Wedding Planning Advice - Merge Photography

Wedding Planning Advice

Below are some of the most commonly asked questions with regards to prep, ceremonies, family photos and various other parts of a wedding day.
We may have spoken about some of these before (via email or during our face to face meeting) but it’s always handy to go over a few of these point while you’re in the peak of your planning process.

I want us to work together to make sure everything on your day runs smoothly and stress free. Enabling me to capture the absolute best for you.

Hopefully, these tips will help with some of the various elements & timing for your day…. and if not, you can always ask me specifics. After all, I’m here to help. Jx

Advice & Tips

How long do you spend at our Prep?

I typically spend 45mins with my grooms and 1.5hrs with my brides.

When photographing both Brides & Grooms prep I always go to the boys' prep ahead of coming to the girls. This does mean the guys need to get ready earlier than probably planned but then they get to hang out and chill again afterward.

For same-sex couples, I can split my time evenly between both partners but I will still need to arrive with 1 partner earlier so the getting ready slightly earlier rule still applies.

Note: if you would like both preps covered I highly suggest that the travel time between the two be kept under 30mins. That way you are making the most of your photography time.

When will hair and makeup need to be ready?

Ideally I will need this to be finished and you ready to get dressed approx. 30 minutes after I arrive with you. This means I will have a full hour to photograph you getting ready along with some portraits. Ideally, your bridal crew should have their hair and make-up finished and be ready to get dressed when I arrive - Especially if you would like a robe shot. If your crew aren’t ready when you are, this shot can’t happen.

I leave 30mins ahead of my brides for the ceremony so to help you work it out - Subtract 1.5hrs from the time YOU are due to leave for the ceremony and that is when you will need to have your make-up and hair finished.

E.g. YOU are leaving at 3pm for the ceremony (which means I would leave at 2.30pm) so you (& your crew) would need your hair and make-up finished no later than 1.30pm.

Does where we get ready need to be tidy and have good natural light?

Where you are getting ready doesn’t have to look perfect but it’s helpful if someone can pile all the clothes/shoes and “mess” that might be lying about in the one corner out of sight. This will make for better images.

Yes, Natural light is a must for my style of photography.
Just make sure that the room with the best natural window light isn’t where you decide to throw everything when you do your tidy up!

Should we have all our details (dress, shoes, invites etc) all together for you when you arrive?

Collect all of your special details (like dress, shoes, jewellery, perfume & invites) in one area so I can photograph these details while you are having the final touches of your hair and makeup done. That way I’m not bothering you for them.

Don't forget to have a good copy of your invite at your prep as well.

When do you arrive at the ceremony?

I will arrive at your ceremony 30mins before the start time to capture the details of the set up, touch base with your celebrant/officiant & snap photos of your fiancé and guests mingling. That way I’ll be ready for your arrival and the start of the ceremony.

We're having an outdoor ceremony, where should we set everything up for the best light?

The best-case scenario is for you and your bridal crew to be in full shade. Head to toe.
Unfortunately this doesn’t happen very often in Perth during our warmer months.

The next best thing is to set up your ceremony so that (at that particular time of day & that time of year) the sun will be behind you (the couple).
This will mean that the side of you and your bridal crew that is facing your guests (and me) is shaded and well balanced (back lit).

If neither of these options are available then having you both in full sun is preferred over dappled shade or one person in the sun one in the shade – these two scenarios are the hardest kinds of light to balance and not very flattering in photos.
You can always ask me for advice specific to your situation and I can give you some pointers.

How long should we allow for congrats and family photos?

Your ceremony will (in most cases) be around 30mins long.
The exception for this is Church ceremonies with a full mass included.

For your consideration, congratulations will normally take around 15 to 25mins depending on how many guests you have (e.g. 80 guests = 15mins, 120 guests = 25mins) and then Family photos around 30mins.

This means you should allocate approx. 1.5hrs for the Ceremony portion of your day (ceremony, hugs & kisses & family pics).

Keep in mind that your ceremony may not start exactly on time (you might like to be 5mins fashionably late) so having that buffer of extra time is a huge help. It’s always better to overestimate.

How does the Family Photo session after the ceremony work?

I can’t stress how important these photos are BUT I also know how tiring they can be.

To make family photos run as quickly and as smoothly as possible I request that you supply me in advance with a detailed (preferably typed) list of family photos to take on the day (I will ask for this a bit closer to the wedding date, around the 6 week out mark).
Try to keep the families in order & together (one side then the other side) and add to the groups for ease on the day. It’s also a good idea to let everyone who needs to stay for family photos know before the wedding day – so they don’t run off!

Discussing the list with your parents is a must. If they know what’s expected on the day they won’t spontaneously add to it because someone was missed off the list.

Having a friend or family member who knows everyone on the list and can help organize the groups on the day is also requested on my behalf – they will be my little helper!

(Smaller groups mean you can see everyone's smiling faces too!)

Can you show us an example family photo list?


(Your Side)
1. Couple + Mum (Carol) and Dad (Peter)
2. Couple + Mum (Carol), Dad (Peter) & Brothers (Glenn & Nigel)
3. Couple + Mum (Carol), Dad (Peter), Brothers (Glenn & Nigel) & Grandmother (Nanna Smith)
4. Couple + Grandmother (Nanna Smith)

5. Couple + Both sets of Parents (Carol & Peter) & (Heather & John)

(Your Partners Side)
6. Couple + Mum (Heather) and Dad (John)
7. Couple + Mum (Heather) and Dad (John) & Sister (Lucy)
8. Couple + Mum (Heather) and Dad (John), Sister (Lucy) & Brother in Law (Alan)
9. Couple + Mum (Heather) and Dad (John), Sister (Lucy), Brother in Law (Alan) & Nieces (Renee & Sarah)

10. Couple + School Friends (Kate, John, Justin, Sarah, Tom & Daniel)
Etc Etc…

This is really only a guide for how you should consider typing out your list.
Every family is different so you do the shots that are most important to you.
As mentioned, wherever possible keeping the time for Family Photos under 30mins is best so try to keep your list under 15 groups.

We aren't great at "posing" and we're nervous about having our picture taken.

Please don't worry.
There is absolutely nothing you can do that is wrong.
Movement plays a big part in my style, as do real moments. Natural and candid images happen when you are relaxed, having fun, and essentially just being yourselves.

There will be times during the day where I am not directing you. My style (although sometimes quite chatty) also depends on me being a silent witness to events as they happen.

Don’t worry if I’m just shooting and not guiding you - if I’m quiet it likely means you’re nailing it and I’m loving what I see thru my lens. I’ll give you a little bit of direction if I need anything from you and I will always instruct you on where I need you to be in a scene.

You can take a peek at my blog post about how to relax in front of the camera here:

What happens with the couples portrait session? Where do we go?

Your Portrait Location Session is the main photo session with you and your bridal crew (if applicable). In my opinion, it’s also one of the most fun parts of the day.
The locations for this session will depend largely on time. Please remember that you also have to factor in travel time between locations (i.e. your ceremony location to the portrait location then on to the reception location).

Sometimes weather and/or other conditions may mean we need to be flexible about where we go. I’m determined to create fabulous images no matter what the conditions, so trust me. Good light and willing subjects are all I need to create beautiful natural images.

When it comes to the specific locations we photograph, the old adage “Quality over Quantity” definitely applies. We don’t need to overdo it.
I can suggest locations to you if you give me an idea of what you like or don't like (i.e Old Buildings, or greenery. Beach or urban backdrops etc).

45-mins to 1hr of photo time (excluding travel time) is ideal, anything extra is a bonus. More than 2hrs is not necessary for my style of photography.


Will you work with a videographer?

If a videographer is chosen to work alongside me for the day I ask that you select a professional who works in a similar style to my own. Unobtrusive and candid.

There is a risk that if you hire a more obtrusive and "posed" videographer they will want to set up poses, scenarios or skits and they will unintentionally intrude upon real moments. This working style is at odds with the style you have chosen me to provide.

Your stills and video professionals should be working together to create candid and natural imagery so please ensure that they work more in the background on the day.

When do you arrive at the Reception?

I need to arrive at your reception 30mins prior to you officially walking in to ensure that I have plenty of time to park, photograph your reception room details and to prep my gear for your entry. If you would like an empty room shot (prior to guests being seated) this means I need to be there at least 10mins before they are scheduled to sit down. Otherwise I capture my room shots with people already in the room (which can give some nice atmosphere to the image depending on the style of reception).

What will be covered at the reception?

I highly recommend that you think carefully about what you would like captured and then work to schedule all those things for while I’m with you.

I.E. If I'm due to finish at 9pm, work with your MC/DJ & venue to ensure all the formalities you would like covered are finished by that time.

Spacing your speeches out between each course can be a good idea as well (it gives your guests a bit of a break in-between).

I tend not to photograph people eating so getting straight into your cake cut, speeches or dancing earlier in the night will ensure you are making good use of my time.

What about light at the Reception?

Let there be light!
Despite fabulous advancements in digital photography nothing will get you as good photos at night as a well-lit reception. Think festoon lights, fairy lights and Edison lights – NOT floodlights!

Also, if you are doing the lighting yourself, make sure the globes are all the same colour temperature (cool or warm light). You don't want to mix and match this in photos.

Having good lighting where your speeches will take place is always a huge help to those needing to read their speech off a piece of paper too!

Can we add on additional time to our day?

You're welcome to add on additional time right up until the day before your wedding. Extra time is available per hour but I can also offer half-hour slots if needed.
My max coverage on any day is 10hrs.

It's always better to think about and budget for extra time before the day. Playing it by ear on the night means you're too busy thinking about logistics rather than actually being present and having an amazing night.

If it helps, we can chat prior to the day about giving me permission to stay on longer if it's needed (i.e if things are running behind). Pre-approving me for an additional hours coverage (whether you need it or not) means I don't have to interrupt your night to ask your permission (and you can rest easy knowing I've got you covered).

Mindarie Wedding

Have some more questions for me?

Or just want to ask something more specific to your day? Please get in touch directly at: