Your Wedding Guidebook
There are a lot of different ways to have your wedding and so many suggestions out there.
Here’s a relatively simple guide that can help us both make sure you have AN AWESOME DAY.
BEFORE YOUR BIG DAY
LIGHTING. From Getting Ready to your Ceremony, having the right light is essential. Consider avoiding mid-day harsh light (noon to 3 pm is TERRIBLE) for your ceremony.
For outdoor weddings, I suggest planning your Ceremony about two hours before sunset if you are wanting a First Look. This way the light will be more romantic and no one will be squinting from the sun.
For indoor weddings and/or fall/winter weddings, consider using even light and avoid spotlights on anyone. The more access to natural light through a window, the better.
HAVE A RAIN PLAN. Especially for weddings here in the Pacific Northwest, you just never know. All I need is at least one spot with natural light. Most outdoor venues will have a rain option they can work with you on to ensure that you and your guests stay dry that day.
CONSIDER WORKING WITH A COORDINATOR. As you’ve probably been a part of other weddings, there’s a lot that happens behind-the-scenes. Even at a small wedding. I strongly suggest you work with a wedding coordinator or even ask a good, organized friend to help coordinate the day so you don’t have to. The task can often fall to the photographers, which will take away the time we can be focusing on capturing you and your guests. Even for my own 50-person surprise wedding that I planned myself, I worked with a coordinator. It was completely worth it. I didn’t have to think about anything except getting married!
TRUST YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER’S (ME) LOCATIONS. You’d be surprised where we can get some gorgeous captures of you. While it’s a good idea to have locations in mind for things like the First Look, it can really helpful to be flexible to make sure we’re in the best light possible.
CONNECT YOUR VENDORS AHEAD OF TIME. Making sure that the DJ, Photographer, and/or Videographer have communicated prior to the reception can help ensure we’re all aware of the schedule of planned festivities throughout the evening. Reception festivities vary greatly, so I should be clued in about any special events, games, speeches, dances and your Grand Exit.
DETAILS + GETTING READY
Best location: Window Light, please!!
DETAILS. The first thing I like to photograph are the small things like your jewelry, bouquet, shoes, THE RINGS, and other details that make your wedding even more unique for you. Please have these ready to go when I arrive so I don’t have to hunt for them and take away important time for the rest of your wedding photos.
What to include: Your DRESS on a cute hanger + veil, those rings (his + hers), jewelry, your invitations with an envelope included, your shoes, that cute little perfume bottle, your bouquet (if it’s ready when we arrive), etc.
KEEP YOUR SPACE TIDY + GIVE ME SOME LIGHT. Clutter makes your photos look.... NOT GOOD. Keeping bags, suitcases, trash, etc in a separate room or closet keeps the focus of the photos on what matters. You and your beautiful face. Also photos look fantastic if you are situated in front of a big window.
GET YOUR HAIR + MAKEUP DONE EARLIER. This usually takes longer than most brides expect, especially if you are sharing the same artist. I would recommend scheduling in the morning well before I’m onsite so when I arrive, I can get the last minute touch-ups and all the other important Getting Ready details.
Best location: Somewhere closely with shade and no guests around.
Totally optional. I like to offer this time when the Bride is ready in her dress and can take a few minutes to herself before heading into the First Look or Ceremony. Plan to bring your bouquet if you want.
Best location: Somewhere close-by with shade and with no one else around.
This is usually a big decision for couples if they want to do a “First Look” or just wait to see each other during the Ceremony. This is a great option to have some time together with just the two of you BEFORE you get married and to get some photos out of the way somewhere you might not otherwise have time to later. The First Look doesn’t need to be in a beautiful location. Most of the time we’ll be focused on capturing your reactions to seeing each other. And a tip! Don’t bring your bouquet as you’ll want to have your hands free to hug and hold each other.
I usually ask couples to not bring anyone with them as this is a time just for you two, and to avoid having your bridal party or even guests taking photos and posting them online before you can.
There’s also a tradition in some families to do a “Dad-Daughter First Look” right before this time.
30 minutes for Family Portraits.
20 minutes for Bridal Party Portraits.
DESIGNATE A FRIEND OR FAMILY MEMBER AND TELL YOUR VIP’S AHEAD OF TIME. Ask this person to help notify and organize these VIP’s so we quickly get through photos and on their way to enjoy the rest of your wedding. Any other family members, such as aunts or uncles, etc. can happen during the Reception.
FAMILY PORTRAITS. Let’s be honest, these can be a drag for everyone if not kept to a reasonable amount. A good balance is between 6-8 combinations. We can get them finished in 20 minutes if everyone knows where to be at what time!
THE LIST. Please provide me with a list (including first and last names) by the week or two before your wedding so I can call names and get those shots in.
BRIDAL PARTY. Totally your call. These can go before or after Family Portraits depending on who you prefer to release to your party first or who might be more impatient.
Self explanatory. Most ceremonies will start late.
OUTDOOR WEDDINGS. I strongly advise being in the same lighting as your guests (aka avoid standing inside a gazebo while everyone else is in the sun). Also for summer weddings, later ceremonies can be more forgiving light since the sun can be blinding everyone during the day. If you don’t have a choice, you are going to want it to be backlit. This means setting up your ceremony so the sun is behind you lovebirds and your officiant, and your guests are facing the sun.
MICROPHONES. Mic stands are ugly. Hand-held mics or ear-pieces aren't eyesores, go that route if you can!
BE CENTERED. If you’re OCD like me, you’ll want to make sure you’re centered in your photos. Try the 'piece of tape on the ground' trick or something else subtle to let yourselves and your wedding party know where to stand.
YOUR FIRST KISS. Also, this is great reminder to your priest / pastor/ friend marrying you to move aside when they say “you may now kiss.” I’d love to make sure to get a shot of just the two of you at that important moment.
CONSIDER GOING UNPLUGGED. Family and friends can be really enthusiastic about celebrating you and your day… by taking a ton of photos and then posting them online BEFORE you can see them. More and more, I'm seeing couples ask their guests to put their phones away and just enjoy celebrating together. It’s something to think about and communicating to your guests ahead of time if you’re okay with phones and social media posts. Here’s a fluff article on polite ways to remind your guests to enjoy your party and put down the phones.
NEWLYWED QUICK PHOTO SESH. I will likely come grab you the 10 minutes right after you’ve walked away as newlyweds. See below under Newlywed Steal Away Photos.
1 to 1.5 hours.
A great time for those candids and your guests getting started with the party. It’s also time for me and my second photographer to get those awesome shots of your Reception dinner space (without people in them) and check in with the other vendors we’re working with to make sure we’re all on the same page.
Newlyweds / Sunset Photos
10 minutes, right after your Ceremony. during your Reception…
Since this is probably one of the reasons why you hired me, let’s make these a priority together.
I recommend two separate portrait times:
Right after the ceremony during all the high of the 'WE JUST GOT MARRIED!'
Sunset/Twilight. Just you two (and well, me) getting those money shots.
The Rest of the Night.
There are a lot of things happening during this time, and we are usually running around capturing things including:
Your Grand Entrance
Welcome by Father of the Bride/Partner #1
Bouquet and Garter Tosses
All the Dances: First Dance, Father-Daughter Dance, Mother-Son Dance, Anniversary Dance, Money Dance
Large group portraits with Friends
Dinner. Our “downtime” is usually during dinner, when it’s totally not flattering to take photos of you and your guests chomping on some salmon or steak. We usually sneak off to refuel and refresh ourselves (and change batteries, etc.) to quickly get back in time for your key moments of your Reception. If possible, please let your caterer know to hand off our meal right after you get your plate so we can be present for any other special moments of your reception.
The Send-Off (aka Time for You to Escape!) // If you are planning to have an official “Send Off”, it’s again helpful to designate your Wedding Coordinator or family/friend to help gather your guests in a specific area ready to help send you off as Newlyweds. OR… you can also do a “Controlled Exit” where we grab a few of your wedding party and friends while you pretend to exit. It can save you some time and money to get that “Send Off” shot without waiting to the very end of the night.
POST WEDDING STUFF
Your Online Gallery
SHARING + COPYRIGHT
BACKUP THOSE IMAGES
I usually send a Sneak Peek to you sometime the week after your wedding. Please expect at 2-3 weeks for an email from me with the rest of your images. I will need that time to go through the thousands of images taken, cull the good ones, edit, export, and then import your photos into your gallery.
Once you get that special email, you’re welcome to share and/or print your images. I do not watermark since I hate how it looks, so thank you for making sure to credit my work if you do share these. It means a lot to me, and I’m so thankful that you’ve trusted me with capturing your day.
Your gallery will expire 1 year after your wedding so you have plenty of time to download the entire set and back-up on your computer. Just in time to eat that old wedding cake in the freezer, if you’re into that.
Last but not least, a huge thanks for trusting me as your photographer for your big day. I know, it’s a lot of pressure but I’m up for the challenge. ;) As you probably know already, your wedding will come and go in a day but your marriage will last much longer. The most important part of all this is you two. Make time together even through all this crazy wedding planning stuff. And if you need anything, please reach out to me. I’m rooting for you guys for a lifetime of adventures together!
Also, if I’m missing anything here, make sure I get that Wedding Day Questionnaire from you and let’s make sure we chat about it at our next check-in.
SEE YOU SOON!