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!
Moments + Details
When we arrive, brides should be almost fully finished with hair and makeup, and grooms should be showered and partially dressed (wait to put on ties/bow-ties, jacket, shoes, etc). For teams of two shooters (photo or video), we are able to split up and capture both sides simultaneously. For one-photographer or videographer packages, you will need to allot extra time to capture both parties getting ready (provided both parties are in the same location). It’s really important to ensure that the getting ready portion runs on time so the rest of the day goes smoothly. Be sure to consult your hair and makeup specialist in order to figure out how much time is needed for each person. Sometimes we even recommend having some bridesmaids go after the bride, so if anything does run late, we can at least get started on the photos with the bride before having to head out for the First Look or Ceremony.
We will be shooting the details during this time as well (dress, shoes, jewelry, tux, etc) and it’s helpful if all items are organized and in the same area so we can move quickly and not miss any special moments. We also love when our couples tell us about a special or unique detail piece that they want us to shoot. Have an old handkerchief or piece of jewelry passed down through the generations? Be sure to tell us so we know it’s an important heirloom! In love with beautiful details as much as we are? Check out our post on The Prettiest Little Details!
While having a “first look” certainly has it’s perks in regards to timeline, we respect the fact that many couples opt to save this special moment for the altar. It is important to discuss timing and figure out what works best. First Looks have become increasingly popular for the simple 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 certainly respect that and just ask that you allow for enough time to accommodate the photography/videography. 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?
ARE WE "OK" WITH MISSING OUR COCKTAIL HOUR TO GET ALL ESSENTIAL PHOTOGRAPHS DONE?
ARE THERE MULTIPLE LOCATIONS WE WANT TO GO TO FOR PHOTOGRAPHS?
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 advantages of 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 photographs 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 with us on any additional time needed to work that into the schedule.
Family Formal Portraits
The length of time for family formals varies on the amount of people in your family and location(s) but we typically recommend at least 30 minutes for family formal portraits (and 45 minutes for larger weddings). If you are having a First Look and want to do these portraits before the ceremony, most likely your extended family won’t be ready early enough to be included in this part of the day. In that case, we recommend shooting large extended family groups either immediately after the ceremony or during the downtime at your reception. This may be right after dinner, before all of the dancing starts and you could ask your band or DJ to announce that there will be a large family photo either on the dance floor or out in the lobby/stairwell. This will alleviate a lot of stress on waiting for a lot of people to gather for photos beforehand.
If you are planning to do all of the family formals in between the ceremony and reception, then we just recommend letting everyone know before the big day and you can tell them to wait after the ceremony or go directly to the designated photo location (we can suggest a good place to take the photos). Be sure to check with your church or ceremony location to see if there are any time restrictions or rules you need to be aware of.
Tips + Tricks
Understand that it is our goal to move quickly and efficiently through each grouping, so having a member of the wedding party to help coordinate everyone will help facilitate this. We will ask for a list ahead of time so that everything is organized as best as possible. We understand your family and guests want to enjoy the party, so we make it our mission to make sure they do!
If you choose to have a receiving line following your church ceremony, it’s important that your wedding day timeline accommodates this time for you to greet your guests! Choosing to have a receiving line is a personal preference but can sometimes be an after-thought. Our suggestion is that if there is a limited amount of time in between ceremony and reception for photographs then 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!
While the bulk of cocktail hour is normally spent shooting the details of the reception room, one benefit of having two photographers on your wedding day is that we’re able to divide-and-conquer and photograph your cocktail hour and reception details. If we do not require additional hands in the reception room, our second-shooters are ready to mingle and photograph you and your guests during the cocktail hour. We also find it’s best to photograph groups of guests during this portion versus doing table shots during the reception. Your guests will be much more receptive to having their picture taken while they are standing and mingling than when they’re sitting and eating! We do not do old school “table shots” however if there are important groups of guests or tables you want captured, we suggest that we walk around with you and your spouse to take photos with those specific tables.
Beyond Dinner + Dancing
Sunset + Night shots
If there is any sort of downtime during the reception, then sometimes 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 thrilled 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 sometimes suggest photographing larger groups of extended family members during your reception (if it can’t be done immediately after the ceremony). 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 for some 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.)