I’m so excited for your wedding! I want to make sure you are able to relax and enjoy this special time with your family and friends, so here are some of my tips to help make that happen :)
The first thing I do when I arrive is greet the happy bride and then start on the details. It is so helpful when you have all the details together and even better if you can put it all in a bag with handles :) This makes it much easier to #1 make sure we have everything you would like photographed and #2 easier to move to the area we scouted. I recommend prepping these details a few days before.
Bridal Details: bride + bridesmaids’ dresses (on pretty hangers), all the rings, shoes, jewelry, perfume, headpiece/veil, bouquets, handkerchief, stationary (invitations, programs, menu, save the date, etc.), gift/letter from the groom to the bride, heirlooms/keepsakes, clutch, something old/new/borrowed/blue, garter, any other details you want photographed and anything that we can use to photograph details on that includes the color/theme of the wedding.
Groom Details: suit, tie, cufflinks, socks, shoes, watch, pocket square, gift/letter from the bride, heirlooms/keepsakes, cologne any other details you want photographed and anything that we can use to photograph details on that includes the color/theme of the wedding.
Flowers: I recommend having your flowers delivered to the getting ready room that way we’ll be able to photograph them when they are fresh and you’ll have them for bridal portraits! And who wouldn’t want to have those gorgeous flowers around a little bit longer :) If having them there during prep isn’t an option we’ll definitely need them for your wedding party photos.
Usually at this time the excitement and nerves will start, so make sure you are well rested the night before! If you are getting ready at a hotel I recommend staying there the night before that way you can minimize travel on your wedding day. Also window light makes for gorgeous photos, so if your getting ready room has windows please keep that area clean :)
I like to have an hour for your bridal getting ready time and a half hour for the groom’s getting ready time. During this time I’ll photograph the details, hair and make up, hanging out with the bridesmaids/family, getting dressed and portraits in the room. I usually only photograph the hair and make up touchups because I’ve found it’s more flattering when you have everything complete. If you are interested in a few bridal boudoir photos let me know before hand so we can allocate enough time for that!
In the timeline we will have a set time to begin putting on the dress that way the people you want helping you into your dress can be dressed and ready because we want everyone in the photos to look gorgeous! Make sure everyone uses the restroom before hand and removes hair ties on the wrists. Once the dress is covering ‘the goods’ I’ll begin photographing the zipping/buttoning and we’ll have all your girls/family around you making you feel like the beautiful bride you are :) Then we’ll get your jewelry on and other little details and have a toast because you’re going to get married!
We can’t forget about the guys! When I arrive with the guys I’ll get photos of his details while he gets into his pants and undershirt. Then I’ll get some photos of the guys hanging out and having fun and start to get everyone dressed. Once everyone is ready I’ll do some groom portraits and photos with his groomsmen, which usually includes lots of bro hugs. If you guys are not getting in the same location we’ll talk about timeline options and possibly do a faux groom getting ready.
I’ll need at least 30 minutes pre ceremony to get all the ceremony details. This also give you time to relax and refresh before walking down the aisle. I’ll get some photos of everyone hanging out in the moments before walking down the aisle then get into position for the big moment! Remember to stand up straight, look up and smile same for your wedding party! Ladies keep the bouquets down at your belly button because we want to show off those gorgeous flowers.
When you start walking down the aisle just lock eyes with your groom and embrace the moment :) I’ll be at the front of the aisle to capture the groom’s reaction and you walking down the aisle to meet your man. Be sure to hand your flowers off to the MOH and get them back for the recessional. When talking with your officiant it’s a great time to discuss stepping to the side for the first kiss, especially if they plan to stand between you and the guests that way we have a clear shot of that special moment.
Make sure to talk with your venue about their photography rules/policy. I am limited by house rules, so please discuss this in advance, so we can make sure we come up with a killer game plan to capture your ceremony!
Instead of doing a formal receiving line I recommend greeting guests during cocktail hour or the reception. A receiving line can take a huge chunk of time and may cut into your B&G portraits and while thanking everyone for coming is important you are going to want those photos of the two of you.
I know how important family portraits can be because sometimes this is one of the few occasions that the whole family is there together. I schedule this in during the day and is either before or after the ceremony depending on the timeline. About 6 weeks prior to the wedding I’ll send out the questionnaire and you’ll fill out your family portrait list. This is to ensure we capture all the photos that are most important to you. This time is typically 30-45 minutes depending on how many groupings and how many people in each group. I recommend 15-20 groupings during that time frame. It can be difficult to narrow down the list, but I have a couple tips to help!
1. Think about what you would actually print. Sometimes the photo may be Bride with her immediate family and then the next shot we are adding the groom. 9 times out of 10 people are going to print the one with the B&G because everyone is family now :)
2. I usually recommend keeping this to immediate family members or the ones you are closest with. We can do always do more group photos during the reception that are more relaxed and not so formal.
3. Tell the people who are in the photos what time and where to meet for family photos. I recommend telling them to be there 15 minutes early that way everyone is there on time :)
4. Have someone from each side of the family that knows everyone to round everyone up and make sure no one is missing.
5. Consult the parents about which photos are must have’s for them that way we aren’t adding any photos the day of and everyone can relax knowing we aren’t going to miss anything.
Wedding Party Photos
This time is dedicated to you guys and the people you have chosen to be by your side! If everyone is getting ready at different locations make sure they know when and where to arrive, so they don’t miss photos. I usually schedule 15-30 minutes for bride + bridesmaids, another 15-30 for groom + groomsmen and then at least 15 minutes for everyone together.
During this time we’ll do both groups and individuals with the bridesmaids and groomsmen and then everyone all together. We’ll do some traditional, creative, candid and fun photos! Don’t forget the bridal bouquets and towel to dry them off, so that we don’t get wet spots on the dresses.
Bride and Groom Portraits
Easily one of my favorite parts of the day because your love and emotions are so strong from just saying I do! This is one of the few times you’ll be alone together and it so valuable. I’ve found that couples are able to fully relax and be in the moment when it is just the two of you (and photographer/videographer). If you are not doing a first look a minimum of 30 minutes is needed and I try to schedule 45-60 minutes to allow for some walking around. If you are doing a first look 30 minutes is a perfect amount of time because we’ll also do some photos after the first look. I like to schedule B&G portraits right before sunset because it gives off this gorgeous, golden sunlight and you’ll absolutely love! We’ll do some individual photos of each one of you and then there will be lots of hugging, kissing, smiles, nuzzling, looking at each other…pretty much being the lovey, dovey couple that you are :)
It’s time to hit the dance floor! If you are bustling your dress make sure you have a few people trained on how to do it and practice it. I’ve seen many brides waiting 30+ minutes trying to figure out how to bustle the dress.
When you’re finally announced Mr. & Mrs. I want to see those move, so don’t be afraid to celebrate and let loose!
I take a 30 minute break at the same time you sit down for dinner, so please be sure to include me and my 2nd photographer and assistant (if applicable) in your final count for the caterer.
Make sure you don’t start any events (cake cutting, first dance, parent dance, garter/bouquet, etc.) without me being there. I may be off taking guest photos, so don’t start anything without me :)
I love toasts because it’s so wonderful to hear all the amazing things your family and friends have to say about you guys! Remember to have them stand next you to when they are speaking so we can get everyone in one photos and don’t be afraid to hug them after. If you are having many people speak during toast time remember to tell them to keep it short and sweet and be sure to talk to your DJ about realistic timeline for this.
I love walking around and grabbing photos of your guests with each other, so I try to get photos of every guest, but I cannot guarantee that I’ll get everyone. I’m happy to take photos of your guests, so please tell them to grab me if the want a photo. It’s also a great time to get group photos with friends! A tip is to have one person in charge of gathering everyone and then once everyone is there come grab me to take the photo.
Be ready to get down on the dance floor! I love dancing and celebrating with you guys and your family and friends, so be sure to bring your best moves :)
If you are doing a grand exit or we are staging it please give me 10 minutes to set up my lighting and let me give you the go ahead on when to come through!
The day will fly by, so soak in every moment and be truly present.
Rain is always a possibility…even in Arizona so make sure to have an alternative plan (inside options, umbrellas, etc.) or embrace the rain and stand out in it :)
Don’t get a spray tan. It can come off looking orange in photos!
Have food in your getting ready room and eat it because it will be awhile until you’re able to eat at the reception.
Share timeline and contact info with people in charge and family/wedding party that way if someone needs to reach someone they can do it without bothering you.
Create a check list of things you need to bring to the wedding! You can download the one I used here and just plug in the stuff that works for you: https://www.dropbox.com/s/4xfkpurl5f3ulzn/Wedding%20Day%20Checklist.docx?dl=0
Creating a wedding day timeline can relieve so much stress the day of the wedding and there are so many benefits to having a pre planned timeline! During our consultation we will talk about timeline options and create a rough draft for you, so you can see exactly how your day is going to go. There are some key factors that go into creating a timeline that works best for you guys.
1. What time does the sunset? I like to do B&G portraits around 30 minutes before sunset, so we can get the most beautiful golden light. Once you know when the sunsets you can make sure you set your ceremony time accordingly.
2. Are you doing a first look? A First Look is when a bride and groom see one another before the wedding ceremony in a very special and moment. Opponents of a first look usually make their decision based on firmly rooted tradition. But what if the first look is the new tradition? What if the reaction you're seeking during those magical moments while you're walking down the aisle isn't diminished by a first look, but rather enhanced? Read more about a first look here: http://www.brookemarcellablog.com/2016/04/05/benefits-cons-first-look-wedding-tips/
3. Are you traveling a lot throughout the day? Meaning is prep at one location, ceremony at another, and reception at a different one. Drive time can be one of the biggest time sucks in a wedding day because you are not only accounting for the actual time driving, but gathering everyone to and from the vehicle. I recommend limiting it to one travel time if possible because you don’t want to waste your coverage driving. It can also add to the stress of the day making sure everyone knows where and when they are supposed to be.