Want to know a secret?
When I got married, I had NO IDEA how weddings worked. Like most brides, I had never been married before! I didn’t understand the importance of light for photography. I thought, “She has a great camera. She will be able to make this dark, green, tiny, room look amazing!” ( Yikes!) Thankfully, my photographer rocked it out, even though I gave her a very limited amount of time, barely any natural light, and legitimately had a full laundry bag sitting around in my apartment during photos! What was I thinking!?
When I began photographing weddings, I wanted to do my part to educate my brides in any way that I could, so that their vision could be brought to life and that we could work together to make sure expectations were exceeded! Over time, I realized that although every wedding is unique, almost all weddings have the same basic parts. Below is a basic outline of a wedding day, and how long I need to give you the pictures you deserve. If you scroll all the way to the bottom, you can even view a sample wedding day timeline. Tell me what is important to you, and I will tell you what I need to make that happen. Depending on your space, I may need to move furniture, or setup additional lighting and that takes extra time. I hope to work together and create the most beautiful and complete story of your day! I hope this document will help you to plan your day so that it is stress free and fun. If you need help creating a timeline, I would LOVE to help. It is all about working together! Let’s do this!
BRIDAL PREP: 90-120 MINUTES
When I arrive I will begin by photographing your carefully chosen wedding day details – your dress, invitation suite, the rings, your shoes, jewelry, perfume, gifts, vows, etc. All the sentimental items that you gathered to make this day so special. I will then photograph the finishing touches of your hair and makeup and the excitement of you getting into your dress with your family and bridesmaids!
Tip: I love natural light! All the images above were taken using only natural light coming through large windows in the suite. When choosing your getting ready location, try to choose a space with at least 2 windows, but the more the merrier. This gives me and the makeup artist a place to setup, and allows for more light to fill the room. Light colored walls and ceilings also help reflect light and create brighter and dreamier pictures. Many brides choose to get ready at a hotel or the bridal suite of their church or reception location. This way you don’t have to worry about clearing out the clutter and can just enjoy the giddy excitement that is the morning of your wedding!
GROOM PREP & DETAILS : 45- 60 MINUTES
The guys tend to get ready a lot faster than the girls and therefore require less time! We will photograph his wedding day details- shoes, tie/bowtie, socks, cufflinks, gifts, vows, etc. in the same style as the brides- but of course with a masculine twist. Then photograph the groom getting dressed and grab some shots of the groom and groomsmen having fun and relaxing!
FIRST LOOK: 30 MINUTES
First looks are a way to document that special moment when the bride and groom see each other for the first time on their wedding day. It is a beautiful and private moment just for the two of you.
Reasons to consider a first look:
1. You want that moment documented! The moment when you FIRST see your husband or wife is a magical. While I strive the catch this shot during every ceremony, this is a foolproof way to make the most of this moment. If you choose to add a second photographer, you will have plenty of portraits of both you & your husband’s initial reaction to cherish forever.
2. The ceremony is immediately followed by the reception. I require atleast 1-2 hours for family portraits, bridal party portraits, and pictures of the new Mr. & Mrs! Choosing to do a first look earlier in the day means that we can shoot ALL of these pictures before your ceremony and get them out of the way! Then you are free to enjoy your ceremony and go party! If we wait until after the ceremony to take these pictures, there must be time built into the timeline following the ceremony. Family portraits, bridal party portraits, and bride and groom portraits can often be taken during cocktail hour (meaning you and your crew will skip cocktail hour) or time must be padded in to the day so that you can attend cocktail hour. This will work in most cases, given there is still ample sunlight.
3. It will be dark outside after your ceremony! I am primarily a natural light photographer. If you chose my work because you loved the bright and soft portraits, please know that I will need light from the sun to produce the same type of images for you! If you are getting married in the winter months, it can be too dark out at 4:00pm! A first look can ensure that we can take beautiful, timeless outdoor portraits! My favorite!
CEREMONY: 30- 90 MINUTES
Ceremony time is dependent on your ceremony location, and traditions. You may wish to include additional time for a receiving line, or photos at the alter or outside of the church.
FAMILY PORTRAITS: 30 MINUTES
Following the ceremony, or first look, we will gather your immediate families together for some photos. Prior to your wedding day, we will work together to create a list of your family members and the select groupings that you would like photographed. Please note, each grouping may take 3-5 minutes. For this reason, we ask that you limit formal family photos to immediate families and capture photos with extended families and guests during the cocktail hour or reception.
BRIDAL PARTY PORTRAITS: 30 MINUTES
Immediately following family photos, we will begin bridal party photos. We will photograph a few different combinations of the entire bridal party, followed by the bride with her bridesmaids and the groom with his groomsmen.
BRIDE & GROOM: 30 MINUTES
Yay!! You’re married. Now it’s time to grab some beautiful and romantic portraits of the two of you as husband and wife! Let’s create the photo that will sit in a frame on your desk, or hang on the wall in your home. I will remove you from your guests to share some time alone together.
COCKTAIL HOUR: 60 MINUTES
It is your choice if you would like to attend cocktail hour or not. Often, if the ceremony and reception times are close together, this time is used for the family, bridal party, and bride & groom portraits. If you would like to attend your cocktail hour, additional time will need to be added in between the ceremony and reception, or prior to the ceremony to capture those portraits.
If you are attending cocktail hour, we can use this time to photograph the action in the cocktail hour space and reception room details before guests arrive (as shown above.)
HUSBAND & WIFE SUNSET PORTRAITS: 15 MINUTES
When the sun is beginning to set, and the light is just right. These additional portraits can be magical. I would love to steal you two away for a few extra portraits- likely during the reception of a summer wedding, or prior to the reception in the winter.
RECEPTION: 120 MINUTES +
Two to three hours is often enough to capture all of the important reception traditions including grand entrances, first dances, toasts, parent dances, and cake cutting. That also leaves time for some fun dancing photos! If you prefer to space out the wedding traditions, have a grand exit planned, or would like more photos of your guests partying, I would be happy to document the reception in its entirety! Often, your band, DJ, or venue will put together your reception timeline so please speak with them about structuring your wedding reception.
GRAND EXIT: 15-30 minutes
This may involve sparklers, glow sticks, or anything you can think of! We can also stage an exit shot earlier in the night by bringing just your immediate family or bridal party outside for the action while guests enjoy dinner, dessert, or the killer music! This way you don't require coverage until the very end of the reception. The shots right above are an example of a "controlled exit" and were taken in the middle of the reception while guests were dancing and eating dinner.
Also keep in mind . . .
1. Travel time & Traffic time
I lived in a neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY that is notorious for parking difficulty. It can take me an hour to make a 15-minute trip, because I will spend the other 45 minutes looking for a parking spot! I recommend planning your day with ample time for traveling in between locations just in case you run into traffic or something falls behind schedule. Doing so will help you stay calm and relaxed and really enjoy your day. Also be mindful of special traffic contributors like marathons, festivals, parades, or planned road work that could delay your driver or your guests.
2. The size of your families/ bridal party
If you have a large family or bridal party, we may require additional time to gather, pose, and photograph all your loved ones.
3. Bathroom breaks
This is totally silly, but often overlooked. Depending on the layers of your dress, it can take up to 20 minutes to pee! Padding your timeline will help ease the stress so that you can enjoy every aspect of your day!
Sample Ideal Timeline
Below is an example of a sample timeline. In this hypothetical scenario, the bride & groom are getting ready in the same location. For example, at the same hotel, or the bridal suite & groom's cottage at their venue. The portraits, ceremony, & reception are taking place on the grounds. Many venues are set up this way and it saves us travel time.
Wedding date: September 16th
- 12:00 Photographers arrive & begin the day by photographing the bridal details (dress, shoes, invitation, rings, etc.) Second photographer leaves to meet Groom. Jen stays with bride.
- 12:45 - Second photographer photographs Groom details & Groom getting ready pictures/ groomsmen hanging out.
- 1:00 Jen photographs the bride getting into her wedding dress, shoes & jewelry. This is followed by portraits of the bride.
- 2:00 - Bride & Groom meet for their "first look". Both photographers are there to capture the Bride & Groom's reaction. This is followed by photos of the Bride & Groom alone.
- 3:00 - Photograph bridal party pictures
- 3:30 - Photograph family pictures
- 4:00 - Arrive at ceremony location
- 4:30 - Photograph ceremony space & setup lighting if necessary for ceremony.
- 5:00 - Ceremony starts
- 5:45 - Ceremony Ends. Yay! You're married!
- 6:00 - Husband & Wife sunset portraits
- 6:30 - Bride & Groom attend their cocktail hour. Jen to photograph reception space. Second photographer photographs bride & groom at cocktail hour
- 7:00 - Reception begins- Photograph introductions, first dance, parent dances, speeches & some open dancing.
- 9:00 - Reception coverage ends. Bride & Groom continue to party!
- 11:00 - Reception ends.
If you would like help creating a timeline for your wedding day, I would LOVE to help!
We can chat through email or go for coffee and go over all your plans and details.
If you have any additional questions- please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org