Achieving awesome photos on your wedding day is a team effort. Yes, you’ve hired me for my expertise, experience, and the look I can bring to your day (comin’ up!), but there are many aspects of the wedding day that no photographer can be in control of. So I’ve put together this post to cover as many eventualities as I can think of. This way, we can all wake up on your wedding day feeling fresh, ready and excited to celebrate one of the best days of your life.
I’ll be there to help you plan, devise, fandangle —so that you don’t feel like you’re doing it alone. Let’s get started!
This part of the day is filled with creative opportunities! There’s morning light, excited faces, the bustle of activity—it’s a real goldmine for intimate shots and artistic scenes.
Light: Natural light is extremely flattering and creates the most beautiful shots. Think about which rooms have the biggest windows or get the most light in the morning, and make sure both of you are in rooms with good light.
In fact, good light is a really important element of the entire day. For this reason, it should be high on your list of requirements for a good wedding venue. If the location for your wedding has small windows, dark walls and low ceilings, your photos are going to look very different than if it has big windows, white walls and high ceilings. The owner of the venue will be able to tell you what to expect and which rooms are the brightest/best for each purpose.
The Details: This is where I will get shots of the dress or suit, any love notes you and your partner exchange on the day and other details like that. Have those things accessible for me. If you plan on sending out beautiful invites, either send me one in the mail to photograph or save me a copy and I'll get a shot of it while you get ready.
Clutter: A messy room can ruin the aesthetic of your photos. For this reason, I suggest trying to keep things tidy and put the heaps of clothing and suitcases on the other side of the room - away from those big beautiful windows.
Hair and make-up: Your hair stylist/make-up artist agrees with me: natural light is crucial! So make sure your beauty station is close to a window. Often hair and make-up runs late. I recommend having a good buffer - 30 minutes to one hour, worked into your timeline so if it does go behind schedule, you aren't feeling rushed.
All dressed up: So you’ve got the dress on, your hair and make-up’s perfect, and the guests are arriving for the ceremony. You’re almost ready to go! I like to take just a couple of minutes to capture you, your bridesmaids and parent(s). If you have hired a second shooter, they will be with your partner capturing their getting ready. There’s so much beauty and anticipation worth capturing in these moments!
I seriously love first looks! I know they aren’t for everybody—some couples want the first time they see each other, dressed in their finery, to be as they meet at the aisle. If you do want a first look, it’s an amazing opportunity to capture a few beautiful and intimate moments between the two of you, away from the crowds.
Here are some pros to having a first look:
1) it gives you a moment to forget about all the other things going on and be together;
2) it can help rid you of nerves because you get to cuddle your person;
3) it takes some stress off the timeline later in the day too, because we have 10 – 20 minutes for couples shots before everything the events get underway.
Outdoor ceremonies: Outdoor ceremonies at mid day (11am-3pm) run the risk having harsh sunlight. In terms of photos, the sun will be directly above you. That often translates to those under eye shadows and nose shadow moustaches...not the most flattering. If it has to be at this time of day, try and set up the ceremony in a shaded area, that will help keep your guests cool too.
Ideally, an outdoor ceremony would take place a little later in the afternoon, when the heat of the sun has lessened and overall the light is softer. If at all possible try to set up the ceremony so that the sun is behind your Officiant. That way you two are evenly backlit. If you’re unsure what would work best for you day, feel free to ask me about your ceremony spot. I’m here to help!
Go unplugged: I suggest you ask your guests to turn off their phones and refrain from taking photos during the ceremony - that's what you've hired me to do, after all! This way your witnesses can be completely present for your vows, and I don't have Uncle Jim stepping in the aisle and into my shots.
Group shots are typically taken either before the ceremony or right after. If you are doing a first look it's great to get the group shots done right before the ceremony. That way everyone is ready to go and no one has to miss cocktail hour.
If you're not doing a first look, group shots should be done after the ceremony - before people wander off and start drinking champagne! Just make sure to schedule 10 minutes in for hugs and congrats immediately after the ceremony, then it's group photo time!
The family formals photos list is the only shot list I require for your wedding day and I will work with you to create one. It's best to keep your group photo list to 10 groupings or less - just your immediate families. Plan to set aside 20-30 minutes for these family photos.
The bridal party shots can take place after the family portion. I like to create one or two awesome bridal party shots. No need to go overboard. Plan 20 minutes for these shots. If we are leaving the venue or changing locations for the rest of the photoshoot, maybe have a cooler on hand stocked with some refreshments. ;)
I like to have 1 hour-1.5 hours for couple portraits. This can be split up throughout the day, or all together, depending on the schedule. This will give us enough time to not feel rushed and enjoy creating beautiful images of the two of you. Also, it may be the only time you are alone together the whole day, so soak it up and enjoy!!
The best times for portraits are post-ceremony and sunset. Why?
Post-ceremony: Just like the first look, post-ceremony pics are a great way to take a minute together, this time to celebrate the vows you’ve just made to each other.
Sunset: Photographers call it the Golden Hour, and it lives up to its name! The light at this time of day is warm, and the sky is often all kinds of gorgeous. This time slot also tends to work well because it falls towards the end of the reception, so you have a window to sneak out while everyone’s chatting and re-filling their cups, to make some truly magical images.
Remember that these times are just guidelines. Every detail can be personalized to suit you, your timeline and the location.
By this time in the day we have worked up quite an appetite! It's time to recharge. No one likes photos of themselves eating, so it's my time to also grab a bite to eat and then get back in the action in time for the speeches.
In order for me not to miss anything, the sooner I have the chance to eat, the better. If you’re having a buffet, that’s easy, I can squeeze in after the “head table” (that’s you guys!); if it’s being served, it’s a great idea to let the caterers know ahead of time that your photographer has a brief window of time before she needs to get back at it.
RECEPTION & DANCE
I strive to capture the mood of the day as it was, so I try not to add lights or flashes to your reception. Having enough light is really important though. Some ways to add light and create good ambiance are by adding strings of patio lights around the room or outdoor area and lighting candles on the tables. I want to walk around and watch the crowd so that I can get a sense of the atmosphere and capture the genuine moments that you share with your guests. The only time I'll bring out my flash is when it comes time to dance!