As you can probably imagine, we've been to a fair number of weddings. Here's some things we've learned that can help you make the most of the day, and the photos:
I really like to spend 1-2 hours photographing my couples on their wedding day. This can be split up into 3 half-hour sessions...first look, couple photos, sunset photos, or in a couple sessions.
Some common questions -
It takes about a half hour to photograph your bridal party if we don't have to factor in driving to a different location.
Plan on about the same (30 minutes) for your family, too. Assuming no one wanders off (which tends to happen) and that they are all there on time.
I typically like to shoot wedding party and family before the couple photos, depending on the light and time of year. That way the family and your wedding party can go relax while you do the hard work of loving each other and looking awesome in front of the camera.
- Couple photos are an intimate time perfect for you two to connect in the midst of the often-hectic wedding day. It really works best if it's just the three of us (i.e. no planners, bridesmaids or mothers, etc). I tend to feel that couples are more comfortable in front of the camera when there isn't an audience around, and you can just focus on being with one another.
If finding parking - especially in the city - is going to be difficult, it's super helpful if you have valet parking reserved (or anything else expedient) so I'm not delayed getting to you for photos.
If we're driving around to different locations for photos I typically drive myself in my car, but if there's room in a limo or party bus I'd love to be on it - more photos!
FOR THE BLUSHING BRIDE:
Getting ready photos are where you're wedding story begins. So many great moments and memories are created here and having great lighting can help in capturing this time in the best way. Large windows with a lot of natural light coming in is ideal. Light walls are even better as it reflects the light. Some hotels can be full of no smoking signs, smoke detectors, and other less-than-photogenic things; so if you don't find a hotel that fits the vibe of the photos you want, consider looking at AirBNBs or other vacation rentals.
Wait to put on lipstick and possibly your mascara until I arrive, as well as the veil and shoes. If I'm there to photograph the getting ready part of the day, don't finish getting ready before we can shoot any of it. :)
Have your accessories all laid out in one location so I can grab shots of them when I arrive, before you put them on. That way I don't have to interrupt you, and it just keeps things flowing smoothly.
If you'd like your invitation photographed, please bring that and hand it to me at the beginning of the day. It can be nice to have it addressed in your names.
- If you're writing your own vows, consider writing them out before the day of your wedding. This saves time during the getting ready portion when you're already pressed for time.
Make sure you keep a portion of your getting ready room tidy for the photos of you putting on your dress. This is what you will look back on and you might not want the photo to be full of suitcases, hangers, and clothes on the floor. If you can, secure a new space/room for just this time that's over the top good. On that note:
The more natural light the better!
Awesome wedding dresses deserve more attractive hangers than the flimsy clear plastic ones. I suggest a solid wood one.
If there is time, set aside 5-10 minutes for a few quiet photos of you in your dress, before you head out for the first look.
If you have bangs, I suggest pinning them back for the day, or prior to the ceremony. This is so your guests and me can see your profile and your face is not covered by them in all of your photos.
Feel free to put those rings on early for your first look and couple portraits if you want your rings to be on your hands in photos.
FOR THE DAPPER GROOM:
Please wait to put on the bow ties, ties, give groomsmen their gifts, etc. until I or the second shooter can get to your room. Feel free to have everything else on though.
Before photos get going, put your boutonnière on (if you have one). It's one of those things that's really easy to forget.
Please suggest that all your family members are in one central location earlier than you actually want them there, so if there's a late arriver it won't throw your schedule off. I'd say 15-30 minutes early is good.
Remember to leave around a half hour for me to go capture detail shots before wedding guests start arriving and shifting them around.
To avoid looking off-center in all of your ceremony photos, we suggest during your rehearsal putting down a tiny piece of tape where each of you should stand. On your wedding day, just make sure to stand on those spots and you'll be nice and symmetrical.
In terms of light, the best time for your ceremony is a few hours before sunset.
When you're setting up your ceremony space, please make sure to leave enough room on the sides and front for me to move around and get the best photos I can.
Feel free to get creative...face your guests so they don't just see your profiles, have your guests sit in a circle around you, or even sit on blankets or benches. Use bubble guns or confetti when exiting. The sky is the limit so feel free to put your creative touch on it.
First kiss! This is a special moment and it's even better when it's just the two of you in the photo... Consider telling your officiant ahead of time to please step to the side if possible.
It's worth keeping in mind where the microphones are placed so they are not obtrusive to the photo. No one wants 100 photos of a mic stand.
We strongly suggest that if you have large speakers set up at the ceremony to not have them directly up at the front by the altar so they aren't in all of the photos, unless you're into that. Instead, have them off to the sides a bit more, if feasible.
Even indoor ceremonies can take advantage of natural light (sometimes). Good photos are all about light, so it's definitely worth paying attention to the lighting in the ceremony location.
If possible, it's great when guests keep their technology to a minimum at the ceremony, or better yet opt for an "unplugged" ceremony so there aren't a bunch of cell phones looking back at you when you look out over your crowd. Not only is it awesome for you guys to look out during the ceremony and see the faces of your loved ones, instead of a sea of cell phones; but some folks get a little overzealous with their Instagramming ... it can be tough to get a good photo of the bride walking down the aisle when your second favorite aunt is standing in the aisle firing away with her iPad.
Please tell your caterers to have me eat at the same time you do, as well as the same food you and your guest do. As delicious as soggy sandwiches are, I do better work with good food in me. Eating at the same time as you ensures that I can get fueled up, but also so I'm done before you - meaning I'm ready to keep photographing speeches, dances, etc. and not miss a beat.
I love to have at least 20-30 minutes with my couples during "golden hour." The best light is going to be 30 to 45 minutes prior to sunset. If your wedding is in the mountains, plan on 45 minutes to an hour prior. This tends to fall during cocktail or dinner hour at most weddings, or sometimes around toasts. If your toasts are around sunset, we strongly suggest doing sunset photos before starting toasts to ensure you don't miss the sunset. You'll love these photos!
Colorful DJ lights add some sweet ambiance to the dance party. They also are great at making your skin tone look like Barney the dinosaur, or an Oompa Loompa. I'd recommend keeping them off during your first dance, and any other "formal" dances, then firing them back up when it's time to really shake it out.
Getaway photos: Please let me know ahead of time if you're planning on doing something fun here...Japanese lanterns, sparklers, glow sticks, confetti, balloons etc. I want to make sure I'm in the right spot to capture the last moments before you depart as Mr. & Mrs. Feel free to kiss too, right before you get in the car. Just sayin'...
FOR A RAINY DAY:
Bring umbrellas. There's a great place to rent them from called Bella Umbrella - they're a big step up from an old golf umbrella. If you don't rent or buy them there, try to stick with a consistent style/color.
Feel free to bring clear plastic garbage bags for your wedding dress to sit on if you're worried about your dress getting wet or dirty. If you're not worried about it, several high fives for you.
Some fun rain boots, like some quality Hunters and/or a fun plaid or Pendleton blanket to snuggle up in for a few portraits can always be a fun option.
PHOTO DELIVERY TIMEFRAME:
As a friendly reminder - and stated in your contract - wedding photos are delivered between 6-10 weeks. In the busiest times of the year, 8-10 weeks is more average.
- Please have any vendors you're working with reach out to me directly to discuss getting photos if they're interested.
A HELPFUL ARTICLE BY MARTHA STEWART WEDDINGS: