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By now, you’ve probably booked your venue and photographer, said “yes to the dress,” and maybe even sent out your save the dates. The planning is progressing and it’s time to draw out your timeline for your wedding day. Before you can really start the process you’ll need to determine a few things.
1. Will you have a “First Look”? If you choose to have a First Look, most of the portrait planning will be prior to the ceremony. If you opt out, then you’ll need to allot more time for portraits after the ceremony.
2. Are there multiple locations on the wedding day? If you and your bridesmaids are getting ready at a separate location or if the reception differs from the ceremony, you’ll need to allot time for travel in between each location.
3. What time does the sun set? If you’re getting married during the winter months, you’ll need to remember that the sun sets much earlier than in the late spring and summer months.
4. What are the most important things for you on your wedding day? By determining what has the most value to you on your wedding day you can easily allot time based on those priorities.
Now that you’ve answered those questions you can start timing everything out.
The timeline below is based on a summer wedding with a First Look. You can easily make this timeline your own by changing the order of events. I tend to over allot time for each event just incase anything is behind, travel is involved, or it’s raining and we need to take portraits elsewhere. You can also allot less time for things you don’t value as much. For instance, you may have a very small wedding party so you wouldn’t need as much time for those portraits.
Bridal Details: Every bride loves having those beautiful shots of her bridal details. It’s an important part of the story and I love having some time to shoot the dress, shoes, jewelry, invitations, etc. These shots allow me to get warmed up for the rest of the big day. I normally like to allow at least 45 minutes for this part of the day. While I’m shooting details, I’m also capturing some shots of the bride and her girls getting ready!
Bridal Prep: After the details have been photographed, it’s time for the bride to get into her dress! This is a big moment! I usually ask the mother of the bride and all of the bridesmaids to be dressed by the time the bride is ready to get into her dress. This ensures that everyone will look nice in those images. After the bride is in her gown, she can put on her jewelry, veil, shoes, etc. and I will shoot some additional bridal portraits!
First Look: This is one of my favorite parts of the wedding day! I will find the perfect location for my couple’s first look prior to the getting ready portion of the day! Don’t stress about that one bit! I will make sure the location is private and as secluded as possible.
Portraits: After the bride and groom take their time with the First Look, I will begin taking a few romantic portraits of the two of them while the initial excitement is still present! I will find the locations for these shots as well! Remember, the LIGHT determines where we shoot and so I can’t decide on portrait locations until the day- of. As we shoot these portraits, the bridal party can start making their way to us for bridal party portraits!
Bridal Portraits: Now it’s time for bridal party shots! I buffer in extra time throughout the day just in case we have some unexpected things that hold us up! One way to make sure we stay on schedule for bridal party portraits is to have someone put the boutonnieres on the guys BEFORE they arrive for portraits. During Bridal Party portraits, I will make sure to take some great shots of the guys and girls both separately AND together! After bridal party portraits are complete, the bride will go into hiding so that early guests don’t sneak a peek and the ushers will begin their duties.
Reception Details: If the reception is in the same location as the ceremony, I will use this time to shoot the reception decor UNTOUCHED. If the ceremony and reception are in different locations, I recommend having a cocktail hour outside of the main reception area if possible so that I can grab some great shots of your reception before the night begins and guests start laying down purses and coats on their seats!
Ceremony: It’s time to get married!! Most ceremonies are 30 minutes long. If your ceremony is longer than 30 mins, we’ll make adjustments to the timeline! Cherish these moments! Your ceremony will pass by so quickly!
Family Formals: Family formals normally take place immediately following the ceremony. It’s best to save all of the family formals until after the ceremony because ALL family members will be present at that time.
Just Married: 7:00 is the BEST time of day for portraits in the late spring, summer and early fall! This is 7:30 when the sun is glowy and golden. I love having a few extra minutes with the bride and groom to take a few “Just Married” portraits right after family formals!
Reception: It’s time to party! There are several options when it comes to the reception–(most DJ’s will assist you with planning out your reception timeline). After introductions, you can go strait into dinner or you can have your first dances (husband/wife, mother/son, father/daughter) prior to dinner being served. Once everyone has there food, I recommend beginning toasts at this time so that most everyone has a full drink. After toasts you can wait 15-20 minutes before cutting the cake and opening the dance floor. If your photographer is scheduled to leave prior to the reception ends, you can have a faux exit with your wedding party for the photographer to capture. This helps create a beginning and end for future album designs.
I hope that you have found this helpful and please know that these are just suggestions. There is no right or wrong way to create your timeline. My best advice is to talk with your photographer and videographer. They will be your best resource, especially when it comes to planning your portrait time.