What will guests do while bride and groom are taking pictures?

My photographer just informed me that the formal pictures after the ceremony will take an hour! I was not prepared for my guests to hang around for an hour waiting for us to show up to have our first dance and then start eating? We are not having an open bar. What am I supposed to do with my guests for an hour? I don’t want them to get bored and leave?

Dawna Smith of Custom Photo Book
Wedding DJ, Video and Photo Book Services

The problem you are facing occurs quite often, and is one of the reasons that we suggest that our clients request a schedule from their photographer as to how much time is needed for photo taking. You don’t want to be rushed and appear “rushed” in your photos. This is your special day and you should allocate the appropriate time to make sure the memories are captured in the best possible way.

If you have not booked a DJ or musician, you might consider doing so, as the DJ can help keep your guests entertained before dinner is served by providing relaxing background music. Your guests will not wither away for just an hour, and during their wait, it will provide time for the guests to mingle and get their seats and visit with each other.

To save time, bee sure to get with your photographer a week or so before the wedding to determine what images are most important to you. Having the photographer visit the location before the event will also be helpful.

Visual Media

An hour isn’t an unusual length of time to allow for formal pictures — especially if you have a large wedding party or big families. It sounds like the issue is that this didn’t get communicated early enough so that the photo shoot could be factored into the day’s schedule.

It’s hard to answer your question without knowing more details, such as how much time remains before your wedding day (in other words, how much maneuvering room you still have for scheduling or catering adjustments), and whether the ceremony and reception are at the same place. If the guests have to drive from the church to the reception, that will provide some “cover” for the photo shoot: Just pass the word that guests should take their time because you won’t be leaving the church for a while. Many will be happy that they don’t have to rush.

If the ceremony and reception are at the same location, such as at a country club, then another solution could be to shift your photo hour to a time before the ceremony.

As a videographer, I’ve covered quite a few weddings where the photographer has taken part — or all — of the formal pictures prior to the ceremony. Yes, this means disregarding the old tradition that the bride and groom shouldn’t see one another before the wedding; but I’ve noticed that many couples today ignore that, anyway. Another advantage of pre-ceremony photos is that clothing, flowers, and makeup are fresh, and everyone is looking their best. Usually there’s no need for repairs to tear-stained mascara on the moms; and junior bridesmaids, flower girls, or ring-bearers haven’t had time to get their outfits rumpled or smudged.

For this scenario to work, there needs to be enough flexibility in the pre-ceremony schedule to accommodate an extra hour — with everybody getting to the right place at the right time — and the venue needs to cooperate. Still, if your biggest issue is moving everyone from the ceremony to the reception as quickly as possible, then changing the time of the photo shoot may be the best option.