun are super important factors and how they affect photos. Dappled light and harsh uneven light are not ideal. If you’re having your ceremony outdoors between 10am and 3pm, try to always position the sun behind the couple to avoid squinting.

Naturally overcast weather is perfect for photos, but as I've learnt over years of shooting weathers (and try as I may), I can’t control nature so can’t rely on that approach. A better option would be to plan your ceremony for later in the day, so the light is softer and not coming from overhead.

For indoor and church ceremonies, while they have the advantage of a wet weather backup, lighting in historical cathedrals can be minimal due to the small windows. Also many of the cathedrals don’t allow the use of flash photography and while I use professional camera equipment that performs well in low-light situations such as this, this can affect image quality depending on how much natural light and at what direction it is coming from. More modern churches usually allow in more light.

For Queensland weddings, the best ceremony start time for Spring and Summer would be 3pm, however in Autumn and Winter try for an earlier time of 2pm. Be sure to leave enough time for congratulations, family photos, wedding party photos and couple portraits around sunset. If you are unsure, feel free to ask me about your ceremony location and I’d be happy to give my advice and tips.


Congratulations (allow 15-20 minutes)

Congratulations is a great time for capturing candids of your wedding guests. Just smile like the Cheshire Cat throughout, throw a couple of fist punches and take in all that love.


Family Portraits (allow 15-30 minutes)

Family portraits, while not the most creative photos, may be very important to you as a couple.

My experience is that whilst family portraits are popular, it is typically a short list with just the immediate family involved. Immediate family includes the couple’s parents, siblings, sibling’s family, grandparents and any step-parents/siblings.

You may choose to add extended family groups – aunts, uncles and cousins, as well as friend groups but it is important to keep these to a minimum, to ensure there is sufficient time for your wedding party and couple portraits at sunset.

The amount of time needed will obviously differ depending on the number of groups, but I move through them fairly quickly. This is where you will see me at my most military. I recommend you have a designated helper on each side to assist with gathering people for the family photos.

Wedding party photos are not typically taken at this point - we save those for the wedding party location shoot once you leave your guests. However, if there are flower girls and page boys in the bridal party, I would typically do them following the family portraits as the flower girls and page boys don’t typically go on the bridal party photo shoot.

The ideal location is a shaded area just near the ceremony location.

{ allow 15 minutes for immediate family or 30 minutes for immediate & extended family }


Bridal Party Location Shoot, with Couple only portraits (allow 1 - 1.5 hours)

All couples are different, some prefer more variety using several locations, while others just want a few photos in one location.

I recommend 1-2 locations at most, with each location offering something different for variety.
If you have chosen a venue with ceremony and reception in one location, we can leave site, however I usually find the couple wish to remain on the property in which case we simply go for a wander utilising various parts of the property.

The more allocated time usually means the shoot can be at a slower pace, allow the couple to relax into the session which generally achieves more relaxed expressions as well as time for creative photos.

Less allotted time usually means we are there to take photos, and as many as we can in a short amount of time.

I prefer to split the time in two. The first part is dedicated to the bridal party, then I like to focus on the couples portraits. When attention is off the couple, some of the best, most genuine and joyful moments occur.

The ideal time to start the bridal portraits is 30-45 minutes before sunset as that is the best light, as it’s soft and golden.

The most important thing to ensure we get great photos is trust.

You have engaged me as your photographer because you love my style. Now is the time to trust me to create beautiful photos for you and hands down, the best wedding photos come from collaboration and trust between the couple and photographer.

Typical photos taken during this time :

A variety of candid, fun, creative and classic portraits of the entire wedding party, the couple with different groups of your wedding party and then exclusive images of the couple only.

Note:
If you wish to book a second photographer to capture the guests during cocktail hour, as well as reception room details prior to guests entering the main reception room, please let me know and I will provide a quote.

 

Wedding Reception (up to 11pm)

Reception Lighting – it’s all about mood for me. I embrace the dim romantic light and where possible shoot without the use of flash for anything other than dance floor shots. I want to capture the natural ambience of the venue so you remember exactly how it looked. I’ve shot in incredibly dark restaurants and still managed to not use flash, but you do usually sacrifice a bit of quality. By that I simply mean you couldn’t print those images above say an A4 size, but they are typically not photos you would ever print larger than A4, in fact not even A4, mostly small images in an album spread with many other images smaller than a 6×4 print. I do love a venue with Festoon lights! It’s important to have sufficient lighting for ambience for this type of low light photography. I like to embrace that gritty mood reminiscent of the old days and film photography with grain in the images. It usually is a judgement call once I see the lighting in the reception venue. And if I don’t think there is adequate light, which makes focusing a bit tricky, I most definitely break out the flash.

Photographers Meal – as I will be at your reception until late, its typical for the couple to provide me with a meal. It need not be anything grand or fancy, but as a vegetarian, I do ask that there's no meat! I can eat anything else (okay, maybe not eggplant) and by all means, just reach out if you want to run anything by me.

The ideal time for my dinner to be served is after the wedding table have been served. This ensures I have enough time to eat quickly while guests are eating, and be finished in time for speeches, cake cutting or dances that might happen during or at the end of dinner. Some venues insist on serving vendors at the end of serving the guests meals, which means the photographer doesn’t have a chance to eat before speeches begin so when liaising with your reception contact, just put in a specific request. If you are having a buffet, it’s easy for the photographer to grab their own food at the appropriate time.

Note :

If you wish to have any night-time portraits during the reception, ie. creative couples portraits
using interesting lighting, city nightscapes etc. please notify me prior to the wedding day.

You will need to plan to leave the reception for 20-30 minutes for night-time portraits.
The ideal time is after the bridal waltz or once the guests have left.

Night photography is quite technical and slower paced, but can be dramatic and well worth the effort.

And with that classic exit demonstrated fabulously by my beautiful couple Jess + Sam, that folks, is a wrap. 

Danielle x