It's all in the details

One of my favorite things to photograph is wedding details. I typically arrive an hour before my scheduled start time to accomplish these photos. Yes, that means I dedicate an extra hour (for free) to your day because I am a crazy person and love my job. Upon my arrival it is important to have all of your wedding details photo ready and together for me. Some of these details may include: the dress (on a hanger), the rings, jewelry, stationary, shoes, cufflinks, socks, watch, bouquet, veil, family heirlooms, vows, & perfume. Ask your florist to set aside a few blooms from the bouquets for me to use on detail shots- it truly makes a difference to have loose florals/greenery to use. If you'd like the bridesmaids dresses photographed make sure they are on hangers and photo ready as well. During this hour, Ian and I work together to photograph different compositions featuring the many details that make your day unique. We typically try to find an isolated area with ideal lighting to accomplish these shots as they require high concentration and attention to detail. 

Getting Ready

I love getting to spend the morning with the bride and her bridesmaids as they get ready for the day. There are definitely a few elements to think about when it comes to getting ready in regards to photography.

When determining your getting ready location, make sure to think about light, space, and décor. If you have inspiration for your getting ready photos, be cautious of the elements your space has to offer and more importantly, the amount of natural light. For a “light and airy” look, I recommend opening blinds to achieve the most natural light as possible.

Think about clutter in the room and designate one corner to place everyone’s belongings in- sometimes bags, clothes, and other belongings get thrown around the room which can be a distraction for photos. It’s important to be cautious of clutter for the sake of photography and keeping a “clean” look for the background.

By this time, the hair & makeup artists are usually doing their final touches – which is perfect for me to document candids of the bride & her bridesmaids. Also, keep in mind that coordinated PJ’s or robes make these pictures oh so much prettier!

For getting into the dress, I will find a location with beautiful light and very little clutter. The last 30-45 minutes of getting ready is all about the bride getting dressed, with the help of her bridesmaids and/or mom. Keep in mind that if it is a lace up gown, it can take 15-20 minutes just to ensure that the lacing is even. Then I document the bride putting on her earrings, jewelry, shoes, perfume & veil (sometimes the hair stylist may attach the veil before she leaves, which means it goes on a little earlier). With the remaining time, we take some portraits of the bride and some with her bridesmaids & family if time allows (if not though, don’t worry – we will get more of these after the ceremony too!)

Another recommendation to consider is having someone take care of steaming and dress prep beforehand so no one has to rush right before getting dressed to remove any wrinkles. Being one step ahead of the game is the key to staying on track with the wedding day timeline.  

 

Establish a solid timeline

There’s nothing better than a stress-free wedding day when everything runs on time, people are ready to take pictures when I need them, and I have creative freedom to do my job well. With experience I can determine that both the wedding coordinator and the photographer have the most control over how a wedding day runs. Creating a realistic photography schedule will help everything run smoothly, successfully, and will put us all at ease!

In other words, we need to set ourselves up for success with a timeline that covers all events and photography for the day so everyone involved can focus on the fun, and of course the love.

The time investment you make here will pay great dividends as you plan your wedding day. The times listed next to each of these segments represents the typical minimum amount of coverage needed.

  • Getting Ready (1 hours and 30 minutes)

  • First Look (15 minutes)

  • Wedding Party Photos (30 minutes)

  • Couple's Portraits (45min to 1 hour)

  • Ceremony (30 minutes to 1 hour)

  • Family Portraits (30 minutes)

I highly recommend informing all family and wedding party members when they need to report for duty to get photos accomplished. I also should note they should be photo ready! Meaning no beers, no cell phones in hand, no sunglasses. ​Bridsemaids should have their bouquets in hand, groomsmen should have their boutonnieres pinned. Oh, and bring the smiles!

One of the most important things to remember is that your schedule can sometimes be delayed due to the unavoidable instances I see all the time. For example, these delays are common:

  • makeup application takes longer than expected

  • hair styling needs to be redone

  • the flowers don't arrive on time

  • apparel needs last-minute steaming

  • attendants often take longer than expected to get dressed

  • buttoning buttons or lacing laces on dresses can cause significant delays

  • packing up to leave the room causes a mad scramble

  • traffic delays you, your wedding party, or your vendors

  • entering and exiting vehicles takes time even for smaller wedding parties

  • finding nearby parking can be a challenge for everyone

 

And you really should be aware that no matter how well you plan, one or more of these issues can affect your wedding. But if you simply set aside the recommended amount of time in your schedule we can overcome these obstacles. 

In order to have the best outcome on your wedding day, I recommend that you involve me early in your planning so that I can provide you with important information related to how certain choices might affect your wedding day. By providing me with early input, you may be able to avoid an occasional gotcha that might not be correctable as you get closer to your wedding date.

My first piece of advice is to try and keep that list fairly abbreviated.  I tell my couples to try and keep the list to 10-12 groupings at most.  Remember, with each grouping we are calling out names from a list, and often having to hunt people down who wander off despite our best efforts. We also need to arrange and pose people so that everyone looks their best. Sometimes this can take up to ten minutes per photo depending on the number of people in the image. You can see how fast the time can add up! So, keep your formal list short and concise in order to avoid family formals taking too long.

I am always a firm believer in over-communication…and this includes planning your family formals!  One way you can prepare your family and friends is to send the list of formals, the time, and the location to the people who will be in them.  Emailing is a cost effective way to manage this communication. And of course, ask your officiant to reiterate at the end of the ceremony that family will need to stay for photos.

If you need inspiration on starting your list, this is generally a standard draft you can work from:

  • Bride and Groom with Officiant

  • Bride and Groom with Bride’s Parents

  • Bride and Groom with Bride’s Siblings

  • Bride and Groom with Bride’s Parents and Siblings

  • Bride and Groom with Bride’s Parents, Siblings, and Extended Family

  • Bride and Groom with Bride’s Parents and Groom’s Parents

  • Bride and Groom with Groom’s Parents

  • Bride and Groom with Groom’s Siblings

  • Bride and Groom with Groom’s Parents and Siblings

  • Bride and Groom with Groom’s Parents, Siblings, and Extended Family

  • Bride and Groom with Bride’s Parents and Siblings, Groom’s Parents and Siblings, Both Extended Families

  • Bride’s Parents Alone

  • Groom’s Parents Alone

It's also super helpful to address your family members with their first names included on the list so when the time comes, I can simply yell out names. 

Focus on what's important

Here’s the deal, weddings are one day…marriage is what’s forever. It’s not about the process of “getting married”, it’s about the fact that at the end of the day you will “be married”, and that’s what is really beautiful. Our weddings should be a reflection of our individual styles and an expression of how we feel about our partner, friends and family. Soak up the day and take a lot of mental snapshots- it goes by quickly. But if you make it truly “you”, and you put in the leg work so that on your wedding day, you know that the details will take care of themselves, it will be the most special, magical and glorious day of your life!

Create a realistic family shot list
Wedding Day challenges