After getting engaged, you decide to start planning your wedding. You made a guest list, send out save the dates and book your venue. All the basics are covered, but something feels missing.
Since I’ve been to a hundred weddings, I created this guide to help couples with small details that you might not think about if you aren't working in the wedding industry. I’ve included some lighting tips, and a few things that are as often overlooked, but easy to do. I hope you’ll take something away from this guide and that it will help make wedding planning a bit easier for you!
Planning What to Bring
Any details you want photographed should be with you at your getting ready location. This may include:
- wedding rings
- ring boxes
- wedding invitations
- other jewelry and accessories
- special mementos or notes
It's totally up to you what details I will photograph! Some couples want everything photographed and others don't like detail photos at all.
I would suggest bringing a nice, plain hanger for the wedding dress or attire. Wooden hangers photograph especially well, no matter the finish.
Where to Get Ready
Get ready somewhere pretty! Hotels are convenient but often have sprinklers, fire alarms, and unattractive curtains. I recommend looking into Air Bnb, friend’s places, and bridal suites at the venue.
Ideal locations will have large windows for natural light, lots of space, and interesting but minimal decor. Try to keep bags, trash and other clutter in a separate room or area. It's easy to quickly explode into a getting ready space.
If you use a professional makeup artist, ask to see real wedding photos of their clients. I hear a lot of people say heavy makeup shows up lighter in photos, and while this is often true, it may be assuring to see for yourself.
Another way to preview how your makeup will look is to schedule an engagement, bridal or boudoir shoot on the same day as your makeup trial.
Planning for Formal Photos
Though I don’t feature many on my website, I do shoot formal photos at almost every wedding. To get through these quickly and efficiently, I recommend having a list of the different groupings you’d like ahead of time. The list should start big and go smaller so that individuals can head to cocktail hour as soon as possible instead of waiting around. Email your list to me in advance.
If you would like photos of your reception setup, it’s best for me to have 10-15 minutes in the space by myself. A good time for this is before the ceremony while you’re hidden away from arriving guests. You can also keep the reception closed during cocktail hour and I can shoot before everyone comes in. If your reception is in a different location from the ceremony, a second shooter is great for this; they can photograph these details while I am still doing portraits.
Planning for Lighting on your Wedding Day
The softest light of the day is going to be 2 hours before the sun sets, and this can be a great starting point for your wedding day timeline. What time of year it is, whether your ceremony is indoors or outdoors and which direction the sunset occurs relative to your venue are all important to consider as well.
For example, for an outdoor ceremony in the summer, I would recommend having your ceremony at the beginning of that 2 hour window and shooting couple portraits toward the end of it. In the winter, it’s best to schedule your ceremony after the sun has set and take all portraits beforehand since the sun sets so much earlier.
If you’re having any portraits done outside of that 2 hour window, such as the first look, you’ll want to plan for a location with some shade. Large trees, buildings with nice exteriors or even interesting interiors with big windows are a few options for this. The best way to anticipate lighting on your wedding day is to look at real wedding photos at your venue. Don’t worry if it ends up being cloudy! Clouds actually offer a lot of freedom for portraits because we no longer have to worry about harsh shadows.
If your reception is outdoors, the elusive blue hour occurs right when the sun has set. This can be a magical backdrop for something special like a first dance or cake cutting.
For the reception, ask your DJ not to use any colored lights during special dances. I love to take fun photos with colorful rainbow lights, but you don’t want to have blue faces during your first dance as a married couple. Save the rainbow lights for when the dance party gets started.
There’s a lot to consider, and I’m happy to give advice for capturing desired natural lighting based on your specific wedding details.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read over this guide! I really hope you’ve found something here to help you in your planning. If you have any specific questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to me.
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