Hi! I sent you here because you recently booked me or are thinking about booking me for your wedding and I could not be more excited!!!! This is a compilation of things I've learned from past weddings on what brides wish they knew from a photography stand point. I want to give you the best photos I possibly can give you, so I am giving you all the pointers. And there may be things about light and spaces that you haven't even thought of. The idea is for this to a helpful guide, but in no way do you have to adhere to everything in here. It's merely information for you as you make decisions.
And as always, feel free to ask me any questions along the way.
This is likely one of the first things you will do for your wedding and I love getting to be a part of it! I talk about why I love engagement shoots a lot, but it really is an intimate experience for us (yes, I'm the third wheel). We can find a really epic location, get the perfect golden light, and we'll have lots of time so there is no pressure on us at all.
Some of my all time favorite shoots have been with people who say they "aren't camera people", because trust me, you are! It's my job to direct you through the whole thing and make you feel comfortable, so there's no reason to feel nervous, but if you do, it will go away as soon as we start!
What to wear/bring. I get asked this a lot so I have a separate guide to go into all the details. I may have already emailed it to you, but you can also find it here:
It can be really easy to overlook this, but light is really important for getting ready spaces. Natural light is far more flattering than artificial overhead lights, so windows are crucial. You'll want to choose the room with most natural light pouring in. A great option for this is to convert a living room into your getting space or to rent a cute Airbnb with lots of windows. This will almost always be much brighter than a hotel room.
I know how easy it is for getting ready spaces to become a huge mess, but I can't stress cleanliness enough. I have taken far too many photos with a bride's expression seeing herself in her dress for the first time and also a pile of clothes and make up and curling irons in the background. This just takes a little bit of planning ahead of time (and letting your bridal party know too) to keep the area pile free. I always recommend have a bedroom as a place for everyone to keep their things and maybe after your bridesmaids do hair and makeup just have them move EVERYTHING in there. This also helps you have a relaxed and stress free environment.
Set aside dress and suit time. This is such a great time to just soak in the moment! This will be an ongoing theme, but I never want you to feel rushed, so give yourself extra time to actually put on your dress/suit here and I'll also get pictures of it. If you want to do a first look for your bridesmaids or a parent we can also do that here, just let me know ahead of time that you’re planning that.
I also recommend setting aside about 10 minutes for alone time. This can just be me grabbing some shots of fixing your dress/tie. Or if you are writing each other letters this is a great time to read them. Just a chance to breathe before a crazy day and a great photo op :)
Lastly, have fun with this time! It's one of your last moments before becoming husband and wife and you're with the people you love the most! I never want anyone to feel stressed during the getting ready portion, so give yourself some extra time just in case. If you're done early, we can fill it easily with photos. Pop some champagne if you want and just don't forget to enjoy yourself!
The best time for me to get detail photos is while you're getting ready! So I'll try and remind you a few times before your wedding to have all the details you want photographed with you at the getting ready place! It's happened a few too many times where the best man is off with the rings and then I try to take a couple ring shots in the 3 minutes I have during the reception. The lighting, background and overall photos will be much better if I have those details ahead of time. This includes things like—
+rings (and any other jewelry you want a shot of)
+wooden hanger (this is much better for dress shots than plastic ones)
+anything else you want!
Its great to make a list of these ahead of time so nothing gets forgotten the day of. I'll ask you ahead of time for a list, so I have it as well.
Okay this is going to sound obvious, but its totally worth mentioning! I've had lots of bride's who forget to take into account travel time. If you're getting ready 20 minutes away from the ceremony spot, block out at least 30 minutes on your timeline for travel! Packing everything up, getting everyone into cars and finding parking always takes longer than people think. And I never want you to feel stressed, especially on your way to get married!!
The other thing to consider is travel time for me. If you want bride and groom getting ready photos, but your both 20 minutes apart, its going to be hard for me to get both of those. If you want detail shots at your ceremony location and details at your reception before everybody arrives, I would need to do that BEFORE getting ready photos. If all these locations are far apart it might not be doable with just me. If your wedding is spread out it might be a great idea to have a second shooter. Feel free to ask me about this if you aren’t sure!
First Look vs Aisle Look
This can be such a toss up for people, and I totally understand why! I don’t want to influence you one way or the other, because I think its a personal decision and either way works just fine! But I can give you some pros and cons of both to help you make a decision.
Pros of First Look
+private moment just for the two of you
+eases the timeline
+guests don’t have to wait around as much
+bridal/family pictures can be done prior to ceremony
+can add in personal touches like vow/letter reading
Pros of Aisle First Look
+sometimes a lifelong dream waiting for this moment
+anticipation can create very emotional moments
Here is an article about the pros and cons of a first look from real brides:
Bridal Party + Family Pictures
These portraits usually take longer than you think. While it does depend on the size of your family and bridal party, I usually suggest to set aside about an hour for these, 30 minutes for bridal party and 30 minutes for family.
If you are doing a first look, I always suggest doing all bridal party pictures before the ceremony, this will make it much easier afterwards! If you aren't doing a first look, I suggest still doing bride + bridesmaids and groom + groomsmen before the ceremony. Just to ease your timeline. And then afterwards doing full bridal party together!
Sometimes my couples have a place they want to do these pictures and sometimes they ask me to pick -- either is completely fine with me!! I just suggest if we're doing photos in the middle of the day, to find a shady spot. This will help avoid squinty eyes and weird shadows on people's faces. But I can definitely help with this! Just keep me in the loop on what you’re thinking!
I used to ask for a shot list ahead of time of all the family combinations you wanted. However, I learned that no matter how hard I tried to memorize all your family members names, it will go faster if someone who knows everybody groups people together. I’ve started telling people ahead of time to have a “grouper” and it has made portraits go much smoother. This could be your maid of honor, your mom, your wedding coordinator (just not you! I want you to just focus on pictures), somebody who knows everybody and helps get them together for pictures. I’ll still send a shot list check list to help give you and me an idea of the shots we'll be getting (while its completely fine if this changes, it can help decide which ones are the must haves).
When planning your ceremony time, take into account when sunset is. I usually suggest doing the ceremony about 3-4 hours before sunset so that lighting is softer, but so you still have time for any family and bridal pictures after, as well as personal moments.
If your ceremony is in the middle of the day, try and aim your ceremony so you and your bridal party aren't facing the sun. This will help so you aren't squinting in the photos. If you’re not sure which way to face the ceremony, feel free to ask me and I can give some suggestions!
If its overcast, it might seem like a bummer, but it is actually amazing for photos! It creates much softer light and photos will look great at anytime of the day.
If you don't know what an unplugged ceremony is, its when you request that nobody has their phone/ipad or any other camera out during their ceremony. This is a personal choice, but I think it is such a great idea!! You are paying a lot of money to have a professional photographer, and the last thing you want is your face blocked during your first kiss because your uncle is trying to get a cell phone pic. Here is a little more about unplugged ceremonies and how to inform your guests if you decide to have one:
This might sound weird, but I've had it happen before where the aisle was to barely big enough for two people to walk down! It was almost impossible to get a good angle for a picture. I suggest having your aisle wide enough that about 3-4 people could walk down side by side. And that way you won't feel crowded walking down either.
During the ceremony my favorite place to be is in the middle of the aisle. I usually stand here to get everybody walking in and then I'll often move to the outside to get some different angles and then I'll come back to the aisle for the first kiss and for the exit. If you would prefer me to not be in the aisle or have any other places you don't want me, I'm happy to adjust, just let me know :)
One of my favorite things to do is to sneak you and your new hubby away at sunset for a few photos of the two of you! This can just be for 15 minutes, but these always end up being my couples favorite photos. The lighting will be gorgeous and its so nice to just really slow down and soak in a moment now that you're husband + wife. Its just important to allow for this in your timeline so that everybody is on the same page (especially your dj).
+Lighting scenarios vary a lot depending on venue, and I will come with my own lights and flash to be ready for anything.
+If you are in charge of lighting for your venue, I always recommend white string lights. They show dimension in photos and look especially cool when they’re out of focus in the background. Colored lights look neat in person, but will reflect and make skin tones look weird, so white is best!
+I should eat when you eat. I'm sure this sounds weird and not important, but I like to tell everyone ahead of time why this is the case (it's not because I think I'm the most important person at your wedding!). I want to be ready to capture photos of every laugh, smile, hug,… you get it. But the one time you probably don’t want photos is while you’re eating. If I’m eating at the same time as you, I won’t miss a beat when it comes to photos. We will finish around the same time and I’ll be right back to capturing all the moments you want to remember.
+If you have a formal exit planned (sparkler send off, getaway car, etc.), make sure you let me know ahead of time so I know what to be ready for!
This is your day
Remember this is your day! And everything should be YOU. If there are things you love, things that make you happy, incorporate it into your day! No matter how weird, crazy or out of the ordinary, if it speaks to you, DO IT!! Its so easy to get caught up in making everyone else happy, but it all comes down to doing things how you want. Also remember, that no matter what happens, you are marrying the love of your life and in the end, nothing else will matter.
The idea is for this to be helpful as you make certain decisions, but not to make you sacrifice anything that you want. My job is to work around your choices and get the best photos I can in any situation.
If you have any questions at all as you plan your day, I’m always available!