One of the most frequently asked questions I get during my consultations is "What can we expect on the day of our wedding?" One of my goals for the new year was to provide more information to my clients that might help with any part of the planning process,
I thought I might take the time to highlight a typical wedding day and how my photographic style reflects throughout the day. It's not every day that you get married, and believe it or not, you and I will be spending quite a bit of time together throughout the day! Having an idea of how the day will flow might make planning your day a little less stressful!
So hows does it all work? A few weeks before your wedding, you'll receive an email inviting you to take my Pre-Wedding Questionnaire. This will help me form a timeline based on the location(s) of the getting ready portion of the day, the time and location of the ceremony, whether you and your partner will see each other before the ceremony, and of course, when the sun sets. Together, we'll come up with a timeline that is just right for you day. Read more about each segment of the day, how I will help make it the best experience possible, how much time you should consider dedicating for photos, and of course, example images!
Allowing your photographer to have the maximum amount of time to capture all of the details, emotions and little moments that happen at every wedding is a crucial part to the story-telling process. I like to arrive at the location you'll be getting ready at least an hour before the finishing touches on your hair and makeup. This gives me ample time to photograph all of the pretty details like your dress, shoes, jewelry, flowers, invitation suite and anything else that might have sentimental value. This segment of the day is also where I get to capture those super intimate details, like that last touch up of lipstick, or you slipping into your wedding dress, but don't worry, I'll wait until you're covered up and comfortable before I start shooting! This is also a great time to get those fun, candid moments with your bridesmaids, family, or anyone else who might be hanging out. If your other half is getting ready nearby, my second shooter and I will probably spend some time with them as well. This is a great time to get groomsmen tying ties, putting on boutonnières, and just hanging out before the big moment! This portion of the day is typically laid back and fun, and it's a great time for my second shooter and I to get to know everyone we'll be photographing throughout the day. I tend to keep a hands-off approach during this time, as I like your story to unfold naturally, but I will make subtle suggestions such as where to stand to get in your dress, or what areas could be tidied up a bit for aesthetic. Getting ready for your wedding day should be relaxing and stress-free and that should reflect in your images! One small tip to help make these images the best they can be; delegate one of your bridesmaids or a family member to tidy up the space when we start taking pictures!
The First Look
The decision to have a “First Look” on your wedding day is a very personal one. Some brides choose to stay the traditional route and not see their groom until the ceremony. While I would never try to sway a bride from her decision, there are some benefits to seeing each other before the ceremony. While the "First Look" is becoming more of a standard, some couples still aren't sure what it really is. A “First Look” is an intimate moment with your future husband where you see each other for the first time. Typically, I find a scenic, private area and we set you guys up, stepping back with my longer lenses to give you a private moment alone. Some couples have opted to have their family & friends in the background. Whatever makes you more comfortable!
The benefit to having a First Look is that you'll have loads of time for bridal party pictures, family pictures, and my personal favorite, portraits! It definitely helps the day go smoothly, and allows for a lot of extra time that we might not have otherwise.
If you're having a wedding in the fall and winter months, you definitely want to consider a First Look, as the sun typically sets much earlier than in the spring and summer.
The Bridal Party & Portraits
If you choose to have a First Look, chances are we'll take some portraits of the two of you before we dive into the bridal party pictures! This is a great way to add a little variety to the end result of your images, as it gives us a little more time to work with you. Once we get those done, we'll pull all your guys and girls out and do some portraits of everyone together! These can be some really fun pictures! We'll also do some individual group photos of the bride with her girls and the groom with his guys, so prepare everyone for that!
One little tip to help makes these photos the best they can be: make sure to have all the guys empty their pockets (phones, wallets, keys, flasks!) and have the girls dab off their bouquets before holding them to avoid water dripping on their dresses!
So here's the thing about family portraits - I love them! The real, honest truth about family pictures on your wedding day is that they can be a pain in the butt. Gathering all your family members in one place, family dynamics, the hustle and bustle that comes with a wedding...it can be a stressful time! But here's the thing...these pictures are probably the most important photographs that I take on your day. These are the pictures that get printed out and put in frames and hung on the fridge and passed down throughout the years. You'll hear me give this little speech right before we take these pictures on your day, and it's because I want everyone on the same page when it comes time to take these. I want everyone smiling and happy and loving on each other! Family pictures don't have to be stiff and boring! Let your personality shine in these! Of course, we'll get the standard "smiling-at-the-camera" shot, but rest assured, we're going to have fun while we take these!
There are SO many emotions happening during your ceremony! Excitement, tears of joy, nervousness, butterflies, you name it! This is the one portion of the day where having a second photographer can be incredibly beneficial - I can't be in two places at once, so having that second photographer means you can get those photos of things that happen at the same time, like you walking down the aisle and him smiling at you when you take his breath away, or mom smiling at you while you're looking at your dad. We do our best to stay out of the way during this time. Typically, my second shooter will grab a seat in the audience, and I'll hang around the front until you get there. Then, we'll step back with our longer lenses and capture everything as it unfolds. I really love all the happiness and excitement that happens during the ceremony, so it's one of my favorite parts of the day to capture. And don't be surprised if you catch me shedding a tear or two myself. Happiness just makes the tears flow! Thank goodness for autofocus ;)
One tip to make your ceremony photographs the best - make a note of the light at your ceremony location at the rehearsal. If you notice really patchy spots of the sunshine or no shade, consider moving to an area with more even light! Another tip for great photos concerning light - when you walk down the aisle, consider having your dad (or whoever is walking you down) stand on the side where the sun is coming throug! Their shadow will block some of that harsh light and create more flattering shadows for your photographs!
Your reception should truly be a celebration! The hard part of the wedding day is over, and now the party can begin! My second photographer and I will have made our way inside early to get photographs of all the beautiful décor, flower, cake, and other details. We’ll photograph your grand entrance, focusing more on you and your new husband than the bridal party. From that point on, we just go with the flow! If you go directly into your first dance, we’ll document that, along with any toasts, the bouquet and garter toss, and any other special things you’ve told us about. We’ll also sit down and grab a bite to eat when you and your bridal party eat! When the dancing begins, don’t be surprised to find us out on the dance floor! We’ll get right in the middle of the action! You’ll notice all the fun photographs with the crazy squiggly lines? Those are super fun to capture, and all it takes is a little bit of flash! We’re not concerned about the room being dark or the DJ having lights – we just want you to have fun!
Ah, the grand exit! If you’ve planned a super fun exit with something like sparklers, which are all the craze right now, I’m so excited! There’s nothing better than all your friends having a great time and waving fireworks while you run through them ;) In all seriousness though, I love to help gather everyone together for the exit. The long wedding sparklers are a must-have for this – they burn longer, and they stick out farther so you have a bigger tunnel to get through!
A few tips to make your exit photographs the best they can be – consider doing your exit before you actually leave your reception! Typically, a lot of your guests will start to fizzle out (no pun intended!) especially if you have a late reception, so gathering everyone an hour early (I’ll come grab you if I start to see the crowd dwindling!) can help us gaurentee you have lots of people available, and gives us the ambient light we need from the sparklers to make these photographs work!
One other tip I like to give my couples for their sparkler exit is to stop and kiss halfway through! This gives me the opportunity to get a really solid photograph of your exit, and It gives us a little variety in the end. Plus, you guys just got married! You shouldn’t have any problem locking lips one more time!
I hope this gives you a better idea of what to expect on your wedding day! If I can help with the wedding planning process in any other way, please let me know If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below! Thanks for taking the time to read all about what to expect with your wedding photographer!