What To Expect On Your Wedding Day
Your wedding day is coming in hot! AHHHHHHH it’s so exciting! But, it is also overwhelming and nerve wracking… if you’re nervous that is totally normal! The best thing you can do to ease your nerves is to be as prepared as you can. Prepare for things that might go wrong, and be ready to accept the things you cannot change. In the end, all that matters is that you get to spend the rest of your life with your favorite person.
Before The Ceremony
Now, here is what you can expect from me: I am going to do everything in my power to make your day better and not always photography related things! Sometimes it may be taking the rings to the ring bearer, getting your mom when you need help with a boutonnière or zipping up a dress, or asking your wedding planner a question because you can’t leave your room. I am there for you on your day. Please let me help you in any way I can.
I try to arrive at least 2 hours before the ceremony, this gives me a chance to photograph all the things I need before the ceremony. This depends on the package you have booked and how much time I have with you, but generally I hope to capture the bride/groom* getting ready, bridesmaids/groomsmen individual and group photos, first looks with parents, exchanges of special gifts, and a first look (if you are having one)... all of the gorgeous details. I always try to get as much done before the ceremony, so that I don’t miss anything after the ceremony.
The Detail Shots
When I arrive, I will generally find the bride and check in with her first. I will get the details that I need to photograph. It is helpful to have these things ready for me so I can get started right away. These are the things that you have bought for your wedding day that you want photographed for special memories. Please do your best to have these ready:
The wedding dress
Invitations/Save-The-Dates if you have them or want them photographed
Special gifts between the couple or the members of the wedding party
Anything else meaningful that you might want captured, like your grandmother's handkerchief, flowers representing a special family member, letters from those who could not be present, or the hair pin your mom gave you.
Once I have gotten as many details as I can, I will capture photos of the bride and groom getting ready. If I am working alone, I will split my time between the two. If I have a second shooter I will send them with the groom and I will generally stay with the bride. Moments I try to capture during the getting ready part of the day include: hair and makeup getting done, special moments with the wedding party, group photos in bridesmaids robes, if they have them, the groom and groomsmen putting on his tie, the boutonnieres being put on, a friend/sister/mom helping the bride put on her dress, the bride putting on her jewelry/shoes… you get the idea! I love these special little moments that go into making the day feel real and special.
The Wedding Party
Once everyone is done I will gather the wedding parties individually. I will take photos of the bridesmaids with the bride and the groomsmen with the groom. This saves time so we don’t have to do it after the ceremony! If you are doing a first look and we have time, I will then take group wedding party photos. Any of this that we cannot get done, we will do after the ceremony, so don’t stress if the ceremony time is fast approaching.
The First Look
The first look is not something every couple does. That is totally okay, it is personal preference that every couple must make. If you are doing a first look, I will pull away the groom and have him wait in the location that I think is best for photos and the most private. I will have him wait while I get the bride. Some couples have their wedding party there for this, some want it to be just the two of them and me; again, a choice that you can make. I will capture the moment and possibly even take some bride and groom photos before! This is also a time saver. I will try to give you a moment alone to actually enjoy your first look. I do not want to make your day feel like it isn’t about you.
Now it’s time! The ceremony is here. I will leave you to go make sure I am ready for the ceremony. This includes checking my batteries, SD cards, and testing the lighting. I will be there throughout the ceremony and I will capture all of the special moments. If I have a second shooter with me then we just get two different angles!
Something to consider when planning your ceremony is the timing. Keep in mind that we are going to take quite a few photos after the ceremony. And to get the best photos possible I need light! This means that it is ideal to have your ceremony about an hour before sunset. If the sun goes down, I can still get the images I need using my artificial light, but generally people are happier with daytime photos. So, if you have a choice, I recommend having your ceremony at least an hour before sunset! This also allows me to get ceremony photos without it getting too dark.
I HIGHLY recommend having your officiant or DJ make an announcement that your ceremony is unplugged. Only during your ceremony, your friends and family can and should take photos the rest of the day! I cannot tell you how many times I have had a phone or, even worse, an iPad block a shot I wanted. I even have felt like I couldn’t walk somewhere because a guest is trying to take a photo. The only sort of filming that I think is a good idea, is having someone set up a tripod if you want a video. Other than that, ask your guests to enjoy the moment with you! Let them be present during this special occasion rather than taking photos. I promise that the photos I get will be better quality, the type you can print out, and they will be of the same moments. On such a special day, it’s not too much to ask your guests to put their phones away for 20 minutes or even an hour!
After The Ceremony
HOORAY! You’re married (: We have just a couple things to take care of immediately after the ceremony, before you can eat and dance. The first thing I want to accomplish is family photos, I want to get these all taken as quickly as possible so that elderly family members and babies don’t have to wait around too long. Again, I recommend having your officiant or DJ make an announcement that family members should meet in ______ location while the remaining guests make their way to the reception.
Here is your homework: make a list of the family members and combinations you want photographed. This makes it go much faster! The list can be as simple as “Bride and groom with groom’s parents, bride and groom with groom's siblings, bride and groom with groom’s whole family”. I can team up with a bridesmaid or sister and have them help me wrangle your family into the photos you want. This is helpful because every family is different. If your parents are married, that’s one group photo, but if they’re divorced then I need to know if you want a photo with all of them or in separate groupings. Every family has different levels of comfort and I try to respect that. I do my very best, but I can’t figure out all of your family dynamics in the hour before we take photos. Once I have captured all of the photos on your list, we are done and your family (as long as they aren’t in the wedding party) can go to the reception.
Next, I will capture any remaining wedding party photos that we haven’t captured yet. This can be just the entire wedding party or, if we ran out of time before the ceremony, it might include just the bridesmaids and just the groomsmen. Once this is done, they can all head to reception, but I am going to keep you for a little bit longer!
Now it’s time for my absolute favorite part. The bride and groom photos. This is the part of the day where the three of us get to escape the big groups for a short time. If you had an engagement session with me (which I recommend) then you already have an idea of what this will be like. We will wander around, finding gorgeous locations and taking incredible photos. My ideal amount of time for these photos is half an hour, so that I can get plenty of images, because let’s be honest… these are the photos that you are going to print the largest to frame. If we don’t have that much time, I will get the best photos I can in whatever time is allotted. These photos are best to be taken in the half hour immediately before sunset. But I know that it’s not always possible, so just try your best to make sure that we have some daylight left for this portion of your day.
Now It’s Time To Party!
Whew! Sounds like a lot, I know. But I promise it seems like more written down than it actually is. Now it’s time to go to the reception! This means you can get a drink and relax. I will be there to capture everything for the remainder of my time. I always appreciate having a timeline beforehand so I know what to expect. The things I will capture during a reception may include; the first dance, mother/son and father/daughter dances, the anniversary dance, the money dance, toasts, cake cutting, bouquet/garter toss, any group shots or photos with friends you want, and of course DANCING PHOTOS!
Don’t forget to eat please! And on this same note; please keep in mind that I also need to eat.
When you are planning these events it is important to keep in mind how long I am going to be there. If you are planning things after I am set to leave then you won’t have them photographed. So if you realize that your timeline doesn’t include me there during things you want to remember, you might want to add more time or change your timeline a little. I want to capture everything that is important to you.
I know that this is all overwhelming. It is all stuff that I do naturally and I am very used to. So please don’t get overwhelmed or stressed. I am only trying to keep you in the loop so you know what to expect; if you have any questions at all, please ask me! I am around to make your day better in ANY way I can. Don’t be shy.
I love what I do so much. I am so grateful that people like you have chosen me to be a part of this day. It is something that I take very seriously and I always do my best to improve your day. If you have any requests, don’t hesitate to ask! I am there for you. I can’t wait to be a part of your day and I am so happy that you’re going to be part of my photography family (:
*My use of the words Bride and Groom are strictly for the purpose of writing this article. There are many couples that are both brides, both grooms, and that might not choose to identify with either of these words. I am accepting of all couples, so long as they are in love and ready for beautiful photos. I love LOVE, no matter what form it takes.