HOW TO PREPARE FOR YOUR WEDDING DAY PHOTOGRAPHY

 
 

Put it on the Timeline

Planing portraits into your wedding day timeline makes the flow of the day go so much smoother. Here’s a sample list of sessions with approximate times you’ll want to plan for:

  • Wedding Details (45 Minutes - I usually begin the details as soon as I arrive.)

  • Getting Into the Dress (30 Minutes) - Shot by Me

  • Bridal Portraits (30 minutes) - Shot by Me

  • Bridal Party: Bride with Bridesmaids (30 Minutes) - Shot by Me

  • Groom Portraits (30 minutes) - Shot by Second

  • Bridal Party: Groom with Groomsmen (30 minutes) - Shot by Second

  • First Looks (Daddy-Daughter, Bride-Groom, Groom-Mother) (30 Minutes) - Shot by Me & Second

  • Family Formals: Bride with her Family (30 Minutes) - Shot by Me

  • Family Formals: Groom with His Family (30 Minutes) - Shot by Me or Second, depending on the timeline

  • Full Bridal Party (30 minutes) - Shot by Me

  • B+G Portraits (30 Minutes) - Shot by Me & Second

My second shooter and I will be looking for moments in between your planned sessions for moment focused shots, candids of your anticipated excitement, tears of your loved ones, your joy when embracing your new life-long love, and all the fun your having!

When preparing your timeline, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  1. Where is my partner during this session? Does my partner need to be somewhere where they can’t see me?

  2. How close is this session to the start of my ceremony? Is it possible that my guests will be able to see me as they start to show up? Can I have these sessions outside in a spot where others cannot see me or does that matter to me?

  3. How will I communicate to everyone who is participating in one of these sessions where to be and what time the session is?

Timeline Examples

TIMELINE (with a First Look)

10:00 - Hair & Makeup

11:00 - Bouquet and boutonnieres arrive

11:30 - Photographer arrives, begins photographing details

1:00 - Bridal Prep & Groom Prep (putting on dress & boutonnieres)

1:30 - First Look

1:45 - Couple’s Portraits

2:30 - Bridal Party Portraits

3:00 - Family Formal Portraits

3:30 - Cushion Time

4:00 - Ceremony,

*build travel time in here if your ceremony is at a different location than your reception.

4:30 - Cocktail Hour Starts, capture any remaining family photos, BREATH

5:00 - Announce the Bridal Party

6:00 - Dinner

7:00 - Cake Cutting, Toasts

8:oo - Special Dances

10:00 Sparkler Send Off

TIMELINE (without First Look)

10:00 - Hair & Makeup

11:00 - Bouquet and boutonnieres arrive

12:00 - Photographer arrives, begins photographing details

1:00 - Bridal Prep & Groom Prep (putting on dress & boutonnieres)

1:30 - Open Gifts from each other, read letters, individual bride portraits, individual groom portraits

2:00 - Bride with brides maids portraits, groom with groomsmen portraits

2:30 - Bride with her family portraits, groom with his family portraits

3:00 - Cushion Time

4:00 - Ceremony

*build travel time in here if your ceremony is at a different location than your reception.

4:30 - Cocktail Hour, Group Bridal Party Portraits, Full Family Formal Portraits

5:30 - Announce the Bridal Party

6:00 - Dinner

7:00 - Cake Cutting, Toasts

8:oo - Special Dances

10:00 Sparkler Send Off

 

SUNSET PORTRAITS

Ah, golden hour!

If you are interested in sunset portraits of you and your beau, they take about 15 minutes to do! We can quickly step away from your reception and capture that light!

These are the approximate times the sun sets during the year. You'll want to being your portraits one hour before sunset.
May - 7:50PM
June - 8:15PM
July - 8:15PM
August - 7:50PM
September - 7:20PM
October - 6:45PM
November - 5:30PM

 

 

Gather the Goods

The whole day begins with the DETAILS!  This is one of my favorite parts of the wedding day, because it allows me to prepare and get my creative side warmed up for the rest of the day! I photograph a bride’s details in a way that matches and showcases the style of the entire wedding day.  So, in some ways, the details set the stage for the look of the whole wedding and I love having ample time to stylize, and shoot everything from the dress, to the jewelry, to grandma’s handkerchief! Below, you’ll find a list of the most common details that I shoot.  I ask brides to gather any details they have before I arrive in one place so that I can walk in, say hello, give you a big hug and then begin with all the goodies! Here’s an example list of details you’ll need to set aside for me:

  • Dress

  • Veil/Hair Pieces

  • Shoes

  • Bouquet & Bout

  • Jewelry

  • Watch / Cuff Links

  • Perfume

  • Invitation/Invitation Suite

  • Borrowed & Blue

(Please assure your mom that I will take GREAT care of the dress and I will make sure no one who shouldn’t see it, sees it, I promise!)

 

 

Tell the Fam!

My priority on your wedding day is to capture your love story, but my second priority is to never make you late in your timeline because of me! Family Formals can be one of the biggest tasks to accomplish and can take up quite a bit time, especially if you have a large family. Telling family members where they need to be at what time time for photos helps ensure that this task goes smoothly!

Family formals are normally my first interaction with other members of your family and I love to have a game plan for this part of the day!  One month before your wedding, you’ll receive a questionnaire from me that will ask you to list out the family formals you want us to capture.  There are several ways we can accomplish your family formals. Remember, I’ll have a second shooter, so while I focus on you, my second shooter will focus on your partner. Here’s just few ways you can plan your family formals:

  1. Break it up before and after the ceremony

    1. Bride with her family right after the Bridal Portraits (Accomplished by Me)

    2. Groom with his family right after Groom Portraits (Accomplished by My Second)

    3. Large Group Shots right after the Ceremony (Accomplished by me, Coordinated by my Second)

  2. After the Ceremony

    1. If your going to plan your family formals this way, I suggest you have a cocktail hour. This can take up to an hour depending on the size of your family.

  3. After the first look, but before the ceremony

    1. If you plan to have a first look, we’ll move right into your Couple’s Portraits, then right on into your Bridal Party and family portraits. This option is great if you plan to have a ceremony later than the usual 4pm ceremony time.

Here is a sample family formals list to help you start preparing what shots you need. Any large family group shots that we don’t accomplish during family formals, we can be sure to capture at  the reception! 

B&G with Bride’s Immediate Family 

(Parents, Siblings, Grandparents, Nieces, Nephews)

B&G with Bride’s Parents

B&G with Bride’s Siblings

Bride with her Parents

Bride with Mom, Bride with Dad

B&G with Bride’s Grandparents

B&G with both sets of Parents

B&G with Groom’s Immediate Family

(Parents, Siblings, Grandparents, Nieces, Nephews)

B&G with Groom’s Parents

B&G with Groom’s Siblings

Groom with his Parents

Groom with Mom, Groom with Dad

B&G with Groom’s Grandparents

B&G with all family members if time allows

 

First Looks

I  have confessed my deep love for “First Looks” numerous times As, the photographer, I think they are AWESOME! However, not everyone is aware of how awesome they are, because they get caught up in how “non-traditional” it is, and they immediately write it off.  You want a REACTION….I wanted Daniel to be so surprised and overcome with joy when I walked down the aisle that he bawled at the first sight of me!  Isn’t that EVERY girl’s dream? Who doesn’t want that reaction? The truth is, most grooms who are going to cry are going to cry at a First Look or watching from the end of the aisle. Bride’s, if you have never seen your partner cry or get emotional, you can’t expect him to be overly emotional on your wedding day. Some guys just embrace their brides and never cry.... and that’s OK.  Some guys show very little emotion when their bride is coming down the aisle and that’s ok, too!

I’ve come to this conclusion.  Some brides love “traditions”…. but what a bride REALLY wants when it comes to her groom seeing her for the first time, is a REACTION.  Those who are not interested in a First Look usually think that by seeing each other beforehand, they will lose part of that reaction. They also assume that it will not be as emotional or as intimate as it would be if they were coming down the aisle. What I have found (this is starting to sound like a research paper!) is so ironic!  Everyone knows that wedding days are a bit stressful for the bride and groom.

For most grooms, the nerves kick in before they see their bride because when they see her, everything becomes VERY real! So when the nerves start creeping up, instead of keeping the groom in a secluded space until his time to enter the ceremony, what if you took him to a private place… no people, no on-lookers, no distractions…. and  you let his beautiful bride, the love of his life, quietly call his name and have him turn around to see her for the first time.  He would turn around and finally get his first look at his stunning bride and not only would he get to see her… he could embrace her… cry with her…. kiss her… and ENJOY that moment with her for as LONG as they wanted. As she shows him her dress, twirls a few times and then asks him what he thinks… his nerves start to diminish. After all, she’s the one who can make him most comfortable anyway..  

Now let me put a disclaimer on here before we continue…my clients are not required to do a First Look by any means! I used to feel bad for sharing this option with couples who were against it, because I didn’t want to push anything on them. However, I’ve seen the benefits of a first look over and over again, and so I only share this because I want the BEST for my couples!! It’s totally ok if couples choose not to share a first look!  It’s just my preference.

If you are going to do a First Look, here’s what I suggest:

  • Make sure friends and family know that your first look is to remain private. On-lookers, who are in close vicinity can make the First Look awkward. Removing everyone but your photographer (and possibly your videographer) creates a more relaxed mood for you and your partner to have honest reactions.

  • Know where your first look will be and what time. My second photographer will set up the groom at your first look location.

  • I suggest a first look up two three hours before your ceremony starts. Sometimes it isn’t possible to remain hidden from guests who are showing up for your wedding. So, to prevent guests from seeing you before you walk down the aisle, plan your First Look several hours in advance.

 

Alone is Better

If we’re being honest, all of the wedding day images are important, but the real favorites are almost always from my time with the Bride and Groom!  These romantic portraits of just the two of you will be the images that you frame beside your bed or over your mantle, and they will also be the images that will fill your album for generations to enjoy.   These images are always my favorite not only because of their beauty, but because this is such a sweet portion of the day.  For this brief moment in time,  you will be alone with your groom on your wedding day.  You will have a chance to love on each other and really connect before the craziness begins!  Romantic portraits can be done before the ceremony (after the “First Look”), right after the ceremony as well, or we can pull you aside for some sunset photos for 30 minutes during your reception! This is when the light is low and golden! It’s such a romantic time for bride and groom portraits! 

Sometimes family and friends who become “on-lookers” during your portrait session can make you feel awkward. I suggest having a family member, or coordinator if you have one, help keep your area secluded to just you and your partner while we capture this special moment in time for you.