Firstly if you are having a country wedding, there is probably a good reason for it. That quaint farmhouse style, rustic barns, surrounded by nature, ceremonies in the forest and receptions under Festoon lights. And most definitely that laid-back approach to weddings.
For country weddings, I suggest an all day photography coverage package. Generally that will cover you for around 12 hours. It may seem a lot of time for photos, but in fact, it allows the couple and their guests to relax on the day in order to capture an authentic account of your wedding day. Plus what we all want – natural wedding photos!
Here is a wedding day schedule I have put together especially for country weddings which is a more relaxed way to spend your wedding day.
WEDDING DAY SCHEDULE FOR COUNTRY WEDDINGS
With the laid-back nature of country style weddings, and couple’s wanting to make their special day different, bear in mind this is just a guideline that can be adapted to suit.
However, there are certain things that happen on a wedding day that you can’t avoid – and that is the ceremony for one. Working around your ceremony time is a good place to start when planning your day.
Other things like getting in your bridal dress, family photos, cake cutting and first dance will happen at some stage though out the day or evening, but depending on how much you stick to tradition or be different, will play a role in when those things happen. Keep in mind that a) the day will fly by fast (Im sure you’ve heard every newlywed say that), b) most weddings run slightly behind schedule no matter how well planned, and c) I make a promise that the parts of the day where we are shooting portrait to be fun, so it won’t seem like you are away from your guests for too long.
WEDDING LOCATION PHOTOS – THE VENUE
Time Allowance : Complimentary
I like to arrive at country wedding venues early to take photos of the venue itself and the surrounding countryside. The buildings, landscapes and details of the gardens to help set the scene for where the big day is about to take place. They are pretty pictures that help you remember the venue, location and the weather to tell your full wedding day story.
PREPARATION PHOTOS – THE GROOM
Time Allowance : 1-2 hours
Quick Checklist of What we photograph during Groom Prep :
Groom Details • Groom/Groomsmen Getting Dressed • Portraits • Candids
Due to country weddings being more laid-back and generally DIY, in the morning the groom, groomsmen, parents, and any other boys they can round up, will be putting the final touches to any DIY elements around the venue. Possibly they are gathering for a big breakfast cook up like Nicolas did in the photos below at his Byron Bay wedding at Byron View Farm. Whatever the groom has planned for the boys, this part of the day is part of the wedding day story and I love being there to capture all the fun.
After breakfast, allow time for photos of the groom’s details, the groom and groomsmen to get dressed in their wedding clothes, portraits and of course a few celebratory drinks before they head over to the ceremony to meet up with the other guests.
In regards to portraits during Groom Prep, there will be individual portraits taken of the Groom, Groom with all the Groomsmen, Groom with each individual Groomsman, and individuals of each of the Groomsmen. If the Groom’s parents are in attendance, then of course there will be portraits of the Groom with his Parents and any other family members present.
Note: For one photographer packages bear in mind that the photographer will need time with the bride, therefore a two photographer package for country weddings is the perfect time to make use of a second photographer. The second photographer can be capturing all the activities at the groom’s house while the main photographer can be at the bride’s house, that way both bride and groom preparation photos are well documented and capturing all the important moments.
PREPARATION PHOTOS – THE BRIDE
Time Allowance : 2 hours
Quick Checklist of What we photograph during Bride Prep :
Bride Details • Bride/Bridesmaids hair/makeup touchups • Bride Getting Dressed • Portraits • Candids
As mentioned above country weddings tend to be more laid-back so there isn’t always a structure to the wedding day plan. The bride and bridesmaids will be in the hair and makeup chair from fairly early in the morning. Even still there are things happening around the bride’s house to capture, like the bride presenting the bridesmaids with gifts or reading a love note from her groom. All these natural activities that happen, help to create spontaneous reactions and emotions, which make for natural photos without all that posing and staging.
Allocating plenty of time, also gives me time to take the girls outside in to the gardens where there is good natural light ( because we all know natural light makes for the best photos, right! ) for some fun photos in their matching robes. We can also take the wedding dress and hang it in a tree for a quirky take on the dress-photo. These are all things that are part of the wedding day story and I love being there to capture all the fun the girls get up too – but most of all to allow moments to happen naturally.
Allowing time for photos of the bride’s details (allow 30 minutes – by the time I find the room with the best quality of light and setup all the little details in different combinations utilising some of the furniture as props, sometimes means we have to move things into different rooms). Following the details, there are candids of the bride and bridesmaids getting final makeup touch-ups, and then the bride getting dressed in to her bridal gown. Then some portraits and of course a cheers with some champagne before the bride gets ready to walk down the aisle to meet her groom.
In regards to portraits during Bride Prep, there will be individual portraits taken of the Bride, Bride with all the Bridesmaids, Bride with each individual Bridesmaids, and individuals of each of the Bridesmaids. Also portraits of the Bride with her Parents and any other family members present.
Note: For one photographer packages bear in mind that the photographer will need time with the groom before the bride, therefore a two photographer package for country weddings is the perfect time to make use of a second photographer. The second photographer can be capturing all the activities at the groom’s house while the main photographer can be at the bride’s house, that way both bride and groom preparation photos are well documented and capturing all the important moments.
FIRST LOOK SESSION – OPTIONAL
Time Allowance : 45-60 minutes
Quick Checklist of What we photograph during a First Look Session :
First Look • Portraits of the Bride & Groom
For those couples not familiar with what a First Look Session is, its when the bride and groom see each other for the first time on the wedding day, in an intimate meeting with just the two of them, prior to the ceremony. It’s very popular in certain parts of the USA. I find couples are either totally for the idea of a first look, or absolutely against it. Traditionally the first time the groom sees the bride is as she makes her entrance walking down the aisle. However the First Look is a similar idea of the groom seeing his bride for the first time, however, the First Look can evoke more emotions as the couple are in private, well except for the photographer who is there to document the first look moments.
The first look session generally lasts around 45-60 minutes. During this time, the bride and groom enjoy seeing each other for the first time on the wedding day. While the actual first look might only be 5-10 minutes, the rest of the time is spent capturing a mixture of portraits of the bride and groom.
Ideally we are cutting back on the couples bridal portrait session following the ceremony where they can use that time to mingle with their guests.
Time Allowance : 20-30 minutes
Quick Checklist of What we photograph during Pre Ceremony :
Ceremony Details • Portraits of the Groom with Parents if not available during Groom Prep • Groom greeting Guests • Candids
Before the ceremony starts, allow the photographer time to take photos of the ceremony setup before the guests arrive. If there is a structure or arbour with flowers or foliage installed over it, you will want photos of it because Im sure it cost you a few bucks. Along with photos of any other flower details, seating etc. As guests start to arrive, capturing the groom greeting the guests and candids of the groups of people as we wait for the brides arrival.
Time Allowance : 20 – 30 minutes
Quick Checklist of What we photograph during the Ceremony :
Processional – Bride’s Arrival • Giving Away • Readings • Saying I-Do • Vows • Ring Ceremony
Declaration of Husband & Wife • First Kiss • Signing of the Register
Introduction of the couple as Mr & Mrs • The Recessional – Newlyweds & Bridal Party Exit
I cant tell you how many times I hear couples say their ceremony is going to be as quick as it can be. It’s quite a sad statement that a couple want to rush their vows. Usually the real reason behind that, is the bride/groom doesn’t like all the attention on them and wants it over quickly to avoid being in the spotlight. I urge you to try and forget your fears of being in the spotlight. The moment should be about declaring your feelings for your partner and making a commitment to them, look at the journey you have travelled to get to this place. Try to remember when you are up there with your celebrant making your vows, that the time does pass quickly, so please don’t rush the most important part of your wedding, the ceremony part which binds your commitment to marriage.
I love what awesome wedding celebrant Josh Withers has to say on the topic of marriage. Yes that Josh Wither’s bloke you’ve seen officiate a wedding on Married At First Sight, and talking on the Today Show about “no boring weddings” and popular for his wedding selfies. Josh lives by the words “I’m the celebrant you hire if the marriage ceremony is the best and most important part of your wedding!“. And with Josh as your officiant “there’s no chance this will be an irrelevant or meaningless affair“. While Josh might not be your conventional celebrant, and thank heavens for that, I love that Josh is genuinely more passionate about the marriage, than the wedding. The wedding is just one day to kick start an absolute adventure of a marriage. Yes Josh is a big personality in the wedding arena, love or hate him, he is passionate about the wedding industry (or should I say business of being married).
Hopefully this has encourage you to spend a little more time on your ceremony and writing your vows, because they aren’t just any old words, they are the words you want to say to your soul mate the day you promise to be his/hers until death do us part. Whether you choose Josh or any other celebrant, make sure you choose one that is passionate about making your wedding personal for you. You also want a celebrant that has the ability and skills to engage your guests, entertain them to get reactions as well as keep the couple calm and relaxed and focused on each other.
As far as photography goes, the harder your celebrant works to engage your guests, have them entertained and laughing, means opportunities are opened up for the photographer to capture great expressions and emotion during the ceremony.
Brides & Grooms, remember to look at each other during the ceremony as the photographer will be looking to capture the connection between the two of you.
Don’t be afraid to bring your personality to the service.
If you have a centre piece structure at the top of the aisle, try to remember to stand in the centre of the aisle, its just more pleasing in the photos if you are in the centre of the frame.
Remember to smile big as you exit the ceremony, even throw your arms in the air, or have a kiss at the end, because you just got hitched!
Time Allowance : 15-30 minutes ( varies depending on number of guests )
Quick Checklist of What we photograph during the Congratulations :
Candids of guests congratulating the newlyweds
Time Allowance : 30 minutes ( varies depending on number of groups )
Quick Checklist of What we photograph during the Family Portraits :
Bride’s Immediate Family • Groom’s Immediate Family • Bride’s Extended Family • Groom’s Extended Family
We all know how rare it is to have our family all in one place at the same time, and how important family is. We want to make sure we are capturing photos of all your important people and want to allow sufficient time in the timeline for the family portraits.
Family Portraits should take around 30 minutes depending on the size of your family and number of guests. Plan on an average of 3 minutes per group to estimate how long you will need for your family portraits. For example, if you have 10 groups, allow 30 minutes.
As a guide, some couples decide that they want a photo with all guests, while others decide they only want photos with a select group of immediate family members.
How do family portraits differ from candid family photos? Family Portraits have more care taken when considering the background and lighting. Usually taken in front of a plain backdrop, either a brick or rendered wall or garden backdrop, nothing busy as the people are the important subject in the family portraits. Whereas candids are less formal, as they are taken on the spot.
We do recommend organising helpers from each side of the family to assist with rounding up people for the family photos.
Bride’s Immediate Family Photos include photos of both the bride and groom with the Bride’s parents, grandparents, and siblings.
Groom’s Immediate Family Photos include photos of both the bride and groom with the Groom’s parents, grandparents, and siblings.
Bride’s Extended Family Photos include photos of both the bride and groom with the Bride’s aunts, uncles, and cousins.
Groom’s Immediate Family Photos include photos of both the bride and groom with the Grooms aunts, uncles, and cousins.
Time Allowance : 1-2 hours
Cocktail Hour is typically the allocated time for the guests while the bridal party are away having their wedding photos.
Cocktail Hour coverage is only available with two photographer packages
Quick Checklist of What we photograph during the Cocktail Hour :
Food & Beverage Tables • Candids of Guests • Guests Playing Games • Reception Room & Details
Cocktail Hour is another good reason to choose a photography package with two photographers. While one photographer can be off with the bridal party and couple for their photoshoot, the second photographer can remain behind and capture candids of the guests. Especially if you have organised lawn games or other activities for the guests. This way you don’t miss out on whats happening as that will all be captured for you to enjoy when you receive your photos. Imagine the surprise seeing the fun the guests get up to in your absence! The second photographer will also take the reception room and detail photos prior to the guests entering the room. Please ensure your venue/stylists are aware we need to allow 15-30 minutes during cocktail hour for the second photographer to take pictures of the reception room, completely set up with candles lit, and with no guests or vendors in the room.
BRIDAL PARTY PORTRAITS
Time Allowance : 45 minutes
Quick Checklist of What we photograph during the Bridal Party Portraits :
The Entire Bridal Party • Bride with her Bridesmaids • Groom with his Groomsmen • Individuals of the Bride & Groom
Each Individual Bridesmaid • Each Individual Groomsmen • Bride with each Bridesmaid • Groom with each Groomsman
Bridal Party Portraits should be around 45 minutes. During this time, we capture a variety of classic and fun photos in a variety of poses and combinations. We understand you have selected each person in your bridal party because they are an important part of your everyday life. We make sure we capture photos of the entire bridal party together, then the bride with each of her bridesmaids, and the groom with each of his groomsmen, as well as everyone individually.
COCKTAIL HOUR – CONTINUES
After we finish the bridal party portraits and they return to the guests, its a chance for the bride and groom to grabs some refreshments and mingle with the guests for 15 minutes, before we head out for their couple’s portrait session.
BRIDE & GROOM PORTRAITS
Time Allowance : 1 hour
Quick Checklist of What we photograph during the Bride & Group Portraits :
Cute photos of the newlyweds!
I like to separate the bride & groom portraits from the bridal party photos, allowing the newlyweds to have some time to themselves to appreciate what this day means. Naturally I will be tagging along as the third-wheel to capture these romantic moments happen. Generally I like to take the couple for a wander around the property away from the guests where they can share some intimate, heartfelt moments together. This is where country weddings shine. There is plenty of space to roam compared to city weddings full of chaos, people, traffic and noise. Beautiful forests and country fields to explore, greenery as a backdrop is pure magic to the eyes, and the peace and quite is perfect for the newlyweds to be in tune with each others heart on this special day.
I don’t like to rush the bride and groom portrait session, as they are with other people the rest of the entire wedding day. I generally allow 45 minutes and then leave the couple with 15 minutes alone time away from the camera to just be with each other. During the 15 minutes I can duck into the reception area and grab those important reception room and detail photos of all your hard work creating DIY elements and your vision in the styling come to life. Ideally I time this around 30-45 minutes before sunset, as this is the best time in terms of available natural light.
Time Allowance : 1+ hours
Depending on how many hours of coverage your photography package includes, will determine how many hours of coverage throughout the reception
Quick Checklist of What we photograph during the Reception :
For 6 hours of coverage:
Reception Room & Details • Bride & Groom Entrance
For 9 hours of coverage:
Reception Room & Details • Bride & Groom Entrance • Speeches • Cake Cutting • Bridal Waltz • Candids & Table Photos
For 10+ hours of coverage:
Same as 9 hours + additional Bride/Groom Preparation & Reception Coverage for Dancing and Sparkler Exit
With a one photographer package, please allow 15 minutes following the bridal portraits for the photographer to take pictures of the reception room, completely set up with no guests or vendors in the room.
The reception starts with the entrance of the bridal party followed by the newlyweds. The formalities then can take place in a number of ways. Typically after entrees are served, the first round of speeches begin with the Father of the Groom and the Father of the Bride. After the main meal, then the second round of speeches include the Matron/Maid of Honour and Bestman speeches, followed by the Groom (or Bride & Groom is more common these days). This is then followed by the Cake Cutting leading into the Bridal Waltz. Then the Father/Daughter dance and Mother/Son dance before the bridal party joins the dance floor and shortly after the rest of the guests are invited to the dance floor.
During the reception we capture a variety of candid and table photos of your guests. Table photos are when the photographer goes around each table taking group photos or photos of couples. The candids focus on documenting the natural moments, capturing smiles, laughs and hugs.
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