Not sure what to expect from your wedding photography? Throughout the day I will capture as many candid, photojournalistic moments as possible… but there’s also some direction and editorializing (that’s why I call my style “documentary”). As I work, I try to consider not only the photos you want now, but photos you might want decades from now, and I do my best to provide thoughtful, well-rounded coverage that captures the people, details, and moments that make your wedding so special and uniquely yours.
Every wedding is different, but this guide explains how I typically work on a wedding day, and makes some suggestions for things you can do to get the most out of your wedding photography.
Getting Ready: I typically arrive 60-90 minutes before you leave for your ceremony or portraits. At first I will focus on getting detail and establishing shots (such as photos of the dress(es) and/or suit(s), rings, shoes, stationery, flowers) and then document the getting ready process (hair, makeup, dressing, etc).
- tidy your environment (make beds, hide suitcases, bags and boxes, etc… I can’t photoshop that!)
- have your detail items out and together.
- get ready in a room with as much natural light as possible – if that means getting dressed in the living room instead of the bedroom, it’s worth it! Artificial lights create a strong yellow tone in photographs, and where possible I prefer that lights be turned off when I arrive.
- if you are getting professional hair/make-up, plan for longer than the stylist says, as this part of the day is most likely to run behind schedule
Formal Portraits: I typically shoot formal portraits (including individual, couple, wedding party, and family portraits) just before and/or just after your wedding ceremony. These portraits (especially group portraits) are best in an outdoor location that is fully shaded, or if necessary, an indoor location with a plain background and natural light. I will ask you for a list prior to your wedding, and I suggest to plan 2 minutes per shot. As for my process? I call out names, line people up, try to make them laugh, and then shoot away!
- designate a person to be in charge of people-wrangling for your group portraits
- make sure that everyone on your portrait list knows where and when to be
- consider doing a “first look” and then all of your portraits before the ceremony. I love this as people are so much more focused at this point in the day, and it allows you to move directly to partying after the ceremony!
- location scout for fun, different places to do your couple portraits… it’s nice to get away from the crowd, and great when it’s a place to which you have a personal connection
- plan to take a brief 10-20 minute break for an additional portrait session just before sunset, when the light is magical
- plan 60+ minutes for all of your portraits over the course of the day. The more time we have, the more creative and varied we can be!
Ceremony: As long as there aren’t restrictions on my movements during the ceremony, my standard shots include: people walking down the aisle, the wedding party, readers, the officiant, and key ceremony moments (such as the ring exchange, first kiss, registry signing); I will also take reaction shots if the space permits. Due to the candid and unpredictable nature of these shots, none can be guaranteed.
- ask your officiant if there are restrictions as to where I can stand or how I can shoot during your ceremony
- let me know if there are unique or unexpected elements to your ceremony
Reception: When possible, I prefer to photograph the reception set-up before guests are allowed into the area. My standard shots include the place settings, table settings, venue decor, and cake. I will shoot until the meal is served, at which time I take a break and eat with your guests. I photograph speakers, the cake cutting, the first dance, and more dancing as time allows.
- avoid having speeches while guests are eating. Everyone appreciates the break, and no one likes reaction shots with their mouths full!
- consider seating me somewhere with a clear view of you and the speakers, to help prevent blocking the view of other guests
- let me know if there is anything extra or special to photograph at your reception
PLANNING YOUR WEDDING TIMELINE
A great wedding timeline makes a great wedding. Some things to think about: when is the best light? Can we sleep in and be rested? How long will our guests be unattended and hungry? Have we given ourselves enough time to be relaxed and truly enjoy ourselves?
Ideal Timeline for 9 Hours of Wedding Photography Coverage
90 mins Getting ready coverage (your appointments may begin earlier)
30 mins Family & wedding party portraits
45 mins Couple portraits
25 mins Allotment for travel / “just in case” / relax time
60 mins Ceremony and receiving line (most ceremonies last about 30 minutes, yet can easily eat up more time through the magic of the wedding time warp)
30 mins Cocktail hour / photographing reception details
3 hrs Reception meal & speeches
20 mins Sunset portraits
60 mins Dancing coverage
Organize the elements of this timeline anyway you like! I suggest using your date’s sunset time as a starting point for plotting the rest of your day, as ideal times for portraits vary wildly throughout the year. Outdoor portraits at winter weddings need to happen between 2 – 4pm, whereas summer wedding ceremonies and portraits can take advantage of the beautiful light from 6 – 9pm.
For my own October wedding, the sun set at 6:30pm. Here’s how we planned the day around it:
12:00 pm Getting ready (hair & make-up, dressing)
2:30 pm First look & couple portraits
4:00 pm Family portraits & mingling
5:00 pm Ceremony & receiving line
6:00 pm Additional couple portraits / champagne & appetizers for guests
6:30 pm Reception
7:00 pm Meal & speeches
8:30 pm Dancing
Note on lighting: while I prefer to use available, ambient natural light, my priority for your wedding is to provide clean, well-exposed photographs. Where necessary, I will use on and/or off-camera flash to achieve this.
Hopefully this guide has been helpful, but as always please let me know if you have any questions or if there is anything I can help you leading up to your wedding. I look forward to seeing you on your wedding day and taking lots of beautiful pictures!