From Start to Finish – Your Wedding Day

In a Nutshell – The General Timeline of your Day 

If you want a lot of detail shots of the dress, shoes, rings, bouquets etc. as well as many candid moments with your girls and groomsmen shots, then have us arrive about two hours prior to the ceremony if we’re starting at the ceremony site (slightly earlier if we need to allot in travel time to the ceremony site from where you’re getting ready and much earlier if doing a first look with bridal party photos following). Additionally, we typically say two hours for bridal party/ family/ bride and groom posed photos. Lastly, we recommend that we’re at your reception about 3.5 hours after dinner is served. Now, this can change dependent on the size of your family, the amount of guests, the size of your bridal party, what events you have throughout the day, what you want to photograph prior to the ceremony etc. so the 2 hours before the ceremony for getting ready, 2 hours for posed shots (30 minutes for family and the rest is bridal party/ bride and groom), and 3.5 hours for us to stay after dinner is served does depend on these factors. If your wedding is pretty average sized (guests and bridal party) and you love our start to finish weddings on our site, then we’d recommend a timeframe similar to this. 🙂 *You can customize your package at anytime prior to your wedding day but the pricing for hours (or anything else added in) would be whatever price is offered at that time. 🙂 You can always subtract hours in the future as well if you find you need less time.

*If you decide to do a first look then keep in mind that overachievers (generally speaking, older people and out-of towners) may arrive a full hour early and several of them, so be sure you’re tucked away with an hour to spare (depending on where you’re doing your posed photos) if you want to avoid being seen and be realistic with timing when it comes to this. *You can do getting ready with us a little more quickly if you’ll be back in your getting ready room an hour prior to the ceremony as we can fake/ do more of it at this point. 🙂

So, as many of you have figured out, I’m long-winded and want to share it ALL with you and I mean everything I can think of that could possibly help you out. I know that some of you don’t enjoy this level of detail so you’re very welcome as I’m including a summary at the top then more (an optional read) to follow. 🙂 You’ll be just fine if you only read the short version. You’ll be very much “in the know” if you read the details of it all. And either way is great with us! 🙂 Additionally, I want to reiterate, we love to help but this is just advice, it’s your day and we’re very happy with exactly how you decide to do things!

Tips to Remember:

  • Clear your getting ready room the best you can prior to our arrival
  • Blot, blot, blot throughout the day! If your face is slightly shiny, our off camera lighting (what is utilized inside the majority of the time as it is typically most flattering) will pick up on this shininess and show it off to the world! So have a bridesmaid keep blotting strips and do a face check here and there, if you have issues with sweat/ oil, you’ll love LOVE that we recommended this and will be SO happy you did it!
  • If you plan to twirl and/ or dip during your first dance, practice smiling during your dips and twirls as it makes a world of difference in the photos!
  • Just in general, the more you smile, the better the photos!! We love to capture the laughter and love of your day through your authentic, candid moments and when appropriate, will joke and tell people to smile to avoid that cringeworthy expression, however, there are times where it’s awkward to say something, so for those should be fly on the wall moments just remember to be on the safe side and keep that smile plastered to your face at all times as you never know when we’re shooting you from afar! 🙂 Additionally, reminding your bridal party/ close family at the rehearsal dinner of this along with walking slow and smiling down the aisle/ not eating during speeches is always a great plan. We try to tell people these things but with all the hustle and bustle of the day, this is never fully cemented into their minds when shared the day of.
  • Remember to kiss for a couple seconds (practice ahead of time :)) to ensure we get several shots of the first kiss!
  • We can always adapt to anything we need to the day of as things definitely change but being as organized as we can for you and you allotting proper time for events just helps so much with the day running smoothly! You being able to relax and enjoy on your special day is our top priority!
  • Do not trust yourself to remember anything day of (I promise, you’ll forget what you know you won’t!), take an hour or so to fill out the questionnaire with everything you need us to know so we’re responsible to remember it all, not you!

Alright, so again, you’re welcome. Read on if you dare but you’ll get by with the information shared above. 🙂

StarttoFin 1

And then there’s the detailed version…

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 use our experience to help make your day as stress-free as possible for you!

I want to start by saying that the only items on your list (excluding the list of family photos which we recommend only creating the combinations you truly want) should be ones that are must-have shots for you. Before placing items and photo combinations on the list, ask yourself if you’ll feel sick in the pit of your stomach the next day if you didn’t get a particular shot and if you would be, then be sure to add it in. We recommend only a handful of must-have photos for pre-ceremony and reception. Any reception photo requests, we recommend knocking out very quickly upon your arrival at your reception as attempting to locate people you want photos with throughout the night becomes increasingly 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 requests. Many of the real moments of the day are missed when that’s what we’re focusing on. We’re very much a “what you see is what you get” company. From the thorough research we’ve conducted, we’ve discovered that we cover timeline, who we are, along with anything we can possibly think of that you need and/ or may want to know in both written and video form more than ANYONE else. If you like what you see (and we really hope you didn’t select us if you weren’t a fan, lol) then you will absolutely love your wedding day images and you should have confidence in our skills!

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 (approximately 45-60 minutes)

After introducing ourselves to everyone and sharing our emergency kit with everything we can possibly think of that you may need (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.

*Although we bring these kits we also recommend that the maid-of-honor have one with wedding day necessities for you as well as we won’t be there for the entire getting ready portion of the day. 

If you’re getting ready in a beautiful room, we may be able to utilize this area for the detail shots. The majority of the time though, we will take your dress, shoes, rings, other jewelry, flowers, and any additional details you want captured to the nicest area we can find (as long as you’re ok with this and P.S. – we make sure the groom is nowhere in sight!). We may take everything outdoors (weather permitting) if 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. Keep in mind, if you want all the bridesmaids’ dresses hanging, we’ll arrive prepared with wooden hangers and command strips to hang them in the absolute best spot possible, but know that does take some time so be sure to allot the time suggested for details. We recommend getting all of your bridesmaids special hangers, as it looks so nice for photos! Additionally, we need to have a spot to hang all the dresses as well (sometimes this can be difficult to find, dependent on the space and amount of dresses there are). 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 and/ 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 (and impossible to safely grab all at once) for one person. We obviously don’t want to leave the dress to come back for the rest of the details as we’re responsible for these precious items while they’re in our possession. We hate having to ask your girls for help and can avoid this when there’s two of us present for the detail portion of the day. Additionally, having two creative artists capturing your details from each of their slightly different perspectives creates some amazing images that we cannot wait to share with you.

Getting Ready (approximately 45-60 minutes)

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 the guys are all ready by the time we get there, we’ll just recreate a few of these getting ready shots which only takes about 10 minutes and again, we’ll spend some time getting some great candids. Time and location permitting, we’ll also do the groomsmen posed photos ahead of time. We also try to get photos of the groom individually with each person in the room and with everyone as a group. *From a timing standpoint, we recommend that the guys are mostly ready when we arrive.

The photographer with the bride will typically be capturing the dress being placed on from all different angles, candid moments with your girls, application of hair/ makeup, everything else being put on, 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. It may not be a bad idea to practice both bustling ahead of time so you have it down as well as fully putting on the dress so you know how much time that will take the day of. 🙂

*One thing to keep in mind is you can have us arrive at the tail-end of your hair/ makeup at the salon but faking these things later we feel is just fine for photos! Additionally, we will warn you that if you want to pay us to be at the salon for hours, that is totally your call, however, we will be getting a lot of the same shots over and over as there is only so much you can get here. *Some brides will just have a friend/ amateur photographer at the salon with them, saving them money, and helping in building that photographer’s portfolio!

*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 hardest 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 and not cleaning. Additionally, some bridesmaids are not huge fans of us moving their drinks, phones etc. 

*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 you’d like to place on the boutonnieres (or just the grooms) to write that on the questionnaire as well.

Pre-ceremony, 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 it looks in the mirror (I’m a girl so I get it – there are times I see things I don’t like in a photo that I didn’t notice 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 45-60 minutes for detail shots and 45-60 minutes for getting ready following.

*I would allow around 2 hours for the getting ready phase of the day if you have any specific photo requests, family and/ or wedding party that will be helping you get ready, and if you want your details beautifully preserved for you.

We generally arrive at the ceremony 15-20 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 as we do ask you about the church’s rules on the questionnaire).

The Ceremony (your officiant will share with you approximately how long this will be)

Time permitting; we will shoot the guests arriving and some posed shots of them in their seats (everyone’s usually feeling like they look their best so most welcome this :)). 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 professional lenses to stay in the back after the processional/ after getting different angles, and will get wonderful shots of all events. We also typically turn off our flashes as not to be a distraction if the lighting is good immediately following the processional and won’t utilize flash again until the recessional. Please let us know if there’s an unusual event/ something we’ll need to shoot in the balcony or anything that is happening quickly not in the altar area so we can be prepared for that. *Groomsmen often will have what appears to be a scowl on their face while the bridesmaid on their arm has a full out cheese smile while walking down the aisle, which as you can imagine, can be an interesting combo and possibly not the ideal photo op. Be sure to remind your wedding party to smile as they walk down the aisle (at the rehearsal). 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 – you don’t need to do a full fledged make-out sesh, however, we’d love a couple seconds to capture multiple shots of your first kiss for you, whether it be mid-ceremony or at the end).

*We love unplugged ceremonies (no one using their cameras during the ceremony and just leaving that in the hands of the professionals) as avoiding a bunch of cellphones being thrust into the aisle in our way during the processional is obviously ideal, however, we don’t push you to do an unplugged ceremony as we don’t think people using their phones is that huge of an issue for us. Many though are never truly 100% present anymore as they’re always looking for that shot to show off on social media, so forcing all to truly soak in the moment can be a great thing! I’d say to get a sign and/ or let all know ahead of time if you do decide to have an unplugged ceremony (most just have a sign you can’t miss when walking into the ceremony site). 

The Receiving Line (approximately 25 minutes)

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 enjoying your guests during this time. If your parents want to be a part of the receiving line, often, your receiving line will probably take closer to 30 minutes with a more average 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. Also, try not to be sandwiched in between both sets of parents for your receiving line as that makes it tough for us to get the two of you greeting your guests.

Something that is becoming increasingly popular is the dismissal of the rows. This is where you’ll go from row to row and dismiss your guests from each row. This would be just the bride and groom so it tends to go faster. A benefit to going row to row is that you have the control of when you move on, where as, if you’re in a receiving line you might have chatty Kathy sharing her life story with you and it’s tough when you have to just helplessly stand there while they seriously slow down the line.

So in summary: the pros of a receiving line/ dismissal of rows is that you get some nice candid moments with your guests and if it’s something that is important to your parents (and they have input in your day) then that’s another good reason. The cons: it’s really hard to say how long it will take so properly allotting time for it in your schedule can be difficult. Also, if you have extended family in your posed family photo combination list following the ceremony, it’s tough to keep them waiting for photos while you do a receiving line (we tell you to let family know ahead of time that they need to stay and/ or have the officiant announce that anyone that is in any way, shape, or form related to the couple, does need to stick around for photos) which helps but again, it’s like your relatives have never been family at a wedding before as they frequently vanish (especially if there’s an open bar immediately following at cocktail hour :)).

*If your parents are assisting in planning you can ask them how they feel about the receiving line if again, you want their input. These are quite traditional and many times parents want to thank your guests as well for coming so they very much enjoy this opportunity. If you don’t want a receiving line but they do you can always let them know that you feel going leisurely from table to table at the reception and thanking everyone is more comfortable for you (you can obviously still do this even with a receiving line) and they’re absolutely more than welcome to do this as well! If your parents don’t care or have input but you wish to do a receiving line, dismissing the rows may be the better option. 

The last thing you’d want to check prior to making any decisions is if your venue allows receiving lines (it’s mainly churches that sometimes don’t permit them, especially Catholic ones that may be in a time crunch due to Mass starting shortly).

If no one really cares too much if you have a receiving line (typically you and/ or your parents dependent on who is making the decision) then we recommend skipping it.

*If where you’re set up, we’re only able to get one angle; one photographer may begin preparing for family photos. Try not to be up against a wall as we really like to get your face and your guests’ faces when at all possible. 

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Family Photos (approximately 30 Minutes)

Your family photos will be the combinations that you’ve listed on the questionnaire. 

Please check with any friends or family members (if you’d like or feel it’s necessary) who may want to contribute to the list as we realize that all families are different and so everyone has their own unique combinations. 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. When shooting just two people, we typically will do both a smiling and a candid moment (kiss on the cheek, something fun etc. dependent on the person).  We will also ask you to have a (loud) point person who knows a lot of your family and can read off your list during family photos (if you know of someone who isn’t immediate family and would do this well then we’d appreciate this, sometimes you’ll have a different point person for the bride and groom’s side). This way one of us can focus on posing and the other shooting because when we’re stopping to look at a list constantly and calling out names of people we don’t know (we can’t prompt Uncle Joe to come to the front of the church when he’s talking in back as we probably don’t know Uncle Joe), it slows down the family photos. A point person allows family photos to speed up (which everyone there seems to appreciate as cocktail hour is usually calling many of your family members’ names :)). We may decide depending on time constraints that one of us reads off the list while the other shoots. It is important if you have a point person that they read off the photo combination on deck so the next group or person is already waiting. We typically won’t make family uniformed (their hands etc.) as that can look weird and unnatural but will make sure everyone looks good and tell all what to do/ where to go when needed. We do absolutely uniform posed wedding party photos as this looks best for these (unless doing a fun shot!)

Your photo combinations typically start with extended family (aka large groups) then any shots with older people and young children. Lastly, you’ll list off your immediate family combinations, we recommend starting with whoever’s side is larger and/ or more impatient to leave. You can check out our recommended list in our questionnaire and add in any others you’re wanting!

*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.

*We’re totally fine with others taking photos during this time (your family and friends with their cameras), however, if we are in a time crunch, we will tell everyone in the photo to ignore them and just look at us. If we have time, we will say to look at them then us (if that’s something you want and they’re requesting).

Wedding Party Photos (approximately 1.5 hours) *Be sure to allot in time for travel and extra time for getting a wedding party on and off the bus (if this is applicable), which is realistically 10-15 minutes

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 (time permitting, we show you a few of these :)), ring shots, and the groom with all the bridesmaids (one fun and one smiling) then the groomsmen with the bride (one fun and one smiling), and last but not least, best man and maid of honor with the bride and groom. If there are other combinations you’re wanting (for example, bride and groom individually with each member of the bridal party, bride individually with each usher and/ or groomsmen, bride and groom with all the girls then with all the guys, bride (with and without groom) with ring bear and flower girl, each member of the wedding party individually (fun and/ or smiling), random combinations you want etc.) please list them.  Remember, when listing photo combinations throughout the day to put their name and relationship to you. For example, bride with Eli (brother). This just makes it easier for us. During extended family, you of course, don’t need to list these things off, just for smaller groups! 🙂

I would recommend allowing 30 minutes for family (15-20 if just shooting immediate family and grandparents, closer to 30 with extended family included) 45 for bride/ groom, and 45 minutes for bridesmaid/ groomsmen/ wedding party and other photo combination requests. 2 hours is a great amount to allow for family and wedding party posed shots (with an average size family and bridal party, you can typically shave off or add on about 30 minutes if your group is small or large).

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.

*Often times, bridesmaids love it if you tell them at the rehearsal dinner that they’ll need to come up with a fun shot to do with you (kiss you on the cheek (or pretend if messing up makeup is a concern), do something funny you’ve done together before, go back to back, pick you up, jump, hug pose etc.) and then a fun shot to do as a group with the groom (all kiss him or blow him a kiss, pick him up, do a “chill” pose like the main image for the Bridesmaids movie, have him show the ring and them be impressed etc.) 

The Reception (we typically stay approximately 3.5 hours after dinner is served)

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 your guests. We try our absolute best to get you with the people you interact with throughout the day. We absolutely love it when we get that nice, smiling candid moment of you and your guest(s). Keep in mind though, we want to be a fly on the wall during this time so you can truly be in the real moments that make up your day without awkward interruption. This means that there are times where we simply cannot get both you and your guest(s) smiling at the exact same time as sometimes there’s simply not that opportunity. If someone is important to you and you want to be sure you got a solid shot with them, don’t depend on the candid moment, instead look over at us and we’ll say, “hey guys, quick smile for me.”  Unless a guest is requesting photos (we love to get moments your loved ones are creating that you aren’t there to see but can smile about later :)), we normally do come back to you when we see you with another guest. After all, the candid shots are authentic, beautiful moments that we work very hard to capture!

The Grand March: Just like the cake cutting, this may happen before or after dinner but it’s typically done prior. Just be sure that everyone does whatever fun thing they have planned for their walk in all the way to the head table, even if the DJ is announcing the next couple because if they’re heading onto the dance floor, one of us will get them as they’re walking into the reception and one on the dance floor.

The Speed Song: 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 or Freeze Frame are two that are commonly used for this), 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 your guests know that the couple wants to socialize with everyone but right now is just for getting one fun photo and one smiling photo with each table and that it’s designed to be more laid back so get creative with your posing for the fun shot! Some DJs are great and will give suggestions for their fun shot saying, you can use your napkins as mustaches, pick up the bride and/ or groom (as long as you’re ok with this!), get into awkward prom poses then they have to do the same when arriving at your table and the list goes on. 🙂 Many brides and grooms will utilize these images for their thank you cards to the people at that particular table. It might take a second song to get all the tables in but generally does go pretty quick when done right. 🙂 If we need to, we’ll go to the next table while the other is photographing the previous one to be sure they’re all standing (if they’re able as this does look MUCH better than sitting) and ready for you! Keep in mind, the DJ frequently will be urging you to get the party started with the first dance prior to you wrapping up your leisurely talking to the tables so if you do the speed song, many of your guests are just happy to have a photo with you and so you can pick your favorite tables to go to after the speed song and if you miss a few, it’s not a huge deal (and if someone really wants to talk to you that you missed then they will find you :)). If you do a receiving line and a speed song, this does ensure you get both posed and candid moments with many of your guests so just something to keep in mind. 🙂

We understand that there may be individuals that have travelled a long way and/ or that you’re close to even if they’re not immediate family and/ or in the wedding party. Anyone who you want an individual/ group photo with (at the reception as well as throughout the day) please list on your questionnaire to ensure we’re mindful of that.

 *Speed song takes approximately 5-10 minutes and is typically done immediately following speeches (if this is when dinner is starting to wrap up with your timeline) 

Games During Dinner

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.

Games we’ve seen during dinner are as follows: someone or a group need to sing a song with the word love in order to get you to kiss. Another is having a jar in front of the couple at the table that says honeymoon and/ or animal shelter (we’re suckers for our furry friends but insert your favorite charity here) fund (either way, people are feeling generous and want to give to a charity and/ or love to help you start your lives together as a married couple) and the fun idea behind this game is “the bigger dollar amount, the better the kiss” so Uncle Joe over there is drinking and feeling generous, hands you a $100 bill and it’s perfectly acceptable for him to brag about his dollar amount and tell you that he’s expecting a grrrreat kiss from you two as it’s all part of the game. People enjoy this game and many couples will have a lot of money in their jar(s) when dinner ends (be sure you have someone you can trust promptly bring this somewhere for safe keeping). We’ve also seen where the couple will have a jar with popsicle sticks that have each couple that is attending written on them so when guests clink glasses (or ring bells as some do get bells to replace that clinking) then the newlyweds pick a popsicle stick. The couple selected then has to kiss and the bride and groom have to emulate their kiss (some will dip or do something really fun!) We’ve also seen it where it’s more inclusive meaning that two people come up to the head table and kiss then the bride/ groom need to duplicate this. This can be fun because it can just be two friends doing something goofy like one kissing the other on the head. You can also have some type of dice game with multiple options of what you need to do depending on what you roll. 🙂

*We had a wedding where the couple met on Tinder so their loved ones had to swipe left or right to see what thing they needed to do. Incorporating something sentimental into your game is always super cute!

Pros to a game during dinner: it’s fun for you and your guests and can be a cute photo op!

Cons: if you have a larger group and your guests simply can’t get enough of the game(s), it’s often times a little tough for you to eat as you’re constantly playing/ kissing and dinner can run slightly longer than planned as well.

Slideshow Etiquette 

Do: have a slideshow that is around 10 minutes (perhaps 3 songs) if you’re expecting your guests to sit and watch it (if you’re not making your guests stop what they’re doing to sit through it and it’s running in the background, then by all means, make it as long as you’d like!) Sometime during dinner is a great time for a slideshow. 🙂

Don’t: have a 45 minute slideshow where your guests are forced to sit through it and have most likely seen the majority of those pictures on social media anyways!

*Do whatever you’d like and we promise we don’t judge, we’re only making recommendations as we want  your day to be as wonderful as possible for you. 🙂  

Additionally, if you’re doing the shoe game, generations dance, dollar dance, a group photo of everyone still there before we leave, golden hour, sunset, and/ or night shots etc. please let us know all events ahead of time and if you’ve spoken with your DJ about the timeframe for these events, we’d love for you to share that with us so we don’t ever leave prior to an event happening! We always do check in with your DJ immediately at the reception to ensure our timelines match up too. 🙂

An Explanation of Reception Games

The Shoe Game: This is where you are both sitting on chairs back to back and you each have one of each other’s shoes (so you’ll have one of yours and one of your significant other’s). The DJ asks cute questions such as: who’s the better driver, who cooks more etc. and you often times, will have different answers, causing your guests to crack up (this game is pretty much always a hit among your family and friends), creating a photo op for great candids of your guests. One thing we’ve also seen is personalized questions that either the couple submits that makes it more personal to them or that their close family/ friends choose. It’s always funny, especially when it’s things you know you disagree on (for example, you think you’re the bigger Packer fan but he, as an avid fan himself, strongly disagrees) or the question so totally describes one of you and instantly you both raise up the same shoe! 🙂 *If you decide to personalize your questions, make it fun for the two of you and both submit your list of 7-10 questions that you’re not sure how the other will answer (or you’re super sure and it’ll make ‘em smile) to the DJ separately so you can laugh right alongside your guests, thoroughly enjoying the questions your significant other came up with. Same with family and/or friends (just be sure it’s people who know you both well!)  –  give them the DJ’s email and have them send their questions in without you seeing them!

*Usually a 5 minute game as it’s typically 15-20 questions total ending with “who do you love most in the world?”

The Dollar Dance: The majority I feel like know this one but just in case, it’s where the couple is paid by their guests to dance with them. If you have a large number of guests often the bride will be much more popular (sorry, groom) and the line will be long. Now, as long as your maid of honor moves the line along as soon as she feels we have gotten a good shot of you with that particular guest, it shouldn’t be an issue but you don’t want this taking 45 minutes out of your reception (believe me, we’ve seen dollar dances where the bride was making cut signs at the DJ begging him to end it) or awkwardly cutting off after a couple songs with a line still waiting and disappointed they weren’t able to have their dance. Just tell the DJ ahead of time (roughly, at least) how many songs you’d like for the dollar dance (with a medium sized group 2-3 is good usually) then be sure the maid of honor is moving guests along so everyone gets to dance with you that wants to but it doesn’t go on forever. I love it when the DJ says it can be a dollar, nothing (I get it, many of us don’t even carry cash anymore!), or it can be any amount you’d like. The bride and groom just want to dance with you so get in line! Sometimes the couple will have a contest for the most money after the dance (and again, 90% of the time, the bride is the winner, however, the groom has a shot if someone throws a large bill in his pot).

*Typically takes 10-15 minutes. 

The Generations Dance: Again, I’m sure most are familiar but just to remind all, the DJ will say, “if you’ve been married 24 hours or less, please leave the dance floor” then if you’ve been married a year or less, ten years, and so on and so forth. At the end, the longest married couple is left on the dance floor. Many times the couple married the most years will offer words of advice to the newlyweds (if prompted by the DJ to do so). This is always a cute idea, as it’s a great photo op to get nice photos of all the married couples. We absolutely love it when the DJ changes it up and says, “if you’ve been 24 hours or less we’re going to allow you to stay on the dance floor and continue to enjoy your guests but those married a year or less, please leave the dance floor.” This lets us get some cute photos of you on the dance floor with your guests (otherwise, we’re lucky if we get a solid shot of you prior to you getting kicked off!) and it also creates a beautiful moment at the end where the longest married couple is dancing with the shortest.


*We really recommend this one if you know who the longest married couple will be and they’re someone you’re close to!
*Normally takes the length of a song (sometimes two dependent on the DJ and 
the amount of married couples on your guest list)

*We recommend only doing a couple additional events (outside of the normal ones which are: grand march, caking cutting, speeches, first dances, and garter/ bouquet) at the reception as doing event after event doesn’t allow much time for mingling and enjoying your time with your loved ones and let’s face it, at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about. 

A few reminders for during the reception… 

I’m sure you can imagine that when the groom is chomping on his steak while the best man is saying something funny or heartfelt, we cringe while photographing that should be beautiful moment. Since bridal party and immediate family are generally served first, have them finished up for the time being and everyone else eating their first or second course when the speeches are starting as we mainly focus on immediate family and bridal party during this time.

On that note, if we can eat after you and your immediate family, that is oh so greatly appreciated as we have been running around all day without a break and feel refreshed (which can only benefit you!) when we’re able to eat. Often times, the moment we get our food (as we are generally served last) the speeches are starting and we’re unable to eat, leaving me with a headache for the rest of the night. Also, the time when everyone starts to eat is generally the only time throughout the day where there is nothing for us to do as photographing all stuffing their faces is not a photo anyone wants to be in so eating quickly most likely during the only time when there is nothing happening for a second is definitely best as well as from an efficiency standpoint. I want to address this because I’ve heard it said more than once by brides: “When I work 8 hours, I bring a lunch and don’t have it supplied to me by my employer. Additionally, I don’t get paid for my lunch.” Alright, let’s start out with the fact that trying to keep food in with our camera equipment (we do bring granola bars etc. but that doesn’t cut it for the entire day) is just not a good idea and we don’t like going out to our cars as we hate leaving you when we don’t need to. Additionally, awkwardly eating our lunch in the corner is just weird. Lastly, we scarf down our food in five minutes generally as we work HARD for you and you can clearly see this in our start to finish weddings. We jump up when moments are happening, attempt to get table shots (during dinner when people aren’t eating we’re going around in attempt to get all the tables – asking, who is a couple/ family etc. and if there are any other combinations they want, time permitting, showing them if they’d like to see them, and ending with getting the table as a whole). We also are focusing on all of the details of the room as well. Basically, there is almost always something to shoot so we don’t take a long leisurely 30 minute dinner!

*Typically, the members of the bridal party do not sit with their significant others/ families during dinner so please keep this in mind as we aren’t getting them together during our table shots. Let your bridal party know that we’d love for them to grab us so we can get a great photo (or perhaps a few of them :)) with their special someone/ families. 🙂 *We do our best to get this without a reminder but are focusing on a lot (as you can see, lol) on this day!

I’ve seen grooms dip their brides and their brides have this 0 trust, scared to death of being dropped look across their face. This is clearly not the look you’re wanting (if I were to guess, lol) so if you plan to dip and/ or twirl during your first dance, we absolutely 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 use off camera lighting which makes your photos way better, giving that gorgeous highlight behind you but does limit our movement, so we just want to make sure we’re in the right spot to get a really solid shot of it.

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. It makes us laugh when we see comments on your photos such as, “wow, I should’ve paid more attention to the sky, how beautiful!”

At the end of the night, we will double-check your questionnaire (we try to 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. At this point, 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 (if you’ve looked at our portfolio, then you know what you’re getting into with these :)). We select the location for your night shots and often times will set up the equipment prior to having you come outside. They will only take about 10 minutes away (if there’s not really a walk to the location involved) from your reception and most are very happy they did them (keep in mind too that your guests generally don’t even notice your absence at this time of the night). Lastly, we do a group photo (if you’d like) with all of your guests still at your reception. We normally do the two of you kissing (dipping or not dipping) while everyone cheers and a shot of everyone smiling. Some newlyweds are done with photos towards this time of the night and we’re totally good with that too! *We do ask you if you want this on the questionnaire. 🙂

StarttoFin 6

We would say that staying 1 hour past your final event would typically be the best time for us to leave. Around this time, your sweaty, (often times) tipsy 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 things like, “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 10-20 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 the day (hopefully, it’s clear by our work and everything we could possibly think of to help you in both written/ video form on our site that you can trust us that we’ll cover it :)), 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.

Our goal is not to give you information overload but to be so organized that we don’t need to ask you any questions on the day of. I’m certain you’ve attended weddings where the poor stressed out photographer was asking the couple if they wanted individual shots with their parents, bridal party etc. and trying to make sure nothing was missed when everything was clearly starting to blur together for them. We want you to enjoy a stress free day so knowing you can trust us to get your shots and that you’ve allotted proper time for things makes the day go so smoothly. It’s our goal to ask you very little the day of so you can enjoy the best day of your life with your loved ones. Your special day is not a time where you should need to think about any of this or answer lots of questions so we’re organizing it all for you now! And please know, we’re simply using our experience to offer advice but ultimately, the day is yours so be sure you do what makes YOU happy! 🙂

After reviewing this article, you’ll want to take a peek at a few sample timelines that help cover most timing scenarios. 🙂

 

Scenario #1 – Wedding at 1 Location without a First Look

*Plan to have photographers arrive at end of hair/ make up (don’t worry, if you’re already done, we can fake it!)*

1:00 – 1:45 Photographers arrive and start details shots (dress(es), shoes, rings, other jewelry etc.) *If possible, both photographers together.

1:45 – 2:30 Photographers split up and one goes with the guys for getting ready and one with the girls

2:30 – 2:40 Bride first look with Father/Relative (if desired)

2:30 – 3:00 Both photographers prepare for the ceremony (this gives a little wiggle room in case girls start to run a bit late (or guys, we won’t be sexist here! ;))

3:00 – 3:30 Ceremony – 30 minutes in length

3:30 – 3:40 Guests File Out of Ceremony

3:40 – 4:10 Family Photos

*Add 15 minutes for large extended family combinations.

*Subtract 10 minutes for small/immediate family photos only.

4:10 – 5:40 Bridal party photos including the entire wedding party, bridesmaids and groomsmen, and the bride and groom.

*Add 30 minutes if your wedding party has 8 or more couples. It takes time to get everyone posed and we want to ensure you have the time to enjoy the experience with your family and friends

*Subtract 30 minutes if you’re having a smaller bridal party (3 couples or less)

5:40 – 6:00   Arrive at reception and bride bustles/ wedding party freshens up etc. 

6:00 – 6:30 Grand Entrance/ Cake Cutting (if you decided on a large tiered cake typically the venue will have you cut it upon your arrival so they can prepare to serve it immediately following dinner)/ Prayer/ Welcome Toast

6:30 – 8:00 Dinner is served

*Dinner serve times vary with different venues/caterers, but 90 minutes is a good estimate for a medium size wedding. Add 30 minutes to weddings with 250 or more guests or if you’re serving multiple course dinners.

7:15 Speeches/Toast. We recommend that you wait until the head table and parents’ tables have finished eating before the toasts. This way you have a moment to relax and enjoy your meal and the wedding party isn’t eating during the speeches and creating a distraction in the photos.

*Toasts can also be given between salad and entrée courses if the caterer/venue has the time factored in. 

**Depending on when the sun sets, your photographer may have to pull you out during dinner if you want these photos. This only takes 10 minutes.

8:00 – 8:15 Wrap up dinner and mingling.

*You can also do the speed song at this time to get a fun photo with each table!

8:15 – 8:35 First Dances with Bride and Groom, Bride and Father/Relative, and Groom and Mother/Relative.

8:35  Open Dancing for the rest of the evening. You may also have some other reception events scheduled in like the Generations Dance, Garter/Bouquet Toss, Dollar Dance, Full Group Shot, Shoe Game etc.. This would be scheduled and planned out with your DJ/Band for the evening. *Take a peek at our timeline article (https://www.sbphotoanddesign.com/wedding-day-timeline/) for more info on these events and remember, don’t do too many as you really want some time to savor each moment with the people you love most in the world!

8:35 – 9:30/10:00 We recommend having your photographer scheduled for about an hour after the first dance starts. This will allow us to capture all of the special events as well as fun candid moments, we will also take you outside for Night Photos if you’d like!

 

Scenario #2 – Wedding at 1 Location with a First Look

*Plan to have photographers arrive at end of hair/ make up (don’t worry, if you’re already done, we can fake it!)*

12:45 – 1:30  Photographers arrive and start details shots (dress(es), shoes, rings, other jewelry etc.) *If possible, both photographers together.

1:30 – 2:15 Photographers split up and one goes with the guys for getting ready and one with the girls

2:15– 2:20 Bride first look with Father/Relative (if desired)

2:25 – 2:30 First look with Bride and Groom

2:30 – 4:00 Bridal party photos including the entire wedding party, bridesmaids and groomsmen, and the bride and groom.

*Add 30 minutes if your wedding party has 8 or more couples. (It takes time to get everyone posed and we want to ensure you have the time to enjoy the experience with your family and friends!)

*Subtract 30 minutes if you’re having a smaller bridal party (3 couples or less)

4:00 – 4:30 Bride and wedding party freshen up for ceremony. Bride is also out of view from the guests arriving.

(Both photographers prepare for the ceremony)

4:30 – 5:00 Ceremony – 30 minutes in length

5:00 – 5:10 Guests leave for cocktail hour

5:10 – 5:40 Family Photos

*Add 15 minutes for large extended family combinations.

*Subtract 10 minutes for small/immediate family photos only.

5:40 – 6:00   Arrive at reception and bride bustles/ wedding party freshens up etc. 

6:00 – 6:30 Grand Entrance/ Cake Cutting (if you decided on a large tiered cake typically the venue will have you cut it upon your arrival so they can prepare to serve it immediately following dinner)/ Prayer/ Welcome Toast

6:30 – 8:00 Dinner is served

*Dinner serve times vary with different venues/caterers, but 90 minutes is a good estimate for a medium size wedding. Add 30 minutes to weddings with 250 or more guests or if you’re serving multiple course dinners.

7:15 Speeches/Toast. We recommend that you wait until the head table and parents’ tables have finished eating before the toasts. This way you have a moment to relax and enjoy your meal and the wedding party isn’t eating during the speeches and creating a distraction in the photos.

*Toasts can also be given between salad and entrée courses if the caterer/venue has the time factored in. 

**Depending on when the sun sets, your photographer may have to pull you out during dinner if you want these photos. This only takes 10 minutes.

8:00 – 8:15 Wrap up dinner and mingling.

*You can also do the speed song at this time to get a fun photo with each table!

8:15 – 8:35 First Dances with Bride and Groom, Bride and Father/Relative, and Groom and Mother/Relative.

8:35  Open Dancing for the rest of the evening. You may also have some other reception events scheduled in like the Generations Dance, Garter/Bouquet Toss, Dollar Dance, Full Group Shot, Shoe Game etc.. This would be scheduled and planned out with your DJ/Band for the evening. *Take a peek at our timeline article (https://www.sbphotoanddesign.com/wedding-day-timeline/) for more info on these events and remember, don’t do too many as you really want some time to savor each moment with the people you love most in the world!  

8:35 – 9:30/10:00 We recommend having your photographer scheduled for about an hour after the first dance starts. This will allow us to capture all of the special events as well as fun candid moments, we will also take you outside for Night Photos if you’d like!

  

Scenario #3 – Wedding Ceremony at Church and Reception at Secondary Location (typically without a first look)

*Plan to have photographers arrive at end of hair/ make up (don’t worry, if you’re already done, we can fake it!)*

11:30 – 12:15  Photographers arrive and start details shots (dress(es), shoes, rings, other jewelry etc.) *If possible, both photographers together.

12:15 – 1:00 Photographers split up and one goes with the guys for getting ready and one with the girls

1:00 – 1:10 Bride first look with Father/Relative (if desired)

1:10 – 1:30 Both photographers prepare for the ceremony (this gives a little wiggle room in case girls start to run a bit late (or guys, we won’t be sexist here! ;))

1:30 – 2:30 Ceremony – 60 minutes in length

2:30 – 2:40 Guests File Out of Ceremony

2:40 – 3:10 Family Photos at the Church

*Add 15 minutes for large extended family combinations.

*Subtract 10 minutes for small/immediate family photos only.

3:10 – 5:30 Bridal party photos including the entire wedding party, bridesmaids and groomsmen, and the bride and groom. We suggest 2 hours when traveling for photos as it takes time for the wedding party to load/unload

*Also, make sure to account for travel time and try to limit to 1 photo location that is near the ceremony or reception.

 *Add 30 minutes if your wedding party has 8 or more couples. It takes time to get everyone posed and we want to ensure you have the time to enjoy the experience with your family and friends

*Subtract 30 minutes if you’re having a smaller bridal party (3 couples or less)

5:30 – 6:00  Arrive at reception and bride bustles/ wedding party freshens up etc. 

6:00 – 6:30 Grand Entrance/ Cake Cutting (if you decided on a large tiered cake typically the venue will have you cut it upon your arrival so they can prepare to serve it immediately following dinner)/ Prayer/ Welcome Toast

6:30 – 8:00 Dinner is served

*Dinner serve times vary with different venues/caterers, but 90 minutes is a good estimate for a medium size wedding. Add 30 minutes to weddings with 250 or more guests or if you’re serving multiple course dinners.

7:15 Speeches/Toast. We recommend that you wait until the head table and parents’ tables have finished eating before the toasts. This way you have a moment to relax and enjoy your meal and the wedding party isn’t eating during the speeches and creating a distraction in the photos.

*Toasts can also be given between salad and entrée courses if the caterer/venue has the time factored in. 

**Depending on when the sun sets, your photographer may have to pull you out during dinner if you want these photos. This only takes 10 minutes.

8:00 – 8:15 Wrap up dinner and mingling.

*You can also do the speed song at this time to get a fun photo with each table!

8:15 – 8:35 First Dances with Bride and Groom, Bride and Father/Relative, and Groom and Mother/Relative.

8:35  Open Dancing for the rest of the evening. You may also have some other reception events scheduled in like the Generations Dance, Garter/Bouquet Toss, etc.. This would be scheduled and planned out with your DJ/Band for the evening.

8:35 – 9:30/10:00 We recommend having your photographer scheduled for about an hour after the first dance starts. This will allow us to capture all of the special events as well as fun candid moments, we will also take you outside for Night Photos if you’d like!