Below are a few ideas I’ve learned along the way that might help you plan for the big day.
Decide early on whether you want a quieter morning of getting ready alone; getting ready with just a couple of your closest friends; or having a room full of people around. Each arrangement provides a very different energy and environment. And it’s important to know ahead of time how your own demeanor and personal needs will mix with each situation.
Hair and Makeup
As you’re fleshing out your wedding-day schedule, ask your hair/makeup artist for an estimated time on how long this process will take, and then add at least 30 minutes as a buffer.
Before you book your church, please be sure to ask whether photography is allowed and if there are any restrictions. I’m happy to work with anything, but it’s important for your own peace of mind to have realistic expectations in advance.
Generally, the best time for an outdoor ceremony is 2-3 hours before sunset. The later time ensures the sunlight falls more evenly on the skin tones (no harsh shadows), and is consistent for both the bride and groom (so you don’t have one person in the light, and the other in shadow).
Always have your photographers ride with you when possible. In the car on the way to the ceremony; in the limo on the way to the reception. You will get some of the most intimate moments captured this way, and also some of the wildest.
One of the most important parts of your wedding day is taking the time to make creative portraits of the two of you. Make sure to carve out 30 minutes to an hour for this. I’ll guide you through everything, but it’s important to remember these portraits require patience and tenacity, and occasionally an adventurous endeavor or two.
Family Group Shots
We recommend doing immediate family only right after the ceremony (parents, siblings, grandparents, wedding party). If you have bigger groups, do them at the reception right after the cake cutting. Just have the DJ or band make an announcement.
Include Photographers on the Guest List
This accomplishes three important things for you and me. 1) Send me an invitation like everyone else; this gives me time to photograph it for you in advance instead of getting a quick shot on the wedding day. 2) If your photographers are on the guest list, they will be seated with the guests, which ensures they are always with you and will never miss a moment of your reception. 3) This also ensures we are fed in a timely manner (instead of a cold sandwich in a back office far away from you when speeches are happening). Food is energy, and energetic, happy photographers are exactly what you want when you have four hours of dancing ahead of you.
The more lighting you can bring in, the better! I love uplighting (orange, red, purple and pink look the best; stay away from green); candles, chandeliers and twinkle lights.
I love tent receptions, because the white canvas works really well with the way I use my flashes. To make it even prettier, add some sparkly chandeliers or lanterns, and lots of candles on the tables.
Outdoor Reception Lighting
If you’re having a completely open-air reception, under the stars, I’d recommend adding as much extra lighting as possible, such as strands of twinkle lights and candles in hurricane vases. More the merrier. The extra lighting will help warm up your photos and add a prettier, more dynamic dimension. Otherwise, you will have a completely black background unless the reception takes place during the day.
Embrace the Unexpected
Allow your wedding day to simply be what it is. Whether that means inclement weather, forgetting that bracelet you wanted to wear, or events running way off schedule. Keeping an open mind will allow spontaneity and magic to surprise and delight you, and make your wedding uniquely yours.