how to plan for a successful and STRESS-FREE day
Preparing for your wedding
Approximately 100 days leading up to your wedding day, we will be emailing you and your fiancé with some helpful information, along with your 90-day payment reminder. Within this email, we will include a link to our electronic “Wedding Schedule Form” for you to begin filling out. Be sure to email us this completed form no later than 30 days prior to your wedding, so we can review and suggest any changes necessary!
To help you along, you can refer to our helpful timline information below to help you formulate a successful and efficient wedding day timeline!
the FIRST LOOK
While having a “first look” certainly has it’s perks in respect to timeline, we respect the fact that many couples opt to save this special moment for the alter. First Looks have become increasingly popular for the pure fact that it allows couples to get their formal portraits done before the ceremony – therefore allowing them to enjoy their cocktail hour! However, if you have your heart set on seeing each other at your ceremony, then we’re with you all the way! If you’re wondering if a First Look is right for you, here are some questions to ask yourself:
ARE WE LIMITED ON TIME BETWEEN OUR CEREMONY & RECEPTION?
For weddings where everything happens in the same location (ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception) and are all very close together time-wise, doing a First Look may be a good option for you. Otherwise, you may have limited time (sometimes only 1 hour) for all the necessary photographs to be taken, which would most likely take up the majority of the cocktail hour. See below for more details about the time needed for formals.
ARE WE "OK" WITH MISSING OUR COCKTAIL HOUR TO GET ALL ESSENTIAL PHOTOGRAPHS DONE?
While we strive to have all couples enjoy their cocktail hour, there may be times when family formals need to extend into this time period. If this is the case and if your concern is not having enough time to mingle with guests, it may be worth considering either extending the cocktail hour to 90 minutes, or opting for a First Look.
ARE THERE MULTIPLE LOCATIONS WE WANT TO GO TO FOR PHOTOGRAPHS?
A good example is if your event takes place in a city and you want to take photographs in many of the iconic spots around that city. Travel time and traffic will need to be factored into the amount of time needed for these photos as well. This is also when a First Look can be handy if there is limited time between the ceremony and reception.
If you’ve decided that doing a First Look is right for you, this usually takes place right before we start photographing the couple’s portrait session, so we’d suggest setting aside a minimum of 45-60 minutes for both the First Look and Couple’s Portraits. Keep in mind that this timeline varies depending on the number of locations that are on your “wish list” and any travel time involved.
Tips + Tricks
You’re standing next to the love of your life, so one thing we want to see is a lot of love and affection. Hand holding, snuggling, slow dancing, gentle kisses, and doing things to make each other giggle, all work wonders when it comes to being photographed. Most importantly, trust us and our guidance when we suggest what may seem like silly things. If you are unsure about the direction that’s being given, ask for clarification. Oftentimes, we like to show a “sneak peek” from our camera, to show you what’s working and what’s not – but mostly, sometimes we’re just so excited to show you how good you guys look!
One of the most benefits to having an engagement session with us in the months leading up to your wedding is that you’ll have little to no “warming up” photographically. You’ll know exactly what to expect, and understand the guidance we’ll give during your portraits.
The amount of time required for wedding party portraits depends on the amount of people in your wedding party and also the number of locations and distance in between each location. For instance, if everything is taking place in one location, a wedding party of 3-6 people would normally take 15-20 minutes. If you have a larger wedding party (with 7 or more people), we’d suggest allotting 20-30 minutes. These portraits may include portraits of each side separately, everyone together formally and then any “casual” shots you may want. If you would like to include individual photographs with each person in the wedding party, then we would recommend consulting us on additional time that may be needed to work that into the timeline.
If you choose to have a receiving line following your church ceremony, it’s important that your wedding day timeline accommodates some time for you to greet your guests! Choosing to have a receiving line is a personal preference, and oftentimes an after thought. However, we do suggest if there is a limited amount of time in between for photos, it may be wise to forgo the receiving line. This again depends on the structure of your timeline. Nowadays a lot of couples use their cocktail hour as the time spent going around to greet all of their guests and thank them for coming in lieu of a receiving line. If there is plenty of time in between and you feel a receiving line is important to you and your families, then we are all for it!
Beyond Dinner + Dancing
Sunset + Night shots
If there is any sort of downtime during the reception, then typically we use this time to sneak away with the two of you for some quick night or sunset shots (depending on the time of year your wedding takes place). If this is something that’s really important to you, then we recommend discussing it with us before the big day so we can work that into your reception timeline. It may require 15-20 minutes depending on where we go for those night shots, but in the end you’ll be over the moon happy with the end result!
Extended Family + Large Groups
Because the “Family Formal” portion of the day is typically reserved for the people you consider to be part of your “immediate” family, we always suggest photographing larger groups of extended family members during your reception. If you mention to your band leader and/or DJ that you’d like to photograph some larger groups, they can help announce those family members and friends by their table number!
When Should Coverage end?
Every reception timeline and structure is going to be slightly different so we highly suggest speaking with your venue manager in order to determine when all of the major events are happening. As a general “rule of thumb” we typically stay until right after cake cutting, or 1-1.5 hours before the end of the reception. This timeline may vary but we are usually able to capture all of the main events before cake cutting, such as Introductions, First Dance, Speeches, Parent Dances and general dance floor shots. So we don’t need to stay until the end unless of course you are planning a grand exit, like sparklers or fireworks! In that case, you may need additional coverage to keep us until the very end.
* We are more than happy to stay as long as you need, and any overtime added will be invoiced after the wedding to allow flexibility! *
If you have any questions or would like to schedule a call to discuss your wedding day timeline, feel free to reach out to your main contact person that you were speaking with during your booking process. (Nicole is the team leader for all New York and northern New Jersey weddings. Noelle leads our Philadelphia and southern New Jersey weddings.)