Wedding days are all so different. Each one is unique and caters to each bride and groom. In my experience in photographing weddings, I have curated this guide to help you prepare and plan your wedding day. Each part of your wedding day deserves to be captured to its fullest.
I am here to help make the process of coordinating your day that much easier. My goal is for you to build trust in me, so come the wedding day, you are certain, and confident in my abilities as a photographer, but also as your number one go-to girl. Planning a wedding is stressful, but I want to make this process as stress-free as I can.
I have outlined every part of a typical wedding day, so you can paint a picture in your head of how the day will flow, and how much time will be spent on each special part.
Timeline with a First Look
BRDIAL PREP - 120 MINUTES
BRIDAL DETAILS - 45 MINUTES
When I arrive, I start with bridal details. In my experience, it takes me about 45 minutes to an hour to photograph the bride’s details (dress, shoes, rings, jewelry, perfume, invitations, bouquet etc.) thoroughly and with plenty of variety. From there, I spend the remainder of the time taking candids of the bride and bridesmaids hanging out in their robes and getting final touches of hair and makeup.
GETTING DRESSED - 45 MINUTES
We allow 45 minutes for the bride to get on her dress for a few reasons. First, sometimes we show up and the bride has more details and photo requests than she originally included in her wedding day questionnaire, like photos of her and her bridesmaids popping champagne on the bed, for example, or a gift from the groom that she’d like special pictures of, or even a first look with her Dad that she didn’t know or decide she wanted until the morning of her wedding. If that happens, we’ve built 15 extra minutes of pad time into this section, so that extra requests won’t put us behind. Second, sometimes there’s a snag with the dress, or the bridesmaids all want to have their hair and makeup touched up one more time, or something else that sets back the timeline at the last minute.
During this time, your second photographer will be showing up and photographing your groom getting ready.
15 - MINUTES
If we get the bride and groom dressed and out the door on time, we’ve found that it takes about fifteen minutes to stage the first look. Even if the first look spot is close to the getting ready room, we never want to underestimate how long it takes for a bride to walk in her heavy gown, long veil and high heel.
Even though the actual first look moment only takes a few minutes, we like to give our couples 15 minutes for this so the bride and groom have a chance to see each other, embrace, talk for a bit, soak it all in, retouch makeup (if needed) and finish early — which gives us more portrait time!
PORTRAITS - 120 MINUTES
COUPLE PORTRAITS - 45 MINUTES
Immediately following your first look, we will spend some intimate time for your couple portraits. You two are the happiest with just seeing each other, and I love to capture that energy before we bring your bridal party out.
INDIVIDUAL PORTRAITS - 15 MINUTES
We will also photograph individual photos of just the bride and just the groom during this time as well. Full length, close up, and details of your flowers, and details.
BRIDESMAIDS - 10 MINUTES
We always start with the girls because a) they’re the most excited, b) we want them with fresh hair and makeup and c) if we go a little longer with them, it’s easy to make up time with the guys later. We begin with individual photos of the bride and each of her bridesmaids. From there, we get several distinct poses with the whole group, as well as supplementary detail shots of their bouquets.
FULL BRIDAL PARTY - 10 MINUTES
We do this in the middle so that the girls don’t have to wait around for the guys. Also, so the guys can bring chairs from the ceremony site if it’s a large bridal party. I typically try to get three disctinct poses with the full bridal party (girls on one side, guys on the other, boy-girl-boy-girl, and a fun mixed one) and I'll ask them to do different things where they’re standing to give us more variety for your final gallery. If they’re a smaller group, we’re able to mix it up more in a shorter amount of time.
GROOMSMEN- 10 MINUTES
This runs just like the girls’ section. We do individuals first and then the whole group.
FAMILY- 30 MINUTES
We allocate 30 minutes for immediate family photos as close to the ceremony start time as possible, but with enough time so that the guests haven’t arrived yet. I will work with you before the wedding to create a printed list of all family members and groupings to help us run through family combinations quickly.
BRIDE & GROOM HIDE, REST & RETOUCH + CEREMONY DECOR
This window is crucial. It gives you two time to hide away from your guests, relax and retouch before the ceremony, and it also gives us a shooting cushion if for some reason the timeline gets behind. If we’re at a detail-heavy wedding, I will actually shoot most of family photos by myself while your second photographer gets a head start on the details of the ceremony (and sometimes even reception) decor. If, for some reason, though, we’re both needed during family photos, to manage a large extended family group, for example, this time slot gives us a window of time before the guests arrive to get those detail shots untouched.
On average, we find that most ceremonies start five to ten minutes late and last about twenty minutes. If it starts on time and gets done early, that’s just a bonus for us because of all the photos we have to get during cocktail hour.
During your cocktail hour, we photograph the reception space and all the decor you have put hours into planning. I typically will photograph the room as a whole, full table scapes, and close ups of all your decor. We also will be setting up our lighting for the reception as well during this time. We also will capture your guests mingling with one another, and photograph couples smiling at the camera.
When the sun sets, depending if that falls during cocktail hour or your reception, I will whisk you two away for a few minutes for some glowy golden hour husband and wife portraits.
We tell our clients that if they can do grand entrances and first dances when they walk in, toasts in-between salad and dinner service, and cake-cutting right after dinner, they can have all the major milestone moments completed in 90 minutes. That leaves 30 minutes for open dancing photographs. In our opinion, that’s plenty of time before it all starts to look the same. It usually keeps the dance floor hotter for longer, too, because no one’s being pulled off the dance floor for milestone moments. Some couples opt to add more hours here, if loads of open dancing shots are really important to them or if they have a grand exit planned.