Wedding Day Timeline Tips
You have gotten engaged and now it is time to plan your wedding day! There are so many small details that most couples do not take into consideration, and a lot of them effect your photography! Which, lets face it, is probably one of the most important investments that you will make on your big day, as it is the only thing, other than your marriage, that is going to last a lifetime!
In all the years that I have been photographing weddings, I have become quite knowledgeable on timing and tips for the big day and I would love to share some of them with you!
Take someone to the dress fitting with you. Bring your Maid of Honor or a Bridesmaid to the final dress fitting with you. Make sure that it is someone who is going to be by your side for the entire day. If I happen to be your photographer, and if you have no one, I have no problems going with you! When it comes time to bustle your dress, it is VERY handy to have someone there who knows what they are doing. If you are absolutely stuck, have someone at the bridal shop film it or take photos of them doing it so that on the day of your wedding you are not stuck in the bathroom for 30 minutes trying to figure it out.
Where are you and your bridesmaids getting ready? I suggest choosing a location with plenty of natural light coming in from windows. That light source will make all of the difference in your photos! Examples below:
Now look at the difference in the image style when a location with a lot of natural light is chosen!
Have your bridesmaids clean up the area and get dressed 30 minutes before you put your dress on. This will make for beautiful images of everyone seeing you for the first time and your girls helping you get dressed and get your jewelry on. Doing this simple thing will eliminate not only clutter in all of your images, but will ensure that we do not have any half nude bridesmaids in our shots!
Guys, this one is for you … learn how to attach a boutonniere. The number one question that I get from groomsmen is “do you know how to do this?” So, YouTube how to properly attach a boutonniere, and if you are wearing suits, look up how to fold the little pocket handkerchief. (Hint: Lay your pocket square flat. Bring the left side to right side. Bring the bottom towards the top, but don't fold it all the way. Fold the fabric in thirds horizontally so that it will fit your suit pocket.)
What time is your ceremony at? When thinking about this, take into consideration the time of year and what time the sun goes down. There is nothing more disappointing than not having the sunlight that is needed for photos
What time are you planning on arriving at the reception? For your photos not to be rushed, I would suggest at least 4 hours between your ceremony and reception time.
Are you having a receiving line? If you are not planning a receiving line, have someone announce this at the ceremony. 9 times out of 10, a receiving line ends up happening anyway, and the bride is too nice to tell people to leave hugs for the reception. This is time that is taken away from your pictures, especially if you are going to be chasing the sunlight. If you are planning on one, make sure to add at least 30 minutes into your timeline for it
Have a list of must have family shots to give your photographer. Make sure that your family knows that there are photos after the ceremony and make sure that they know where to go for them. You want this part of the day to go quickly and smoothly. Waiting on family members is not fun!
Do you have children? If you have small children and you have a family member or friend watching them, make sure that they are the first ones at the scene of the family photo location. Most small kids are in need of a nap after the ceremony so the sooner pictures can be taken with them, the better. I have been at weddings were the kids were so grumpy that no photos were taken with them and it is very heartbreaking for not only the bride and groom (mom and dad) but for the photographer as well.
Ever considered a first look? The most relaxed weddings that I have ever photographed are where the Groom saw his Bride for the first time before the ceremony with just the three of us there. This creates a very special moment where the couple is able to cry, laugh, and enjoy the moment without having to worry about the formalities of a wedding ceremony. They also leave enough time for us to take all of the formals before the ceremony so that when the ceremony is over, couples are able to visit with their guests and head straight to the reception. No running around and no making your guests wait around for you!
And trust me; the groom is always still blown away when he sees his bride walk down the aisle. Having that first look takes nothing away from that moment.
Consider a separate photo location for formals. A location where there are no paparazzi (guests) is ideal for getting relaxed fun shots. Plus, there are no wandering eyes because of multiple cameras and no need for the photographer to politely ask your guests to bugger off!
Have a backup plan for photos. No one wants to think about rain on their wedding day, but the reality is that it can happen. Whether it be an indoor location, or just gum boots and umbrellas, a backup plan is very helpful.
Dress for the weather! If it is cold out, have shawls for yourself and your bridesmaids, or bring jackets to wear in between shots.
AND, to add to the warmth, consider bringing along some shots or hot chocolate!
Stay hydrated and nourished! Pack snacks and lots of water to keep in the car. Eating throughout the day is VERY important. It can be easy to get caught up in the events of the day and then by the time pictures come around, everyone is grumpy. Having granola bars and water keeps those grumpy faces at bay. Bonus points for a groom or bridal party member who arranges to have someone bring sandwiches to the photo location and extra points if there is a sandwich for your photographer!
Bring a drink of choice. Throughout your entire wedding day, there is not one moment where you two get to enjoy time as a newlywed couple. So, bring a bottle of champagne or 6 pack of beer and after bridal party portraits are done, let’s enjoy some down time. Sorry guys, your photographer definitely wants to be there for that, so you unfortunately are stuck with them. The photos that you can get here could be your favorite shots. Have your photographer use a telephoto lens and stay back. For about 10 minutes, relax, enjoy each other’s company, steal some romantic kisses and whisper sweet nothings in each other’s ear. Trust me; these will be some fantastic images of genuine laughs, natural kisses, and unscripted smiles.
Time your reception. It can be very hard to keep a schedule during a reception, but if you only have your photographer until a certain time (9pm my coverage ends), it is important to get the formalities out of the way (first dance, cake cutting, bouquet toss, garter toss etc).
Have fun! This is the most important piece of advice that I have. Relax and enjoy your big day. You have probably put a lot of work in to planning your wedding, so enjoy it. Assign someone (your mom or maid of honor) to deal with small hiccups as they come so that you can let loose and have a good time.