More often than not, my couples are planning a wedding for the very first time, and it can seem incredibly overwhelming! There are a lot of unknowns:
How do you get what you ultimately desire? What are the best practices for the timeline of the day? How do you get the most out of your photography investment? What are common mistakes to avoid? There is so much to consider and I'm here to help you make the best decisions for your day!
Overall, the most impactful decisions have to do with your wedding day timeline. I have seen poorly planned timelines wreck wedding days, and I have seen strategic timelines save wedding days when emergencies arise. If you want to focus your energy on really being intentional about one main thing in your planning process, direct that intention towards the timeline for the greatest impact! Let's get started!
When you’re planning a wedding day timeline, the best advice I could give is to ADD CUSHION TIME! Sometimes the most simple things can take an extra 20 minutes and then all of a sudden, the whole morning is thrown off. I have seen “getting the bride in her dress” take almost 40 minutes because of a button malfunction. It’s a smart idea to add in an extra ten minutes here and there so that we have some wiggle room to work with! This way, if one part of the day gets thrown off by 20 minutes, I can help you compensate for that time in other areas. There are so many different things to think about when you’re planning a wedding day, so here are some tips for the pre-ceremony timeline! I realize that every single wedding day is different and so not all of these tips will apply to every wedding day schedule. Something else to consider is that not EVERYTHING will go as planned, and I promise you, that is completely normal!!
You will need your bouquet & boutonniere for your First Look! Have them delivered to the room where the bride is getting ready.
I encourage brides to have at least their makeup done before I start because who wants a ton of shots without their makeup on?!
Be sure to think about the travel time and TRAFFIC to and from your getting ready location and your venue!
My second shooter will photograph the guys getting ready if they are getting ready in the same location as the bride. If they are not in the same location, we'll need to plan for this travel time in the timeline.
A 10-minute cushion every now and then is a GREAT idea! It’s amazing how fast time slips away the day of! This will relieve so much stress!
I’ll instruct you to get into your dress close to a window and it would be fabulous to have your bridesmaids dressed when you’re getting in your gown!
Let's talk about the Timeline | These will outline an ideal wedding day working off of a 6pm ceremony time frame. This ideal timeline is also based on a wedding day that includes a first look. Ninety- percent of my couples choose to do a First Look, and you can read more about that option in the first look tab. Remember that all wedding days are different, and your timeline may differ due to travel times and unique situations.
Every bride loves having those beautiful shots of her bridal details. It’s an important part of the story, and I love having some time to shoot the dress, shoes, jewelry, invitations, etc. These shots allow me to get warmed up for the rest of the big day. I normally like to allow at least 45 minutes for this part of the day. While I’m shooting details, I’m also capturing some shots of the bride and her girls getting ready! If the groom is getting ready nearby, my assistant will begin photographing the guys close to 40 minutes before the First Look since it always takes them less time to get dressed!
After the details have been photographed, it’s time for the bride to get into her dress! This is a big moment! I usually ask the mother of
the bride and all of the bridesmaids to be dressed by the time the bride
is ready to get into her dress. This ensures that everyone will look photo-ready in those images. After the bride is in her gown, she can put on her jewelry, veil, shoes, etc., and I will shoot some additional bridal portraits!
This is one of my favorite parts of the wedding day! I will find the perfect location for my couple’s First Look prior to the getting ready portion of the day! Don’t stress about your portrait locations. I will make sure the location is private, has great natural light and is as secluded as possible.
After the bride and groom take their time with the First Look, I will begin taking a few romantic portraits of the two of them while the initial excitement is still present! I will find the locations for these shots as well! Remember, the LIGHT determines where we shoot and so I can’t decide on portrait locations until the day- of. As we shoot these portraits, the bridal party can start making their way to us for bridal party portraits!
Now it’s time for Bridal Party shots! One way to make sure we stay on schedule for bridal party portraits is to have someone designated to put the boutonnieres on the groomsmen before they arrive for portraits. During Bridal Party portraits, my assistant and I will make sure to take...
... some great shots of the guys and ladies both separately AND together. After bridal party portraits are complete, the bride will go into hiding so that early guests don’t sneak a peek, and the ushers will begin their duties.
If the reception is at the same location as the ceremony, I will use this time to shoot the reception decor UNTOUCHED. If the ceremony and reception are in different locations, I recommend having a cocktail hour outside of the main reception area if possible so that I can grab some great shots of your reception before the night begins and guests start laying down purses and coats on their seats. My couples love doing a reception reveal during the cocktail hour to see their reception without people in it.
It’s time to get married!! Most ceremonies are 30-minutes long. If your ceremony is longer than 30 minutes, we’ll be sure to make adjustments to the timeline. Cherish these moments! Your ceremony will pass by so quickly!
Family formals normally take place immediately following the ceremony. It’s best to save all of the family formals until after the ceremony because ALL family members will be present at that time. We’ll need about 30 minutes for family formals, and I will send a questionnaire before the wedding where you can list out the shots that you want. I recommend shooting portraits outdoors if possible so that they resemble more of a natural family portrait style, especially if the ceremony location is dark!
7:00pm is the BEST time of day for portraits in the late spring, summer and early fall! This is when the sun is glowy and golden. I love having a few extra minutes with the bride and groom to take a few “Just Married” portraits right after family formals!
This is when the bridal party lines up for introductions and the party begins!! By this part of the day, my timeline isn’t as strict. I work off of the natural light and so after the sun is set, my portrait time is over and I begin focusing on the reception events!
I include 8 hours of coverage in most of my collections so that I can be present for the main events of the reception and about an hour of dancing! If you’re interested in having your exit photographed, there are several options for this! You can either add additional coverage or plan a "Controlled Exit" with just your bridal party! We have had GREAT success with this and the party never stops! Keep reading to learn more about the advantages of a Controlled Exit!
Winter weddings are gorgeous! However, they do take some additional planning simply because of the sunset time. The hard part about a winter timeline is the fact that the sun sets around 4pm. This means that all of your portraits have to be done before then! This isn’t a problem if you’re having a late afternoon wedding. However, if you’re planning on having a late evening wedding, you may have a bit of down time from 4pm until the start of the ceremony. You will also need more coverage time as well.
Fall weddings are my favorite! This is probably because Ben and I got married in the fall! I love the temperature and the colors! Most of my fall brides worry about color, and I just want to encourage you that all I need is one tree with some color in order to make it look like fall! A little bit of color can go a long way!! Your portrait time will vary depending on your wedding date! We’ll be sure to discuss this when we approve your final timeline!
Spring weddings are wonderful because they are the perfect temperature! However, I recommend having plenty of Claritin and Zyrtec on hand just in case allergies start to flare up during portrait time. Spring weddings normally mean the potential for some blooms! If we happen to find any type of blooming tree or plant, it will be worth it to give us a few minutes for portraits with it! You’ll LOVE the result!
Summer weddings are amazing! I love that there is so much daylight! In some months, the light will last until 9:30pm! So, if you’re having a summer wedding, you’ll need to plan on having a few minutes to slip out of the reception for your sunset portraits! You will NOT regret this! This is the absolute best light of the day and you’re going to want to have portraits during this time period. Usually these portraits happen during dinner or open dancing so that no one even notices that you’re gone for a few minutes!
If possible, collect all of your details before I arrive so that I can begin quickly and have more time for some “getting ready” shots of you and your girls!
Sometimes, depending on the theme and “look” of the wedding day, there may be some extra elements that you could include when you gather your details. This could be a linen from one of your tablescapes or some ribbon that you used on bridesmaids gifts. Anything that has great texture and flows with the theme of the day would be wonderful to have as options for detail shots!
The most common detail missing when I arrive are the rings! Moms, officiants and planners will tell you to hand over your wedding band to the best man before the day begins. However, it’s actually better to hand it over during the bridal party portraits so that I can shoot some great ring shots at the beginning of the day! If you forget, no worries, I can always send someone to grab the rings we're missing.
Don’t forget the bouquet! Have the bouquets and boutonniere delivered to the bride before the first look so that she can have her bouquet in her portraits. No worries, if it’s hot, we’ll be sure to keep it in water as much as possible before the ceremony!
Here it is! The moment everyone has been waiting for! The music is playing and the guests have been seated. Ushers make their way to the back of the church and the coordinator is lining up the bridesmaids while giving the musicians a 5 minute warning. The bride is about to walk down the aisle to the love of her life..... and if she’s like most girls, she’s dreamed about this moment for a long time! Vows will be shared and promises will be made... this is what it’s all about! In a world full of wedding blogs, Pin- terest and bridal magazines, it’s easy to be overwhelmed and consumed by the “prettiness” of the event. While details do matter and planning is necessary, it’s important to never lose sight of the real purpose of this amazing day!
Imagine this with me.... you’re in my shoes.... the most important moment of the day is about to happen. You’ve checked your camera settings, you’ve taken test shots and you’re ready to capture the bride coming down the aisle to her groom. You want to capture reactions, variety of angles and every moment of joy and emotion in those few seconds. However, just as everyone stands and the music plays, not one, but three different family members and friends get so excited that they take just one step out into the aisle with their iPhones in hand trying to capture the moment. I’m scrambling. My couple is trusting me not to miss this!!! But now I’m dodging guests who are trying desperately to have a good Insta-story to share and they have no idea that the back of their heads, their arms and their phones are blocking me from capturing the bride and her dad walking down the aisle. It’s honestly one of the most terrifying things that can happen to a photographer during a ceremony.... and the hard part is, it can always be avoided. This issue is a growing one. Every wedding season I experience more and more of these issues. However, there is a solution! I highly recommend having an “Unplugged Ceremony”. This is just another way of saying that you want only your photographers to be capturing photos and you would like everyone else to enjoy the ceremony instead of trying to capture it themselves.
I absolutely love meeting my couple’s families on the wedding day! Family formals are normally my first interaction with them and so I love to have a game plan for this part of the day! Eight weeks before the wedding, you’ll receive a questionnaire from me that will ask you to list out the family formals you want me to capture. Here is a sample family formal list to help you start preparing what shots you need. I do have to limit the family formal time in order to ensure that we have plenty of daylight for your romantic portraits. However, any large family group shots that we don’t accomplish during family formals, we can be sure to capture at the reception!
One of the most frequently asked questions that I receive during wedding season is “Soooo, what do you do if it RAINS?!” I want to reassure you that even if it rains, you will still have beautiful portraits and BRIGHT colors in your images! Overcast skies mean vibrant colors! I know that rain isn’t ideal, and no bride would wish for rain on their big day, but if it happens, it happens..... and it’s going to be JUST fine!! Some of my best weddings have been on rainy wedding days! Here are a few things to remember:
1. All I need to create natural light portraits on a rainy wedding day is a porch! Just one porch!
2. Let me worry about the pictures. You have enough to think about. If there is a chance of rain, I’ll be sure to do some extra scouting to find a covered location or two, for us to use for your first look, romantic portraits and bridal party portraits.
3. Take it one step at a time. Don’t think about your entire day and what will happen if it rains. That will only overwhelm you! Definitely have a rain plan for your venue, but then let your vendors do the work of handling the rest of the day if rain is in the forecast.
If your coverage ends before the very end of your reception and you are hoping to have an “Exit” shot captured, you have the option of planning to do a “Controlled Exit” with your bridal party! This is more common than you may think. Instead of saving your exit until the very end, you can plan a controlled exit with just the members of your bridal party and a few family members right before introductions! This allows us to have more control over these shots and the party NEVER has to stop! Not to mention jackets, ties, boutonnières, and bouquets will all still be intact. In most cases, no one even notices it’s happening because they will all be in the reception area. Plus then you can still have beautiful light.
1. Multiple chances at an epic shot : When you do an exit shot at the very end of the wedding day, I only have one chance to capture the two of you as you run through sparklers or whatever type of exit you have planned. When you do a “controlled exit”, I have multiple chances to capture several awesome exit portraits for you!
2. You haven’t partied all night yet : This means that your makeup and hair are still in-tact for your exit shot! That’s a win right there!
3. Coordinated Colors : When you are surrounded by your bridal party instead of wedding guests that could be wearing distracting colors, you can expect to have beautiful exits shots surrounded by your wedding colors!