Below is very helpful information to help you maximize your photography time on your wedding day! Please read each section and feel free to email me with any questions!
WHEN TO START YOUR CEREMONY
The majority of my clients hire me for natural light portraits. Getting those portraits usually depend on the ceremony time. The perfect time for your ceremony, whether indoors or outdoors, is almost always advised on two factors:
1. Are you wanting to do a first look?
2. What time is the sunset on your wedding day?
Once you have these two things figured out, you can read below to find the best way to time your wedding ceremony! For tips on whether or not to have a first look, click here. For sunset times, click here.
INDOOR WEDDING CEREMONY AND RECEPTION, NO FIRST LOOK:
Make sure you leave a minimum of 1 hour between the END of your ceremony and sunset time for full wedding party, bride and groom, and family portraits. If you are only going to have one hour, we will start with bride and groom and full wedding party FIRST, so make sure to have your officiant tell your family to stay seated while we go outside!
OUTDOOR WEDDING CEREMONY AND RECEPTION, NO FIRST LOOK:
Make sure you leave a minimum of 1-2 hours between the END of your ceremony and sunset time for full wedding party, bride and groom, and family portraits. If you are only going to have one hour, we will start with bride and groom and full wedding party FIRST, so make sure to have your officiant tell your family to stay seated while we go outside! Usually it is better for me to have more light after the ceremony when it is outdoors so that I can capture your reception details!
INDOOR CEREMONY, FIRST LOOK:
Unless you really want all your extended family photos outside, it does not matter when you start your ceremony, as long as there is plenty of daylight for us to get your portraits finished before the ceremony!
OUTDOOR CEREMONY, FIRST LOOK:
This can be the trickiest, depending on what time of the year it is. If you are getting married mid-summer outdoors, I would plan on having at least 30 minutes-1 hour of sunlight after the ceremony ends, because before the ceremony the light can be harsh for bride and groom portraits. That will also give us sunlight for any remaining family portraits. In winter, early spring, or late fall, the light is angled and still soft enough where we can get everything finished beforehand, so I would plan on having your ceremony end 30 minutes before sunset at the very latest.
OPTIMIZING YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY TIME
Weddings are all VERY different and have very different dynamics. Here are some quick tricks to getting the best use of your photography time based on what I have seen in the past! The timeline we work on together is important, but don't stress if we are not on schedule! It ALWAYS works out! :)
- Putting all your details in one place for me to grab that need to be documented before you get ready is CLUTCH! If you don't want to worry about it, put your maid-of-honor or someone responsible in charge! Make sure and let me know what details are sentimental or important to you on your wedding day questionnaire!
- Make sure and communicate with me before the wedding to ensure we can put your dress on in a place with natural light! Even if we have to stage it, it makes a huge difference in the quality of your photos!
- Hair and makeup vendors are usually the ones that run over on time. My guess for this reason is that they usually are not sticking around, so they care less about the timeline (which is really important to the majority of the other vendors)! Some of my brides do makeup and hair off-site; most have them on-site. Either way, I recommend about a 30-45 minute buffer of additional time to ensure you are not running over for putting your dress on and portraits! As far as the order of hair and makeup, it is DEFINITELY most important that you are done in time for portraits, it's less important that you are the one to go last out of everyone! If anything, go earlier and have touch-ups!
- You will get better groomsmen getting ready photos if the boys are in the same place as the bridal party is (I don't mean the same room! Just the same area, without having to drive anywhere).
- Make sure your bridesmaids are ready and dressed before you put your dress on!
- If you have a large bridal party (IE- more than 6 girls as bridesmaids)- I would recommend only getting ready with your sister(s), mom, maid-of-honor, etc- IE, those that are especially close to you! Then after you are ready, you can do a big reveal with your other girlfriends! It makes for great photos and will help you remain stress-free, especially if you are in a smaller room to get ready.
- Make sure your immediate family (parents and siblings) are dressed, and on-site for your individual portrait times (bride with bridesmaids and immediate family as well as groom, groomsmen and family, OR if there's a first look we can do all family photos). Individual photos of the bride with her family and the groom with his family are usually the ones that get left out when family has not arrived on time, because by the time family portraits roll around after the ceremony, everyone is just ready to get to the reception!
- For the groom- if you have anything sentimental (a gift, card, cool cuff links, bow ties, groomsmen gifts)- make sure to NOT put those things on until we get there to shoot you getting ready as well
- We recommend having an unplugged ceremony, for many, many reasons!! In an age where technology and smart phones are king, we are finding that guests are spending less and less time watching your ceremony and more and more time attempting to document it. Having your officiant make an announcement prior to the ceremony is the most efficient way of ensuring this happens. After the ceremony, tell your guests to instagram away!
- For indoor ceremonies, we will abide by all rules and generally stay behind the last guest that is seated, unless there are side aisles. We will not go on stage or distract from your ceremony in any way to ensure the sanctity of your union.
- For outdoor ceremonies, if it feels appropriate, we will take the liberty to move around more to capture what we feel like is the best angle for your photos, while maintaining respect and attempting to be as non-distracting as possible. Please know that our cameras do make a tiny bit of noise, especially when rewinding.
For family portraits, it takes about 20-25 minutes for the standard set, which includes:
- Bride's extended family (both mom and dad's side unless it is large)
- Bride's immediate family with grandparents
- Bride's grandparents
- Bride's parents and siblings
- Bride's parents
- B + G, both sets of parents
- Both sets of parents and siblings
- Groom's extended family
- Groom's immediate family with grandparents
- Groom's grandparents
- Groom's parents and siblings
- Groom's parents
If you want anything additional to this, please let me know on your Wedding Day Details questionnaire!
I have found it to be more beneficial for your guests to stick it out to the end if you space out your ceremony events by about 30 minutes or so. It is traditionally (and I use this word lightly because there are less and less traditions at weddings these days) "good etiquette" for guests to stay until cake cutting- so the majority of the guests that WILL be leaving before your exit will leave around this time. For this reason, I don't recommend doing your cake cutting extremely early, unless your friends and parents' friends really love to stay and cut a rug! With that being said- I've never had a "grand exit" that didn't have enough people to make it a good photo opportunity. :)
Unless you are doing a grand exit and want us to stay for it, we recommend having us there for around 30 minutes of dancing after your last reception event (IE- bouquet toss, toasts or speeches, family dances, hora, etc.) that you want documented.