Published Work Resources

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The ideal way to plan your wedding day, from a photographer’s perspective.

We’ve seen just about every form of the wedding day schedule imaginable. From cocktail hours to 15 minute receptions, we’ve experienced it all. We’ve also seen schedules planned out to the second, and at times- the schedule has pretty much been left up to us as photographers (more often than you’d think). While we certainly don’t mind nudging our clients so they don’t forget to cut the cake, the wedding day always runs much smoother with a set schedule, especially if you have a planner on site to help move things along.

However, there are times when a set schedule can work against the photographer. Not allowing enough time to set up for, or even capture certain events could cost a client some great photographic opportunities.   Photographers love to create and capture great images, but sometimes those images may take a little time that may not be available in the schedule.  Let’s chat about some wedding day images and about the planning and time allowed for each of them.  Hopefully, this will help you create a wedding day schedule that will allow for your photographer to create and capture some amazing images that he or she may have missed without the extra planning.

1.  Getting ready details:

Plan on the photographer to arrive before you put your dress on, so that they can find a more creative spot for the “dress shot” than of the back of the closet door.  This also allows for great “shoe shots”!

 

It’s even better to plan on the photographer to arrive before your maids get dressed- for shots like this one:

 

If you want detail shots of the groom and his groomsman, make sure you have selected a package with two photographers (so one can travel to the groom’s location).  If you and the groom are getting ready at the same location (like a hotel), it is possible for one photographer to get a few shots of the groom since no travel is required.

If at all possible, ask the florist to bring the flowers to the place where you are getting ready (instead of the church).  That way, the photographer can get lots of great flower shots, and your maids will have them for any group portraits taken before you leave for the church.

2.  Ceremony and Group Portraits (with bride and groom together)

If you’ve been following our blog for a while, you know that we highly recommend a “first glance” if possible.  Setting aside time before the ceremony where you can see each other in a private intimate environment is a great way to help the wedding day run smoother.  Once he sees you in your dress for the first time, and you are able to share hugs, thoughts, emotions, and tears-  (which of course will be documented by your photographer), then you can knock out all of the group shots including family portraits before the ceremony.  Just think- no waiting around after the ceremony!  You get to go straight to the reception (or somewhere with your photographer for even more creative portraits together).

The first glance:

Valerie and Tyler

Valerie and Tyler

Make sure everyone knows where to be and when to be there for group portraits.  Most portraits can be taken quickly.  The stress and delays are usually because someone has stepped away, and others are searching for them. For family portraits- we recommend limiting them to Grandparents down (Grandparents, Parents, Siblings, Couple).  Aunts, uncles, and cousins can all be captured more casually at the reception.  This will help portraits go much quicker!

Allow time for a some alone time with your photographer for some more creative portraits (unless all you really want is a portrait of you two at the alter in the church).

jessica and brad

Jessica and Brad

3. The Reception!

This is the area that we struggle with the most.  Usually, photographers are last to leave the church, and last to arrive at the reception venue.  This usually means that we must find a parking space far away from the venue, then carry our gear from there.  During this time, the bride and groom are usually arriving at the front door via the limo.  They get out- and walk right in (while we are still street lights away with our gear).  We urge everyone to make ample time for the photographer to arrive and set up whatever lighting equipment may be needed.  This only takes about 5 minutes-  but those 5 minutes can be critical.   For example,  if the first dance starts right off the bat-  the photographer may not be able to set up lighting for shots like the one on the left.  (By the way,  the shot on the right was made possible because the couple allowed extra time for portraits).

ashley and evan

Ashley and Evan

Sometimes, couples don’t go straight to the first dance,  rather they go straight for the cake cutting.  We totally understand getting this out of the way early so that the guests don’t have to wait,  but just give your photographer a few minutes to get some great cake shots for you if you want to remember what the cake looked like before it was cut open:

The farewell.  If you want to make sure your photographer is there for the farewell,  make sure to check the hours allowed in your contract-  then adjust accordingly.  Sometimes, you may need to decide between earlier detail shots, or the farewell shot if enough hours aren’t included.

We hope these tips help you come up with a wedding day schedule that allows for some amazing images!  Happy planning, and feel free to leave any comments or suggestions below.

Mark

  1. Salwa: Wonderful tips!! I will have to share this - thank you! :) April 18, 2011 at 10:34 pm
  2. JP: Love it Mark! The photos are AH-mazing, but the info is so informative for every bride! Thanks for sharing! JP October 29, 2010 at 10:06 am
  3. Julia Cates: Nice photos. Shoos are really awesome. Receptions details are informative. Thanks for share. Regards, .-= Julia Cates´s last blog ..Most Popular Wedding Songs =-. October 29, 2010 at 12:29 am
  4. Abby: loved it and the pictures that you chose to go along with it. ;) .-= Abby´s last blog ..Ahem =-. October 28, 2010 at 10:40 pm
  5. marlo hood: this is perfection! as a bride who didn't follow these guidelines, i have little to NO photos of our wedding. so much money and time went into that day 11 years ago, and there are no pictures of it in our home. i love the first glance idea, also. as a bride, i wanted it and was shot down by all the mother-in-laws. the photos took so long after the ceremony that people were ready to leave by the time we arrived at reception. mark, truer words of wedding day wisdom have never been written. October 28, 2010 at 6:28 pm
  6. Karma Hill: truer words were never spoken, thanks for getting this out there! October 28, 2010 at 2:30 pm
  7. The Standard Facts Of Find Out How To Loosen Up And Take Pleasure In Your Wedding Ceremony Day: [...] The ideal way to plan your wedding day, fr&#11... [...] October 28, 2010 at 1:32 pm
  8. Eddie: wow. thanks so much! i'm gonna drop this "hint" in my brides' inboxes. ;-) October 28, 2010 at 12:29 pm
  9. nichole: This could not possibly be more accurate! I think this should be required reading material for all brides before plans are made for thier big day! October 28, 2010 at 9:54 am
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5 ways to speed up your group portraits (so you can get to the party!)

 

“Grandpaw James!  Grandpaw Jaaaames!  Has anyone seen Grandpaw James?”

The ceremony is over.  The Groom has kissed the Bride. The wedding party has made it to the foyer, where they are making fun of the best man for trying to hide his tears.  Congratulations and hugs are interrupted by a familiar voice,  “It’s picture time!”.  They joy turns to sadness as everyone prepares for the most dreaded part of the day-  group portraits (Cheese!)

Group portraits are often like having a root canal during a spa treatment.  But don’t let it hinder they joy of your wedding day.  There are some things that you can do to ensure that the portraits go quickly and painlessly.

1.  Plan ahead

Make a list of who you want in your group portraits.  We recommend that our couples keep the portraits limited the wedding party and  grandparents down.  In other words,  involve all wedding party members,  grandparents, moms, dads, brothers and sisters.  More casual portraits can be taken at the reception with Uncles, Aunts, Cousins, and friends.  This significantly helps speed up the process.

2.  Have a line leader

Having someone who is familiar with the family members and bridal party helps tremendously.  While the photographer sets up each group, the line leader can make sure that the next group is ready for their shot.  If needed, have a line leader for each group (wedding party, brides family, and grooms family)

 

3.  Make sure that everyone knows where to be after the wedding

More than likely, your immediate thought after reading the above statement was simply “Groomsmen!”. If you prefer,  you can title this segment, “Make sure that the groomsmen know where to be after the wedding.”  As simple as it seems, this is usually the area that delays the group portraits the most, causing unnecessary agony for all involved.  There is a trap at every wedding that usually catches a few participants off guard, it’s when the guests come in contact with the participants.  Uncle Joe sees Billy the Groomsman- and it’s over.  They exchange laughs, they step outside for some fresh air, and Billy the Groomsman soon forgets that he has somewhere to be.  It’s an easy trap to avoid if everyone simply makes their way to a secluded area while the guests exit the ceremony.  Once the area is clear, everyone can make their way to the portrait location.

4.  Break tradition, take the portraits before the ceremony!

This suggestion may sound similar to fingernails on a chalkboard to some parents, but the benefits are very rewarding.  By seeing your fiance before the ceremony in an intimate sneak peek session, you can open the door to knock out all portraits before the ceremony.  This will allow you to walk out of the ceremony, straight into reception.  Or better yet, it will allow you much more time and flexibility  to create some amazing portraits with your spouse once you are married.  Have your photographer document your first time seeing each other in an intimate setting before the ceremony.  The hugs, the smiles, the tears, and the whispers will add beautiful images to your wedding album.  After 5 or 10 minutes, bring in the wedding party and family members so that the group portraits can be made.  It’s a beautiful thing!

 

5.  Narrow down the number of portraits made

Do you really need separate portraits made with the Wedding Party?  Would it be better to take one portrait of everyone, then take more casual portraits later at the reception (with different members).  Do you really need to take one image with the Bride’s grandparents then another with the Groom’s grandparents, or could you bring in all grandparents for one big portrait?  (Of course, your grandparents may want an individual shot with you.  Please honor them if so).  Do you really need one portrait with your whole family including brothers and sisters, then another with just Mom and Dad?  Or can you get by with one portrait of everyone?   Think about how the images will be used.  If it’s practical to include more people in each portrait- it will help you get to the reception quicker, where more casual portraits can be made with smaller groups of people.

 

Cheese 🙂

  1. Mandie: Great post! I shared on FB, couldn't agree more! January 26, 2010 at 10:46 am
  2. Khara Plicanic: amen! ;) January 26, 2010 at 9:47 am
  3. Evelyn: Mark, I'm with Valarie...could not have said it better either! Line leader is the best. I tell the bride to employ either a bossy (kidding, of course...heehee!) bridesmaid or a friend who doesn't mind having a list with the order of group shots. This way, that designated person has the list, lines them up, and we roll on through....thanks for sharing, friend. AWWW...I can't wait to get back HOME!!! Love my Louisiana people. :) GO SAINTS!!! January 26, 2010 at 12:11 am
  4. Valerie Metrejean: Oh how I wish I could share this with every couple I meet! Could not have said it better myself! January 25, 2010 at 10:43 pm
    • admin: Please feel free to share :) I think these few things could eliminate lots of stress from the wedding day for any bride. Thanks Valerie! January 25, 2010 at 11:29 pm
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What not to look for in a wedding photographer

Thanks to my friend Scott Neumeyer for this jewel:

  1. courtney: Hhaahaha PERFECT! That is hilarious. August 9, 2009 at 4:05 am