Wedding Client Guide
We believe that the key to a successful professional relationship is communication. This guide to your wedding day photography has all the information you need to ensure a stress-free and fun experience! We are so happy to work with you and we hope that this guide makes your experience as stress-free and enjoyable as possible!
WEDDING DAY SCHEDULE
"What To Expect"
Below are “sections” of a typical wedding day. Any section of the day can be made longer, but not shorter. While sections can’t necessarily be shortened, any of them may be removed. For example, when there has been limited time in the past, we have had couples remove “guys getting ready” photos, saving the groom/groomsmen photos for later in the day. We have even had couples remove “getting ready photos” all together, having us show up for the “First Look”. We’ve also had couples keep “getting ready photos” and remove “bridal party photos”, instead choosing to include one group bridal party photo at the end of family photos. These are just a few examples.
These choices are entirely up to the bride and groom, and I am happy to accommodate unique scheduling choices, but the durations listed below are set at the minimum time required and should be helpful when creating your wedding day schedule. Please keep in mind that weddings run behind schedule 95% of the time, so please consider this when booking your package. It's more cost effective to book more time in advance, than it is to book the minimum amount of coverage and end up having to add the per hour rate on the day of your wedding. A typical wedding last 6-8 hours on average, while an all day elaborate wedding with multiple locations can last between 10-12 hours. Very few weddings can be photographed in 4 hours or less, with the exception of elopements and/or weddings with 10 people or less.
GETTING READY = 2 HOURS
MY RECOMMENDATION: I like to suggest 1.5-2 hours total for getting ready photos.
Girls Getting Ready – We request 1.5 hrs with bride and the girls getting ready. First we’ll shoot details like the dress, shoes, jewelry, etc, along with candids of the girls during the getting ready process. Then 60 min into us being there, bride gets into her dress. I step out of the room for a moment until the back of the dress is ready to be done up. Then I shoot bridal portraits, sometimes additional shots with parents if there is time. After 1.5 hr total, I will leave to shoot guys getting ready pictures. The second photographer stays with bride and girls to do group shots with bride + bridesmaids/family members who are there. 15-30 minutes for detail shots, 15-30 minutes for hair and makeup, 15-30 minutes for the time surrounding the moment you put your dress on, and 30 minutes for the groom getting ready.
If only 1 hr can be allotted in total to “Girls Getting Ready” photos, we can do this and will shoot basic details when we first arrive (dress, shoes, jewelry) and remove “candid” photos. Then 30 minutes into us being there, bride gets into her dress and continues as before.
If no second photographer is booked, clients may choose to skip guys getting ready, in order to keep photographing bride putting on dress and to photograph bridesmaids portraits.
Guys Getting Ready – 30-40 minutes. Add transportation time plus 10 minutes (buffer for potential traffic) for photographer to get from “girls getting ready” to the “guys getting ready” locations. I will need 10 minutes to reset my cameras and film. Then I’ll need 20 min with the guys, candids first, then group shots. Then transportation time to the “first look" (if the bride+groom are doing a first look)
Getting ready photos are always some of couples’ favorite parts of the day when they receive their wedding gallery! The ceremony is big, but the little moments that happen outside of it are what really make the story whole. These images add such an important layer to the storytelling value of your wedding day. If you want to add even more value to your getting ready photos, I always suggest adding a second photographer! As the primary photographer, I can take the lead for the bridal party’s getting ready portraits, and my second photographer can focus on capturing the groomsmen in a separate area.
FIRST LOOK + WEDDING PORTRAITS = 60 MINUTES
MY RECOMMENDATION: I like to suggest 1-2 hours for your pre-ceremony photos if you choose to have a first look. 15 minutes at the “first look” + 20 min immediately following is enough for portraits of the bride and groom. Then the bridal party can meet us for group shots of the whole party, 20-25min for the whole party. If the Bride + Groom are not doing a first look, this whole section (60 minutes total, which includes portraits of the bride + groom, and bridal party photos all together) can be moved to after the ceremony, typically after family photos. Also, time devoted to bridal party photos can be minimized if having these types of photos (multiple creative/group/posed/candid bridal party photos) is not high priority. Rather than doing 20-25 minutes of bridal party photos after the bride+groom portraits, we could devote 10 minutes at the end of family photos to bridal party, just to get one formal posed group shot of the bridal party, in the same location as the family photos.
***Unless you and your partner have both agreed that you’re wanting a traditional aisle first look, I highly recommend you consider having a pre-ceremony first look! Having the opportunity to get family & wedding party photos done before your ceremony will significantly reduce the amount of time needed for photos after the ceremony. By then, everybody just wants to eat their food & dance the night away!
TRADITIONAL AISLE FIRST LOOK
MY RECOMMENDATION: I like to suggest 1-1.5 hours for post-ceremony photos if you choose to have a traditional aisle first look. 15 minutes for couples portraits, 30 minutes for wedding party photos, 30 minutes for family portraits, and a solid 15 minutes of buffer time to just breathe (and maybe have a drink…or two). This is a little more of a strict timeline than it would be if you did a non-traditional first look so that your wedding guests won’t be waiting too long to return to cocktail hour. Keep in mind, the time it will take to get through your family and wedding party photos will vary based on how many party/family members there are to be photographed. You can expect each combination to take 2-3 minutes.
CEREMONY = 30-45 MINUTES
IN MY EXPERIENCE: Ceremonies typically range between 30-45 minutes. Bride + groom should be at the ceremony site at least 30 minutes before the ceremony begins, with no pictures left to take, except behind scenes pictures (if a second photographer is booked). Breath/Relax. We will be doing ceremony details during this time. During the ceremony, we do not need a shot list, but we will take anything in terms of a ceremony order/schedule that is already being generated. We will just shoot inconspicuously in documentary style as events take place.
FAMILY PHOTOS = 30 MINUTES
MY RECOMMENDATION: I like to suggest 30 minutes for your pre-ceremony photos with extended family and friends, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. We typically do these immediately following the ceremony, since family will already be together. Just make sure everyone on the family list knows not to go to cocktail hour until after family photos! 30 minutes typically is enough time, but ultimately depends on the length of the family/friend photo list. We require a list of every family photo combination the bride and groom would like, in advance.
RECEPTION DETAILS = 30 MINUTES
MY RECOMMENDATION: I like to suggest 30 minutes be allocated at the beginning of your reception to capture wedding details. We often shoot the details and décor of the reception before guests enter and “mess it all up”! This allows for clean, beautiful, documentation of the details. This 30 min window can be before the ceremony (if the ceremony and reception are in the same location), or sometime during cocktail hour (when guests have not yet entered the reception site).
RECEPTION COVERAGE = 2-4 HOURS
MY RECOMMENDATION: I like to suggest 2-4 hours for your reception coverage, depending on whether or not you will have cocktail hour. IN MY EXPERIENCE: Cocktail “hour” can last anywhere from 1-1.5 hours. During the wedding we will be discreet and shoot documentary style as events take place. Based on my experience, I have broken down the following suggested reception time frames for different potential elements that your reception could include. Every reception is different based on the couple’s preferences!
Potential reception elements (2 hours = 120 Minutes)
- Dinner: 30 minutes
- Toasts: 15 minutes or 3-5 minutes per speaker
- Cake cutting: 5-10 minutes
- First dance: 5 minutes
- Mother/son dance: 5 minutes
- Father/daughter dance: 5 minutes
- Bouquet/garter tosses: 10 minutes
- Shoe Game: 10 minutes
- Wedding Party and Guests dancing: 30 Minutes
DANCING = 30 MINUTES
MY RECOMMENDATION: 30 minutes is a perfect amount of time to capture the best moments of the dance party.
Now, hear me out – just because I say 30 minutes for dancing does NOT mean you can only have 30 minutes of dancing! If you don’t want me to stay till the end of your day to capture an “exit,” by all means, dance as long as you’re able to! I say 30 minutes because, after around half an hour, dancing photos all begin to look the same, and it’s not necessary for me to stay much longer unless you do want to have me there for your exit (if you’re doing one).
One tip: see if you can talk to your DJ about playing the most interactive, FUN songs during the first 30 minutes of your dancing! Typical songs such as the Cupid Shuffle, the Cha Cha Slide, Party in the USA, YMCA, Yeah!, Apple Bottom Jeans, Living on a Prayer – are songs that get people hyped and throwing their arms up in the air (or really gettin’ down on the dance floor). These make for the BEST photos – and the more people on the dance floor, the better!
***2 hours is the minimum amount of reception coverage that I would recommend in order to cover the above elements of a typical wedding reception format. On average, most people require 3 hours of reception based on schedule delays which are typical on most wedding days. Couples who have a special exit planned after their wedding reception, should book the entire duration of the wedding reception.
GOLDEN HOUR/END COVERAGE
MY RECOMMENDATION: 30-45 minutes is usually more than enough time to get beautiful sunset portraits done! This is my favorite time of the night and it typically provides the most ideal lighting for couples portraits. I always recommend taking the time to capture these photos! It gives you a chance to sneak away for a little breather and some romantic one-on-one time away from everyone! I especially recommended this if you opted for a traditional aisle look, since cocktail hour pictures can often feel rushed.
When the coverage included in the contract ends, we will pack up and head home, but we always ask the bride and groom first if they are okay with us leaving. We are happy to stay late and will bring the addendum to the contract to add additional hours, on the day-of, at our hourly rate. This often happens when the best dancing gets started later than expected.
IN MY EXPERIENCE: 15 minutes is all you need for an awesome exit from your day!
Some ideas for your exit:
- Flower petals
- Silly string
Remember that each wedding is unique, and these are all just suggestions. If you end up wanting more hours as your day gets closer, they can always be added and moved around by your coordinator/planner (and me!) – but not taken away. If you have any questions, always communicate them to your vendors & lean on the experts – that’s what we’re here for!
Last but not least, as promised, a graph for all you visual learners out there! If you want to see how your timeline may be laid out with different amounts of coverage, check out the 2 charts below!
***The wedding featured on this blog was captured within a 6 hour timeframe.
FROM GETTING READY TO HEADING HOME – HERE ARE ALL THE PHOTOS YOU NEED TO CAPTURE YOUR WEDDING
You've put an incredible amount of work into planning your wedding. So, you obviously want to capture it in the best way possible. And while you trust your photographer, it's always smart to map out the pictures you especially want of your wedding. Creating a shot list and sharing it with your photographer is a win-win: it enables you to be certain that you'll get the specific pictures you've envisioned, and it makes your photographer's job a little easier, having instructions to work with. Not to mention, it gives them peace of mind knowing you'll be a happy client as long as the shot list is followed. Keep in mind, that these images typically occur within a minimum coverage time of 5 hours.
THE BASICS OF WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY COVERAGE:
It is important, first and foremost, to understand that photography coverage is continuous. If you were to book a 6-hour package, for example; you wouldn’t be able to book your photographer from 10 am to 1 pm for getting ready photos and then again from 3 pm to 6 pm for your ceremony/reception festivities. You have likely spent countless hours and several months planning every detail of your wedding day. Your story deserves to be told in a beautiful and timeless way and no detail should ever be left out!
Coverage includes travel time between locations. Something to consider when booking various locations for getting ready, the ceremony, and/or reception, is the time it will take to travel to and from these locations. If your venue is 30 minutes away from your reception location – that time will be included in the coverage as well. Always be sure to account for traffic, too. Always add extra time if your location is downtown or you’ll need to be driving between locations during a busy hour.
Each wedding is and should be unique in its own way. The recommendations I have included below are some of the most commonly photographed portions of a typical wedding day. Always communicate with your photographer what your vision is when discussing the amount of photography coverage you need to determine what is right for you.