A NOTE FROM YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER
I’m so excited to help you prep for your wedding day!
I’ve put these tips to help provide guidance and help run your wedding smoothly based on my experience of capturing 100+ weddings.
I love being a documentary style photographer. I take a hands-off approach for a majority of a wedding day. I take a step back and capture moments as they naturally unfold. I try to find a happy medium between my ninja-like abilities while also making you and your loved ones feel at ease. I may however ask you to shift where you’re standing for better lighting/composition to make your photos better.
When I photograph portraits - either of the two of you, bridal party or family group photos - I do provide direction so you don’t have to worry about posing or where to place your hands. My intention with directing you is to make sure all of the photos look as candid as possible, even though guidance is involved. This is to ensure we get a wide range of emotions and different parts of your dynamic captured - the goofy, silly, romantic, etc - all the different parts that define your relationship. You’ll get an idea of what this means when we capture your engagement session. In fact, this is one of the reasons of why I include engagement sessions in my packages so that you can get more comfortable in front of the camera and get an idea on what working together looks like prior to your wedding day.
KEEP THINGS CLEAN: The less clutter in your room, the better your photos will look! Hide or throw away whatever you don't need. I recommend assigning this task to your cleanest friend because they’ll get joy out of clearing spaces, right?… Right?!
NATURAL LIGHT, BABY: Get ready in a space that has as much window light as possible. Set up your chair next to a window.
MAKEUP: If you typically don't wear makeup, don't feel obligated to wear a lot. I know the internet may tell you differently but you want to recognize your self in the photos. If you feel great, you'll exude more confidence which will make your photos look amazing. Same idea goes for hair. Bottom line: You'll look great if you feel great!
HAVE A SOLID BREAKFAST: Once you're done getting ready, you may not eat anything until dinner!
The first look is when the couple sees each other for the first time before the ceremony and have a few moments alone. I love capturing first looks. Not all couples choose to do this, but I'm a big fan and here's why:
1. A MOMENT OF INTIMACY: There are many romantic moments on your wedding day, but most of them are in front of a crowd. The first look is a unique opportunity for the two of you to be alone, catch your breath, be present with one another and remind each other that YOU'VE GOT THIS!
2. TIMELINE EFFICIENCY: If you see each other before the ceremony, you can allocate time for bridal party and formal group photos beforehand. By freeing your schedule up, the first looks allow you to enjoy your own cocktail hour. You want your wedding day to be enjoyable and stress-free (as much as possible), with that in mind, getting as much done before the ceremony will always help!
3. MORE PHOTO VARIETY: The first look is another chance to capture portraits of the two of you, thereby offering you a better variety of photographs.
FORMAL GROUP PHOTOS
I believe in the importance of formal photos and am happy to photograph as many as you'd like. I work quickly while making sure that everyone looks great so that you can all go back to enjoying the celebrations. Keep in mind that the more time spent on formal group photos means that I have less time to capture candid moments happening elsewhere.
BUDGET ENOUGH TIME: On average, couples that only want a handful of group photos set aside approx. 20 minutes. Couples who want A LOT of group photos tend to set aside 45 minutes to an hour. Remember, all weddings are different and the amount of time you need may vary from the average so I recommend setting aside 10 minutes to gather people & 3 minutes for every single group you want photographed.
ASSIGN A HELPER: Ask someone who knows your loved ones to assist me during group photos. It'll be a much smoother & faster process if I have the help of someone who recognizes your guests to round them up for each photo!
ONE LOCATION IS BEST: I suggest choosing one location only - this creates image consistency, as well as making the process faster and easier.
TRICK YOUR FAMILY: This is a little bit of a white lie BUT I promise it’s good-willed! Tell your family to meet at the location 10 minutes before we actually start shooting. It’s better for people to be waiting for you then wasting time waiting for people to show up!
FORMAL VS. INFORMAL: How your group photos look is totally up to you. They can be stiff and very formal, or super laid back, sweet or goofy. It really depends on your personalities + relationship dynamics + what you want.
Formal Group Photo Sample List:
B = BRIDE, G = GROOM
B with Parents (together and individually)
B&G with B's parents
B with B's immediate family
B&G with B's immediate family
B with B's siblings
B&G with B's siblings
B with B's grandparents
B&G with B's grandparents
B&G with B's aunts & uncles
B&G with B's cousins
B&G with B's best friends
G with G's parents (together and individually)
B&G with G's parents
G with G's immediate family
B&G with G's immediate family‘
G with G's siblings
B&G with G's siblings
G with G's grandparents
B&G with G's grandparents
B&G with G's aunts and uncles
B&G with G's cousins
B&G with G's best friends
SCHEDULE FOR SUNSET: schedule your outdoor ceremony right before sunset, when the sun isn’t directly above you. The lighting will be perfect and your guests will thank you for not having to sweat profusely during the mid-day heat!
TAKE THE SUN INTO CONSIDERATION: where the sun is in relation to the two of you is extremely important. Harsh, uneven light or spotty sunlight (if there will be both shadows and light) is NOT ideal.
Make sure that you’re both standing in the same lighting condition. If one person is in the light the other person should also be in the light; NOT in the shade. If you're getting married outside in the middle of the day, make sure that the sun will be BEHIND you. Not only will the photos look better, but you won't be squinting!
SHADE IS IDEAL: To build on the previous point - the most ideal lighting situation is if everyone - or at least you and your partner - are in complete shade.
TAKE IT ALL IN: Walk very slowly - there’s no need to run to the alter
HAVE RESTING BITCH FACE? Great - I do too. Remember to smile when you're walking down the aisle!
BOUQUETS: Keep your bouquet at hip level so your face isn't covered
DON’T RUSH YOUR KISS: If you want to ensure that you have a kissing photo at your ceremony - don’t kiss for 0.000001 seconds.
Sometimes people do this and it breaks my heart if you rush it and don’t get a photo of such an epic moment!
Unplugged ceremonies are when guests are asked to put their digital gadgets away. This way your guests are present and are able to take in your ceremony with their eyes! Shocking - I know.
This may sound harsh but as a photographer, it breaks my heart when guests watch the ceremony through their phones, iPads, and cameras. As much as I understand a guest's desire to get a photo for their own personal use, this cultural norm is not a good one. Not only will their screens will be an ugly distraction in your professional photos but more importantly it takes away from the sacredness of what's happening.
If you want to have an unplugged ceremony, ask your officiant to make a clear announcement right before the ceremony starts, have a visible sign that says "Unplugged Ceremony" or both! You can also let your guests know that they'll be able to view your professional photos in the online gallery once it's ready. Check out my Pinterest board for sign inspo here.
If you're not having an unplugged ceremony, I encourage you to ask your guests to remain seated during the ceremony, rather than standing in the aisle to take their own photos, and obstructing my view of the two of you at the alter. This alone will help tremendously.
LIGHT IT UP: I love when receptions have a lot of candles, string lights or bulb lights. It's easier to capture intimate photos when the venue is not too dark because I won't have to use my flash and people will notice me less - allowing me to capture more candid photographs.
PUT ME ON YOUR GUEST LIST: By telling your venue that I'm a guest rather than a vendor they will serve me dinner with everyone else rather than once they're finished eating, meaning that I will not miss photographing your Uncle's drunk dance moves, and other special moments!
The more time you allot for portraits, the more you'll end up having.
One to two hours dedicated to portraits throughout the day is ideal.
I suggest dividing time for couple portrait into three blocks on your wedding day:
1. YOUR FIRST LOOK
15 - 30 minutes
2. AFTER YOUR CEREMONY
30 minutes - 1 hour
3. RIGHT AT SUNSET = THE BEST TIME
15 - 30 minutes (or more if possible!)
If you're tight on time, I highly recommend choosing sunset for your couple's portraits. Let's sneak away during dinner and take advantage of the perfect lighting! Simply schedule time accordingly in between speeches and we'll be able to sneak away easily!
Considering hiring a videographer? Choose carefully. Just like with photography, there are many types of videography styles. It will work to your benefit if my style matches your videographer's style. I document weddings as they naturally unfold, and having a videographer trying to stage cheesy moments will negatively impact the type of candid and natural photos you have hired me to capture.
Look for a videographer who describes their style as candid, documentary or photojournalistic.
I'm also happy to refer you to videographers I love - get in touch!
EXTRA WISDOM NUGGETS
BRING CLEAR OR SOLID COLOURED UMBRELLAS: Don't fret over crappy weather. Photos taken on cloudy or rainy days turn out SO beautifully because of the amazing lighting. If you need umbrellas, try to use clear plastic (my fave) or solid coloured ones rather than anything with a pattern or print - they look more elegant in photos.
HAVE AN EMERGENCY KIT WITH THE ESSENTIALS: granola bars, a razor, deodorant, Kleenex, Q-tips, water bottles, Tylenol, Advil, Gravol, tampons, small scissors, bobby pins, mini sewing kit, Tide to-go, bug spray, hair spray, nail file, comfortable shoes (flip flops), makeup remover & gum!
VENDOR RECOMMENDATIONS: If you need any recommendations, get in touch! I meet a lot of vendors and am happy to put you in touch with ones I love and work well together.
DON'T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF: Do your best in planning but in my experience you won't be able to control everything. Remind yourself to enjoy your big day regardless of the small details that may not go according to plan. Like when your best man drunkenly tells your entire family about your hidden porn collection (true story). What's important is that you're about to get married and nothing beats that!
OK WE READ ALL OF THIS.
WHAT DO WE NEED TO DO BEFORE OUR WEDDING?
Here are a few things in terms of what to expect in our communication as well as what I ask to be done before your big day:
1. Fill in this questionnaire.
Ideally 1-2 months before
2. Email me the rough copy of your wedding schedule.
Ideally 1-2 months before
Will happily review your schedule with you to make sure everything makes sense logistically.
3. Email me your finalized wedding schedule + formal group shot list
Ideally 1-2 weeks before
Please make sure to send both at least a few days before your wedding so I will be able to review both properly!
I'M HERE TO HELP
Get in touch with any questions you have, big or small!