If you find yourself googling all kinds of wedding planning tips, HEEEEEYYY GIRL, this blog is for you! By this point, you've probably already booked your wedding photographer. (If not, click here and read this to help you in your search.) I'm sure you've gotten TONS of info from your tog and I'm sure they've stressed some really important bullet points for your wedding day. These things will help you get the most out of your photography experience.
You may be saying, "Well I don't really remember all of the stuff my tog said! Crap! I was so stressed with booking vendor after vendor. How could I possibly remember everything?!" Girl, don't worry! That's a TOTALLY normal reaction! I felt the exact same way when I was planning my own wedding, and I AM a wedding photographer! Do me a favor and get comfy on the couch, grab a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and keep reading because I have some tips for you in working with your wedding photographer so you can get the most out of your whole wedding experience. These may be things you've heard before, but trust me, they ARE important!
Plan out your pre-wedding routine
Ya'll, THIS. IS. KEY. If your wedding day starts of stressed and unorganized, guess what? That sets the mood for the rest of the day. If you run late getting ready, then the rest of the day is pushed behind. And when the rest of the day is pushed behind, you may be cutting out VITAL images for your wedding collection, simply because there is no time. So let's get organized!
Start off by really thinking about where you're getting ready and when. Natural light is a photographer's BFF, so if the room you're getting ready in is limited to only a few windows, know that the window light is the first place your tog will want to go to shoot. That being said, simplify the clutter. You probably have a million and one things you have to take with you that day, plus all of your bridesmaid's clothes, shoes, bras, makeup, etc. Try to keep those things organized and off to the side. You don't want those things in the background, distracting your eye from the focal point of your images.
Along those same lines, keep all of your details (dress, jewelry, shoes, stationary, etc.) in one spot so when your tog arrives, he/she can jump right into styling those shots and spend less time gathering items to shoot. This will lead to more candid shots of you and your girls.
Make the important people part of your morning routine
Let's face it, if you're surrounded by your closest friends and family your less likely to be stressed or nervous. This can help with any pre-wedding jitters AND allow for your photographer to get some great candid shots to add a more personal element to your wedding collection. Nothing will melt your mom's heart more than a sweet, intimate moment of her and her daughter before she becomes a Mrs. Plan for these important people to get dressed right before you do so that way your tog can capture some great moments with these people afterwards and no one is worrying about their mismatched outfit :P
Be aware of your timeline
For every wedding I shoot, I work closely with my couples to make sure we have enough time for the important shots. Here's a general guideline that I send to them so they know how much shooting time is needed for certain portions of the day:
- 1 hour for Groom getting ready shots
- 1-1.5 hours for Bride getting ready shots
- 30-45 minutes for Family Portraits (the formal posed shots)
- 30-45 minutes for Bridal Party Portraits
- 30-45 minutes for Bride & Groom, but the more time the better!
Keep in mind that this does not include the logistics (travel time to each location, gathering people for the shots, gathering details from the ceremony venue to the limo, etc.). Most importantly, if you have any questions about your timeline, don't be afraid to ask your photographer, and ask them early on in the planning process!! For real. The sooner you clarify things with your tog, the easier it is for you if you need to adjust your ceremony time, hair and makeup appointment, etc.
Choose to do a First Look
If you don't know what a First Look is, it is where the Bride and Groom see each other privately before the ceremony. This allows for some REALLY great photo opportunities and can help out your timeline a great deal if you're struggling to squeeze everything in. When you do a first look, you can essentially get all of your Bridal Party shots done prior to the wedding. If you're planning a late ceremony that goes right into cocktail hour (think same venue for ceremony and reception) then this is a great option for you. I wrote a whole blog on First Looks, which you can read here.
Don't forget about the light!
No matter what season your wedding is in, it's important to know the sun's schedule. If you are planning a Winter wedding, the window of opportunity for shooting in soft, glowy light is MUCH earlier than a Summer wedding. And if you're planning a Summer wedding, the light may still be pretty harsh at 5pm during your ceremony. These are huge factors in planning your whole day. First Looks are a really great option for Winter weddings so you can take advantage of the sunlight early in the day, and if you want that golden hour light for your Summer wedding, plan a little time during your reception to sneak outside for some sunset shots.
Be clear on shooting locations
Knowing ahead of time where you want to shoot for your bridal party photos is super important. Once you nail those down, your tog can determine drive time and really tell you the logistics of how long these portraits are going to take. Remember, if you're planning on shooting at a popular wedding party location, you may need to account for a little extra time for waiting to get that shot right in front of the big fountain or the shot that overlooks the lake, as other wedding parties might already be shooting there at the same time.
Plan your Family Portraits shot list and stick to it
These posed family shots are generally done after the ceremony, and time is usually very limited between the ceremony and reception. Your tog has the task of rounding up everyone, posing them, making sure no one blinks and shuffling in a new group of people for 20 or 30 different posed shots, all in a very short period of time. Having this shot list planned out and given to your photographer at least one week prior to your wedding is KEY! And once that list is made, STICK TO IT. Constantly adding and removing groups of people muddies the waters, so keep it simple and straight forward. This will help your day go smoother. I find that most of my couples keep their list to immediate family and we run through these photos in no time. When making your list, keep in mind what shots your parents would want to print and hang on their wall. Your mom might want a shot of her, you and your brother while your dad may really cherish a nice shot of him and his baby girl. Keep those in mind, and know that you and your husband-to-be have the ultimate decision on that final list.
Don't plan your wedding day photos around your Pinterest board
Seriously, don't. There are so many gorgeous pictures floating around on the internet, and they're great to draw inspiration from. But know that each wedding is different and each wedding is unique. Conditions vary, from color palette to decor to lighting to backdrops. Don't get caught up in your wedding board. Trust your photographer. You hired them to do a job and they really want to create gorgeous, swoon worthy photos for you. Instead of sending your tog a giant Pinterest board of photos, I highly encourage you to really evaluate WHY you love these photos and express that to your tog instead. Generally speaking, you should hire your photographer in large part for their particular shooting style, and they should deliver a similar caliber of work that you hired them for. So that being said, if there's a particular pose you like, let them know. If you like a cropped in photo of a bride and groom that's super intimate and raw and romantic, you probably hired a photographer who showcased that in their portfolio anyway and they will create photographs that are intimate and romantic that are tailored to YOU as a couple.
Don't be afraid to ask questions!
That's what we're here for! Keep in mind your photographer's preferred method of communication, too. We're in an age where we can get ahold of someone in 15 different ways, which is great! But when you're texting and Facebook messaging and emailing, details are bound to get lost. I prefer email, so I can keep all my wedding communications in one place to easily access each client's wedding when I go to create their timeline. If you're unsure, ask your tog what the best way for you to contact them is so ya'll can stay on the same page from the get go. Communication is key, ya'll!