a note about this guide:
I am so excited to be working with you and I can’t wait to get to know you better over the next several months! I know photography is one of the larger investments you’re making for your wedding day and I’m so honored you chose to work with me!
Even if you’re working with a wedding planner or you’re planning a simple wedding, there are likely still a lot of moving pieces left leading up to your big day.
Having photographed more than 120 weddings over the past few years, I tend to get asked the same things over and over again. So I thought it would be beneficial if I put together a guide that walks you through everything from timelines to engagement sessions and inclement weather.
Thank you again for choosing to work with me and please don’t hesitate to let me know if I can offer any additional guidance throughout the wedding planning process!
is a first look right for you?
IF YOU’RE WONDERING WHETHER A FIRST LOOK IS RIGHT FOR YOU, STOP HERE.
That moment the Bride and Groom see each other for the first time on their wedding day is magical. And this is true whether the couple chooses to wait until the bride walks down the aisle or chooses to do a “first look’ prior to the ceremony.
First looks—a private moment couples choose to spend together prior to the wedding ceremony—have become more popular over the last few years. About half of my couples this year have chosen to do a first look.
While I consider myself a person who values tradition, there are definitely a few good reasons to consider a first look. Here are 3 reasons to consider a ‘first look’:
A FIRST LOOK CUTS THROUGH THE CHAOS OF THE DAY.
Once the ceremony begins, the day takes off quickly. A ‘first look’ is an opportunity to enjoy some quiet time alone, enjoy each other’s company, and reflect on all this day means before your day takes off.
Wedding days can be a whirlwind and they tend to fly by. There’s much to do, and a lot of people to see and to catch up with. I always encourage my couples to take a few minutes every so often during their wedding to stop and soak in everything that’s happening.
IT MAKES MORE TIME FOR PICTURES WITHOUT SACRIFICING COCKTAIL HOUR.
When there is no first look, the majority of the pictures have to be taken after the ceremony. Family pictures are generally done as soon as the ceremony ends because it’s the easiest time to round everyone up. Next up is full bridal party, and then bride and groom portraits. This generally runs into cocktail hour.
A first look opens up time prior to the ceremony for full bridal party pictures and, sometimes, for a few bride and groom portraits (although I prefer to do bride and groom portraits at sunset). This allows the couple to get the most out of cocktail hour, which makes the rest of the evening feel less rushed.
AVOID POSSIBLE BAD WEATHER AND/OR HAVE TIME TO FRESHEN-UP AFTER CRYING
If you’re expecting poor weather on your wedding day, it might be best to plan on a first look because it gives you more options for pictures. If it’s pouring rain after the ceremony, you’ll be thankful you had pictures done in advance.
And reason 3b is for all you cryers out there. If you know the tears are going to fly the first time you see your other half the day of your wedding, a first look will give you time to freshen up before the ceremony.
First look or not, the first time you see each other on your wedding day will be special.
Also, if you book your ceremony close to sunset is a must, to have first look because or natural light portraits.
wedding day timeline
WHETHER YOU’RE PLANNING A FIRST LOOK OR STICKING WITH TRADITION AND NOT SEEING YOUR GROOM UNTIL YOU WALK DOWN THE AISLE, I HAVE TIPS TO HELP MAKE PLANNING YOUR TIMELINE AS EASY AS POSSIBLE!
Whether you choose to do a first look or the traditional “no see before the ceremony” I will work with you on making sure you have the best timeline and plan for images.
If you’re choosing to go traditional, you’ll need two different sets of photo times: images taken before the ceremony and images taken after the ceremony.
You’ll need to plan for about one hour of pre-ceremony bridal photos (bridesmaids and bride’s family) and about one hour of pre-ceremony groom photos (groomsmen and groom’s family) at separate times. You’ll also need 15 minutes of combined bridal party portraits, 15 minutes of combined family portraits and at least 30 -45 minutes of couple’s portraits after the ceremony if you’re not doing any portraits together until after the ceremony.
If you’re doing a first look, photos can be done all at one time, taking an average total of 2 hours pre-ceremony (although I also LOVE grabbing just the two of you for a few additional bride and groom photos at sunset!)
If you choose a traditional aisle reveal, all I ask is that you keep your ceremony time in mind when planning your wedding.
If you’re planning a sunset ceremony or an evening ceremony, it’s best to do all photos before the wedding, as daylight is crucial to getting amazing portraits for your families, bridal party and your couples portraits. Making sure I have enough time while the sun is up is a great way to make the traditional ceremony work.
wedding day details
I love capturing all the little details you’ve carefully chosen to be a part of your wedding day! Once I arrive at your wedding, I need about 30 minutes to capture and style details. I recommend choosing a getting ready location filled with natural light and, if possible, please keep the space free from trash and clutter.
It would be wonderful if you could put all of your rings, jewelry, shoes, veil purse, perfume, invitations and other keepsakes together in one spot for us. Please unwrap your dress but don’t worry about styling it – I’ll hang it in a beautiful spot!
BRIDAL DETAILS CHECKLIST
Rings (both engagement and wedding bands)
Invitation Suite ( 2 full sets with envelopes + stamps)
Any other paper stationary you may have like program cards.
Any other sentimental keepsakes you would like to include
I once had a bride bring her grandmother's hand mirror.
This is completely optional - but if you have something sentimental
you'd like styled with your details, we love including family
heirlooms in our detail shots.
Bonus: I'd love to have a few cuts of the florals you'll be using
throughout your wedding day. If your florist will supply us a small
bucket of extra pieces we can incorporate those in your detail shots.
GROOM DETAILS CHECKLIST
Socks (if they're special)
Tie or Bow Tie
Anything else he'll have that is special or sentimental
YOUR ENTIRE FAMILY, DRESSED UP AND TOGETHER
For family portraits, I’ll place you in the center of a large group photo with all of your grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, godparents, etc. And then I’ll remove the extended family so it’s just grandparents, parents and siblings.
I’ll keep removing family members and switch a few closer family members in and out so we get photos of you and your parents, you and your siblings, some with the groom and your family, etc. Then we’ll repeat the process with your spouse’s family. The whole thing will go quicker and smoother if you let family know how the portrait process will work ahead of time.
When I send out our pre-wedding questionnaire, I’ll ask you for a list of specific groupings, special situations (such as divorces or handicapped family members & more), but if you want to start brainstorming photos in the meantime, you’ll find my typical list below.
BRIDAL PORTRAIT SESSION CHECKLIST
Bride + Groom + Bride's Extended Family
Bride + Groom + Bride's Parents + Bride's Siblings + Bride's Grandparents
Bride + Groom + Bride's Parents + Bride's Siblings
Bride + Groom + Bride's Parents
Bride + Groom + Bride's Siblings
Bride + Mom
Bride + Dad
Bride + Groom + Groom's Extended Family
Bride + Groom + Groom's Parents + Groom's Siblings + Groom's Grandparents
Bride + Groom + Groom's Parents + Groom's Siblings
Bride + Groom + Groom's Parents
Bride + Groom + Groom's Siblings
Groom + Mom
Groom + Dad
Please note that this list is just a starting point and that I’m happy to take any requested family portraits as long as time allows
consider unplugging ceremony
As a photographer I am hired to capture important moments for a couple and I have been shocked at how many times guests have literally stepped out into the aisle to get a photograph of the bride walking down the aisle with their iPhone while blocking my ability to capture that photograph for the couple. I have been forced to delete a lot of processional and recessional photographs due to a guest stepping out into the aisle to take a photograph. I understand guests’ excitement to capture that photograph to post to Facebook or Instagram but couples typically invest a significant amount of money and trust with their wedding photographer to capture those moments for them.
I always upload your wedding photos to an online gallery that you can share with your guests and that guests are welcome to download the photos that I have taken for free so they can enjoy experiencing your wedding instead of trying to photograph it for social media.
AFTER SHOOTING MORE THAN 120 WEDDINGS IN THE PAST FEW YEARS, I AM HAPPY SHARE A FEW ADDITIONAL TIPS
If you’re getting married in the summer months, a “not-so-heavy” snack or lunch time before portraits is always a good idea for you and your bridal party to avoid hungry bellies and passing out!
If it’s going to be hot, a cooler of cold waters and frozen washcloths can help keep a wedding party cool – especially if your men are wearing lots of layers.
Make sure and have your bouquet delivered in time to make an appearance for the detail shots and for your first look. Often they are delivered in water and need to be dried off before use. Having towels handy can help
If you’re planning on having a first look with your bridal party or a parent, they often feel more comfortable being fully dressed in their wedding attire.
If your reception is at a separate venue, add some “fluff time” so that we can run over to the venue to capture it while it’s still “untouched” by guests.
I always recommend the bride go into hiding 30 minutes before the ceremony at the absolute latest. Guests typically arrive early to weddings.
To help make family portraits go smoother, it’s best to have a breakdown of what portraits you’d like and it’s really wonderful if both sides of the family have a chance to have their input on what portraits they’d like before the wedding. Supplying us with a list ahead of time, we can go over it and make sure we shoot things in an order that is efficient and won’t leave anyone out.
During the cocktail hour and the reception, we’ll follow you around. Anytime you’d like a photo with someone, grab our attention. We love being your personal paparazzi!
THE PERFECT WAY TO REMEMBER YOUR WEDDING DAY
One of the best ways to make your wedding memories last is by ordering an album. These high quality professionally designed albums come in a variety of linen & leather colors. These aren’t the same albums your parents’ wedding photos came in. They’re modern, lay perfectly flat and look incredible on a coffee table.