Creating a wedding day timeline makes a tremendous difference in the type of final images you will receive from your wedding photographer. Those romantic candid shots and real moments take time and cannot be rushed. The location and timing of your portraits also affect the feel of your pictures. In order to get those bright and warm images, you also need to keep natural light in mind. Once the sun sets, we cannot take those warm and golden pictures. Read below to learn more about wedding timeline and tips. HAPPY WEDDING PLANNING–Melanie
I usually ask to start photographing when your makeup artist arrives. This gives me at least 45 minutes of detail shots, which I use every second of. I always tell my brides to put me in the start of the day rather than use my time for reception shots. This is the time that I make those beautiful portraits of your details in amazing light. If you skip out on this, you will not receive any detail shots for all those details that picked out for your day. To make things easier for your photographer, please keep all these items together: invitations, rings (both bride’s and groom’s), veil, shoes, dress, hair pieces, perfume, jewelry, flowers, and any other details that are important to your wedding day. That way, we do not have to look for all these items when we arrive. Having a cute or vintage ring box will make your ring pictures much better! Please make sure to tell your florist to have all bouquets and loose flowers there by the time your photographer arrives. Loose flowers make details shots so much better!
HERE IS ONE THING THAT MOST BRIDES FORGET: TO GIVE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER TWO SETS OF YOUR INVITATION
Having two sets of your invitation makes our job much easier. This allows us to photograph front and back at the same time. One of the invitations should have your names and a dummy address in calligraphy. The getting ready should start 3 to 4 hours prior to ceremony.
This is your time with your girls. Matching floral robes and mimosas make for great pictures. Listen to music, have some girl time, and have FUN. Make sure to get ready in a room with LOTS of windows. I ask for at least two windows. Natural light makes a huge difference. The cleaner the room the better. NO clutter! NO church basements! All bridesmaids should be dressed and ready before the bride so they are not wearing tanks and yoga pants when buttoning up that beautiful bridal gown.
Brides: the sooner you get ready, the more time we have for bridal shots. Something ALWAYS runs late. Plan accordingly. Give yourself time. Something always runs late, trust me.
This should happen 2 hours before your ceremony. I HIGHLY encourage all my brides to have a first look. You will get more portrait images and it’s way less rushed than doing them after the ceremony. I also LOVE capturing the emotion of you guys seeing each other for the first time. When he sees you walking in the church, it’s go-go-go after that. He can’t grab you and hug you at the church, but he does have that freedom at the first look. It is so special to have that intimate time together before the wedding day starts. Wedding days go by so fast and time with you future spouse should be priority. You can even make it to your cocktail hour (YAS) and actually spend time with your guests. Note, this is an intimate moment. No one besides my second shooter and I should be there.
BRIDE AND GROOM PORTRAITS (immediately after first look)
This session is 30-45 min. These are the pics I LOVE the most. The wedding day is about you two and all those special moments. These are the pictures you will hang up one day in your home. Do not cut this time off! This is the time when I capture those romantic images that you will forever treasure. There should be no rush. This is another reason for a first look. Doing them before the ceremony is a bit more calm and there is nowhere else for you guys to be. On the contrary, after the ceremony, grooms would rather have a drink than be in front of my camera (so would I!) and that really shows in pictures. If you are having pictures taken at another location, you need to account for that + traffic
WEDDING PARTY PORTRAITS
After both first look and bride and groom portraits, we will get group shots done. Wedding party shots take 30 minutes (more if it is a different location or larger party). If you are getting wedding party pictures done at a different location, make sure to have appropriate transportation for everyone. Keeping the group together is way more efficient. If family is around, I love to get family shots done before the ceremony too. That way, no one has to stick around after the ceremony and can just head on to cocktail hour.
30 MINUTES BEFORE CEREMONY
Bride and groom go their separate ways. Bride and bridesmaids might need to retouch up. We also need to hide you guys since gusts have started to arrive. You guys are about to get MARRIED. Get excited!
IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE CEREMONY
Family shots are for immediate family ONLY. The more people, the longer it takes and the crazier it gets. Make sure your family knows and is ready to go. I usually take about five group shots and adding more to that will only take away from those real moment candids. This is the standard list:
Bride and Groom w/ Bride’s parents
Bride and Groom w/ Bride’s immediate family
Bride and Groom w/ Groom’s parents
Bride and Groom w/ Groom’s immediate family
Bride and Groom w/ both sets of parents
Family formals should take 30 minutes max. This is where you have to think, do you want traditional pictures of people standing and looking at the camera or really fun shots of you and your friends laughing and having a good time at cocktail hour? THESE are the pictures you will cherish so don’t spend all your time taking pictures with every aunt and uncle and every possible family combination.
IF YOU CHOOSE NOT TO DO A FIRST LOOK
If you have not done a first look, we need to do your bride and groom portraits AND wedding party pictures after family formals. That means I need an hour and a half (at least!) and you will miss your cocktail hour. If it is less than one hour and a half, I can guarantee you will NOT get those awesome candids and authentic moments.
This is one area that brides usually forget to give me time for. I need to get into the reception room BEFORE any guests in order to take pictures of it untouched. This is another reason to do a first look. That way, I have more time during cocktail hour to get those gorgeous details and centerpieces.
You guys did it! You are married! I tell all my brides that I only need an hour or two of reception. After the first dances and cake cutting, not much is going on. I only need thirty minutes or so of the dance floor and that is MORE than enough. After that, people are just getting drunk and sweaty- (let’s be real!) Those are not pretty pictures. If you are planning a “Grand Exit” I highly recommend doing a “fake” grand exit just before the dance floor opens for everyone. A lot of guest usually do not stay to the end of the reception so it’s a great way to have everybody there and participate in your exit. Another thing to think about is your wedding photographer; if you wait until after the end of the reception the allotted time you hired your photographer may be ended and your photographer may have already left.