What to Expect
Here we will go over what our couples can expect the day of their wedding, as well as go over some tips and things to think about when planning the big day. We've been in the industry for nearly 25 years, and we have seen pretty much everything. We know what works and we can help you plan your day so that you'll get the most out of your photography coverage. If you take these guidelines into consideration, we can help make sure that things run as smoothly as possible and you can enjoy every minute of the big day! If there are any specific photos you'd like to make sure your photographers get during the day, make sure you give our office a list so that they will be prepared to capture those photos at the wedding.
The Big Day
On the big day, the lead photographer will start with bride where she is getting ready and the assistant will start with the groom where he is getting ready, or at the location of the ceremony. If you're not planning to do a first look, it is always a good idea to make sure you plan for the photography coverage to start at least one hour before the ceremony. If the getting ready locations are not in the sane location as where the ceremony is taking place then you'll want to factor those travel times in and start earlier.
When the lead photographer arrives at the location where the bride is getting ready, he/she will begin by taking a few photos of you getting your makeup and hair finished. Then they will spend about 15-20 minutes taking photos of your dress, shoes, bouquet, all three rings (engagement ring and the two wedding bands), as well as any other accessories you may have (jewelry, garter, invitation, etc). Have these things all laid out together in a safe place so that when the photographer arrives they won't waste any time by getting everything together. Make sure your dress is hanging (in a doorway or a window if possible) so that the photographer can take pictures of it as well. Make sure the florist knows to bring the bouquets to your getting ready location, and if possible deliver the boutonnieres to the guys. Try to keep the room you will be getting ready in as clean and free of clutter as possible so that there aren't any distracting items in the background of your photos as your getting ready.
If possible, the bridesmaids should start getting dressed when the photographer arrives, that way they can help you get in to your dress. The photographer will take photos of you getting in to your dress, but if you prefer, the photographer can leave the room until you have the dress on and are ready to zip it or tie it up. If the dress is a corset, make sure that at least two people who are with you know how to tie it up. It's a good idea to have mom and your maid of honor go to the fitting with you so that they know what to do. You may also consider adding an extra 15 minutes in to the hour before the ceremony if the dress is a corset because it does take longer. The photographer will take photos of you putting your shoes, and jewelry on, and when you are finished getting ready the photographer will take about 15 minutes to take portraits of the bride by herself.
The groom and his groomsmen should plan to be dressed and ready to go about an hour before the ceremony (or first look). If you'd like to have photos of the groom getting ready, just make sure that the groom and his groomsmen at least have their pants and shirts on when the assistant photographer reports to the guys. They will take the photos that tell the story, putting the cuff links on, tying the tie, putting on the shoes, etc. The photographer can help the groomsmen with their pocket squares and boutonnieres (if they have them). Once the guys are ready, the photographer will take group photos of the guys as well as each groomsmen individually with the groom. If the getting ready location is at a hotel separate from where the ceremony will take place, then these photos can be done upon arrival to the church or wedding venue. Factor in travel time if necessary. It is important that the guys all stick together upon arriving to the church /venue so the photographer doesn't waste any time rounding everyone up. The assistant will use any remaining time in the hour before the ceremony to get photos of the reception hall.
Determine how long the ceremony will be and if you decide to have any special events (sand ceremonies, rose ceremonies, etc) or any other things that are out of the ordinary, make sure the photographer knows about it so they can be prepared to capture it. When exchanging rings, try to do it in a way that the photographers are able to capture it. Sometimes people have a tendency to turn towards the JP or pastor and the photographers can't get a good shot of the exchange. If you decide to have a receiving line immediately following the ceremony, it is important that you factor in at least 15-20 minutes to get through everyone. If you do not want to have a receiving line, make sure you, your family, and the wedding party go to location where you will be hidden from guests so that it doesn't turn in to one and take up valuable time. If the bride and groom hang around the ceremony site, guests will stay put rather than proceeding to the cocktail hour. Once the ceremony is over, the clock starts ticking and the photographers only have 45 minutes to an hour to get all of the formal pictures done. If guests are hanging around, it can make it very difficult for the photographers to gather the family for formal photos, and they will be competing with guests for attention because they will want to take photos too and everyone's eyes will be looking in different directions.
Formals / Cocktail Hour
If you did not have a first look, the photographers will use cocktail hour to get all of the formal photos done. This includes the photos of the bride and groom together, the wedding party, and the immediate family of the bride and groom (grandparents, parents, and siblings). You may also want to get photos with aunts and uncles or other extended family, but depending on how large of a group it is, we may recommend doing those photos later on during the reception to keep things on time.
After the ceremony, it is imperative that the family and wedding party stick together so that the photographers don't need to round anyone up when it comes time to take their photos. Make sure that the wedding party is ready to listen to and cooperate with the photographers so that things can run smoothly. The photographers won't know the names of everyone, so it helps if someone in the wedding party can be responsible to have a list of all of the family members so that they can call names and the photographers can place them where they need to be. Make sure to let us know if there are any family members that do not get along.
After the family is done, the photographers will take photos of the wedding party, and then focus on just the bride and groom. The photographers will utilize any grounds that they can and try to capture a variety of different posed as well as candid photos.
Typically the order of events for the reception will go as follow: Introductions, first dance, toasts, then dinner. The cake cutting ceremony will either happen after salad, or following dinner. Parent dances, garter/bouquet toss and other festivities will follow. Photography coverage does not pause during dinner. If meals are provided, the photographers will take turns eating, otherwise they will take candid photos of you as you go from table to table and talk to guests. Depending on how the night goes, if the photographers are scheduled to leave after dark they may try to take you outside again for night time photos using specialty lighting. This of course depends on how much extra time there is during the reception. We recommend booking enough coverage to get through to the hour before the reception ends. This ensures that the photographers will be able to cover all of the important events that happen throughout the night and get photos of you dancing with your guests.