you're getting married !

In this guide we'll discuss a number of things that can help not only make your wedding day flow smoothly, but also give you confidence and peace of mind.

The Wedding Day Timeline

A timeline is all the events of your wedding day planned out by time. Easy enough. From the start when you get ready to the very end when I have to leave. This is probably the most tedious part of your wedding planning. I know, it's stressful. But I am here to help! Your timeline is extremely important, not only for me but for you and the rest of the wedding day. A timeline will help keep everyone from running behind.

I am one of the few vendors that will be with you from start to finish on your big day and being involved in your planning process is important. I can help give realistic time frames of certain events to avoid us from running behind. I can also help you when planning when to have certain events because I know when lighting is best for certain situations.

At the end of the day, it is your day and you should enjoy it. I'm happy to plan whatever it is you need, how you want it. Below I've broken down each aspect of the day for you.

Getting ready

For these images, we will be arriving near the end of everyone getting ready. This means for the bride, we'll be arriving once hair and make up is almost complete. And for the groom, shortly before it's time for them to head out. I usually allot 60-90 minutes for the bride and about 30-45 minutes for the groom. These times can vary depending on how close in proximity each of you are while getting ready. If we need to travel between you both, times may be longer.

During this time we will be capturing small details such as any last touch ups of hair and make up, your rings, shoes, veil, bouquet, dress, and anything else you want us to. We'll also be documenting the emotions as you get your self ready with your closest loved ones or just you in your own calmness writing your vows. We'll photograph mom zipping up your dress and you cheering with your bridal party.

Pro Tip: In the days leading up to your wedding, keep everything in a small box so that when I arrive everything is in one place.

Individual Bridal Photos

If you would like individual Bridal Photos, you should allot 20-30 minutes. This also will depend if you want them done at a separate location or not. But going somewhere different can be a great way to get some diverse photos in your gallery

Pro Tip: Schedule these on a separate day. When you pick up your dress from alterations or about 2-3 months before your wedding day, its a good idea to try on your whole ensemble. Shoes, necklaces, veil, everything. This way if there is anything that is uncomfortable, you have time to fix it before the day of. It's also a good idea to schedule a hair and make up trial then too. Once you're all done up we can get some bridal photos done to save time on your wedding day.

The First Look

A First Look is where the couple can share a moment together before the busyness of the day. The groom or partner will have their back turned while the other walks up to tap them on the shoulder or let them know when they're in position. This is a great way to get some jitters out and enjoy the "big reveal" intimately. Alternately, you can have a First Touch where you are positioned in a way where you do not see each other, but are able to hold hands and say a few words to each other. These usually take 30-60 minutes. The time varies depending on if we do wedding party and/or family photos afterwards. From a timeline standpoint, having these is a great way to free up some time after the ceremony and ideally get you back to cocktail hour sooner to enjoy your guests or freshen up before introductions.

Before the Ceremony

This is time where you both can go into "hiding" as your guests start arriving. Usually 15 minutes is ideal. This will give us time to capture details of the ceremony area and the reception area. We'll also capture some interactions of your guests greeting each other and mingling.

The Ceremony

The main event! The ceremony is special and can last anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. When planning your timeline, what's more important is that the ceremony ends at least 90 minutes before sunset. Lighting is the main reason. We want to ensure that there is enough lighting during the ceremony. If the day runs late or the ceremony runs past sunset, were battling the light. As sunset approaches and the sun drops below the horizon, the lighting can change drastically and quickly. We don't want to be fumbling with our settings as you say your vows. As your photographers, we want to ensure that we have enough consistent light for your ceremony. Mother Nature does what she wants and if it's an over cast day plus sunset, we run the risk of the photos being drab and not the golden light you were hoping for.

If you want a sunset ceremony, that's fine as well! Just make sure it ends about 30 minutes before sunset to ensure buffer time and proper lighting. You'll also want to make sure you have a first look and do all your formal portraits before the ceremony as we risk not having enough light following the sunset ceremony.

Pro Tip: Google sunset times for your wedding ahead of time and start from there. Your ceremony time will determine the rest of your entire timeline. It's key to get the timing right of the ceremony early on in your wedding planning.

Post Ceremony

Allotting about 10 minutes right after your ceremony for friends and family to congratulate you is a great way to get more candid images and capture more. It's also a great way to add buffer time in case of ceremonies running over.

Family Formal Portraits

Once I am able to break you away from your guests, we'll jump into your family portraits. During this time, it is important for me to have a list of members (preferably with names!) and what photo combinations you want. It takes anywhere between 2 and 3 minutes per pose or combination and would limit it to about 10 combos. This allots 30 minutes for family portraits. In the weeks leading up to your wedding day, I'll send out a questionnaire asking for this list.

Wedding Party Photos

Once I wrap up you family photos, they'll head over to cocktail hour to enjoy themselves. We'll move on to your wedding party photos. For these, you should allot 15-30 minutes. Depending on where you want the photos done on the property, and what fun poses you want done will vary the times.

Couples Formal Photos

Nothing about these is "formal". This is the time to really celebrate your love for one another- You did it! Ideally 45-60 minutes is a good time for couples photos. We can really enjoy every spot on the venue's property and take our time doing it. There is no rush. By now, we've hit the golden hour lighting. This lighting is best for portraits and we really want to utilize it. If you want to travel to another location that's totally okay. We'll just have to plan time in for travel.

Cocktail Hour & Sunset Photos

If you elected to have a First Look, you can decide to enjoy your cocktail hour with your guests instead of having more couple portraits. I would just pull you away for 15 minutes right before sunset to capture those dreamy golden hour images. Cocktail hour usually lasts 60 minutes.

Reception Intros and Dances

I see most couples opting for fun creative introductions. You can decide to have each member of your party announced as well as members of your family. Or you can decide to have them enter all together at once. It's really your preference. Afterwards, once you enter you'll go right into your first dance as a couple! Then immediately following, you'll go into your parent dances. Not every wedding has these, and that's okay. It's all a matter of preference but the full intro with dances lasts about 15-20 minutes. You can also choose to have your dances during or after the dinner service. Each of the dances are usually about 2 minutes each.

Dinner and Speeches

In my experience, I've seen speeches given during dinner or right after the intros or right as dinner service is wrapping up. There is no wrong time to have speeches, but usually no more than 30 minutes is enough time to capture everything.

Once dinner begins, I will not be photographing unless someone is giving a speech or you've asked me to take a photo. Once you and your guests are sitting and enjoying your meals or the buffet has opened up, this is the time we'll be grabbing a quick bite as well. Our goal is to be done eating before your guests are so that we are ready to capture anything that may follow.

Pro Tip: Keep the speeches to a minimum length duration. People tend to get bored with anything over 5 minutes per person.

Let the Dancing Begin!

The party is where I get some of my favorite shots. The majority of the dancing can be captured in about 2 hours. This gives time for people to let loose and really have some fun! Most couples have send offs later in the evening which is why we end up staying longer. But if that's not something that interests you or you're not having a send off, 2 hours of coverage is enough time to get fun party shots.

Pro Tip: If you want your guests on the dance floor and photos that are more fun, include props such as sunglasses, glowsticks, or light wands for your guests!

Other Reception Activities & Tips

You can elect to have a garter toss, bouquet toss, cut the cake in front of you guests, you can have your DJ get your guest involved in games and other great events. These can be scheduled into the reception time at any point and typically need anywhere between 10-15 minutes each.

Ways to keep your wedding reception from dragging is to offer small simple things for guests to do. Photobooths tend to be a huge hit. Having a live painter paint small cards of your guests is a great favor idea. Using props during the dancing portion will keep people on the dance floor dancing. Sunglasses, feather boas, glow sticks and lightwands are all great examples. Another way to keep guests from sneaking out near the end of the night is to offer a late night snack. Pizza, donuts, and sliders & fries, or any late night finger foods will ensure guests don't leave hungry or buzzed.

The Send Off

The typical send off we see often is the Sparkler Exit. These are a fan favorite because they give off such a beautiful glow in the dark of the night. By the end of the night, just before guests start making their way home you can schedule your send off. Or alternately, you can have a mock exit. This is done just before my time with you is ending to make sure you get the send off shots. It's also beneficial this way it ensures that everyone is there and did not leave early. These usually take 10 minutes.

Other options are biodegradable confetti, bubbles, or light wands. You can enjoy a last private dance as a way to clear the reception at the end of the night as well.

Pro Tip: For sparklers, buy the 36" sticks that last 3-4 minutes. This gives time for us to do a second pass through to really nail the shot or try different poses.

I'm here to help!

A lot of this seems daunting and a huge task- I get it! I'm here to help you. About a month before your wedding date, I'll send out a timeline questionnaire. I'll ask you a handful of questions and from your answers I'll put together a timeline. We'll then go over everything to make sure it works with your goals and vision.

If you are working with a wedding planner or coordinator, they'll likely have their own timeline and it's important that our timelines work together. I need to be sure that I am present for any events that are planned. So when I reach out, this is when you would put me in contact with them.

Let's get you married!

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