where to start is the hardest part.
That's where this guidebook comes in really handy. I created it with the hopes of helping couples find the photographer that will best tell the story of their wedding day. Even if that photographer doesn't end up being me. Because you, my friend, deserve awesome wedding photos.
Let's get started.
Oftentimes, your consultation with your photographer is one of your first of such meetings with potential vendors. It can be intimidating trying to think of all the things you want to ask while also not really being sure where to start. Here are a few things I believe are important to keep in mind when interviewing your potential photographer:
Are they invested in you?
My favorite part about meeting potential clients is getting to know them and getting a feel for their personalities. I think a photographer who takes the time to get to know their client is better able to capture their story as it unfolds throughout the wedding day. If the photographer you meet with is straight to business and more concerned about getting you to commit to a collection right then and there, it’s time to move on to the next one.
Do they have what you are looking for?
This one is pretty easy but takes a little bit of researching ahead of time. Visit the photographer’s website, check out their insta, and see if their style jives with you. No two photographers shoot and edit the same way, so you want to make sure the photographer you are meeting with captures the wedding day in a way you hope to have your wedding documented. Think about what is important to you. Do you like all of the details and moments documented in a very journalistic sense? Do you like the bride and groom portraits that take on a couture or high fashion look? Figure out what it is that makes your heart sing, and then visit their instagrams and see if you can find what you are looking for. If your vision and their work don’t match, then don’t waste your time (or ours) setting up a consultation, simply keep looking!
Is this photographer someone you feel comfortable being around?
It is our job to ask you to make out ALL DAY and then stick a camera in your face and document it. Sounds weird on paper (or in general), but having a photographer you are comfortable with will make the entire day SO MUCH MORE enjoyable. You spend the most time with your photographer, both planning and day of, so choose someone you wouldn’t mind being around on one of the best days of your life. The consultation is a great place to get a feel for your photographer’s personality, and if you like him/her, then you are off to a great start.
Your wedding day timeline!
Chances are, you’ve been up since the crack of dawn and are three coffees deep when your photographer shows up to start documenting the day. In order to not have to spend the next 15 minutes scrambling looking for your wedding invitation or picking your underwear up off the floor (no judgement, I get it), have the following things set for your photographer’s arrival:
+if you have anything sentimental that will be in your flowers or worn
Once your photographer has styled and shot all of the details, they will move on to capturing candids of the room. Here’s where you and your bridesmaids come into play! Please make sure your room is clean. If you are staying in a hotel, consider putting all of the bags in one of your bridesmaid’s rooms. Keep the food and drinks contained in one area, and make sure everything looks neat.
Let’s talk about light. When you are looking into suites, be sure to check out the window light situation. Any time I can shut off artificial lights in favor of natural lighting, I absolutely will. Natural light provides much better, cleaner, quality light. Your makeup artist and videographer will also kiss the ground you walk on if they arrive to a room basking in beautiful window light. Light is our love language.
Time allotted for photos:
1-1.5 hours bride
45 mins groom
What is it?
A first look involves the bride and groom seeing each other for the first time BEFORE the ceremony. It is a completely private moment set up by the photographers and videographers.
Why do it?
There are several reasons first looks have become increasingly popular.
+Privacy. It is a completely private moment between the bride and groom. This differs from the traditional first look which takes place in front of everyone during the ceremony. For the shy couple, the first look is an excellent option.
+Location. The environment is controlled. The videographer and photographer will scout the perfect location ahead of time and will escort the bride and groom to the location to ensure they don’t cross paths before the look.
+Timeline. It allows for bridal party and family portraits to be done before the ceremony, so the bride + groom spend more time at the cocktail hour and reception. Along those lines, family and bridal party portraits are easier done ahead of time, if possible, because trying to gather everyone after the ceremony can pose quite the challenge.
+Flexibility. If you choose not to do a first look, we really only have the window between the ceremony and reception to shoot everything, which logistically limits us to one photo location depending on the size of the break between the ceremony and reception.
+Relaxation. The more time we have to work with, the more relaxed the day can be. It’s as simple as that. The day goes by quickly enough as it is, and situations will arise, but having the additional padding in the schedule for pictures will give you peace of mind.
Personal and completely unsolicited advice...
At the end of the day, it is completely up to you whether or not to have a first look. When I got married, I wanted the first time I saw my husband to be at the end of the aisle. It may be the only traditional bone I have in my body, but I felt really strongly about it. I totally understood the limitations this placed on my photos, but it was part of my day I was most excited about, and the decision not to have a first look was my personal choice. You have the same choice. Keep in mind through all of your wedding planning that there is no one way to go about your wedding day and be very open with your photographer regarding what you want. We want to document your day exactly how you envision it!
Time allotted for photos:
bridal party + family portraits
If we do a first look, bridal party portraits will take place right after that, followed by family portraits. I aim to have the bride tucked away 30-45 minutes before the ceremony so she doesn’t get bombarded by excited guests arriving early to claim their seat for the ceremony.
This depends. If we do family photos ahead of time, I will scout a good location for family portraits. If they are done right after the ceremony, we will do them closer to the ceremony site to keep things simple.
Family portraits can be...well...challenging. Some people come from big ol’ families (I’m raising my hand over here), and commanding the attention of people I’ve never met while trying to make sure people are where they need to be (again, while having never met them) can end up being a pretty big cluster. Be sure to have a specific shot list for family photos organized by family, and be sure to notify family members letting them know that they will be in family photos either before or RIGHT after the ceremony. This part is crucial for family photo success. Also, try to strategically group family members to cut down on the number of photo groupings. I’d say 8-10 groups is the max you should aim for in the 30-35 minute family photo window.
Time allotted for photos
30-35 minutes bridal party
30-35 minutes family
Outdoor Location Considerations
Alllll the backlight
If you plan on having an outdoor ceremony, try to make sure you guys will be backlit, meaning the sun will be behind you and facing your guests. I know it’s not all about pictures on your wedding day, but making sure you are backlit will avoid squinting eyes and harsh shadows thrown across your faces. Nothing looks worse than when you are grimacing while stating your vows, even if the sun made you do it.
Don't let the sun go down on me
But honestly, let it get close. If you can, schedule your ceremony roughly 2 hours before sunset, depending on how long your ceremony will be. That way, as the ceremony goes on, the sun continues to lower in the sky basking you both in that amazing golden light. If you can’t, try to schedule your ceremony as late in the day as possible. Right after the ceremony, I will be grabbing just you two for some portraits.
Bride + groom portraits
I value the time I get with just the two of you, and I aim to efficiently utilize the time I have for bride + groom portraits. As soon as the ceremony is over, I will grab the two of you before auntie gets to you, and head on out for some portraits in that golden hour light I’ve spent the last ten paragraphs obsessing over. If we have done a first look, then this portrait session will be a sweet bonus to the amazing shots we got earlier. If we opted out of a first look, then this will be the window we get everything done. Either way, my goal is to get my favorite shots of the day in this little window and send you to party on, Wayne.
Just the two (three) of us
When I do bride + groom portraits, I ask that we keep it to just myself and the two of you. I understand sometimes parents or grandparents want to stay and watch, but really it distracts from what I am trying to document, which is the moment right after you guys have made it official!
Time allotted for photos
One element of decor I’d love to touch on are centerpieces. Something I’ve experienced once or twice in my day are centerpieces so large that I actually cannot see the bride and groom when standing in front of them. This poses a problem and limits the locations from which I can shoot you. Just something to keep in mind that may also help your floral budget.
Think outside these four walls
I love when couples get creative with their reception venue and vendors. Food trucks and open air receptions are a big trend right now, and I can’t say I’m upset about that. I love when couples come to me with unique venues that speak to their personalities, anything that makes the day more authentic is what I’m all about.
Phew! So, for the reception. Typically I stay through dinner, toasts, and first dances and capture about 30-45 minutes of dancing. In that time I am able to get all the shots I need (and then some) of the dance floor.
Time allotted for photos
1.5 hours for dinner
30-45 minutes dancing