Say hello to the ultimate Wedding Guide
Your tool to making good wedding choices. Not sure when to tell your hair and makeup artist to show up? I got you. No clue what family groupings you should include? No problem. Confused on the order of events? I’m here to help! I created this guide to help brides plan the most relaxed and organized wedding possible based on their vision and make the right decisions for the greatest pictures. Let’s do this!
Shooting your details are the first thing that happens on a wedding day. You can include as few or as many items as you’d like, and you can find a list of all recommended items below. More time for details allows more creativity (such as hanging your dress is a prime spot, more detailed flat-lays, and more variety in general). I suggest at least 45 minutes if we’ll also be photographing the ceremony and/or reception locations at this time as well. This is also a really good time for your HMUA to be finishing up your makeup application if you’ll have on-location artists so I can bounce back and forth between details and you.
I will almost always take your details to a spot outdoors or somewhere within your venue near a window for the best lighting, so I suggest placing all of your details in a bag ahead of time. This also means I don’t have to rifle through your things when I get there and you don’t have to worry about gathering things up the day of!
Special Note from Groom
Gifts for Bridesmaids
Gift from Groom
Custom Wedding Hanger
Matching Wedding Hangers for Bridesmaid Dresses
Wedding Invitation Suite (Save the Date, Envelope, Invitation, RSVP, Stamp(s), Inserts, Food Card, Directions, etc.)
Matching Bridesmaid Robes, Shirts, etc.
Gift from Bride
Gifts for Groomsmen
Leftover Centerpiece Decor
Leftover Ceremony Decor
Your hair and makeup is done, the champagne is out, and it’s almost time to get married! It’s best to choose a location with plenty of windows and natural light (we usually end up turning off all lights in the room because they can turn the skin yellow or orange in photos) and it’s super important to keep the area spotless so there aren’t bags/shoes/clothes/makeup etc. in the background. I suggest hiding everyone’s bags in a separate room, a closet, or under the bed, making the bed, and clearing tables of all items (alarm clocks, phones, chargers, drinks, etc.).
It’s common during prep time to cover the following things: bridesmaids getting ready, you getting in your dress, putting on your jewelry, shoes, perfume, etc., bridal portraits of you solo, individuals of you with each of your bridesmaids, and formal portraits of your whole group of ladies. The more time we have for this, the more relaxed your morning will be and the more portraits we’ll be able to get done. If you’ve chosen a package with 2 photographers, the same thing will be happening with your future hubby at the same time. If I’m your only photographer, this typically happens first and then I move on to work with the guys afterward. Also, you can start thinking about if you’d like to do a first look with your dad, bridesmaids, or anyone else during this time.
As far as your makeup application goes, I always suggest getting airbrush makeup done! It’s natural-looking, covers up all imperfections, photographs beautifully, and lasts much longer than traditional makeup (15 hours or more!). It’s also a life-saver for hot or rainy weddings where sweat or water could literally melt your face off. If you choose to have traditional makeup done, that’s totally fine!
There are so 👏🏻many 👏🏻benefits to doing a first look. Firstly, any chance I get to take additional portraits of you and your hunny, I’m going to take it. It’s a great additional to your gallery! Secondly, it can really help calm those wedding jitters if you’re feeling anxious, it gives you a chance to get out any emotions before your ceremony, and it’s also a great chance to read private letters or vows ahead of time/exchange any gifts you have for each other. It also guarantees a direct line of sight for us as photographers without the possibility of phones and iPads blocking our view as you walk down the aisle. Lastly, it allows us to accomplish so many more portraits ahead of the ceremony so there’s less to squeeze into our limited time between the ceremony and reception, such as wedding party portraits, family portraits, and/or additional portraits of the two of you. Keep in mind that if you want to do most of your portraits before your ceremony, you’ll still likely want to be hidden by the time guests start arriving (roughly 30 minutes early) so we’ll need a good chunk of time. I’m such a huge advocate for the first look, but if you want to opt out of this and stay more traditional, I love that, too!
It’s time to get married! Your ceremony can be as short or as long as you’d like. It’s always a good idea to ask guests to put their phones away for an unplugged ceremony because people leaning into the aisle and blocking our shot is no joke. You can choose to have a grand exit after your ceremony, row dismissal, or a hello line (or something else!).
This usually happens immediately after your ceremony has ended because, well, it’s easy for everyone. Everyone is in the same place, nobody has to show up early, and it doesn’t take away from your morning prep time. However, it can also be done right before your ceremony under certain circumstances. Either is great!
It’s so important to have a list of family portrait groupings prior to your wedding. It allows me to call people out by name, differentiate between families/spouses and be aware of divorces/separations, guarantees we don’t miss anything, and cuts down the time it takes to complete these portraits tenfold so we can get back to shooting with you. Below is a sample list for reference! I always suggest involving immediate family only to stay true to the KISS rule (keep it super simple, yo!), and I almost always start with grandparents and children so they can be done first.
Bride, Groom, Flower Girl(s), Ring Bearer
Bride, Groom, Bride’s Grandparents
Bride, Bride’s Grandparents
Bride, Bride’s Grandma
Bride, Bride’s Grandpa
Bride, Groom, Groom’s Grandparents
Groom, Groom’s Grandparents
Groom, Groom’s Grandma
Groom, Groom’s Grandpa
Bride, Groom, Bride’s Parents, Bride’s Siblings
Bride, Groom, Bride’s Parents, Bride’s Siblings and Spouses + Children
Bride, Groom, Bride’s Parents
Bride, Bride’s Parents
Bride, Bride’s Mom
Bride, Bride’s Dad
Bride, Bride’s Siblings
Bride, Groom, Groom’s Parents, Groom’s Siblings
Bride, Groom, Groom’s Parents, Groom’s Siblings and Spouses + Children
Bride, Groom, Groom’s Parents
Groom, Groom’s Parents
Groom, Groom’s Mom
Groom, Groom’s Dad
Groom, Groom’s Siblings
Wedding Party Portraits
These can be done either before of after your ceremony. In most cases we will already have all of your individuals and separate groups taken care of, so this section of the day would be with the full wedding party together. I suggest 45 minutes if your wedding party will be larger than 12 people total, including the two of you, because it simply takes more time to coordinate larger groups.
Bride & Groom Portraits
This is the most important part of the day. Weddings can get overwhelming and it’s easy to lose sight of what’s most important in the heat of the moment. It’s key to leave plenty of portrait time in your timeline to make absolute sure you get plenty of images! These are the photos you’ll be hanging on your wall, after all.
I suggest scheduling these right before your reception so we have the most prime lighting – the sun is lower and the light is softer than it was before your ceremony. It’s also best to choose locations nearby for all portraits so we spend less time traveling and have more time shooting.
Once your reception begins, I typically stay long enough to cover all of the events (i.e. first dance, cake cutting, speeches, bouquet and garter toss, etc.) and at least 30 minutes of guests dancing. I always chat with the DJ when they arrive and let them know when our coverage ends so we make sure to get everything finished within our time frame. If there’s anything special happening during the reception that I need to know about (flash mob, surprise rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’, wedding party dance, choreographed first dance, etc.), I prefer to know ahead of time in case we’re off shooting other things. We always like to be prepared!
If you’ve booked 8 hours of coverage or more, we do require a meal and will be eating at the same time as you so we can be finished and ready to get back to work by the time you’re done. If you’re having buffet, we’re totally cool with grabbing our food and sitting somewhere quiet (the hallway, a separate room, etc.). We don’t need to be included in the seating chart and prefer to find somewhere to sit away from the commotion! If you’re having a plated meal, we don’t mind being in the seating chart if it makes it easier for you. However, we’re totally fine with grabbing one of the servers to give them a heads up and sitting elsewhere.
If you’re having a winter wedding this won’t be an option, but for all of my summer weddings this is a great opportunity to catch some last-minute rays (AKA the best sun of the day) and snag some extra portraits to add to the gallery! I typically squeeze this in either immediately after you’ve finished your dinner but before any speeches begin OR between events during the reception if sunset is a bit later. Either way, I try to plan this roughly 30–45 minutes before the actual sunset time in case we’re running late, it’s cloudy and therefore gets dark earlier than normal, or there are objects that will block the sun if it gets too low such as buildings or trees. This is just a quick trip outside and I’ll get you back before your guests even realize you’re gone.
THE BIG PICTURE
Here’s everything I’ve explained rolled into a complete 8-hour wedding day timeline. I suggest starting with the time of sunset on your wedding day, matching that up with your sunset portrait time (30–45 minutes beforehand), and working backward from there. If you have to have a specific ceremony start time based on your venue’s availability, I suggest starting with that ceremony time and working backward and forward from there.
12:30–1:00 pm Details
1:00–2:45 pm Wedding Party Gets Ready
2:45–3:00 pm First Look
3:00–3:30 pm Wedding Party Portraits
3:30–4:00 pm Guests Start Arriving
4:00–4:30 pm Ceremony
4:30–5:00 pm Family Portraits
5:00–5:45 pm Portraits with Bride & Groom
5:45–6:00 pm Prep for Announcements
6:00 pm Reception Begins
6:15–7:00 pm Dinner
7:00–7:15 pm Sunset Portraits with Bride & Groom
7:15 pm Reception Events
8:00–8:30 pm Guests Dancing
8:30 pm Photography Ends