Hey, I’m Liz!
The most important part of what I do is telling your love story on your special day. I don’t just show up to your ceremony. I want to know the you beyond the camera so the photos I deliver are keepsakes that’ll be with you for decades. Your love story is the best inspiration for photos that last for decades.
Tips and Tricks
For every bride the wedding day could be very stressful. Even after months of careful planning, research and preparation, things might not go as planned or expected. There are always reasons for things to go wrong on your wedding day.
To help you, as my wedding legacies, prepare and anticipate what to expect from your wedding photographer during each phase of the wedding day, I have put together this blog to give you an idea of what to expect from your photographer on your big day.
Before I get started I want to stress how important communication is. Your photographer is there with you all day and they are there to make sure everything goes as planned and capture such important moments. Most photographers will do a detail meeting 7-14 days before the wedding to walk through the venue, chat with you about last minute details and finalize the timeline of your day. Be sure you communicate everything with them so they can be well informed.
Second, communicate to your families, friends and guests attending the wedding to be mindful of few important points:
You have hired a professional wedding photographer and it is their job to capture all the important moments during your wedding. Everyone is allowed to use their phones and personal digital cameras to take personal pictures if you choose not to have a media free ceremony but they should remember not to interfere with the photographer. It will be unfair to you and to everyone else to block or obstruct the photographer from taking the images you are paying for.
Everyone being on time makes your day less stressful and enjoyable. A simple reminder to everyone to be on time is very helpful and can make a big difference on how your wedding day actually goes.
So let’s get started on what to expect during your WEDDING DAY!:
1. Bride Getting Ready Photos
This is the time before the wedding ceremony when both bride and groom are preparing for the wedding!. The preparation usually happens at home, at hotel or the venue. During this time, the bride is getting her hair and makeup done accompanied by her bridesmaids. This is also the time when she will open gifts or cards from her bridesmaids and is helped into her gown.
This is such an exciting and nervous time for the bride and her party. Upon arriving, I will greet everyone, tell you how exciting and special the day is going to be and then grab your details to get those photos out of the way. I spend about 30-45 with your details. This will include your rings, dress, jewelry, shoes, invitations and anything else you’d like me to photograph. I will then rejoin you and your ladies as you get ready and spend about 1.5 hours photographing your hair and makeup and then everyone getting dressed. I am a photo-journalistic photographer and my idea for photographs stems around the idea of emotions connecting us with our memories. For this reason I will take candid photographs throughout most of the wedding. I will let your interactions with your bridesmaids, husband and your guests unfold as I capture the day in an uninterrupted manner.
Even with the best planning and efforts, in many cases the makeup and hair preparation take longer than originally estimated. Because this is the first part of the day, it can delay the rest of your wedding schedule and is where I find brides panicking the most. One way to prevent this from happening is for the bride to have a hair and makeup trial run with the hair and makeup artist before the wedding. This will give you a more accurate time to work with when putting together your wedding timeline.
Be sure to have your ladies dressed before you! This is so important because you want them in their dresses as they help you into your gown. It will photograph better if they aren’t in jeans and a t shirt. After you’re dressed, I’ll sneak you outside for some private bridal portraits. These are the photos I always end up selling to your parents. Their little girl is all grown up and that bridal portrait will be displayed in their home forever. After that, I’ll be sure to take your bridal party out with you and get photos of you and your girls before the ceremony.
2. Groom Getting Ready Photos
Groom getting ready is very similar to the bride getting ready but is much simpler as usually the groom doesn’t require extensive hair and facial makeup. The location of the groom getting ready is a different room in the same location or in close proximity to the bride getting ready location, so I usually send my second photographer to photograph the guys as they prepare.
The photograph that are usually taken during this time are of the guys hanging out and then getting into their tuxes or suits. We’ll be sure to get details of him putting on his watch and straightening his tie. Then my second photographer will sneak your groom and his guys outside for groom portraits and groom/groomsmen portraits. Taking care of these before the wedding helps cut down on photography time after the ceremony so you can get to your party sooner.
3. First Look (Optional)
If you have chosen to do a first look, it will take place 1.5 hours before the ceremony is scheduled to start. A first look is not required but it is becoming more popular as couples want to enjoy their reception longer and enjoy a few moments together to soak in the day. If you choose to do a first look, we will select a location during your venue walk through before the big day. I will bring your groom out first and get him positioned with his back to you. I will then have you approach from behind. I usually give a little coaching. I’ll tell him to be sure he turns around with his face towards me so I can see his reaction. I will also tell him not to turn around until you touch him on the shoulder so I make sure the two of you are together for the big reveal. I will tell you to walk slowly and smile and to touch him on the shoulder on the same side where I am located so I can again capture his reaction. This moment is very candid and myself and my second photographer will stand a good distance a way to give you two some privacy. These are alway some of my favorite moments as they are so raw and full of emotion. After the big reveal I will take the two of you for some private portraits before hiding you away 30 minutes before the ceremony. Again, this is totally optional but if it’s something you’re interested in, we should definitely chat before the big day.
4. Wedding Ceremony Photos
The wedding ceremony is the time when the bride and groom are reading their vows and committing to a long lasting union of marriage. It’s very exciting and emotional moment during the wedding day and depending on the religion, ethnic background and planning, it can be performed in a church, temple, outdoors in a backyard or in a small chapel. Each location has different lighting conditions and flash photography restrictions. Some locations further complicate the photography by restricting the photographer’s movement during the ceremony. Because of many of the restrictions set forth by venues, I do not use flash during the ceremony. It can be distracting to you and your guests and I never want to detract from such an important moment. My second photographer and I will photograph every moment of your ceremony and capture it to best showcase the moment.
What should you remember during your ceremony? We sure to stand up straight, droopy shoulders are the biggest complaint I have when brides are looking back through their images. They always tell me they wish they would have remembered to have better posture and to smile during the ceremony. It is also best to have your bridesmaids and groomsmen to smile as they walk up or down the aisle. It’s a joyous moment and I want to be able to capture how excited they are for you two. Also don’t forget to slow down on your first kiss as husband and wife. It’s a quick second that can easily be missed by your photographer so really kiss each other or even go in for a second kiss. You’ll love that photo later and be thankful you took the extra time to bask in the moment as a freshly married couple.
4. Cocktail Hour Photos
After each wedding ceremony and before reception, there is usually a one hour allocated time for cocktails and socializing time. Depending on if the bride and groom are doing a first look or not the type of images and allocation of time for photography during this time is different:
Without First Look: Because the bride and groom have not seen each other before the ceremony and I was not able to take their posed photographs before, I usually allocate the 60-85 minutes as follows:
15-20 minutes for formal family photos
15-20 minutes for wedding party photos
30-45 minutes for the bride and groom photos
However this time allocation is very hectic and not enough to create great looking photographs. There will come a time during your photos where guests might be antsy and begin to leave the reception all together. You want your family and friends to stay so be sure there is alcohol and food for them to snack on while they wait if you choose not to do a first look.
With First Look: Choosing to do a first look allows for the schedule to be much more relaxed when it comes to photos. The time before the ceremony is best for bridal party photos as well as some of the family photos. The time during the cocktail hour is then spent on the rest of the family group photos. Then you can join your guests at the reception after a few more bride/groom photos.
5. Formal Family Photos
Many wedding clients love the family photo portion of the day. These group photos are carefully posed and very formal. The entire group is usually standing and is very camera aware (everyone looks at the camera and smiles). Having photographs from the bride and groom with all combinations of each parents, siblings, bridesmaids, groomsmen, immediate and extended family members, friends is a good way to capture everyone in a single photograph and later share with the guests.
As when groups are involved and many people are being directed to be in one place as the same time and do the same thing for an extended time, this could be a frustrating time for everyone. I will be focusing on posing everyone, directing and capturing the best images from the group and don’t have the ability and time to look for family members and bring them to the family photo location.
Therefore, I usually ask my clients to designate a wedding coordinator or family member to gather all family and guests that should be included in these photos. This family photo time can also take an extended portion of your wedding day schedule and can eat into your reception and other photo time. By having everyone aware of the photo time and location and having a designated coordinator can help keep these photos from taking up too much time. I have set of formal pictures I usually take for each wedding but if the bride expects to have certain photos, a written list is the best way to ensure no pose is being missed. I always take multiple photos of the same group to ensure we have everyone looking in the camera, not blinking in the photos and with a good radiant smile. As a rule of thumb for every group photo it takes an average of 2 minutes to pose and capture each formal family group photo. You can then estimate how much time would have to be allocated to capture good looking formal group photos and decide the number of group pictures.
6. Reception Detail Photos
Before the wedding reception starts and guests enter the venue to get seated and dine, I or my second photographer usually get into the reception and photograph the decorations, the wedding cake and anything in the reception hall which adds to your wedding story. Many reception halls are extensively decorated and once the guests enter the room these decorations or the entire hall ambiance is impossible to capture. These photos will usually be taken after your morning detail photos and during the buffer time that we allow before your ceremony.For this reason, it is important to have your reception set up well before your photographer arrives.
7. Reception Photos
There are only a few more important events left in your day. During this time I will set up additional lights to make sure that the celebration is well lit. It’s important to remember to do the remaining events of your day during the first hour of your reception. Many of your guests will start getting tired and leaving after a few hours. If you don’t want them to miss the first dances, cake cutting and garter/bouquet toss then make sure these events happen first.
It doesn’t matter which order these events take place in but a majority of my weddings will have them in roughly the following order. The bridal party introduction followed by the first dance, mother/son and father/daughter dance. Then toasts will take place usually ending with the bride’s father or the officiant who will bless the food. Dinner will then take place, after which will be the cake cutting. After that the final event is the garter/bouquet toss followed by partying! Having all of these events first ensures a smooth transition between each and ensures that most of your guests stick around to participate.
Once the dancing starts, I might sneak off with the bride and groom for sunset photos or night photos depending on the time of year and the timing of your wedding day. These are the lost photos of the couple for the day that are posed and make for great legacy products to display in your home.
Depending on the wedding package you have chosen from your photographer, you might choose to schedule a faux exit from your reception. If this is something you are interested in having photographed and you aren’t going to keep your photographer around until the very end, they might suggest scheduling it soon after the dance floor opens. Either way you choose to do it, your photographer will gather your guests outside and they’ll send you off in proper fashion. When exiting your reception remember not to run. You’ll want photos of this and if you run you might miss all the important moments as it happens quickly. Remember to walk quickly and stop in the middle to give each other a kiss. This allows your photographer to focus on the action and make sure they have photos of the end of your day. The exit is over in the blink of an eye so just like your first kiss, slow down and enjoy the moment. You’ll be thankful you did when you see the images your photographer captured of the moment.
I hope some of these tips and tricks will help you out and prepare you for what to expect on your big day. Remember though, no matter how hard you plan, something will go amiss but don’t stress out and trust your photographer. They have everything under control and it’s going to be perfect!
Ready to get started planning your big day with me? Well then what are your waiting for!?