Today is officially summer - YAY! This means a whole lotta sunshine, pool lounging, bonfires, picnics and porch sitting for many people. This ALSO means that wedding season is upon us here in Ohio and wedding planning is in its prime. I'll admit that I've been swept up in tons of wedding shooting, meetings, portrait sessions and everything in between and have totally been MIA on the blog for a couple of weeks. But I thought this week we'd talk about something that I think all brides can benefit from, especially since we're in the thick of wedding season. So here are some tips to helping all you couples maximize your time with your wedding photographer. Keep these things in mind while planning your wedding to help you navigate your wedding day timeline with ease.
1. Be on time. Better yet, be 10 minutes early!
I mean, I feel like this is pretty obvious. But when it comes to your wedding day, every little bit of time counts and it's VERY easy to get behind on the timeline. Maybe makeup runs over a little bit or you finish getting ready and are about to walk out of the door when you realize that you lost your hotel room key. I've seen both of these scenarios happen many times on a wedding day. One special trick is this - if you know you have to leave at 2pm, tell yourself that you need to be ready by 1:50pm. That way, when your hotel room key goes MIA, you have that extra time to find it and can still leave right on schedule.
2. Account for drive time.
With all of the other important details you spend time planning, sometimes you really don't think about how long it takes to get from point A to point B. Oddly enough, this little detail is actually very important when it comes to putting together your wedding day timeline. If you're taking your Bridal Party portraits at a location that is 30 minutes away from your ceremony venue and 15 minutes away from your reception venue, make sure you account for that time, plus an extra 15-20 minutes - just in case you hit traffic or something runs behind.
3. Have a First Look.
If you know me, you know I LOVE a good First Look! There are so many reasons why I encourage doing one (I wrote a blog about it and you can read it here). Aside from the emotional aspects of a First Look that I just love, doing one can really help you get the most out of your wedding day photography coverage. You can essentially get all of your Bridal Party portraits done, all before the ceremony. Wedding party photos are probably the most time consuming photos of the day and generally end up getting rushed to squeeze them in between the ceremony and reception. Don't forget about the family portraits that happen in between as well. And THEN driving from point A to point B. I think you catch my drift. When the First look and wedding party photos get done before the ceremony, you really get more control of your photos because you plan for more time. See, being ready early does have its perks ;]
4. Narrow down your list of family photos and STICK TO IT!
Since we mentioned those family portraits in the previous tip, let's talk about them a little more! During my weddings, I generally allot 30-45 minutes at most for these photos and encourage my couples to keep the list simple. There's this special type of beautiful chaos that happens after the ceremony ends. For many people, it's the first chance for them to mingle after the happy Mr. & Mrs. have made their way down the aisle. There's also no rush for them to leave since the next place they're going to is the reception. You obviously love seeing your guests having a good time and don't necessarily want to rush them, right? Because of this, sometimes it takes a lot longer to get the family shots started. The nice thing about having your family shot list completed before the wedding day is that once we do start taking these photos, we can breeze right through them with no problem. Keeping the list simple can help get the photos done quicker, leaving more time to get the first photos of you two as a married couple and also give your family more time to enjoy cocktail hour and mingling. For every single wedding, I ask my couples to have the final list confirmed a week prior to the wedding at the very latest. Once it's confirmed, my couples can let their family members know they need to stick around after the ceremony for photos. This usually helps keep the amount of people we have to hunt down for the photos at a minimum, making the photos go much more quickly and smoothly.
5. Don't schedule your ceremony and reception times too close together.
One big mistake I see often is when couples choose to not do a first look, but then schedule there ceremony and reception within an hour or two of each other. This typically only works out if your wedding is in the same location or you've planned to do your wedding party photos before the ceremony. Remember all of the photo opportunities you have to complete before the reception begins as you're planning your ceremony and reception times. As a quick tip, plan for a cocktail hour to keep your guests entertained and give you more time for photos!
6. For Bridal Party photos, pick a couple of locations rather than three or four.
If you've read this far, then you can probably guess where I'm going with this. Having fewer locations to travel to will minimize your drive time and maximize your picture time. This is especially helpful if you have a larger Bridal Party. You'd be surprised at how difficult it is to get a large group of people in the same place at the same time, especially if they've been drinking prior to that :P
7. Plan ahead.
When it comes down to it, planning ahead can help keep those wedding day surprises to a minimum. If you're getting married in Cleveland and really want to go downtown for photos, check to see what events are happening on that day, figure out parking prior to and keep traffic patterns in mind. The same thing goes for Youngstown weddings. Mill Creek is a popular place for photos, and also a popular place for wedding events, runs, bike races and more. If you have a limo, there are also permit fees you have to pay to drive into the park and certain places the limos are not allowed to drive to. Do your research so you can feel confident on your wedding day timeline.
8. Communicate with your photographer.
I sound like a broken record when it comes to communication, but it's VITAL in ensuring that everyone is on the same page. If you have questions, don't be afraid to reach out and ask! It's what we're here for :]
Remember, wedding days are a lot less stressful if you're prepared. And I'm pretty sure being over-prepared never hurt :P Happy planning!