Wedding Tips to Help the Day Go Nice and Smooth

 


 

Here are some wedding day tips to help your day go smoothly and to make the most of your cherished photographs. I’ve photographed well over 200 weddings since I first started in 2010, so I figured sharing this information might make your life a little bit easier.
When I photograph, I love to take a lot of candids, so you can pass this along to your friends and family. Don’t worry- I only keep the cute and flattering ones though! 🙂 You can think of it like you’re flirting with the camera and playing hard to get- you let it look at you and see your lovely face, but don’t always make eye contact with it.  I’ll make light chit chat to help people feel comfortable and open up, and if I see that people don’t know how to act or feel awkward, I will give friendly, gentle direction- usually to move around or do something that focuses them in the moment and off of the fact that their picture is being taken.  If I see an opportunity for really good lighting, or a photographic vision, or lipstick on teeth, etc, I’ll point it out. I’ll also tell you to look right at the camera when I think that will make a strong image. Otherwise, I really think I capture things best as an observer of these beautiful moments of your life.
I also like to send out a sample timeline for each wedding day after booking based on the best lighting. If for some reason you have not received this, please contact me. Enjoy the tips and can’t wait to work with you!

 


 

GETTING READY

 


 

GETTING READY
Typical amount of time needed: About 1.5 hr give or take some
Getting ready is one of my favorite times to photograph. In photographing the getting ready process, I focus both on people, connections, and memories, and any special details you’d like photographed (dress, rings, cufflinks, invites, jewelry, shoes, etc).
I’m a girly girl, so I like all the fashion-y photos I can take of the shoes, dresses, getting dressed up, primping, etc. But even if you’re not so into that stuff, this time is important to photograph because it’s so full of anticipation and emotion. I like having a nice chunk of time to photograph this to ease into getting to know all your family, and wedding party before all the big stuff starts happening. It helps everyone have enough time to meet me and feel comfortable getting photographed and I don’t ever like people feeling rushed.
Here are some of my top Getting Ready Tips:
  • If you can, I *highly* recommend getting ready at your wedding venue. This just helps make the best use of my time without having to drive from place to place.
  • If you’d like pictures of both you and your partner getting ready, its also helpful to choose a location where I can easily walk between you both.
  • If you have a choice of rooms, I recommend asking for the one that has the most natural light during the afternoon (or whatever time you will be getting ready in the room). I love working with natural light, and having more of it gives us the most options.
  • Set up near a window to do makeup, hair, put on dress, etc. Natural light is just so much more flattering than artificial lighting.
  • Before I arrive, I recommend having the dress and any details you’d like photographed (rings, shoes, cufflinks, heirlooms, etc) set aside in one area so that I can easily locate and photograph all of them and save you or your bridesmaid time from having to search for them when I start.
  • I also recommend designating one area to put everyone’s bags and unused items (maybe in a bathroom, spare room, or corner you don’t anticipate getting photos). So that the area where you are getting ready and stepping into your dress or putting on your jacket is nice and clean and clear of visual distractions.
  • Make sure mamas get ready too! Moms are usually busy taking care of things to make the day perfect, but they should be ready for pictures too! I recommend delegating tasks to a wedding planner, trusted aunt/uncle or good friend who isn’t in the wedding party.
  • Pro Tip: If your dress has any buttons, go out and buy a small crochet hook. We can still get some pretty pictures of your dress being hand buttoned, but really, if there are more than a couple buttons on your dress, this is a lifesaver for getting them into those tiny little button holes on the wedding day (and it will make it easier for your partner to get it off later!)

     


 

FIRST LOOK

 


 

FIRST LOOK
Estimated time needed: about 20-30 minutes
This one depends on what traditions you like to follow and your schedule. When it comes to a first look, I do not try to influence couple’s decisions either way. It is completely up to you whether this is what you want to do. In my experience though, I think people tend to feel a bit nervous before the wedding- even when they think they won’t be. The portraits after the ceremony are much more relaxed, and the lighting is generally better, so that is typically where I prefer to spend most of my time. However, doing a first look is a great idea if you would like to see each other and get the family and wedding party portraits done before the ceremony (which is common in winter weddings due to the early sunsets). It also is a wonderful way to share personal vows or letters with each other privately. Either way you decide to go, I can scout the location based on the best light and scenery.
If you do decide to do a first look, I’ll give you as much time as you like just to soak in the moment amongst yourselves as I quietly walk around to capture the moment. Once you guys feel that you’ve soaked it all in, we can take a few couples photos as well (as time allows).

 


 

PRE-CEREMONY/CEREMONY

 


 

CEREMONY/ PRE-CEREMONY TIME
Estimated time: about 60 minutes
Yay!!! You’re actually getting married!!! The ceremony itself is usually only 20 minutes, But I usually recommend allowing a little buffer time in case things run behind (spoiler: they usually do!). That will just help keep things nice and relaxed. And if things do end up running exactly on schedule, you get a little extra time to sip champagne with your best friends before the ceremony.  I also included some extra time here so that I can capture your beautiful ceremony and reception setup before your guests arrive if possible (they usually start arriving 30 minutes before, though some very excited early birds might arrive even an hour early).
My Ceremony Tips:
  • I highly recommend planning your ceremony during a time when the sun is a bit lower in the sky to make sure the lighting is most flattering. Usually a couple hours before sunset is good- though it may need to be even earlier if you are in an area surrounded by tall mountains or buildings. Avoid high noon when the sun is directly overhead of you (creates unflattering shadows under eyes and noses). If I have not already, I am happy to recommend your ceremony time based off of the best lighting for the day. I have fancy computer apps I look at which tells me the angle of the sun throughout the day and I can take any mountains/tall buildings into account that might affect our lighting.
  • If possible, plan your ceremony in a location where your guests would be seated facing towards the sun. Though direct sun can be interesting, this backlighting on you at the alter is generally most flattering. If not possible, a fully shaded spot works well too. If you’re only option is to have your ceremony in a spot of direct sunlight (with your guests backs to the sun) just be careful that you don’t end up standing in a spot with the shadows of overhead branches or leaves casting onto you as the uneven lighting often does not photograph well.
  • Please let me know if you are having a particularly long or short ceremony. I am usually expecting ceremonies to last about 20 minutes. And please let me know on your questionnaire if you have any special traditions or surprises planned during the ceremony so I can be ready to photograph them.
  • During your ceremony, I will be quietly walking all around you and the ceremony site to capture a variety of angles.
  • If rain is predicted for your wedding day: 1. Don’t trust the forecast until the day of! 2. Try to wait as long as you can to decide to move to your Option B since sometimes rain blows over day-of. You or your planner can keep an eye on the hourly forecast and radar in this case. 3. If you have to make a decision about the tent the day before (Clear tents rule!), see if you can view the *hourly* forecast. Even if its only due to rain at 3am, the daily forecast will still show a big rain cloud with an 80%.
  • Pro Tip: If you are wanting people to throw petals as you walk down the aisle as newlyweds, give a generous amount and give an extra big amount on the seats right next to the aisle. That way, even when everyone throws them up in the air unsynchronized, and the petals spread out mid-air, they will still have great effect! Seeds are fun, but they don’t show up too much in photos. Actual flower petals do best (not the faux fabric or plastic though because we don’t want to pollute our beautiful earth).

 


 

FAMILY PHOTOS

 

Tips for your wedding day Wedding Day tips

 


 

FAMILY PHOTOS
Estimated time: 20-30 minutes
Congratulations! You did it! Usually after the ceremony, family members meet up at a spot so they can hug and congratulate you and then move into the family formal portraits. I will be emailing you a questionnaire a month prior to your wedding to make sure I know who to group together and keep things efficient so everyone can get to cocktail hour and celebrate asap.:)
Here are my family photo tips:
  • Do me a favor and tell family prior that they need to stick around after the ceremony if you want them in any pictures. I usually end up taking photos at the ceremony site, light permitting.
  • I recommend keeping your list of family formal portraits short and sweet. Generally I photograph just the immediate family: couple with parents, siblings, grandparents, and any other very close family members or friends. If you need extended families included, we will need to allow for more time here.
  • Typically I start with grandparents or small kids so that they can sit down first.
  • I do the best I can here to get some candids of people between everyone looking at the camera

 


 

WEDDING PARTY PHOTOS

 


 

WEDDING PARTY PHOTOS
Estimated time: 20-30 minutes
Time for your faves! For wedding party photos, we will go to a spot I scouted out based on lighting and scenery. I’ll get the individual wedding parties, everyone all together, and then individuals of each wedding party member with their respective partner (if time allows). Flower girls and ring bearers can get in here too! Note: This time estimate is based off 4 attendants on each side. If your parties are closer to 10 each, we will probably need the full 30 mins.
Wedding Party photo tips:
  • Make sure wedding party knows we’re doing pics after the ceremony, though they can run to grab drinks really quick before we meet up after family photos… and maybe they’ll be so kind as to bring one back for you too! 😉
  • Pro Tip: Wedges are your friend! Usually the scenic spots requires walking in grass or over rocks, which does not agree too well with spiky heels. Wedges or block heels are the heels of choice at an outdoor wedding! (Note: they do also sell these little stiletto adapters if you’ve already invested in a pair.)

 


 

NEWLYWED PHOTOS

 


 

NEWLYWED PORTRAITS
Estimated time: 20-60 minutes
Time to enjoy some quiet time alone in that gorgeous soft sunset light. Usually, I plan for these right around sunset, with a little extra time planned for before just in case its cloudy. We’re saving the best light of the day for the most romantic pictures of you two. I will have scouted out a location or two for us to enjoy the sunset from. I will also get some individual portraits of each of you at this time. Then we will wander back to start the party!
Newlywed Portrait tips:
  • I love capturing “you guys” so if you have any special things – like private handshake, a certain way you kiss each other on the nose, etc. I would love to incorporate that.
  • Again, I highly suggest wearing *wedges or flats*! Even if you have a fancy pair of spiky heels you want to wear for the rest of the day, walking around outside will be soooo much easier in wedges or flats.
  • I usually plan for these to happen 20-60 minutes before the realistic sunset time for your wedding day and location. The realistic sunset time is the time that the sun will be blocked by a building or behind the horizon of a mountain, etc which may be a while before the actual sunset time listed online (which is based on sea level). This also ensures that we still have some light for your first dance if you do that first thing during the reception.
  • If you are getting married off of a lake or ocean, and the weather is clear, the Blue Hour may be pretty to photograph (which are the 20 mins or so right after sunset). If plans are flexible, we can try to plan or sneak away for some of these too.
  • Pro Tip: depending on the amount of time you would like for newlywed photos, and how much time we need for family and wedding party photos, a cocktail hour + (cocktail hour and a half or hour and 15) may work nicely to allow for enough time to capture everything after the ceremony.

 


 

RECEPTION

wedding photography tips

 


 

RECEPTION
Estimated time: usually 3-4 hours
Party time! Now that the sun has set, I will use a video light or flash to photograph, though I will also try using natural light when I can to capture the ambiance for some shots.  I’ll make sure to capture the sweet moments, the crazy dance moves, the time your grandparents got up for a slow dance, and those things that people might not remember the next morning. ; )
Reception tips:
  • If your venue is very dark, full of dark wood, or is outside under the stars, I recommend stringing a whole bunch of lights around and overhead so I can capture the romantic ambiance. Plus all the candles. You can never have too many candles.
  • If you need to get a tent, clear tents are wonderful because they can pull in some natural lighting at dusk. Sailcloth tents, while not clear, are also more photogenic if available.

 


 

SENDOFF


 

SENDOFF
Estimated time: 15 minutes
That last hurrah. For the exit, I recommend sparklers over glowsticks, etc due to the bright, warm light they emit. Sometimes people send off floating lanterns, which are beautiful in photographs, but I have to be honest that it often ends up not working out too well as they typically end up in trees- and that’s pretty scary when they are still burning.
  • Sometimes people having particularly long receptions may do a mock exit whenever my coverage ends for the night. Or I have seen people do entrances with sparklers/ light sabers/ etc or first dances with everyone surrounding them in a circle.
  • If sparklers are not allowed at your venue, then lightsabers can make for a nice alternative.
  • Take your time going through, and soak it all in. High five people, stop to kiss, etc. Heck you could even run through twice.
  • Pro Tip: For sparklers, make sure you splurge on the extra long kind so we have plenty of time! You can also plan to give each person two if you’re having a smaller wedding, just to allow for greater effect.
And then before you leave, don’t forget to let me give you a hug goodbye!!!
Hope that helps!!!
Shelley

 


 

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