Mel's Moments Christchurch Wedding Photographer

Bridal Prep: The girls

I arrive at the bride & bridesmaids around about 10-1 am depending on whether you have booked the 8 or 11-hour package (I love my 11 hour package purely because it gives me more time to be creative in the morning + being able to fly my drone). My first 30-45 minutes is spent focusing on doing detail shots. I ask my brides to have the following details assembled for me to photograph; 

• dress on hanger • veil & hairpieces • rings (all three together) • shoes • jewelry • perfume • the wedding invitation or full stationery set • borrowed & blue • garter and any other special details including gifts or letters (make sure these aren't opened or read before we get there to capture the moment!). 

In between doing details, I take candids of everyone hanging out & about the time I finish details the bride's hair & makeup is in the final stages which is the perfect time to photograph those finishing touches. Make sure the bride goes last for makeup :) 

Your hair & makeup team will let you know how long they require and from there you can base your time on when to start in the morning. I suggest having all hair & makeup finished at least 30 minutes before you want to start getting dressed. This helps provide a bit of breathing time to relax, have a bite to eat plus ample time for robe photos.

The last hour before the ceremony is all about the bride getting dressed. For the purpose of photos, I get parents & bridesmaids to dress first. While some dresses simply zip up a lace-up dress can easily take 20 minutes just to get the lace sitting right, plus there are all the details like putting earrings in, jewelry on, garter, shoes and having your veil put in too so ensure you allow yourself plenty of time to be nice & relaxed throughout this portion of the day. I also like to leave at least 15mins after being all dressed for portraits before I head off to the ceremony for detail photos.

Mel's Moments Christchurch Wedding Photographer

Bridal Prep: The guys 

Sally or Grace spends the morning with the groom and his groomsmen. She will be there about 11 am-12 pm depending on the plan. If they are doing something fun, like paintballing, cricket, clay bird shooting. They will tag along and snap some photos or video footage!

When my second shooter arrives at the guys her first task is photographing the details. So I ask the groom to have the following items ready for them to photograph in the morning:

• suit (tags off, ready to wear) • tie • shoes • cufflinks • cologne • watch • and again if you are exchanging letters to each other make sure these aren't read until they are there to capture the moment.

After shooting details they take candids of the guys hanging out & getting into their suits. Once the groom & groomsmen are dressed they usually take 15 minutes to take groom portraits and group portraits.

My advice for the grooms is to allow more time to get dressed than you think you need & have things organized. Often small things can end up causing a chaotic end to preparations; maybe the best man has gone to do a job when everyone needs to start getting dressed, or the suits still have all the tags attached which take time to remove. To avoid feeling rushed have all your details & suits ready to go and allow yourselves a little extra time - the bonus is, if you have an extra ten minutes up your sleeve at the end you can use it to have a celebratory drink! 😉

Mel's Moments Christchurch Wedding Photographer

Ceremony ~ 30-45 minutes

Most ceremonies are about 30 minutes or less - your celebrant can advise you of timing. Allow an extra 10-15 minutes after your ceremony too for your guests to congratulate you. We love documenting these candid moments! This also gives me a chance to decide on if I will drone the big group photo or find a ladder to climb up.

Sal or Grace and I photograph your ceremony from two perspectives - generally, I shoot wide, story-telling shots while Sal focuses on closer, candids. Having two photographers also means while one of us is photographing the bride walking down the aisle with her dad, the other one of us is getting the shot of the groom's reaction. While we capture all the beautiful moments of your ceremony we don't like to be intrusive and it's our aim that you hardly notice we're there. 

If you are nervous about walking down the aisle, it will show on your face. So make sure you look at whoever will make you calm down or happy. Whether it's whoever is walking you down the aisle. Hubby or bride-to-be. Even your lovely celebrant, just remember to breathe and smile!

Mel's Moments Christchurch Wedding Photographer

Group photo & family photos ~ 30 minutes

I will send you a questionnaire requesting all the photos but I do recommend only have 10 big combinations. Rounding up family can take a lot of time and during the reception, we like to follow you both around and capture group photos with your fam and friends!

After your ceremony & once guests have had a chance to congratulate you, we start organizing the big group shot while everyone is still in the immediate surroundings. While I still have everyone's attention after the big group shot I advise family photos are up next. This is a time when having a family member or the MC help us with each photo grouping is a huge advantage in getting the group photos done effectively.

A wee list to start you off

Big group photo first, Grandparents next I.e Bride with her grandparents, Bride, and groom with brides grandparents. Add Brides mum and dad. Then switch and do the grooms.

Then I recommend doing bride with mum, then bride with dad. Then together with the groom and same for the groom. Then a shot with both parents & bride + groom. Then get into the extended family list. While I manage the group photos with the MC, I send my second shooter off around the rest of the attendees to do group photos of you're friends and fam.

Mel's Moments Christchurch Wedding Photographer

Bridal Portraits ~ 1 to 1.5 hours

This is the creative portrait time for the two of you & your bridal party. You can choose to do these photos as a first-look before the ceremony, or more traditionally; after the ceremony. If you are planning a first look. Please make sure it is in a shaded area, due to NZ having a super strong UV light. Your makeup will run and you will be dripping with sweat in summer. Or in fancy terms.

In summer, ozone-depleted air moves over New Zealand from Antarctica. This ozone hole means there are fewer ozone molecules to absorb UV radiation before it reaches Earth's surface.

In the questionnaire, I ask if you would like to stay on-site or adventure for photos. Depending on your venue and of course the time we have allocated. I location-scout these spots to check on the lighting etc before the wedding day. We put an emphasis on this time of your day being for kicking back & having fun with your bridal party. Bring a picnic and some bubbly for the adventure! Usually, we will do the bridal party first switching between the whole group and then girls only and boys only. Before we send them back to the reception and carry on with your own photos. I do have my Hilux in the south island which we can use to scout around and find cool places. You are welcome to jump in my truck, perks of a sober driver ;) Otherwise, I will have a rental car!

I suggest allowing 1 hour to 1.5 hours maximum for this part of your day. If there's a little travel involved between locations it's best to allow about 2 hours, but there is no need for any longer than that - we want you to be able to get back to your guests & the party! I do my best to keep you as little as possible and can get photos done easily in 45minutes depending on if we are on-site or off-site. We will chat about this closer to the time :). If we finish early, this means you will be able to enjoy the canopy hour before the grand entrance or relax with your bridal party!

We will also duck out at sunset to capture that golden hour goodness. This takes 15mins of your day 10 minutes before sunset (you can google your wedding date + location and sunset). These will be the best photos of the day when the light is the softest and beautiful and golden!

Mel's Moments Christchurch Wedding Photographer

Reception ~ coverage per collection

Photography coverage of your reception will depend on the wedding collection you choose but the majority of our couples have us stay up to the dance - so we capture speeches, cutting of the cake, candids of your guests, your first dance, everyone on the dancefloor getting their groove on and sometimes we finish the evening off with some after dark photos if our couples want them. From sparkler exits to rain shots in the dark etc.

Mel's Moments Christchurch Wedding Photographer

So if we put this all together here's an example runsheet based on a 3pm ceremony & 11 hour package in summer:​

Applied if I have a second shooter

  • 7am ~ Day starts (will depend on hair & makeup) (normally 1 hour per person)
  • 10am ~ Mel arrives to bride (approx.)
  • 11:30am ~ Second shooter arrives to groom (approx.) - Groomsman + Groom get ready
  • 1.30pm ~ Getting dressed (Bridesmaids + Parents + Bride)
  • 2pm ~ Second shooter heads off to the ceremony with the boys for detail photos
  • 2.30pm ~ Mel heads off to the ceremony
  • 3pm ~ Ceremony
  • 3:45pm ~ Group photos
  • 4pm ~ Mel does reception details + guest group photos
  • 4:15pm ~ Away for bridal portraits (Generally we will be back by 5.30pm)
  • 6pm ~ Guests seated at the reception
  • 6:15pm ~ Grand entrance to the reception
  • 6:15pm - 8:30pm ~ Speeches / dinner / cutting cake / first dance
  • 9pm / 9:30pm ~ Photographer coverage usually ends

If I am shooting your day by myself for 11hours

  • 7am ~ Day starts (will depend on hair & makeup) (normally 1 hour per person)
  • 10am ~ Mel arrives to the groomsman. Mock photos
  • 11:15am ~ Mel Arrives to the bride
  • 1.15pm ~ Getting dressed (Bridesmaids + Parents + Bride)
  • 2.20pm ~ Mel heads off to the ceremony for detail photos (depending on travel time to venue)
  • 3pm ~ Ceremony
  • 3:45pm ~ Group photos
  • 4pm ~ Mel does reception details + guest group photos
  • 4:15pm ~ Away for bridal portraits (Generally we will be back by 5.30 pm)
  • 6pm ~ Guests seated at the reception - MC does the house rules for the venue - fire exits toilets etc
  • 6:15pm ~ Grand entrance to the reception
  • 6:15pm - 8:30pm ~ Speeches / dinner / cutting cake / first dance
  • 9pm / 9:30pm ~ Photographer coverage usually ends

8 Hour wedding

· 1:00 pm | Mel arrives at the bridal suite or bride’s getting ready location to capture the bride and bridesmaids getting ready

o Only capture groom and groomsmen getting ready if I have a second shooter

· 2:00 pm | Bride puts on the dress

· 2:30 pm | Mel heads off to the ceremony for detail photos

· 3:00 pm | Ceremony

· 3:45 pm | Family Photos

· 4:00 pm | Mel photographs reception details

· 4:15 pm | Head off for bridal photos

· 5:15 pm | Head back from photos

· 5:45 pm | Guests seated in reception

· 6:00 pm | Bridal party grand entrance for reception

· 6:15 pm | MC does the house rules for the venue - fire exits toilets etc

· 6:30 pm | Dinner is served

· 7:15 pm | Speeches

· 8:00 pm | Cut Cake + Dessert

· 8:15 pm | Night-time photos/sunset depending on time of year of bride & groom

· 8:45 pm | First Dance

· 9:00pm | Coverage finishes!