For many of you, this is your first time planning a wedding and the stress can be overwhelming. We totally get it and we want nothing more than to help make your day as stress-free as possible!
In this blog, we’re going to walk you through your wedding day timeline and offer tips as well.
I want to start by saying that the only items on your list (excluding the list of family photos which we recommend only making the combinations you really want) should be ones that are truly must-have shots for you. Before placing items and photo combinations on the list, ask yourself if you would be very disappointed if you didn’t have that photo in the future and if you would be, then be sure to add it. We recommend only a handful of must-have photos for pre-ceremony and reception. Any reception photos, we’ll need to shoot right away as trying to find people you want photos with throughout a reception can be difficult. Additionally, when we’re constantly worried about your list, we can’t relax and enjoy your reception with you and again, a long list means missing some of your candid moments when we’re having to come up to you and hound you about getting the photos you want before people disappear.
We have seen brides copy and paste lists from the internet of “must-have” shots not even knowing what is on that list. Please trust us to get all the moments and again, if there are any shots that are not included in the typical shots we get, your wedding is unique to you, and we want you to add those. We simply don’t want to be looking at your Pinterest and your questionnaire constantly, worrying about getting your shot list. Many of the real moments of the day are missed when that’s what we’re focusing on.
Please keep in mind, this gives you a typical flow of a wedding day but we do realize everyone’s wedding is unique so we want you to tell us exactly what you want throughout the day.
So let’s start at the beginning of the day…
It’s all in the details.
After introducing ourselves, giving you a kit with everything we can possibly think of that you may need for the getting ready portion of the day (double sided tape, safety pins etc.) and also, letting everyone know that we’re happy to assist in any photo requests they have (time permitting), we then will take all of your details to photograph. At this time, we also typically take photos of the ceremony site, reception site (if it’s all set up and in the same building), and the outside of the building.
*We always try to bring these kits but also recommend that the maid-of-honor have one with wedding day necessities for you as well.
If you’re getting ready in a beautiful room, we may be able to utilize this area for the details shots. The majority of the time though, we will take your dress, shoes, rings, other jewelry, flowers, and any other details you want captured to the nicest area we can find. We may take everything outdoors (weather permitting) if you like that idea and we feel we can better capture the beauty of your details in an outdoor setting. After all, you carefully selected each and every detail for the best day of your life so we take our job of beautifully preserving those memories seriously. Allow 30-45 minutes for the detail shots (depending on the requests you have). If you want all of the bridesmaid dresses hanging, that sometimes is more difficult so just keep in mind that we do come prepared, bring several command strips and wooden hangers to each wedding but there’s also only so much we can carry. If you want all of your bridesmaid dresses photographed and you have a larger wedding party, then we recommend maybe getting them all special hangers, as it looks so nice for photos! And again, keep in mind; we need to have a spot to hang all the dresses as well. Often, we’ll just photograph one bridesmaid dress and that always looks nice. On the questionnaire, if you’d like all photographed, please mention that and if we’re able to then we’d love to do that for you! If you have anything sentimental or old, new, borrowed, blue etc. definitely add any and all details you’d like us to capture to your list on the questionnaire so we don’t miss a thing!
Both photographers typically photograph details together (unless they’re unable to start at the same location). We do it this way because if we do take items out of the room you’re getting ready in, lugging around a dress with everything else can be difficult for one person. Additionally, having two creative artists capturing your details from each of their different perspectives creates some amazing images for us to share with you.
Once we’ve returned all the details to you then we’ll split up. The photographer with the guys will typically photograph ties and boutonnieres being placed on and candid moments. If ties and boutonnieres are already on, we’ll just recreate which only takes about 10 minutes and again, spend some time getting some great candids. Time permitting, we’ll also do the groomsmen posed photos ahead of time but only if there’s a good location to do these. We also try to get photos with the groom individually with each person in the room and with everyone as a group.
The photographer with the bride will be capturing the dress being placed on from all different angles, pictures of the bride alone, and many of her with her girls and everyone else in the room. We also really enjoy doing first looks with your girls, dad, the groom, and any other person you’d like a first look with. We’d recommend allowing 15 minutes for a first look with the groom and 5-10 minutes with anyone else.
*Please be sure to de-clutter the getting ready rooms as best as you can as the photos will look so much better. We try our best to do this when we arrive but we don’t feel this is an efficient way to utilize our time with you, as our job should really be focusing on capturing the moments.
*Please let us know if there are photo combinations that are must-haves during pre-ceremony so we can be sure to get those for you! Additionally, if you have someone specific you’d like to place your veil on or do the final tie up of your dress, please list that on the questionnaire. We also request that if you have someone specific you’d like to place on the boutonnieres to list that on the questionnaire as well.
We try to show you the photos of you alone to ensure you love them and that your hair and make up is exactly as you’re seeing it in the mirror. Additionally, we always check with both the bride/ groom to see if anyone wants anything else before we head to the ceremony site. We recommend 30-45 minutes for detail shots and 30-45 minutes for getting ready following.
*I would allow 90 minutes to 2 hours for the getting ready phase of the day if you have specific photo requests, a large family and/ or wedding party that will be helping you get ready, and if you want your details beautifully captured.
We generally arrive at the ceremony 15 minutes prior so we can test our light and speak with the officiant to be sure we’re respectful of their rules (please know, understand, and share these with us ahead of time).
Time permitting; we will shoot the guests arriving and some posed shots of them in their seats. We will then get into position, typically one of us will be halfway up the aisle and the other all the way at the end of the aisle so we can very thoroughly cover the processional. We will move around to be sure to get some great angles (officiant permitting) and do have proper lenses to stay in the back after the processional/ after getting different angles, and will get wonderful shots of all events. Please let us know if there’s an unusual event/ something we’ll need to shoot in the balcony or something that is happening quickly not in the altar area so we can be prepared for that. *Groomsmen often will have what looks like a scowl on their face while walking down the aisle, which as you can imagine, is not the best photo op. Be sure to remind your wedding party to smile as they walk down the aisle. Additionally, if you are kissing mid-ceremony, please let us know and allow us time to get multiple shots of it (do more than a peck).
Following the ceremony, if there’s a receiving line, we will both get that from the best angles we’re able. Receiving lines typically take 20-30 minutes so please allot time for that. We do capture some great candid moments of you greeting your guests during this time. If your parents want to be a part of the receiving line, often, your receiving line will take closer to 30 minutes depending on the amount of guests. We don’t recommend having the wedding party in the receiving line unless they know a lot of your guests, as introductions during the receiving line tend to bog down the line.
If where you’re set up, we’re only able to get one angle; one photographer may begin preparing for family photos.
*Please skim the checklist links provided while filling out your questionnaire to ensure you don’t miss anything!
Your family photos will be the combinations that you’ve listed on the questionnaire. Please check with any friends or family members who may want to contribute to the list as we realize that all families are different and so everyone has different requests. We’re happy to do any photo requests you have, even if you’re not in them! For example, mom may want a photo with her dad or sisters etc. Just list off any photo combinations you want during family photos (as well as throughout the day) on the questionnaire. Be sure to remember to list individual photos you’d like with family members and let us know if you’d like more of a candid moment (dad kissing you on cheek, you and mom looking at each other etc.) and a posed smiling shot. *With all people you list throughout the day, please let us know if you’d also like a candid moment during the posed shots. We will also ask if you can have a (loud) point person who knows your family and can read off your list during family photos. This way we can focus on posing because when we’re stopping to look at a list constantly and calling out names of people we don’t know, it slows down the family photos. A point person allows family photos to go faster. We use different lenses and will often both shoot so we can get different looks and have one focus on close-up shots and one full body during all group posed shots.
*Please keep in mind, every family is unique and every bride has different family photo combinations. We depend on your list for these so take your time and be sure every combination you’d like is on there.
Your wedding party combinations are the same. We don’t really need a point person unless you a have a long list of combinations. Here’s what we typically do during posed wedding party photos… 5+ bridesmaids, groomsmen, and wedding party (a mixture of traditional and fun). We also do individual shots of each bridesmaid with the bride and each groomsmen with the groom. We then do photos of the bride alone (close-up and full body), the groom alone, typically 25+ poses of the bride and groom, and the groom with all the bridesmaids (one fun and one smiling) with and without the bride then the groomsmen with the bride (one fun and one smiling) with and without the groom. If there are other combinations you’re wanting (for example, best man and maid of honor with the bride and groom, bride/ groom individually with each member of the wedding party, bride individually with each usher and/ or groomsmen, bride with ring bear and flower girl, each member of the wedding party individually (fun and/ or smiling) etc. please list them. Again, be sure to specify if you’d also like a more candid, fun shot with each photo combination in addition to a smiling shot. Remember when listing photo combinations throughout the day to put their name and relationship to you. For example, bride with Eli (brother). And again, if you’d like a candid moment as well, list it like this: bride with Eli (brother, one fun and one smiling).
I would recommend allowing 30 minutes for family, 30 for bride/ groom, and 30-45 minutes for bridesmaid/ groomsmen/ wedding party and other photo combination requests. 90 minutes to 2 hours is a great amount to allow for family and wedding party posed shots. Now if you have a very small family and/ or wedding party then depending on how many photo combinations you’ve requested, you may need less time.
We will discuss with you if it makes sense for one of us to go to cocktail hour and cover those details for you during the group shots.
*If you plan to go to a bar in between the ceremony and reception, we recommend all group shots are done prior to this as often times, you end up staying at this location longer than you’d originally planned.
During the reception, we both will cover all events from different angles. It’s also our goal to be sure that one of us knows where the bride is and the other the groom to ensure we are photographing you with each of your guests you’re talking to. We try our absolute best to get you with each and every person you interact with throughout the day. It’s our goal to get that nice, smiling candid moment of you and your guest(s). If we’re unable to get you and your guests smiling, we’ll just quick request a smile then move on to capturing all the other moments at your reception that you’re not around to see but can smile about later. We then come back to you when we see you with another guest.
If you want to be sure to get all of your guests in a photo with you then the best way to do that is with a speed song. It’s pretty simple: the DJ will play something fun (the Mission Impossible theme song is commonly used for this) and you will then go from table to table and try to get all tables before the song has ended. The DJ will tell everyone to be standing and ready because the couple will randomly go from table to table. He typically lets everyone know that the couple wants to talk to everyone but right now is just getting a photo with each table and that it’s designed to be more fun so get creative with your posing!
We understand that there are individuals that have travelled a long way or that you’re close to even if they’re not immediate family and/ or in the wedding party. Anyone who you want individual photos with (at the reception as well as throughout the day) please list on your questionnaire.
If you’re having a game during dinner (instead of the clinking of glasses) please let us know ahead of time and seat us near the head table so we can jump up to get your guests when they come up to the head table or are a part of the game elsewhere in the room.
Additionally, if you’re doing the shoe game, generations dance, dollar dance etc. please let us know all events ahead of time and if you’ve spoken with your DJ about the time frame for these events, we’d love for you to share that with us!
A few reminders… the wedding party eating during speeches creates far from flattering images of them. Please schedule your speeches right before or after dinner to avoid this.
If you plan to dip and/ or twirl during your first dance, we love that! We would recommend practicing your dance ahead of time. Be sure to both smile during dipping and twirling, as the photos look so much better. Also, do multiple dips and twirls, as we may not be in the right spot to get a really solid shot of it the first time it happens.
If there is a beautiful sunset and you’ve told us on the questionnaire that you’d like sunset shots, we will ask you if you’d like to go outside during this time of the evening. Even if there isn’t much of a sunset, please let us know if you’d like us to take you outside as we can edit one in later and your guests will just think the sky was prettier than they remembered.:)
At the end of the night, we will double-check your questionnaire (we do this before wrapping up each phase of the day as well) to ensure that every single person and detail you’ve requested has been covered. We will go over this with you then ask you if you can think of anything else you want. We also give you a couple other options. We ask you if you’d like us to have the DJ announce that we’re leaving so anyone who has any last minute photos that they’d like can get those. Additionally, we check to see if you’d like to go out for a few night shots. Night shots look incredible and we do several effects with our off camera lighting equipment to give you some different options. We select the location for your night shots and set up the equipment prior to having you come outside. They will only take about 20 minutes away from your reception and you’ll be very happy you did them. Lastly, we’ll ask if you’d like to do a group photo of you with all of your guests still at your reception. You can do either the two of you kissing (dipping or not dipping) while everyone cheers, a shot of everyone smiling, or both. These are all just options, some people are done with photos at the end of the night and that’s completely fine! We will ask you ahead of time as well. *If you know there’s something that you for sure won’t want, then we will take it off your list to simplify the day for us.
We would say that staying 1 hour past your final event would be a good time for us to leave. At this point, your guests don’t feel that they look as good and may not like the photos as much and not as many people are there anymore so we’re getting a lot of the same people over and over. Towards the beginning of the reception, we may need to joke around with your guests, saying, “the sooner you smile, the sooner we’ll walk away.” Those same people often come up to us saying, “hey photographer, take my picture!” at the end of our night with you. We get so many great candids of you and your guests immediately following the final event. Additionally, if you want a group photo of all your guests with both of you then you’ll need to allow 10 minutes for that as well as 20 minutes for your night shots. Keep in mind too that each reception event typically starts slightly later than planned. It’s so important to us that we thoroughly cover all events as well as you with your guests, and your guests enjoying your reception.
Again, please remember to list all your must-have shots throughout each phase of the day but make your list reasonable so we are able to glance at the list throughout each phase, get the items on it quickly, then be able to focus on all those amazing candid, photojournalist moments that make up your day because besides the posed shots that are typically done in between the ceremony and reception (which we do an excellent job with), the rest of your day is made up of all those “real” moments that are so beautiful.
*Please allow 45 seconds for each posed photo throughout the day. And be sure to allow plenty of time for moving to a different location for posed shots as well as allowing several minutes for your wedding party to get on and off the party bus.
*If you need to add hours prior to your wedding date, the cost right now is only $200 (normally $250).
Our goal is to be so organized that we don’t need to ask you any questions on the day of. This will allow you to relax and enjoy your day because we’ll know exactly what photos you want! 🙂