1. Getting Ready
If you have two photographers included in your wedding photography package, we can split up and cover the girl's & guy's getting ready separately (or together if time allows). If not, both can still be covered by me, but make sure to allow extra time if you want both covered.
2. Hair & Make Up
Make sure you do a trial run of your hair & make up prior to your wedding so that you can fine tune the look that you want and make sure you schedule enough time to get both done on your wedding day. The last thing you want is to look back at your photos and not be happy with your hair & make up. Most professional make up & hair artists automatically include a trial with their services. Even if a friend is doing it - make sure to speak up and get the look you are comfortable with, you don't want any unwanted surprises on your wedding day. Hair & make up running late is the number one culprit of derailing your wedding day timeline!
3. Finishing Touches
Wait to put on the finishing touches until after you get dressed. Bride - put on jewelry, shoes, & garter last. Groom - get dressed in pants and white shirt - wait for us to photograph buttoning up vest/jacket, tying tie, cufflinks, pinning flower, putting on shoes.
BONUS TIP - Don't forget about special moments of the groom with his family, too. Ask the Mother of the Groom or other special family member or friend to pin on his flower and we will photograph it. Father of the groom or Best Man can also help with adjusting his collar, tie and helping him put on his jacket. I'm a mom of four boys and someday when I get to attend their weddings I want them to feel special, too, because they are!
I recommend starting formals 2 hours prior to your ceremony time to ensure that you are not in the ceremony space when guests start to arrive (sometimes 45 minutes early). Also, this gives us a cushion in your timeline if anything runs late. Hopefully we get done early and you have a few minutes to regroup, get a snack or drink and touch up before you walk down the aisle.
5. Ceremony & Exits
For any unity candles, pouring sand, tying of hands or any other special traditions during your ceremony pre plan to turn toward your guests during it so they can see and my team and I can get better photos. You don't want photos of your backs. Those are boring! If any family or guests are reading scripture, special poem or statement readings or if you have special music, let us know so we can make sure to photograph them. For ceremony exits - bubbles, wands, lavender, birdseed, etc. I recommend having a designated people wrangler (or two or three). People get to talking outside waiting for you to come out and often get distracted and not lined up and ready for when you come out. I have no problem nicely reminding people where to stand, but I want to be focused and ready for that gorgeous photo op! For reception send offs, same thing - and for sparklers specifically and I can not emphasize this enough, do not light the sparklers until everyone is lined up and you are ready to walk out. Also, get the extra long sparklers! Like, these on Amazon - extra long 2 minute sparklers.
6. Creative Photos
Do not let hosts/planners take your bridal party flowers to the reception. If you are taking photos after the ceremony at another location, you want to have your flowers in pictures! Just have empty vases sitting on the head table for everyone to put their flowers in when you arrive. Also - wait until you arrive at your reception to ditch your veil or bustle your dress, that way we can show your full train and do fun veil photos during your creative photos. Guys, don't forget your jackets for photos! You want all of these details in your photos! Again, this is so important and I admit that I have chased down bouquets a time or two and even put them in my vehicle!
7. Party Bus/Limo/Trolley
If you have one of the above for your wedding day transportation, great, that will make getting you and your wedding party to and from your creative photos much easier! First, don't forget your bouquets as mentioned above. Second, in my opinion, if you invest in a special wedding day ride, then don't waste your time or money stopping at a bar. The idea of getting a few photos at your favorite bar sounds like a great idea, but in my experience it often ends up taking way longer than expected - all the girls use the restroom (we all know that can take a minute or ten), your entire wedding party stands in line to get a drink one by one, and so on. There are not a lot of opportunities for good candid photos as its usually over crowded, people standing around on their phones and dark/unflattering lighting. Then the extra time spent at the bar ends up taking away from your creative photo time (which are often your favorite and the most printed photos from your day). Not to mention your wedding party might be a little too buzzed to listen to directions on where to stand and what to do for photos! This can get very frustrating for the bride and groom when they know its taking away from their portrait time. My advice, you already paid for your transportation - plan to bring alcohol along for the ride and don't waste time or money stopping anywhere. Also - let's make sure to get beautiful photo of you in front of your wedding day transportation.
8. Grand Entrance
Photographing your wedding party dancing into your reception or doing funny things can get you some seriously unique and hilarious photos you can tease/bribe your friends with later. Here's my suggestion - plan to do the fun and hilarious stuff on the dance floor on your way to the head table, not right when you walk through the doorway. Why? No one can see you and you're often dodging guests and tables or other obstacles. Plus, doing your thang at the door makes it so much tougher for my team and I to get great photos of these comical moments! Wait until you hit the dance floor so everyone can see you in action.
Don't forget about your vendors (Photographers, Videographer, DJ/Band, Wedding Planner etc.)! Please count us in your catering head count and assign us a table/place cards if you have a seating chart. My team and I snack lightly through out the day as time allows (sometimes we don't get to). We do not have time to go off site for dinner. We will jump in the buffet line or need to be served right after the wedding party. This is done not to be rude, but to ensure that we can prepare and be ready to capture your events immediately following (or during) dinner like toasts, cake cutting, 1st dance. Thank you for including us, we do greatly appreciate it!
Most of my couples want all day coverage, in other words, the tail end of getting ready on up to the main events at their reception. Typically I've found that having us stay to photograph your dance 30-60 minutes after your first dance begins gets you a nice mix of dance photos and covers most special dances/events you have along with some candids of guests dancing. With that being said, if you have a lot planned, make sure your DJ knows all of the things you want photographed so he/she can do those events by the time we are scheduled to leave. I will work with you on your timeline and will always check in with you before leaving, but its best to plan this ahead of time so you can ensure everything you want covered is. For example the dollar dance, longest married couple/anniversary dance, shoe game, bouquet/garter toss are some events to consider if you care to have them photographed or not.
Hope that helps!
Thank you for taking the time to read through these tips. These are things I've observed over and over during my 11 years of photographing weddings. In my experience, considering my advice will help make your timeline smoother, photos better and overall wedding day experience great! Congratulations on your big day.
If you are still looking for a wedding photographer and want to set up a time to chat, please reach out here.