Timeline management ideas to get the best bang for your buck from your Cancun Wedding Photographer…

How much time will I need my wedding photographer for?

O the dreaded question… I have so many emails with this question and there seems to be so much obscurity and mis-information on the subject I have wanted to write this blog post for ages. So often people seem to think they need more photography time than they actually do so I wanted to write a post that explains how to make the day run “smarter rather than harder” I suppose you could say…. You don’t need to hire a Wedding Photographer for hours and hours to have images that will love and amaze you for years to come.

As with many things, its not about quantity in terms of hours, but rather quality, in terms of working with an experienced professional and planning your wedding day really really well – hence why I say making it a smarter day plan rather than a harder one. Of course you have a huge advantage with a destination wedding, or resort wedding, whichever you choose to call it, as the resorts are really amazing at what they do and make sure that your day runs on time (as well as being as hassle free as possible), which is HUGE but there are a few pointers regarding timing that can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars….

These pointers hang around one main premise and four questions and one of these questions is the deal breaker in terms of photography budget, so I have tried to cover those here as well as some additional considerations and quick fixes for funny time lines etc… The main thing is to hire an experienced professional – they will know their job and will work from a shoot list that will mean you get all the photos you want that tell the story of your day… They will make sure in addition to the family photos you want, that you will get as a minimum photos of the bride putting on her dress, the groom waiting for the bride, the bride walking down the aisle, the rings, the first kiss etc…

Imagine how incomplete a wedding album looks without these? You should definitely also provide a shoot list with a list of the images you want – if for example you want one of the bridal couple with elderly relatives etc – but any professional worth their salt will ask you for one beforehand and turn up with it on the day as well as asking you repeatedly if there are any other photos you want.

This leads me nicely to my next tip: give the wedding photographer a detailed shot list of the formal and family/group shots you want.

Make it as comprehensive as you can as some of these shots might take planning on the photographers behalf, if for example you want a photo of all the guests, or you need to shepherd young children into position. Either way, having a really great shoot list will save you and your guests valuable time after the ceremony when most of these shots are taken. Don’t leave this as something to sort out on the day as you will have so many other things on your mind and it will be such a blur that some shots you might really want might get missed….??The four big questions you need to consider when planning your time line from a photography timeline are:

1)What time is the ceremony?

2)What time is the reception?

3)What time is sunset?  see our blog post on this as timing your ceremony with the sunset is VERY important…

4)How much of the reception do you want photographed??and this last question is really the deal breaker in terms of photography budget…. as this is where costs can spiral…

Let me run through a wedding time line from a photography perspective for you so you can see what I mean….
In this example I am using a 4pm ceremony time, a 6 pm reception time and a 6pm sunset….

2:30 Wedding photographer arrives at the resort and comes and finds you and introduces themselves

3:00 Photographer shoots the guys getting ready photos and grooms portraits leaving them ready to have a quiet drink in an air conditioned room once they have finished

3:25 Photographer shoots the end of girls getting ready (putting on the dress) and bridal portraits

3:50 Bridal party with photographer head to the ceremony location

4:00 Ceremony?4.20-30 Ceremony ends and photographer takes formal and group shots

4:45 Photographer takes Bride, Groom and wedding party onto the beach for group shots

5:15 Photographer takes beach shots of the bride and groom

6:15 Bride and Groom head to the reception to make an entrance once the guests are already seated and have a drink

As you can see, this is three hours of photography time used really smartly…. but this is just the start of the reception… so now the questions are what is your budget? And do you really want/need a lot of photos of your friends partying??? If you are on a tight budget I would suggest starting the reception with the first dance… and if you really want to father daughter dance etc- it really adds to the dramatic entrance and it means you can pretty much get away with a three hour photography package… as after that the photographer can leave, also if you just have half an hour of getting ready photos you should be able to squeeze in the cake cutting too….

If you have a little more money at your disposal, I would still suggest starting with the first dance, and then interspersing the speeches and toasts throughout the meal… Not only does it keep the wedding party together as one large group, but it also keeps peoples attention and stops the meal from running over and you wasting DJ time…. Then if you have the cake cutting before desert is served, it effectively means that at the end of the meal the photographers work is done. In this instance you are looking at 4-5 hours of photography as an absolute maximum…

With a six hour package, you are looking at all of this plus a good hour of you and your friends and family on the dance floor having fun… and with an 8 hour package you will end up with a bunch of those ” I never knew Uncle Bob had those moves” shots….??It really all comes down to how much of the reception you want covered… and what’s important to you, but I think the main thing to realize is you don’t need hours and hours of photography to get a really comprehensive wonderful photo story of your day. Its just about getting a great, experienced photographer and being smart about how you plan your time….

I hope the helps and remember at all costs, enjoy your day!

Dean Sanderson | Cancun wedding photographer, Riviera Maya Wedding Photographer