Disclaimer: these are not, by any means, things I require of my clients…each wedding should be exactly how the bride has always dreamed and I will support anything she wants to do! These are just tips that I’ve found help make the day go smoothly and help keep stress levels at a minimum.
I like to encourage doing a “first look” so you get as many photos done before the ceremony as possible while you aren’t rushed for time. Reasoning:
It will help calm both the bride and groom’s nerves before all the attention is focused on them during the ceremony
Guests will appreciate not having to wait an hour for group photos to be done and you will have more opportunity to actually enjoy the event you spent so long planning (not to mention the people who came to support you!).
You will get more (and better) photos as a couple because there is less of a time crunch and more control over the lighting. Speaking of which…depending on the time of the wedding it could allow for more photos to be taken while it’s still light outside
You get an intimate moment with your husband before the whirlwind of the ceremony and reception that is sometimes lost if the first time you see each other is coming down the aisle
Getting that emotional response from the groom when they first see their bride walk down the aisle is really important to some, and that is just fine! However, the same response will most likely happen during a first look and you’ll be able to savor it a little more (along with immediately telling each other how good you look instead of having to wait till after the ceremony!). Plus, most grooms still have a splendid reaction as the bride comes down the aisle because that’s when it sinks in that it’s really happening!
If not outside, choose a venue that offers lots of natural light. Think about this in choosing which rooms to get ready in as well. Or if you’re just staging a few getting ready photos before you put on your dress, just plan to move yourself to a well lit room or close to a window.
I do use an external flash when needed, natural light just provides for a much softer light, typically coveted for wedding photos. Flash can also be very distracting during the ceremony if the room is dark. It is a balancing act for the photographer between not detracting from the beautiful service and getting well lit photos that the couple will cherish for years to come.
If the wedding is outside, the best time of day for lighting is the couple hours right before sunset. This works the best if you do a first look and most of the photos before the ceremony so you aren’t pressed for time during bridal party/family photos as the sun sets.
Designate someone outside the wedding party to read your list of photos during group shots. They move much quicker and this makes sure that you and your photographer don’t forget to get the shots you really wanted. Especially when it comes to extended family, your photographer doesn’t know who everyone is or if someone is missing from the shot so this is very helpful!
Everyone’s wedding is different and a lot of planning for timing revolves around the people and how ‘on time’ their families typically function. If the getting ready, ceremony, reception, and any additional photo locations are at the same place or within walking distance, 8 hours is typically a great amount of time to be able to capture everything. However, if you adore detail/accessory images, want more than a few “getting ready” shots, have a long ceremony planned, or expect dancing at the reception to go pretty long before your grand exit and you don’t want to do a “fake exit,” a 9-10 hour timeline may be more suitable for you.
Here is an example of a 9 hour wedding timeline that I’ve seen work well for my brides (winter wedding so the sun set early, 30 min break from photos during dinner).
10:30 am – Photographer arrives to capture details/accessories + final getting ready photos of bridal party
11:30 am – Bride puts on wedding dress
11:45 am – Walk to and get set for First Look
12:00 pm – First Look
12:15 pm – Bride & Groom portraits
12:30 pm – Bride with bridesmaids
12:45 pm – Full bridal party
1:00 pm – Groom with groomsmen
1:15 pm – Immediate family (a little extra time is provided at this point in case anything before this runs late)
2:00 pm – Bridal party hidden as guests arrive (photographer captures decorations and guests arriving)
2:30 pm – Ceremony
3:00 pm – Extended family photos
3:20 pm – 3:40 pm – More Bride & Groom photos since the light will most likely be beautiful closer to sunset
3:00 – 4:15 pm – Cocktail Hour
4:15 pm– Reception begins
4:30 pm – Sunset
30-minute break from photography during dinner whenever the bride & groom eat
7:45 pm – Grand Exit (or fake exit if you want to stay and enjoy the rest of the evening with your guests)
8:00 pm – Photographer leaves
Breathe, relax, and enjoy your special day..in the end, the worst wedding catastrophe won’t matter because you’ll be married to the love of your life and that’s what counts! Plus, it’s usually the things that go wrong that are the most memorable and make the best stories later in life 🙂
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