Wedding Reception Guide

Spend more time with your guests. Yes, please!
Whether you go down the path of having a first look or not, I’m a MASSIVE advocate of enabling couples to spend as much time with their guests as possible.  I’m of the school of thought, that if you don’t want to see, or spend time with your guests, why didn’t you just elope?

If we do a first look – Brilliant, the ceremony is done, and you get to hang out with your guests straight away.  We’ll fit in the family portraits sometime during canapés too.  If you have live music, you also get to hear and enjoy the killer live band/musician that you spent money hiring. Woo!

If you don’t do a first look – no stress at all either, I understand it’s not for everyone.  We’ll usually try to get the family formals done straight away.  If the venue and timing are cool with it, I then like to let the couple and bridal party chill out for 5 and 10 minutes and have a beer/wine/bite to eat before we go off for photos.  If we can do this, I honestly believe it makes a big difference in keeping things relaxed and not rushed for these shots.  I’ll then do the couple/bridal party photos, and I’ll try my very best to keep this chilled and fun.  The 30 – 45 minutes we’re doing these photos, should be one of the best parts of the day!  Not one of the worst!  I’ll also often try to get everyone back to the canapés before the reception time. That doesn’t always happen, as timings can often blow out, but please know, that is a goal of mine.

Reception Entrances.
It’s my opinion – but I find ‘reception entrances’ to be a little strange.  And they can be a fair bit of a time killer too.

A lot of venues still push this ‘reception introduction’ – so most couples think it’s something that they just ‘have’ to do.  But at my wedding, I believed – “that if there is someone who is in this room who doesn’t know I am, that I have to be introduced to, then we have a problem here”.  So we just walked in casually with our guests from canapés to reception.

The reason I say it’s a time killer is this;  Let’s say your reception starts at 6:30 pm.  The venue organiser will then push to have the bridal party and couple back in the ‘bridal suite’ by about 6:20 pm, while they usher all the guests inside.  I’ve been to a lot of weddings; I can tell you this always takes longer than expected.  Let’s say they’ll be seated by about 6:40.  You then get introduced after the MC’s opening spiel.  By the time you and the bridal party are seated, that’s going to be closer to 6:50.  You’ve then just blitzed, on average, about 30 minutes of precious reception time away from your guests on your wedding day, for the sake of an introduction.

Don’t do an introduction and just meander in casually with your guests, and you then take this 30 minutes back into your own hands.

Turn the coin around.  That is 100% my opinion.  If you want to do an introduction, because you have a particular song to play, or you want that rockstar moment because it’s your wedding day, then by all means.  DO IT!  It’s your wedding day!  Or skip the introductions for the whole bridal party, and just have an intro for the two of you. Make sure you just do what makes you happy 🙂

Can you stay until the end of the reception?
I have two hours included in my contract and pricing as I have found this is usually always enough time to get all the ‘formalities’ photographed. That consists of the first dance, speeches, cake cut etc. I’ll then spend a bit of time tearing up some shapes on the dance floor with everyone. From experience, it’s about the 2-hour mark that the drinks are well and indeed flowing and guests start to get a little loose.  There are dozens of people with their cameras out by this stage capturing the night themselves anyway.  If formalities run a bit over two hours, I’m not going to be sitting there tapping my watch; I’ll stick around as I’m not super strict with that time.  However, if you want me there to the end, or you pre-empt some formalities to be significantly past the two-hour mark, I am happy to talk about the cost involved with that.

If you are covering some of the reception, do we need to cater for you?
It’s industry standard for me to be fed at the reception and I do appreciate a meal and quick sit down.  I’m usually seated with other suppliers that attend the reception such as DJ, band, video guy etc.

That is also pretty important – and I love venues that get it (some just don’t unfortunately)  But I also sincerely appreciate it when I’m fed at the same time as the bridal party.  The only time of the day I don’t take photos is during meals; taking pictures when people are eating?  That’s weird, haha.

So if I can be fed at the start, not 30 minutes after the bridal party, it makes sure I’m fed and watered and ready to photograph any events that occur while you guys are done, but the last people might still be eating.  That could be your first dance, speeches, kick-arse sunset photos etc. There’s nothing more annoying than being fed a significant amount of time after every guest, (which I’m not photographing because they’re eating) then by the time I get my main meal and have one bite, the next formality is announced, and I’ve got to get back up to photograph that.  My food is then taken away when I’m gone because the venue thought I didn’t want it.  (This still happens about two weddings out of ten, argh!)

In summary, feed me at the same time as the bridal party – you’ll have a happy wedding photographer, and you’ll also get more photos because I’m not just sitting around waiting for a meal at this time.  Because as soon as you guys are up and about after your meals, so am I.

I don’t have any dietary requirements either.

I’ve played the guitar and in bands ever since I was 12 years old.  I still do.   Music is so important to me.  As cheesy as it sounds, I honestly believe that it’s the soundtrack to your life.  I think some people underestimate the importance of music to a celebration.  Again, I honestly believe that the right (or wrong) music can sometimes, make or break the vibe of a wedding reception.  Please check out my friends on my recommended suppliers page for a bunch of different amazing artists.   Remember, I’m not usually there for the entire reception, and no one wants to be listening to UB40’s love ballads until 11 pm.  So a rad band or DJ will get some crackers on early in the night, thus resulting in a killer dance floor.  Therefore, fun dance floor photos!