We are often asked for help with how to take good wedding photos and preliminary wedding day timelines (or at least asked to weigh in on timeline drafts by wedding planners), as many of our clients want to ensure we have enough time to create the types of images they’re hoping to see from their wedding.
There are a few key considerations for building a wedding timeline that maximizes opportunities for great photos; these are some of our best tips and suggestions for optimal photography conditions.
If we ask for extra time in your timeline draft, it’s because we really need it. We’re not trying to be greedy and we definitely don’t think this day should be all about the photographer. But we need time to get creative and we’ve photographed enough weddings that we know what we need to get into the right headspace to produce beautiful images.
The photographer you choose for your wedding day should be someone you trust, so trust the time they say they need. If it seems off to you, it’s okay to ask questions so that you can understand what to expect and be on the same page. Communication is key.
Sharing a pre-ceremony moment with each other also gives us an additional segment of portrait time. This helps break up the time you’re focused on having your photo taken; it helps avoid “photo fatigue” and shortens photography time so you can actually enjoy your cocktail hour instead of using the entire hour to take care of family, wedding party, AND couple’s portraits.
Couples who do a first look also usually opt to take care of wedding party portraits before the ceremony, which means the only posed photos we’ll need immediately following the ceremony are of family groupings. MUCH easier.
We will never force you to do a first look. This is YOUR day, not ours. But we just ask you to consider the benefits of doing a first look (and know that most of the moments we’ve witnessed have just as much, if not more, emotion and intimacy as the “big moment” when the bride comes down the aisle).
We love the chance to sneak you away from the reception for 15-20 minutes (usually during dinner service, so your guests won’t even know you’re gone) right before the sun sets for what you’ve probably heard of as “golden hour” portraits. This is the most beautiful light of the day so we get pretty excited about it. Again, this just means we’re breaking up your bride-and-groom portrait time into smaller segments; you’ll feel like we’re just taking brief pauses for a few photos, instead of kidnapping you for half the day for an extensive portrait session (but you’ll end up with even better photos because you’ll be avoiding that “photo fatigue” I talked about earlier in the first look article).
If you give us a list of “must have” shots (other than family photo groupings) or want us to keep checking Pinterest for shots you’d like to copy, it takes time away from actual photo-taking. We’d much rather focus on the organic moments of YOUR wedding and create authentic images to represent the day as it unfolds. We promise that we know to take photos of key moments like your first kiss as husband and wife, your bridal bouquet, and even your grandparents cutting a rug on the dance floor. We got this.
Even your wedding planner will tell you that timelines are a guideline; they aren’t written in stone. Some things will run late, others will be early. A good idea is to build in some 15-minute cushions here and there; for example, if you anticipate your ceremony will be 30 minutes, maybe give it 45 minutes on the timeline. That means you can begin a little late to accommodate guest arrivals, or if your officiant turns out to be long-winded, you’ll have that extra wiggle room in the timeline so you don’t have to panic about an abbreviated cocktail hour.
Also, trust your wedding planner when they recommend certain timeframes for stuff like makeup and getting dressed. You might be thinking about how long it takes you to put on makeup and get dressed in the morning before you go to work; bridal makeup and your wedding dress are not the same as your typical workday. They will take longer than you might expect (this also depends on the type of dress you’re wearing — corset tops or lots of buttons will take longer than zippers, for example).
Some of the most impactful photos you see in our portfolios were taken when all these factors where considered in the timeline and our couples made the time to capture such amazing imagery. Planning your time with realistic photography expectations in mind allows you to keep from feeling rushed. The more relaxed you are, the happier and more beautiful you’ll be in your wedding day photography collection.