Suggestions from a Wedding Photographer

By The Celebration Team 23 Feb, 2010

Suggestions from a Wedding Photographer

I don’t need to state the obvious by saying that for all of us, a wedding is an enormous task which requires much planning and re-planning before being satisfied that you will have that ‘perfect wedding’. Having said that, the ‘perfect wedding does not exist’ for anyone, no matter how hard you try and plan for your special day; a wedding would simply not be a wedding if something – big or small - did not go wrong. For example; one of the weddings I photographed, the groom had to return home to fetch the wedding ring which he forgot! Another example; my wife and I had to go and hunt down safety pins for one of my client’s bride’s maid’s dresses where the zip had torn right before the ceremony.

Nevertheless after attending a more recent wedding, where the entire event lost any form of class every time the Master of Ceremonies (MC) opened his filthy mouth and after photographing numerous funny and disastrously boring speeches and photographing weddings with no structure at all, I decided to write a short article that may be of some assistance to the couple in planning.

The Reception:

You have said your vows, kissed each other, signed the register, smiled for almost too many photographs and how you are exhausted and cannot wait to down that ice cold glass of champagne and sink your teeth into the first real meal of the day.

You could consider the traditional structure for your wedding:

  • Starters and complete the speeches.
  • Main Course: if you would like photographs of the guests per table, it’s advisable that you instruct your MC before hand to call up each table to have a photo with the couple on the dance floor or the pre-selected area.It is best to have each table come to the couple, to keep the couple at one central point and better to have the photographs done on the dance floor which gives the photographer a clear shot and eliminates the problem of dirty plates and high centre pieces on tables.
  • Cutting of Cake – announced by the MC
  • Desert
  • Opening of the Dance Floor – dance for approximately 4-5 songs to get the guests in the party mood.
  • Once the guests are ready to rock and roll, then do the throwing of the bouquet and garter and continue the dance.

It is best to have the above mentioned formalities done by 22:00 latest.

The Master of Ceremonies

MC responsibilities include:

  • The MC is there as the ‘manager’ of the evening, it is his/her job to introduce the couple, give guidance to the guests of the whereabouts of the restrooms, the bar etc. and explain the format of the evening.
  • The MC also needs to be the communicator between the function co-ordinator / the caterer, photographer and DJ and should attend to the needs of the bridal couple.
  • It is customary that the MC makes an introductory speech and a light hearted MC with good people skills is always good for the guests which keep everyone involved.
  • On this note, although funny for some, the MC should avoid filthy jokes and foul language, one can be entertaining and involving without having to resort to filthy jokes and foul language.
  • The MC usually toasts the couple.
  • The MC also usually reads out any emails, text messages or excerpts from a letter from absent friends and family and can call for a toast to them.

Father of the Groom and Father of the Bride

Usually the father of the bride and / or the father of the groom will make a speech about either their son or their daughter. It’s best to keep it personal and heartfelt and would be wise to keep the speech short and sweet.

Having said this, there are times that the mother of the groom or bride may say something or even a brother or sister, but remember to keep them short and sweet and not bore the guests by beating around the bush with long drawn out stories that no one understands or even remembers, these could have been said and done at the Stag parties.

The father’s usually call for a toast to the mothers of the couple.

The Bestman / Groomsmen

If you have more than one Bestman / Groomsmen you may want to select one of them to say a speech or all of them, but bear in mind that if you select all of them, it should be kept short and straight to the point, the guests become tired and restless if they have to sit for too long.


  • Bestman should compliment the bride, bridesmaids and parents of the couple.
  • The Bestman can give teasing speech about the groom, but should also end off with a good and positive note.
  • The Bestman usually calls for a toast to the bridesmaids / bridal party.


  • Swear, use filthy jokes or ever mention a list of the Grooms previous and past relationships, this is a terrible insult to the bride and the nature of the event.

The Groom

The Groom should prepare a speech before hand and then at the time that the speech is given, he should go with his heart, I never experienced better speeches than when the groom chooses to speak from his heart, it truly is a moving experience and wonderful to photograph.

The Groom should consider structuring his speech in the following manner:

  • Always comment on your wife first! – don’t write anything down for this part of the speech -, go with your heart, but make sure you do not leave your wife to ‘last but not least’ or worse, forget to mention her.
  • Thank the parents, guests and the parties involved in bringing the event together and also thank the service providers such as the Venue, the Caterers, the DJ, the photographer / videographer , I cannot explain to you how much more I feel appreciated when I receive a thank you from the bridal couple.

The Bride

It is not often that the Bride will speak and more so it is normally spontaneous – ladies love spontaneity – so its best the Bride doesn’t plan a speech, but if she feels moved to do so, then let the princess of the evening have the floor.

When the Bride speaks, it’s usually emotive and very special.

Final Thoughts...

I hope that this article will be of some assistance and guidance to the couples out there and even to those who wish to have a break from structured traditional weddings, this will help you know what to avoid.

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