Weddings run behind schedule all the time. If yours is running late don't worry, no one is getting married without you. I really do mean that, it can feel stressful or that nothing is going according to plan, but trust me, every wedding I've ever photographed has ended with the bride and groom saying "I do" and driving off into the sunset after an amazing reception. As a vendor, I've noticed there are a few things that can help keep the wedding on track, and as a photographer specifically, there are a few tips I’d like to share with you!
Some of my favorite pictures of the day come from the getting ready moments. Hair and makeup can take hours to complete and I do not need to photograph the hours of prep that goes into the final look. Some brides like everything to be captured, but the prime time for me to start taking getting ready pictures is 30-60 minutes prior to putting on the dress. This allows me to capture candid moments of the ladies getting ready, the groomsmen, who may be getting ready on the other side of the venue, the dress hanging, the details of the veil, flowers, jewelry, all the girls lined up in their matching robes or jammies, etc.
Putting on the dress. I think it is safe to say we've all waited for this moment since we were little girls, and I think that's why these pictures are so precious. This may take longer than you think, it's not the same as trying on the dress in a shop. On your wedding day, you have hair and makeup that you carefully have to dress around, you can't skip every other button this time, hair and makeup might need to be touched up afterward, the veil can be a new obstacle to add, jewelry has to be put on, and so forth. I also recommend we take a few bridal portraits at this special time to capture all the details and thought that went into the way you look on your wedding day.
Typically the guys have their getting ready pictures done right before the first look once they are already dressed and just have the accessories to put on such and the vest. These pictures can take just a few minutes to capture.
* I recommend whoever is helping the bride get dressed (typically the mother) is dressed with hair and makeup already done before the bride since she will be photographed during this moment.
* Have your bridesmaids keep their things tidy. If everyone keeps their own clutter/clothes/drinks/trash/makeup in their bags the room will become more photogenic.
* Makeup has a way of hiding from the camera, if it feels like it is put on a little thicker than normal it's probably on just right for pictures. Your MUA should know what to do! False lashes go a long way, even if you are doing your own makeup I recommend investing in a pair of lashes!
*Hair and makeup almost always runs late, make sure your timeline allows for the ladies to run 30 minutes behind schedule.
If you want to go the traditional route and see each other for the first time at the ceremony then go for it! Ultimately, I am along for the ride and will work with whatever happens, but there are reasons to why I'm partial to a First Look Timeline, and I think they are worth considering. Here are a few things to keep in mind when planning your traditional timeline:
- This tradition was made long before cameras. Even up through the 90s the expectations for wedding pictures was to have a picture with the bridal party, a picture with the family, and then take a few pictures of the bride and groom. The whole thing took less than one roll of film and could be captured in 30 minutes. Nowadays, thanks to the memory card, things are a little more extensive. Most likely you are wanting more than just 5 pictures to take from your wedding party, goofy pictures, candids, the bride alone with each bridesmaid, the whole party, just the groomsmen, different family groupings and so on. This is a really fun part of the wedding day (it was actually my favorite part of my own wedding) and it takes time to capture it.
-Cocktail hour is going to run past one hour. I like to have 30 minutes with the bride/groom, 30 with the bridal party, 30 with family for photos. We can do it in less time to capture the essentials, just know there will be fewer photos if we designate less time. In addition to a cocktail hour, most couples are also signing their license, grabbing a bite to eat, being swarmed by friends and family, (remember you just got married 10 minutes ago and everyone wants to congratulate you), and taking a moment to themselves before the reception. Cocktail hour quickly turns to 2 hours. If this sounds like it is worth it to keep the wedding tradition, then let's do it! There are ways to organize the family and to plan ahead in order to make this a smooth process for you. I am here to help!
First Look Timeline
If you are open to new traditions, the first look has quickly become the tradition of our time.
Here's the timeline I recommend for your wedding:
15 minutes | Set up and complete the first look
30 minutes | Bride & Groom photos
30 minutes | Bridal party photos
30 minutes | Family photos
There are a lot of benefits that come from doing the first look, here are my favorites
- All the nerves and jitters cease at the moment the bride and groom finally see and embrace one another. It's always nice to get those nerves out sooner than later. -Speaking from personal experience and as a vendor!
- The formal pictures can be taken prior to the ceremony and done with so that for the rest of the day you can eat, drink, and be married. Once pictures are done you no longer have to pay attention to the clock.
-We can take pictures anywhere on campus or even off campus! Once all the guests have been set loose from the ceremony area they tend to go wherever they want, and that's usually wherever the bride and groom are. If pictures are taken during cocktail hour we may have a limited amount of places we can go to escape the crowd in order to get photos done on time.
-Cocktail hour can be spent celebrating and signing papers rather than posing for pictures. You just got married! Even though taking these pictures are usually a fun part of the wedding, I've noticed couples feel stressed when taking pictures while their guests are waiting for them.
-The couple can have a little time together before the ceremony and doesn't have to worry about hiding from eachother before walkiung down the aisle.
FAMILY PICTURES - Family has a weird way of disappearing on the wedding day. No couple thinks it will happen to them until we are trying to take pictures and suddenly can't find Auntie Barb, and then find out the Father of the Groom doesn’t have his suit on yet. To avoid this, I highly -no, I HIGHLY recommend creating a list of family members you want to be included in the family portrait session and email/text it to every single person on that list, along with where they need to meet and when. Send it out a day in advance, make an announcement at the dinner rehearsal, let them be thinking about it before the wedding. Give them a time to meet that is 10 minutes before they actually need to be there. If you don't know where the family pictures are going to be taken don't worry, just give them a location such as the wedding alter to meet at, we can direct them all from there once it's picture time.
TIMELINE - Have the wedding timeline handy. Either printed out or sent to everyone's phones. The more people can answer their own questions the less you have to worry about the day of.
TRAVEL - If you are traveling from different locations make sure to overestimate travel time.
Weddings in the Rain
If the forecast predicts rain on your wedding day you may want to invest in a cute bundle of matching umbrellas or tell your bridal party/family members to each bring one for pictures.
There can be some really cute pictures in the rain and getting wet doesn't scare me! I'll also be scouting around the area for backup plans to make sure we get good photos, rain or shine. There are some fun ways to embrace the rain on your weddings day with the umbrellas, rain boots, blankets!
I have photographed outdoor weddings that rained through the entire reception and it was not an issue. People sat with their umbrellas and the rain added a little excitement to the day. There was a time the rain was coming down so hard during the family pictures that there was no way for the camera (or the family) to see through the rain! We resulted in taking the pictures inside. It wasn't what the bride and groom originally had in mind for their wedding but it was what we had to do and the pictures turned out great.
Rain is not always a bad thing, sure it may mean having an indoor reception instead of an outdoor, but all in all, I've never seen rain ruin a wedding. I actually love photographing the rain just as much as golden hour sunlight. The raindrops frozen in the air are priceless and you'll never forget the adventure it brings on your wedding day!
The Send Off
SPARKLER EXITS - I LOVE a good sparkler exit. There's a lot of factors that go into making one turn out like all the beautiful, picture-perfect photos scattered across Pinterest. Some of these things you may not be able to control but here are some things you can:
- Provide enough for everyone to have at least two sparklers.
- Have your MC give direction to everyone on where to line up, then pass out the sparklers.
- Before the sparklers are lit, have your MC give clear instructions that the second/third sparkler is only to be lit once the first sparkler is running out, and to not light them all at the same time. I have seen so many sparkler exits where the sparks are all gone by the time the bride and groom start to run through the line. Having two/three sparklers per person prolongs the spark and allows for some extra pictures among the fireworks!
- Have 2-4 people designated to help light the sparklers from each end of each line. I've seen weddings where there is one or two fire sources and the crowd has to go to them then line up after the sparklers are already lit, it just doesn't work, it's like herding cats with lit tails.
SPARKLER TYPES - Consider the type of sparklers you are using. Every wedding I've been to or photographed has used Champagne Sparklers. They are beautiful, classy and provide a nice light/color, all around a great choice. I recommend getting the longest ones you can find. There has been only one wedding that used Morning Glory Sparklers, and I have to say it was so much fun! They provided super fun colors, really cool smoke, they also provided A LOT more light than Champagne Sparklers. If you are having your send off well into the night, and want to do something unique, then Morning Glories are for you! The picture on the right is of a Morning Glory send off, taken sometime around 11 PM with only a string of lights in the distance for a light source.
Whether it's a sparkler, bubble, rose petal, glow stick, lavender, or even just two rows of your guests cheering, I have one suggestion for you that will make all the difference: Take your time with the send-off! If you want to run, run! Go through then run back to the middle and give your spouse a kiss or a dip and provide the perfect photo opportunity in the midst of all the excitement! You can finish the rest of the exit running, skipping, lead frogging, walking, whatever you want. This is such a great moment for pictures, and the guests LOVE it. I love it too. Heck, everyone loves it!