It never ceases to amaze me how quickly time seems to just disappear on a wedding day. It catches everyone off guard every single time and throws them into a complete tizz. And it always starts with hair & makeup. One minute you’re having your hair put up, being calmly assured that you have loads of time and it’s cool to be late, the next minute the cars are tooting their horns and you’re still in your dressing gown, with zero photographs with mum or dad. Cold sweat time. And then there’s the illusion, seemingly put forward by every wedding venue manager on earth, usually single, that an hour for a drinks reception is more than enough for you to do what you want to do, get round everyone, chat mingle and of course for photographs. Well, it’s nowhere near enough. I get that for smaller weddings, you can scale down the timings but for say 50+ guests, an hour is just nowhere near enough. I mean, the whole thing is already 30minutes late by the time all your guests come off the buses and reach the champagne, crispy prawns and salmon oatcakes. In my 18 years shooting hundreds & hundreds of weddings, I cannot think of one wedding off the top of my head that was still on time by the drinks reception. With the drinks reception, I recommend a bare minimum of 2 hours from the moment you set foot in the venue (if coming from a church). And don’t let any venue manager talk you out of that. Unless of course they’ve personally attended 800+ weddings and witnessed the dismay and distress of couples who felt rushed to be seated, never got the chance to fully enjoy the afterglow of the ceremony with their family and friends, never got a bite of their canapes or a sip of their champagne which they paid for, never got a chance to complete their photography schedule. It’s not a good idea to cut short your drinks reception to compensate for late running. Ever. Invariably the venue wants to get back on schedule at the expense of your time with family and friends. And at the expense of photography. That’s understandable from one point of view; when things start to go pear shaped, certain people naturally want to cover their own backs first. My advice regards timings and how best to try and avoid late running is to make a realistic and relaxed schedule. Build in far more time than you think you’ll need at each and every juncture. You will either need it or you will be grateful for it. Most likely both. Have hair & makeup done and dusted and out of the door at least an hour before the cars come to pick you up – last minute is so not cool. It’s just stressful for everyone. Being ready an hour before the cars come, gives you time to chill, relax, enjoy a glass of champers with the girls. And crucially, it lets you get all the beautiful shots you need of yourself, with the bridesmaids, with mum & dad etc. And why a 2 hour drinks reception? 30mins for family group photos, 30mins for bride & groom photos, 60mins to chill with champers with family & friends. Broken down like that, do you not think that time will zoom by? And it might also be wise to choose your starters and main course with timings in mind i.e. choose dishes that are not as time critical, so that the chef has some degree of flexibility should things run, say, 30mins late – it’s not going to ruin the dish. It’s all down to pre-planning. Seriously. Make time.