Most of us have been to a wedding where the couple getting married takes off right after the ceremony to do photos with family members, the wedding party and some photos by themselves. This happens and we don’t see the couple we are there celebrating for about an hour, there are a few different ways to alleviate the amount of time spent on these photos and I will list those really quick so that you have them as well, but this post is mainly to help with some ideas to entertain your guests if you have to do the bulk of your formal portraits immediately following the ceremony… So if you are looking for some fun and creative ideas to keep your guests busy while you are getting some important photographs taken please read on…

But real quick…. to take the least amount of time possible with your formal portraits after the ceremony here are three suggestions:

1.) Do a First Look with the Bride & Groom and schedule all of your formal portraits or a vast majority of them before the ceremony. This is for the couple that doesn’t care about the tradition of seeing each other before the ceremony. Often times it requires adding extra time with your photographer before the ceremony to ensure that you have enough time to do them before the ceremony is slated to start. You will also want to add a little extra wiggle room in case preparation and getting ready takes longer than expected. Plan on guests beginning to arrive about 30 minutes prior to the ceremony start time. You will want all of your photos slated to be done or just finishing up with the groomsmen at that time. If you don’t want to do a first look try and do at least the bride and bridesmaid photos beforehand and groom and groomsmen photos as well to get some of the formals out of the way.

2.) Tell everyone that you want to be in your photos that their presence is requested and when and where these photos will be taken, don’t assume that your aunts and uncles will stick around after the ceremony for photos… Give them a heads up beforehand… sometimes handing out a timeline at the rehearsal and/or putting something on your wedding website alleviates confusion and precious time looking for people who have wandered off.  It doesn’t have to be a lot of details something like this (being specific to who you want and where you want them) –

3:00pm Ceremony

3:30pm – All Family Photo of Bride’s Side by the Alter (all relatives are requested to be in the photos)

3:45pm – Immediate Family of the Groom’s Photos at the Front of the Building

Doing this one simple task can make the difference between family photos taking 20 minutes or an hour!

3.) In most cases couples will receive all of their digital images from their photographer or the very best of the group photos taken so with this in mind, it goes a lot faster if the photographer doesn’t have to stop every few minutes to let someone else take a photo of something they just took. If you have a limited amount of time to do formal photos…for example if you’re getting married in a Catholic Church and they gave you precisely 30 minutes to take photos after the ceremony before parishioners come into the sanctuary for confession. If time is absolutely of the essence, any deviation from the photographer’s job will effect the outcome of your photos and the amount you can actually take. It’s best if you as the couple just ask everyone else to put their cameras away and let the photographer do their job because it sounds better coming from the people paying for the photographer than the actual photographer themselves.

Most couples will usually still use the “cocktail hour” following the ceremony for the time period to take their photographs. Traditionally, this is the time that guests will mull around the venue, chat with other guests, eat appetizers and have a few beverages while searching for their seats for dinner. It’s also the perfect opportunity for you as a couple to put your personal stamp on the event by introducing some fun items to entertain guests and here are some ideas for entertaining those guests –

1.) Lawn Games or Table Games – Many companies rent out lawn games like the photo of “Connect” below, other items they might rent are large chess pieces, Jenga Blocks, Corn-hole and more. These are perfect for a laid back wedding with more of down home feel to it. Board games are also fun and can be used at more of an indoor location. Both ideas give guests who might not know each other a way to bond.

2.) Photo Booth – There are many companies in Colorado that offer the old school photo-booth with print on site capabilities. We offer a portrait station which is similar, but rather than print on site we just provide all the images along with your wedding photos and you can share them with your guests after the wedding either in digital form or print one out and mail it with your “thank you” cards. This option allows for more space for larger group photos and is less expensive than printing on site. (Print on site option are also available, but require an additional assistant and thus cost more). We’ll include props for no additional charge (only available with a 2-photographer package).

3.) Live Band or Musician – If you already are having a live musician for your ceremony you can see if they will stay through the cocktail hour to give your guests a more unique experience. I’ve been to some events that just hired a musician for the cocktail hour. A musician like a piano player, flutist, or bagpiper would be great for just that.

4.) Hire an Entertainer – Examples: A Magician, A Celebrity Impersonator, A Belly Dancer, Etc. I’ve seen Frank Sinatra impersonators belt out tunes and walk among guests during the cocktail hour, belly dancers, and even balloon artists hired to entertain at a wedding with a lot of children. A medieval themed wedding with fire jugglers would be amazing to see! Anything that really sets your event apart from others is awesome!

5.) Interactive Food Stations – Examples: Make Your Own Cupcake, Make Your Own Omelette (great for a morning wedding), Roast S’mores Over a Fire, Wine or Beer Tasting Station, Etc. Nothing is more Colorado than camping, so as a nod to that, let guests do their own S’mores either during the cocktail hour or as a late night snack over a fire pit or fondue pot. Setting up fun food stations with exotic foods is also a great way to incorporate the food tastes of a couple. Watching a chef flambe’ something is always fun!

6.) An Interactive Video Booth Where You Can Leave Messages to the Bride & Groom – Here’s another one we will offer if you are doing a two person videographer package for no additional cost.  This way you have a videographer to go with the guys and one with the gals while they are getting ready and to get more angles of the ceremony. Then one videographer goes with the couple while they are doing photos while the other sets up in a quiet area as guests enjoy the cocktail hour to get “well wishing toasts” from the majority of guests before dinner. Do this in lieu of a guest book and you’ll be glad that you did!