Wedding day planning: Important things for you to consider.

Real honest advice to help your wedding day run as smoothly as possible...

wedding planning tip advice for brides on their wedding day

I decided to write this guide to help new brides & grooms with their wedding day schedule & list general ideas that can help your day run smoothly. For the most part, the schedule remains very similar from wedding to wedding, but I’ve gathered some tips from previous weddings which may assist upcoming brides/grooms. I’ll be adding bits & pieces to this guide over time.

Choosing your ceremony time

Yes, this is an important one to get right, choosing the right ceremony time is setting your wedding day schedule up for success. You don’t want to choose a ceremony time of 2pm in December as available daylight for location photos would become an issue at 4:30pm. I highly recommend a 12:30pm ceremony time during the winter and 12:30pm to 1pm all other times of the year. Having your ceremony & location photos done earlier, ensures you can arrive at your reception in good time to enjoy the celebrations with your friends & family before the dinner bell rings.

Note: most of the images I show on my website/facebook/instagram pages are scenic outdoor or indoor images of the bride & groom. I respect your privacy and typically do not post a lot of images per wedding on my website or facebook page. One could assume then that I do not shoot a lot of natural or candid moments but in reality, 90% of what I shoot on your wedding day will be documentary in style, that is, capturing the natural moments of the day as they unfold.


Hair & Make Up Schedule

Three main items to consider here, 1) timing, 2) where in your house/hotel room is the best location for hair & makeup & 3) what you wear is important, let me explain why...

1) The bigger the bridal party, the longer it takes for hair & makeup. If you have 4 bridesmaids, your Mum, the grooms Mum and maybe a sister for hair & makeup, your position in the queue is important. What I mean by that is, do not be last in line for hair & makeup, ideally you should be second or third in line. That way you can be getting into your dress while your bridesmaids are having their final preparations done.

Tips for make up on your wedding day

@SandraGillenMakeup | Highly recommended MUA based in Galway

2) When choosing a location in your home or hotel bedroom for hair & makeup, certainly window light is important, your make up artist (MUA) will guide you on where is a good place to sit. Do however keep in mind that a larger room would be best as opposed to a smaller room if the light was suitable in both. A sitting room is always a good idea, large enough to allow the photographer room to move around to capture those moments of laughter as you chat with the girls. Try not to position your chair closely facing a wall or corner, it limits the angles available for photo/video.

bride getting makeup done

3) What the bride & the bridesmaids wear on the morning during hair & makeup is important. Firstly a robe of some sort is highly recommended, it looks flattering in photos. Wearing tight T shits is not advised as when you sit in a high chair and lean forward, even with a supermodel figure, it is not the most flattering for our mid sections. Second, try to colour match what the bridesmaids are wearing, having an assortment of multicoloured PJ's, shorts, robes & T shirts in differing colours does not look great in a wedding album. This does not need to be expensive, for example if the bridesmaids are wearing the same colour robes and leggings or shorts, that's perfect.

Leaving out your details the night before

Wedding details, brides shoes

Leaving all your details together the night before or morning of is a great help to your photographer

This is very helpful, it saves your photographer time in the morning when starting to photograph details. If everything is left in the same place with all wrapping & tags removed, less time can be spend photographing the details leaving more time to capture moments. This includes the wedding dress, bridesmaid dresses, flower girl dress, shoes, page boy suit, perfume, jewellery, spare invitations, rings, wedding bands, flowers, garter, gifts or a head piece etc, essentially anything that is important to the bride or that she will wear on the day.

Photos of brides jewelry perfume bouquet handbag veil and wedding dress


Cards & Gifts

Not too much to say here, sometimes gifts are given to the bridesmaids or the groomsmen by the bride or groom, it can be a good opportunity to capture some additional images so it can be a good idea to wait for your photographer before exchanging those but it’s down to personal preference. If your wife/husband to be sends you a card on the morning of the wedding, reading it in a quite place can produce some nice moments for photos.

reading wedding day card


Timing | Getting into your dress

I always say the most critical milestone in terms of the wedding day schedule is the “getting into your dress” time. If this goes according to schedule, the rest of the day seems to fall into place. Before your wedding day you should have a clear idea of when you need to be getting into your dress, I discuss this in advance at the pre wedding meeting and advise brides to notify hair & makeup of that time, so they can ensure you are ready or as close to ready as possible at that time.

bridal suite lodge at ashford castle gerard conneely photography

The bridal suite at The Lodge at Ashford Castle

For example if your ceremony time is 1pm and you live 10 minutes from the church, I would advise getting into your dress at 11:45am. It can take anywhere up to 15 minutes to get into the dress so we also factor in that time. That gives you time to have your bridal portraits taken, some images with the bridesmaids & your family and most importantly, a breather to gather your thoughts before leaving for the ceremony.

wedding cloonacauneen castle flower girls looking at wedding dress

Mommy is getting married today

Tip: Having matching hangers for the wedding dress & bridesmaids dresses is always a good idea, Penny's for example stock pearl hangers which are inexpensive & look great.


pearl hangers for wedding dress pennys

bridal portrait

father seeing bride in ger dress dromoland castle

Keep Dad hidden in the basement until your ready! Always great to see their expression when they see their daughter in her dress for the first time!

The first time Dad gets to see his daughter in her dress can be an emotional event, some laugh with joy & some cry. Where possible I try to ensure Dad does not get to see the bride in her dress until the bride is fully ready & I ensure I am there to capture the moment when he does.

flower girls looking at bride in her dress

Involving your son(s) or daugher(s) on your day

In my opinion it’s so important to include your children in your wedding day images, that being said, it’s important to have someone on hand to take care of them, feed them & dress them on the morning of the wedding. Again this goes back to “the art of delegation” which I touch upon below. I have two boys myself and I know how much they can crave for your attention, especially when there are groups of people around. Having the piece of mind that a family member will take care of them in the morning is important, it’s keep your to do list small and allows you to focus on enjoying your prep. Ask that they are fully dressed 1 hour before you leave to the ceremony location/church so they can be included in any family photos before leaving.

wedding photos with your children

If you have children, they are a special part of your day, ensure to talk to your photographer about including them in your wedding day photos

The best approach to photograph children is just leave them to their own devices and take candid photos of them doing their own thing.

Photo of the grooms son helping his Dad with his tie

A helping hand

The art of delegation

Your to do list on the morning of your wedding to have next to zero entries. You’ve done all the planning & hard work in the lead up to your wedding, it’s your day, you should be pampered on the morning of your wedding, not checking items off a list. In the run up to your big day, have a chat with family members or your bridesmaids/groomsmen and delegate any wedding day tasks you can. For example, who is locking the door before leaving for the ceremony, who is bringing bags to the hotel & who is bringing the alter flowers to the reception etc etc. These are little things, but they add up and can be avoided once delegated in advance. I’ve seen this cause stress to many brides, especially in those last 20 minutes before leaving for the ceremony.

bride before leaving home to get married


Empty to do list | stress free bride

bride getting into wedding car

Walking up the aisle

Take your time.... Be sure the aisle is clear before you start to walk, that way your photographer can ensure to get unobstructed images of you. The same holds true for the bridesmaids, sometimes bridesmaids speed up the aisle and bunch up near the top making it more difficult to get clear images of each. Your photographer will remind you of this again at the bottom of the aisle. Any nerves that you may have soon disappear once you see your husband/wife to be...

father of the bride crying after walking her up the aisle

Dad shedding a tier after walking his daughter up the aisle

Tip: If there is a wide gap between the chairs when you sit at the alter, pull the chairs closer, take your partners hand every now & then, don't be afraid to chat & have a giggle throughout the ceremony. All the guests are family & friends who are there for you & your photographer / videographer will thank you for it as your personalities shines through in the photos/video.

married couple holding hands

Holding hands is a promise to one another that, for just a moment, the two of you don't have to face the world alone.

Tip: When you stand up to make your vows, have one of the groomsmen move the chairs to the side, that way your photographer can get full length images of the dress & exchanging the rings without the chairs obstructing the view.

pen for signing the marriage register

If you would like to sign the register with something a little more fancy, ensure to bring along your own pen or have a family member mind it until you need it. Just in case the one left on the table is a Bic pen..

married in claddagh church signing the registry

Signing the register at the Claddagh church, Galway

married walking down the aisle


Location, Location, Location

just married the golf buggy at dromoland castle

Finally, some alone time

For the outdoor location images, we only need the bridal party, no parents or flower girls etc need to attend. In general I spend 1 hour max taking these photos, more often 45 minutes, the smaller the bridal party is, the faster we can move around & thus the time is reduced. It can be done in less than 30 minutes if this part of the day is not so important to the bride & groom.

wedding photography on the beach salthill prom

Salthill beach, Galway

If getting married on a Friday, factor in traffic delays, esp for inner city hotel venues. Scenic locations for images should be for the most part on the route from the ceremony to the reception venue, again all this is discussed at the pre-wedding meeting.

the boathouse dromoland castle wedding photos

The boathouse at Dromoland Castle

Tip: you may be hungry when you get into the wedding car after the ceremony. The ceremony, signing of the registry, greeting line & family formals takes about 2 hours on average depending on the number of guests. You may not have eaten since breakfast so having something to snack on in the wedding car while you travel to the scenic locations is a good idea.

wedding photography in the woods

I shoot fast, focus on the larger group images first, then the bridesmaids & groomsmen can return to the car/hotel while I wrap up focusing on bride & groom only images. The outcome here is quality over quantity, we don’t need a million images, just a variety of images from the classical portraits to the fun/candid moments. The goal here is to get this part of the day wrapped up in a timely manner & get everyone back to the reception as early as possible.

wedding photography at pie maker galway


Tip: If there is someone special who can't make the ceremony, if your schedule permits it, arrange a quick visit to say hello, it will make their day...

saying hello to someone special

A quick visit to someone special

If it’s raining heavily after the ceremony, we may need to take the bridal party photos indoors. If there are showers, you may get away with some outdoor photos and some indoors photos, that call will be made on the day. Investing in some umbrellas could be a good idea if your pretty sure the day is going to be very wet, some options online -

Umbrellas can also be used as props in photos, even on dry days. No need to go too expensive, you’ll likely only use them for a few images.

wedding umbrellas

Tip: when taking scenic images, ask you maid of honor to keep an eye on your dress. I find bridesmaids are excellent at fixing the dress in the church, but soon forget about it after that. As a photographer, quite a bit of time can be spent running back & forth to fix the dress for photos, so having a hands on maid of honor adds a second pair of eyes to assist.

bride portrait galway bay hotel

One thing I remind couples about at the scenic shoot is to connect your hands. Arm’s dangling down by your side is a pet peeve of mine, it just does not say “I love you” like connected hands do. When couples are next to each other, I like to have them either holding hands, arms around the waist or whatever works, it doesn’t matter as long as they are connected. Believe me when you see a photo with a couples arm’s dangling by there side and a photo of a couple with connected hands, there is a stronger sense of emotion from the connected couple. Something to keep in mind, but I remind my couples of this on the day.

connected hands


The speeches tend to last longer when they are after the meal, they tend to be shorter when they are before the meal. That’s not always the case but quite often the case. I remember my own wedding day, we opted to have the speeches before the meal so that we could relax while eating. Some opt to have it after the starter which is an option also.

wedding speech tips

Try to avoid breaking up the speeches into segments, for example two people speak before the main course & two more speak after desert. It makes it more difficult for the chef to prepare the food around the schedule of the speeches which can delay the overall service. Also, for speeches after the meal, the longer the speeches go on for, the more it delays the band starting, be mindful of that.

Tip: typical wedding photography coverage is bridal prep to meal sit-down, say 11am to 6:30. Additional coverage may be added on to include photography of the speeches & first dance(s) at an additional cost. Between the meal & the speeches & the speeches & first dance, there can be a long wait time for a photographer with the bands starting these days anywhere from at 10pm - 10:45pm.
There could be a cost saving by having your speeches right away when you sit-down for your meal at 6:30pm. I know personally I'd be happy to stay on a little longer and coverage the speeches for a reduced additional cost and get to head home for some family time at 7:30pm. Yes, it means you won't have any photographs of the dancing but if that is not so important to you, or you are having videographer, that would be covered with video. It's certainly something I'd be happy to discuss with my couples.

When it gets dark

Some venues lend themselves to outdoor shots at night. Normally a good time to take these shots is after your meal or before your first dance. I get my camera settings dialed in & the lighting ready to go, then I ask the bride & groom to pop out to get these shots. As everything is ready to go, this normally takes about 5 minutes and those images can be a lovely way to end an album.

maried at the g hotel in galway wedding couple

nighttime photography meyrick

radisson galmount hotel wedding photography

wedding album dusk image

 Your wedding day goes very fast, so many times couples tell me "I can't believe we're sitting down for our meal already". Be sure to enjoy every moment of your day, take a step back and take it all in.

I’m always open to a phone call or chat over coffee if you would like more details about my wedding photography services. To check a date, please contact me via the "Check Dates / Get a Quote" icon below, thank you.


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Contact details:- Gerard Conneely Photography | Mobile: 0872295675 | Email:

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