the wedding guide
You're engaged, now what!?
Whether you're over a year out from your wedding date or it's right around the corner, the time is going to fly by. I don't want you to let the stress of planning a wedding get in the way of the reason you're getting married.
This guide is meant to help prepare you for the best wedding photography experience and help you with the planning process, after all I have done this a time or two.
I'm going to be with you during one of the most exciting times in your life, surrounded by your most favorite people; I genuinely care about what you care about. I want you to know it's not lost on me what an honor it is to be your photographer.
Remember, at the end of the day, this is about you and your partner!
Please have all of your special details/items gathered and ready for when we arrive for the day.
This refers to your dress and the bridesmaid dresses (on hangers, out of plastic and tags removed), shoes, jewelry, invitations (unless you mailed me one, then I will bring it myself), the wedding rings, perfume, etc. This allows photographing details to happen more quickly.
You spent a lot of time and money picking out those items so it's a fun start to the day to capture those. If it’s not something you really care about, don’t panic. These are just suggestions!
Whether you're at a hotel suite, Airbnb or the venue's getting ready suite make sure this spaces is clean, tiday and free of clutter!
Windows! Open them up. Window light creates a beautiful natural lighting situation ideal for your photos.
Plan for me to arrive at least 2 hours before your ceremony, if you are planning a first look then plan for me to arrive at least 3 hours before your ceremony.
If you DO choose to do a first look, you won’t regret it! I would only push for one if the amount of daylight after your ceremony would not allow for enough time for all the photos that need to take place.
So many couples assume that if they have first look that it takes away from the moment of seeing one another walking down the aisle at the ceremony—but it's a different moment and just as special.
A first look gives you the option to get more photos done before the ceremony, maybe attend some of your cocktail hour and have a more intimate first look with your fiancé. You're able to talk and pretend it’s just the two of you, many have said it gets some nerves out of the way.
The reason we are all here! yay!
Consider an unplugged ceremony. What's unplugged? It's where your guests are asked to refrain from taking photos on their phones, tablets or personal cameras, just during the ceremony.
Talk with your officiant and DJ to see how they will handle microphones. The goal is for them to be discreet and not take away from the aesthetic of your ceremony photos.
When you kiss, be sure to hold it! Kiss a few times or make out a little, you're married! This is the money shot and a quick peck might be missed.
Planning a fun ceremony exit? Some cool ideas are bubbles, flower petals, confetti, streams or ribbons.
This is the time for your formal portraits!
We will make sure you get a drink and a bite to eat as your guests begin enjoying the signature cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. You won't be missing out, the hour goes quickly and pictures with your family and favorites are so important.
This is a great times to start your photobooth coaverage and give your guests something fun to do, you can also have activities and games.
If we wrap up the formal portraits early you can head into cocktail hour to greet your guests before the reception starts and I'll use this time to capture your reception details untouched.
During cocktail hour we spend about 15 mins for family portraits, 15 for entire bridal party and then the last half hour for couple's photos. Guys, breath. I promise it goes quickly. With that being said, a list of family to be photographed immediately following the ceremony is extremely important. Designate someone, NOT in the bridal party, who is NOT the couple, and who is NOT an immediate family member needed for photos, to make sure the people listed stick around for photos and don’t head straight to cocktail hour.
The list is important. Everyone's family dynamics are different and I don't know the close knit or strained relationships that exist. Generally, for family formals I am referring to parents, grandparents, step parents, step grandparents, siblings, sibling's spouse , nieces and nephews. If you have a different family dynamic just let me know- this may mean replacing Dad with your Godmother, etc.
This is not the time for large group photos, unless you're wanting a group photo with the people already listed above. If we do an entire "Smith" side of the family photo...it's going to take a lot of time to round up 20+ people when people are already devouring the appetizers.
If there are large group photos you want captured, create a list and that can be done during your reception, especially since there are two photographers! The reception is a great time for this to happen because the DJ can make announcements and mention meeting places for said photos.
These groups might include friends from college, work friends, or extended family who traveled far to attend your wedding.
I also find it's nice to check with your parents for any groupings they're hoping for and to let them know the information I've suggested above.
Shot lists! While my second shooter and I do not work off of a shot list (aside from family formals), if there are some "must have" photos, PLEASE let me know. We will do our best to make those happen! Because many of you have never been married before, let me explain what types of photos are typically captured at every wedding.
-Signs, decor, florals
-Details-the dress, jewelry, ties, cuff links, etc.
-The ceremony site, the reception site and tables
-Dessert tables, memorial tables, decor
-Bride with each bridesmaid and MOH
-Groom with each groomsman and best man
-Bride with all bridesmaids
-Groom with all groomsmen
-Bride by herself
-Groom by himself
-Bride/Groom with siblings
-Bride/Groom with parents
-Bride/Groom with entire bridal party (bridesmaids and groomsmen)
-Bride coming down the aisle
-The first kiss
-Walking back down the aisle as a married couple
-Fun dancing, guests at tables, couples in the reception space, etc.
Your DJ will typically be the one to come up with the timeline for your reception.
This will include toasts, cake cutting, special dances, garter/bouquet toss, special exit. If you are planning a special exit from the reception to take place, please know that the process needs to begin BEFORE your coverage end time.
If coverage ends at 9pm, the DJ should announce 15-20 minutes ahead of time for the exit to allow guests to make their way to the designated location. (Remember guests have been drinking and dancing, so it takes a few minutes to change tasks!)
Let's talk timeline. Most wedding venues provide you with a day of wedding coordinator but I am MORE than able and willing to help you with a wedding day timeline. I need you to provide your ceremony start time, hours of coverage booked, length of ceremony (roughly), how long you have between the end of your ceremony and the start of your reception (whether or not there is an hour for cocktail hour) and whether or not you and your fiancé are doing a first look (not a blind first look, a full on first look where you see one another).
click each for sample timelines
For Spring and early Fall weddings schedule your ceremony for 2 hours before sunset to get that golden hour glow for your formal portraits.
Summer weddings means a late sunset so expect harsh sunlight for your ceremony and formal portraits. You can plan to step outside again suring the reception to get some golden hour couples photos after 8pm.
Winter weddings mean it's dark by 4pm so a first look is encouraged to ensure you get all your formal portraits in daylight before the ceremony.
Coverage is consecutive. That means if you book 8 hours of coverage any travel between locations or venues, breaks between wedding events and brief moments of downtime is all within that 8 hours timeframe.
Consider a transportation service if you are shuttling your wedding party and/or family to multiple locations.
If your guests have a hotel room block consider having a bus or shuttle them to and from the venue.
Pad your timeline to account for any traffic or schedule delays. The goal is to be stress free.
You can expect to receive a sneak peek of your day late the same night and your full gallery will be ready within 8 weeks!
I will send you a link to access your online gallery. All images are fully edited. Your gallery can be password protected and only those sent the link have access to download the high resolution files.
Feel free to share your gallery with family and friends!
What's next? Print your photos! They deserve to live on your walls and not just online!
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