THE WEDDING PLAYBOOK

Welcome to The Wedding Playbook!

We designed this blog to be a ‘go to’ for RLP couples - some are calling it their ‘Wedding Bible’. It covers a bunch of wedding day questions because, we get it, it’s not every day that you plan a wedding.

Keep in-mind, this is based on our own experience from shooting weddings for the past 5 years and it is important that you plan your day around the things that are important to you!

x Raquelle and James

Hunter Valley Wedding Photographers

TIME ALLOCATION

The suggested times for each element are as follows:

45 minutes with the groom (‘Groom Prep’)
1.5 hours with the bride (‘Bridal Prep’)
15 minutes pre-ceremony
30 minutes for a civil ceremony (please allow longer for church ceremonies)
30 minutes post-ceremony for congratulatory hugs + family portraits
1 hour for on-location bridal party photos
1.5 hours for off-location bridal party photos

Reception coverage is completely up to you but we usually recommend about 30 to 60 minutes of dancing is enough time to capture all of the formalities and your wicked dance moves to complete your wedding day story.

*Please note that you will have to add in travel time between locations if necessary.

Wedding Photographer Hunter Valley

GROOM PREP

Generally, we will arrive at the guys getting ready first (as the girls are often working to a stricter timeline with hair and makeup and the guys are more flexible). The ideal scenario is that the guys are showered, hair done, suit pants and shirt's on, this allows us to capture them hanging out casually. Then we will capture the finer details: the groom doing cufflinks, ties, mum helping with the buttonhole, the best man helping the groom with his jacket etc. Once everyone is fully dressed, we may still have time for a couple of portraits with the boys and any family members that are there at the time.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

Speaking from experience, if you are looking to keep things relaxed and stress-free, try keeping the groom and bridal parties close in proximity to each other. Having the Bride closest to the venue will also be a godsend on the wedding day. If you have a large bridal party and need more than a hotel room, no worries, you can find some absolutely amazing places on AirBNB, they will not only look beautiful in photos but you could make a whole weekend of it with your friends and family.

Wedding Photographers Newcastle

THE LADIES / BRIDAL PREP

We will then head over to the girls getting ready and ideally hair and makeup is in the final stages. We like to capture a few ‘makeup’ shots to help tell the story of your day - it is particularly good for your wedding film. One quick note, we highly recommend hiring a professional HMUA team who are familiar with weddings and who use quality products. We can’t stress this enough, hiring professionals will always yield a better result. Your face will thank you.

We also love to capture all of the pretty details, for example, your wedding dress hanging, shoes, perfume, rings, love note from your groom (basically anything that is important to you). If you would like those things captured, we ask that you have everything together, set to one side and ready to be photographed prior to our arrival. This streamlines our flow and allows us to get straight to work.

When we arrive, the girls will often be in matching PJs or dressing gowns and that gives us a chance to capture those candid moments - maybe popping some champagne etc. This is also a good time to give any planned gifts to your bridesmaids/parents. We ask that you try not to give those out before we arrive - some of the nicest, most genuine reactions and moments can happen during this time.

Once the bridesmaids are dressed, it will be time for the bride to get into her gown. This is a good time to get your mum/sister or that special someone involved. (Making time for your loved ones will always yield the most precious memories). We capture the final stages of getting dressed then shoes, earrings, veil and everything in-between. Depending on your preference - now would be the time to do a reveal to the girls/mum/dad and then we may still have some time for a couple of portraits with the bridesmaids, any family members that are with you and hopefully some stunning bridal portraits.

Our aim is to leave the girls 15-20 minutes prior to the bride departing for the ceremony - that way we are at your ceremony, set up and ready to go by the time you arrive. It may also gives us a chance to capture your ceremony details, guests arriving and the groom waiting nervously.

Hunter Valley Wedding Videographers

FAMILY PORTRAITS

These are the family photos that are done straight after the ‘post-ceremony congratulations’. We will send you a detailed email one month prior to your wedding day outlining how to plan these portraits but in short, we gather a list of your combinations and we systematically run through the list.

Note: if your family portraits are not organised effectively during this time it can quickly descent into chaos. We also suggest keeping this time for close family members. Remember that there will be time to shoot various friend groups during the reception.

We ask that you allocate a loud helper who knows the majority of the people on the list and who can assist in rounding up the various family members. On average, it takes about 2-3 minutes to gather and shoot each combination, we recommend about 8 or so combinations is the perfect amount to cover the important family members and will take approx. 20 minutes - This method really works in creating beautiful family portraits in a short amount of time.

*Tip: asking your celebrant to make a small announcement about the family portraits prior to your exit back down the aisle can be helpful too!

You can read more here - ‘The Most Treasured Photos We Will Take’

ONE BIG GROUP PHOTO

This isn't a shot that we usually include as standard, as we feel the time taken could be better spent on small groupings. Trying to take a well composed, evenly lit image where 80-200 people are all visible at once takes time to organise (about 10 minutes) and for some venues, it's near impossible to capture effectively as we require elevate, however, if this is important to you, let us know before the wedding and we will do our best to make it work.

Hunter Valley Wedding Photographer

BRIDAL PARTY PORTRAITS

These are the photos taken with the bridal party after the post-ceremony congratulations & family portraits.

If everything is at the same venue and there is no travel required, we have found about an hour or so is enough time. If you will be travelling from the ceremony to a portrait location it is best to allow one and a half hours just to give you enough time to travel.

Generally, we will do the photos with all of the bridal party for about 15-20 minutes or so, then spend a little time with just the newlyweds.

We let our couple have a moment to chat and take it all in and that’s when we can capture some beautiful, unscripted & natural moments.

You can read more here - ‘Natural VS Posed Images’

BEST TIME OF DAY FOR BRIDAL PARTY PORTRAITS

The best time of the day for photography is during ‘Golden Hour’ (about one hour prior to sunset). We try to avoid shooting when the sun is at it’s highest in the sky so planning portraits in the middle of the day or early afternoon will not yield the best possible images.

Now, we certainly don’t have to plan all of your portraits around this time, that’s not usually possible (unless you’re getting married in the cooler months when we don’t have daylight savings).

During the warmer months, when daylight savings is in full swing, we recommend planning a little bit of extra time (on top of your Bridal Portraits allocation) to pop out during your reception to grab some sunset photos - we find that 10 or 15 minutes in that beautiful golden light is enough time and will yield some incredible images.

We highly recommend building some sunset portraits into your reception timeline.

You can calculate what time the golden hour will fall on your wedding day here - Golden Hour Calculator

Wedding Photographers Hunter Valley

‘WE DON’T LIKE POSING’

This is one of the most common statement we hear from our couples and we get it… most people aren’t used to having a camera pointed at them all day.

We are visual storytellers and draw inspiration from real life, emotions and genuine connections. Our goal is to document your wedding day as it unfolds in a natural and unobtrusive way. We are always on the lookout for those personalised details that you have lovingly included in your day because we believe those are important too.

When it comes to the bridal party portraits, we will place you in beautiful light, provide a little bit of direction (enough to make you feel comfortable and relaxed) allowing you to fall naturally into each other. It’s important to note that it’s normal to feel a little bit awkward at first – most couples do.

We place a lot of emphasis on taking advantage of your complimentary engagement session (if it is included in your collection). We not only have the opportunity to get to know each but you will learn lots of helpful tips and tricks on how to get the very best out of your wedding day.

If you want beautiful wedding images like what you have seen on our website then we recommend lots of cuddles, laughing, playing and staying connected - basically if you forget about the camera, leave all the stress behind and just enjoy being married… you will have some beautiful memories that will be timeless and treasured forever.

If you’re stressed out, not that excited about being married, can’t be bothered with getting photo’s and just want to ‘get this over and done with’ (a comment we have sadly heard more than once) then we can tell you… there’s a fair chance that’s going to show up in your portraits too. There’s only so much magic we can wrangle. You’ll get out, what you put into them.

You can read more here - ‘How to Rock Your Engagement Session’

Hunter Valley Wedding Photographers

‘DO WE FEED YOU?’

It’s industry standard for us to be fed at the reception and we really do appreciate a meal and quick sit down. We do have one special request, we sincerely appreciate it if we are fed at the same time as the bridal party.  

This is the only time of the day that we don’t shoot (while guests are eating). Instead, we use this time to refresh, recharge and have a bite to eat. Sadly, some venues will refuse to serve us at the same time as the bridal party/guests and in these situations we regularly miss out on a meal altogether.

If we can be fed at the start, it makes sure we are ready to photograph any events that occur when our couple are done… This could be your first dance, speeches, sunset photos etc …  There’s nothing sadder than being fed a significant amount of time after every guest, (which we are not capturing because they’re eating) then by the time we get our meal and have one bite, the next formality is announced.

(This still happens about 2 weddings out of 10)

In summary, please feed us at the same time as the bridal party – you’ll have a happy team, and you’ll also get more captured, because as soon as you guys are up and about after your meals, so are we.

We don’t have any dietary requirements either :)

MUSIC

Music is so important, we can’t stress this enough!

We think some people really underestimate the importance of music at a celebration... music can make or break the vibe of a wedding reception! 

We are not usually there for the entire reception and no one wants to be listening to UB40’s greatest hits until 11pm. An awesome band or DJ will get some great tunes going early on in the night, resulting in everyone tearing up the dance floor - resulting in some epic moments!

We have a little saying… if the music is good and the bride and groom are on the dance floor - Everyone is on the dance floor!

Please check out our friends on our recommended vendors page for a bunch of amazing artists 

Hunter Valley Wedding Photography

‘WHAT FORMAT WILL WE RECIEVE OUR IMAGES?’

You will receive our custom USB with all your edited photographs in high resolution plus access to a beautifully presented online gallery where you will be able to view and download all your photos in high resolution. The gallery can be shared with your family and friends who are also free to download their favourites from the day too.

‘WILL WE RECEIVE EVERY IMAGE TAKEN FROM THE DAY?’

This part of our service, the sorting and editing process is just as much a part of the job as the actual wedding day itself, which all makes for the final product. In short, no, we don’t supply every image taken on the day, the discarded photos are typically duplicates, test shots, people blinking etc…

Please note: we do not supply any unedited ‘RAW’ photos.

Hunter Valley Wedding Videographers

‘HOW MANY IMAGES WILL WE RECEIVE?’

The amount of images varies depending on each unique wedding day, the amount of coverage, the amount of details etc. On average we yield between 50-80 delivered images per hour.

‘WHEN WILL WE RECEIVE OUR GALLEY?’

We take great care in the way we approach your wedding and also in how we handle your images. All of our images are backed up in real time via dual memory cards and are further backed up via external hard drives after your wedding. Our turnaround for your wedding gallery is roughly 6 weeks and up to 8 weeks during peak wedding season. We know this seems like a long time, however, the amount of attention and care that goes into editing and curating your wedding is significant and this process can not be rushed.

‘HOW DO YOU EDIT?’

Our work has a classic and timeless feel, nothing is heavily retouched. In terms of the edit, colours are corrected and adjusted to maintain a consistent feel throughout the gallery, you can also expect roughly 20-30% of your wedding photos to be also delivered in black and white.

Wedding Videographers Hunter Valley

‘you CAN PHOTOSHOP this out, right?’

The old ‘photoshop’ comment… we get this a lot! For the majority of our images, we don’t use photoshop. If there is something that would naturally dissipate with time, such as a pimple or small blemish, of course, we can remove that in the closer portraits if you wish.

However, in regards to body contouring, removing wrinkles or fine lines, straighten teeth, enlarging a booty etc, this is not a service we offer. We stumbled across this amazing blog written by Anne Simone called: ‘I Cannot Make You Beautiful’

I know the title sounds a little harsh – but it is a really beautifully written article by a fellow photographer. We have directed a few of our couples to it in the past, who have then changed their mind about wanting things photoshopped. In short, no, we don’t photoshop.

Wedding Photography Hunter Valley

‘SHOULD WE INVEST IN AN ALBUM?’

Yes! Yes! Yes!

It is the most wonderful feeling to hold your wedding photos in the palm of your hands. Sitting with your friends and family, drinking a coffee and reliving all of those little memories. It’s a feeling that can’t be replicated! Viewing your images on a screen will never quite do photos the same justice as print does.

We have our own wedding photos printed in a beautiful bounded album, I remember when we first received it, we took it over to my grandparent’s house to show them, after we finished viewing our album, I asked my Nana if she still had any of her own wedding photos around. 60 years on from their wedding day, she still knew the exact place in her home where their album was. She dusted it off and we looked through it, slowly turning the pages, listening to my grandparents reminisce about that very day. Their album only had a dozen or so photos in it. But they were some of the most beautiful wedding photos we had ever seen.

We realise buying an album is a substantial investment and it’s easy to say ‘we’ll get one later on’, however, from personal experience we know this rarely happens. Life gets busy, time runs out, and soon enough years have passed and your wedding photos are still sitting on a USB in a drawer somewhere.

You can read more here - Fine Art Heirloom Albums

Hunter Valley Wedding Photos

‘WHAT’S INCLUDED IN THE ALBUM’

Our fine art wedding albums are the most beautiful heirloom you will ever lay eyes on, and we know because we have printed wedding albums with three different suppliers across the world and this one in the best - also an Australia based company which is just awesome!

We offer two wedding albums: 10"x10" album with 50 pages $1250 and 12"x12" album with 50 pages $1450

Here’s what you receive …

* 25 page spread (50 pages)

* your names debossed on the cover

* award winning, luxuriously soft and pigment ink fine art paper

* full double page continuous spreads with lay flat design

* all non-leather hide cover materials are included

Tip: We can assure you that you won’t regret it. It’s like seeing your photos for the first time all over again.

You can read more here - Fine Art Heirloom Albums

‘HOW MANY IMAGES WILL FIT IN OUR ALBUM’

To maintain a timeless and beautiful look, giving maximum emphasis on every each image without looking cluttered, We recommend selecting no more than 100 images. Keeping in-mind that some spreads may only include one image, some will include many more depending on the individual images chosen & the design.

Newcastle Wedding Videographers

FINAL NOTE

If nothing else, PLEASE make time to interact with your loved ones during your wedding day!

Every photographer/videographer wants to capture something special - but we aren’t in the business of manufacture these moments, we rely on you to create these opportunities.

Taking a moment to go over to those special people in your life doesn’t guarantee an incredible, tear jerker image but it certainly helps us to capture something special.

We hope this helps as you plan for the biggest day of your life :) Email anytime with additional questions, we are always happy to help! Happy Wedding Planning!

x Raquelle + James

Newcastle Wedding Photographers
OMG this is amazing!!! Well done gang!! This is going to be my lunchtime, bedtime reading!! Plus my general bible for the next 10 months in the lead-up! Congratulations. You guys rock! X
— Ashley
OMG! This is incredible! You guys are so dedicated, it is just amazing! So many tips!! We will be hiring a live band now lol
— Jessica
This. was. amazing.
I just had to read the whole thing at work - oops! I will go back tonight and read all the other links you put in & write down what I definitely want to include after your great suggestions!
— Jaden
Wow, Wow, Wow - This answered pretty much every question that I have been harassed about over the last couple of months! Your time allocation is a total lifesaver! xx
— Alex
Thank you!