engagement session tips, timeline guidance,
vendor recommendations & more!
I’m so excited to be working with you and can’t wait to get to know you better over the next several months! I know photography is one of the larger investments you’re making for your wedding day and I’m so honored you chose to work with me!
Having photographed weddings over the past few years, I tend to get asked the same things over and over again. So I thought it would be beneficial if we put together a guide that walks you through everything from timelines to engagement sessions.
A big advantage of Bridal Portraits is it can serve as a trial run for your wedding day
It’s different looking at yourself in a mirror at a hair and makeup trial, than actually seeing how it photographs.
If you’re considering Bridal Portraits, I recommend full trial of hair and makeup and your bouquet. A bouquet is nice because it gives your hands something to hold and be less awkward.
When you’re choosing a location for your bridal portraits I recommend a location that is clean and well manicured with indoor and outdoor options.
Wedding venues are great places to consider. Also historic homes that are clean. We want to keep your dress as clean as possible while being able to get lots of photos inside as well as outside.
When choosing the date for your bridal portraits it’s nice to consider the weather. You don’t want to be too hot or too cold. So spring and fall are really nice times of year. But I will photograph at any time of year.
Many venues do charge a fee for portrait sessions. It’s often worth it to have access to a convenient place to get ready.
IF YOU’RE WONDERING IF A FIRST LOOK IS RIGHT FOR YOU, CHECK THIS OUT.
I would never want you to feel pressured into doing a first look. It is amazing for photography and your timeline, however, I believe in first looks because they’re so much more than that.
From a bride:
“Personally, we did one for our wedding for three main reasons… we wanted lots of photos of the two of us (hello we never look that good ever), because we heard it calmed the nerves for the ceremony, and because we had a small guest count and wanted to get straight to the reception / have more time to talk with everyone who was sharing our day with us. We also figured we’d be super freaking hungry by that point and oh my goodness that was soooo true.”
1. A FIRST LOOK
Enjoying that special moment.
Being able to enjoy and savor that first moment of seeing one another on your wedding day
A quiet time alone to take it all in and reflect on what the day means to you before the day takes off. There is so much going on on your wedding day, it can be kind of a whirlwind.
2. MORE TIME FOR PHOTOS
Get to the Reception sooner.
Typically when not doing a first look a majority of the photos have to happen after the ceremony because it’s the easiest time to get everyone. Then the full wedding party photos, and then the bride and groom portrait. This generally runs well into when your guests would like to start dinner.
Doing a First Look opens up time prior to the ceremony for full wedding party photos, some bride and groom portraits and even family photos if you like.
This lets you not miss out on part of your reception
3. MORE OPTIONS TO AVOID POSSIBLE BAD WEATHER AND TIME TO FRESHEN UP BEFORE CEREMONY
Depending on what time of year a wedding is or how late the ceremony starts, a First Look enables you to have beautiful natural light photos while it is still light outside. If there’s possibility for bad weather it gives more flexibility for choosing the best part of the day for portraits. If it’s pouring rain after your ceremony a first look let you have all those photos done earlier.
Also, for you cryers, with a first look you’ll be able to freshen up before the ceremony.
WHETHER YOU’RE PLANNING A FIRST LOOK OR NOT SEEING YOUR GROOM UNTIL YOU WALK DOWN THE AISLE, I HAVE A FEW TIPS TO HELP IN PLANNING YOUR TIMELINE!
Whether you choose to do a first look or the “no see before the ceremony” I will work with you on making sure you have the best timeline and plan for images.
If you’re choosing to not do a First look, you’ll need two different sets of photo times: images taken before the ceremony and images taken after the ceremony.
You’ll need to plan for at least one hour of pre-ceremony bridal photos (bridesmaids and bride’s family) and about one hour of pre-ceremony groom photos (groomsmen and groom’s family) at separate times. You’ll also need 20 minutes of combined bridal party portraits, 30 minutes of combined family portraits and at least 30 – 60 minutes of couple’s portraits after the ceremony if you’re not doing any photos together until after the ceremony.
If you’re doing a first look, photos can be done all at one time, taking an average total of 2 hours pre-ceremony (although I also LOVE grabbing just the two of you for a few additional bride and groom photos at sunset!)
If you choose an aisle reveal, all I ask is that you keep your ceremony time in mind when planning your wedding.
If you’re planning a sunset ceremony or a late fall ceremony, it’s best to do all photos before the wedding, as daylight is crucial to getting amazing portraits for your families, bridal party and your couples portraits. Making sure we have enough time while the sun is up is a great way to make the no first look ceremony work.
View Example Wedding Day Galleries
WITH A FIRST LOOK
WITH A FIRST LOOK
WITHOUT A FIRST LOOK
I love capturing all the little details of your wedding day! Once I arrive at your wedding, we need about 30 minutes to capture and style details. I recommend choosing a getting ready location filled with natural light and, if possible, please keep the space free from trash and clutter.
It would be wonderful if you could put all of your rings, jewelry, shoes, veil purse, perfume, invitations and other keepsakes together in one spot for me. Please unwrap your dress but don’t worry about styling it.
BRIDAL DETAILS CHECKLIST
- Dress Hanger
- Rings (both engagement and wedding bands)
- Hair pieces
- Invitation Suite ( 2 full sets with envelopes + stamps)
- Any other paper stationary you may have like program cards.
- Vow Book
- Any other sentimental keepsakes you would like to include
Once I had a bride bring her grandmother’s locket. This is completely optional – but if you have something sentimental you’d like styled with your details, I love including family heirlooms in detail photos.
- Bonus: I’d love to have a few cuts of the florals you’ll be using throughout your wedding day. If your florist will supply me a small bucket of extra pieces we can incorporate those in your detail photos.
GROOM DETAILS CHECKLIST
YOUR WHOLE FAMILY TOGETHER AND ALL DRESSED UP
For family portraits, I’ll place you in the center of a large group photo with all of your grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, godparents, etc. And then I’ll remove the extended family so it’s just grandparents, parents and siblings.
I’ll keep removing family members and switch a few closer family members in and out so we get photos of you and your parents, you and your siblings, some with the groom and your family, etc. Then we’ll repeat the process with your spouse’s family. The whole thing will go quicker and smoother if you let family know how the portrait process will work ahead of time.
When I send out our pre-wedding questionnaire, I’ll ask you for a list of specific groupings, special situations (such as divorces or handicapped family members & more), but if you want to start brainstorming photos in the meantime, you’ll find our typical list below.
FAMILY FORMAL CHECKLIST
- Bride + Groom + Bride’s Extended Family
- Bride + Groom + Bride’s Parents + Bride’s Siblings + Bride’s Grandparents
- Bride + Groom + Bride’s Parents + Bride’s Siblings
- Bride + Groom + Bride’s Parents
- + Groom + Bride’s Siblings
- Bride + Mom
- Bride + Dad
- Bride + Groom + Groom’s Extended Family
- Bride + Groom + Groom’s Parents + Groom’s Siblings + Groom’s Grandparents
- Bride + Groom + Groom’s Parents + Groom’s Siblings
- Bride + Groom + Groom’s Parents
- + Groom + Groom’s Siblings
- Groom + Mom
- Groom + Dad
AFTER SHOOTING MANY WEDDINGS I’M HAPPY TO SHARE A FEW ADDITIONAL TIPS WITH YOU
1. If you’re getting married in the summer months, snacks or lunch time before portraits is always a good idea for you and your wedding party to avoid being hangry.
2. Make sure and have your bouquets delivered in time to be included in the detail photos and for your first look.
3. If you’re planning on having a first look with your bridal party or a parent, they often feel more comfortable being fully dressed in their wedding attire.
4. If your reception is at a separate venue, add some “buffer time” so that we can run over to the venue to capture it while it’s still “untouched” by guests.
5. I always recommend the bride go “into hiding” 30-60 minutes before the ceremony. Guests typically arrive early to weddings.
6. To help make family portraits go smoother, it’s best to have a detailed list of what portraits you’d like and it’s really wonderful if both sides of the family have a chance to have their input on what portraits they’d like before the wedding. Supplying me with a list ahead of time, we can go over it and make sure I photograph things in an order that is efficient and won’t leave anyone out.
7. During the cocktail hour and the reception, I’ll follow you around. Anytime you’d like a photo with someone, grab my attention.
8. I’ll help help you plan your timeline. If you’d like my input, don’t hesitate to email or call!
THE PERFECT WAY TO REMEMBER YOUR WEDDING DAY
One of the best ways to make your wedding memories last is by ordering an album. These high quality professionally designed albums come in a variety of linen & leather colors. These aren’t the same albums your parents’ wedding photos came in. They’re modern, lay perfectly flat and look incredible on a coffee table.
I can’t wait to start planning with you and getting to know you! Feel free to email me any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have any questions, I’m here for you. I hope this guide helps make the process of planning your wedding details much easier and less stressful. I can’t wait to see you soon! Thank you so much for taking the time to read through this guide!