Over the years I’ve seen many brides go into their wedding day thinking that the key to getting great photos comes down to the perfect makeup, perfect weather and having the best locations. They’re important, yes. Often overlooked though, is having enough time in the schedule.
On the surface, it’s clear you need to have time to take the photos. If the scheduled time for photos gets cut, so will the number of photos you get. Less obvious, I can’t Photoshop out stress. If your 1.5 hours for bridals starts looking like an hour or even 45 minutes, you can really tense up. Rather than taking it slow, carefully crafting each shot, you can look rushed and awkward.
So let’s talk about how to schedule enough precious time to get all the beautiful photos of your dreams! Let’s build a schedule around hiring me for the whole day with the ceremony at 4pm.
Getting the guys done first and out of the way is a really important part of the puzzle. I like to start the day early with the guys. We’ll meet somewhere fun. They might want to go play 9 holes of golf, play some tennis or go for a bike ride. 6 or 7am start. Get back to their room at 8 for showers and getting ready. Move into formals of the Groom at 8:30. 9am, bring in the groomsmen and shoot all the men together. Finish them by 9:30.
I’m often asked what they do for the rest of the day before the wedding starts. That’s up to them. Most usually get out of their tuxedos and goof off.
I like to take about an hour break at this point. I’ll eat now because I won’t have time to take a break until the couple sits down for dinner 8-10 hours later.
I’ll arrive at the bridal suite at 10:30am and get started shooting details. I’ll get the gown, the bouquet and any accessories the bride is wearing. Make sure all the rings are here too.
Another critical detail to keep things on schedule is the position in the order for the bride’s hair and makeup with the bridesmaids. Some makeup artists like to have the bride go last thinking her makeup will be fresh for pictures. Touch ups are easy to make and it’s much more important that the bride be ready on time. I can’t count how many brides who went last and ended up running late because hair and makeup often take longer than expected. So go 2nd or 3rd to last. A good MUA will know this already. Be wrapping up your makeup by 11:00. I like to get makeup shots when you’re 80% of the way finished. We can shoot some boudoir and then have you get into your dress and ready for bridals by 11:30 or 11:45.
We’ll be spending quite a bit of time shooting bridals, but it goes fast! I can easily spend 1.5 hours with the bride. That gives us time to set up complex shots or travel to a cool location. At 1pm, I’ll bring the bridesmaids in and we’ll get some fun shots together for 30min.
The First Look
This is the last big key to getting a lot of great shots. I totally respect the couples that want to stay traditional but more and more are taking the “first look” option. If you wait to see each other at the ceremony, we’ll have to do the romantics with the bride and groom after the ceremony while your guests wait. In my experience, I’ve found that seeing each other alone in a quiet place is a wonderful moment to share together and it doesn’t take anything away from the emotions later when the bride comes down the aisle. I highly recommend doing this.
So next, I’d have you do a First Look at 1:30 and we’d move into romantics until 2:30.
Next, we’ll bring in the full wedding party and shoot for 30 more minutes.
Your guests will start to arrive an hour early. So, I like to put all of you away and let you relax and possibly have a bite of food for that hour.
At this time, all the decorations should be out. So I’ll go into the reception area and get shots of all the decorations and the details you spent all that time designing.
The Ceremony starts at 4 and usually goes fast. 15 minutes is common.
Immediately after the wedding, I’ll get shots of you greeting your guests in the receiving line. We’ll keep the family nearby and knock out the family photos next.
It’s all easy from here on out. Usually, the DJ has worked out an order of events with you, so I’ll just check in with them to see how the evening will progress. I like to pull the couple out one more time at sunset, so I’ll work with the DJ and fit in another 15-30 minutes when the light starts poppin and we’ll cap off the formals with some really dramatic shots.
Throughout the reception, I’ll be catching all the dancing and festivities until you get sent off at the end of the evening.
Your wedding doesn’t have to feel like you’re always running to catch up. No rushing through when you can actually enjoy the small moments.
There are three big takeaways. Get the guys shot and finished first thing in the morning. Have the bride get her hair and makeup done up in the middle of the lineup with all the bridesmaids so she isn’t the one running late when the stylist runs behind. Last, embrace the modern tradition of doing a “First Look” before the ceremony so we don’t make your guests wait a long time after the ceremony to begin the ceremony.