Over the years of helping couples plan a successful timeline, I realized that there were always the same questions and a lot of the same concerns about time. Especially the early parts of the day. So I wrote these pages as a helping hand to reference in your planning process. I got married in 2014 and was so thankful that I had been to so many weddings- it really helped in our planning. But I realize that you don’t go to 45 weddings a year! So this is meant as a helpful guide, from my point of view, as your photographer. It is not meant to be a bible. Just a guide.
What I love about all of my clients, is that everyone’s approach is different. What matters the most to some of you is not even a concern for others. So please take what you can use and disregard the rest. And as always, if you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out and ask!
Below you will find my helpful tips for different parts of the day, sample timelines, why I feel like an Unplugged Ceremony is a really big deal and it’s probably not why you think. You will also find my list of recommended vendors!! These are all folks that made a very good impression on me when I worked with them and also everyone we used for our own wedding.
Make sure you save this link somewhere where you can easily find it so that you may reference it in the future. Have a great engagement, an awesome time planning and I will see you soon!
Getting ready images are a perfect way to start the narrative of your wedding day. So many really great moments are happening and good lighting can help capture them in a more elegant way. I highly recommend looking at renting out homes on AirBNB or getting ready at cozy bed and breakfasts instead of stuffy hotel rooms (which unfortunately are usually full of no-smoking signs, sprinklers, and questionable chairs and carpet choices).
I recommend coverage to start 2 hours before you see each other. When Sam first arrives at the Bride’s location, she starts with the detail shots of your dress, shoes, jewelry, rings, etc. It is really helpful to have them all in one place for her so that when she arrives you don’t have to run around gathering things. If you would like pictures of your invitation, bring that along too. Details are one of my favorite parts of the day! This is the time when I start to see your vision and style come to life.
When the dress shop packs up your dress, they usually hang it on a stiff wire hanger, covered in cardboard with lots of padding to help it keep in shape. While this is great in the zipper bag, it’s not so great for pictures. Think about bringing a wooden hanger, a fancy scroll hanger, or some cool vintage number from an antique store. Anything but a wire or plastic hanger!
While you are having your hair and makeup done, window light is our best friend and creates amazing drama even in cluttered rooms. When your Makeup artist arrives, ask her to set up next to a window and turn all the overhead lights off. There is a big difference between how you will see yourself when you’re under yellow fluorescent lights (eeewww) as opposed to natural window light. Your makeup will look it's best and so will your pictures- it's a win win!!
It's ideal for you to start getting into your dress 45-60 minutes before you see each other, depending on travel times to the ceremony.
If you would like coverage of the guys getting ready, it is best that you are in the same location or at least very close. I will stop at the guys first where they should be already in their pants and shirts, shoot them as they are putting on their jackets and ties, a little candid hanging out, and then head over to the Bride. And guys, I know you are all usually crammed into a hotel room but an Air BnB is a great choice for you as well. When you get dressed it's the same thing- I'll have you stand near the window, out of the way of the TV and the beer bottles. I know that every situation I walk into is different and I can handle all of them, but the best thing you can do for me is to have a window! Easy, right? If you would like full coverage of the guys AND the girls getting ready, I suggest upgrading to a Collection that includes the 2nd shooter or having me start early enough in the day so that I can cover both.
The First Look is a trend of the last decade that has really taken off. It was developed by one the worlds leading wedding photographers as a way to, essentially, get more hours in the day. By seeing each other before your ceremony, it allows us more time to make amazing portraits of the two of you, without the constraints of time or the family onlookers, the Uncle Bob’s with their cameras and the rush to make it through Cocktail Hour. That being said, there are a few different approaches we can take.
OPTION ONE: Have your First Look 2 hours before the ceremony. Then we go right into Bride + Groom portraits for 45 minutes. We ask the Bridal Party + Family to meet us one hour prior to the ceremony so that we may take all of the Formal Grouping pictures. That leaves you 15-20 minutes to hide away and refresh before the ceremony. The downfall to this option is that most ceremonies are around 4 or 5pm which makes the first look at 2 or 3pm. Not the best time of day for lighting. The sun is white and harsh as opposed to orange and soft, like in the image above. Not that we can't do it, it will just create a different type of light.
OPTION TWO: Have the First Look one hour before the ceremony and only take about 5 minutes of Bride + Groom portraits. We would then take all of the Bridal Party + Family Formal groupings. Then immediately after the ceremony, we will take off to make 30-45 minutes of portraits in "better" light. The 2 hours before sunset are the magic hours, which generally fall after the ceremony. If you are doing a Connection Session, we would have already found a groove together, so we could knock out our portraits in 20 minutes and you could make most of your Cocktail Hour. Some people also have Cocktail Hour and a Half which leaves us 40 minutes for pictures and still making it to 50 minutes of Cocktail Hour. I like this option the most and for successful timelines and epic images, this is what I recommend.
The third way is not to do a First Look at all, which means that we are taking all of the Family Formals (30 minutes) The Bridal Party pictures (20 minutes) and the Bride + Groom portraits during Cocktail Hour. I need 10-15 minutes to set up my lighting for your introductions and First Dance and to try to take as many detail shots of your reception as possible before people come in. That's A LOT to try to put into an hour.
1. Extending your Cocktail Hour by 30 minutes
2. Some couples have their Cocktail Hour start 2 hours after the end of the Ceremony so that they can make it to everything. This only works if your Ceremony and Reception are in 2 different locations.
3. Scheduling a portrait session a few days after the wedding where you put on your dress and suit again and we head out for a magic hour portrait session!
I will most likely cry at some point during your day and this will most likely be when. Don't worry, nothing's broken or wrong- I just love love. ;)
This is a hot topic these days. If you type the letters “unp” into Pinterest, the UnPlugged Ceremony pops up immediately. In this new world of fingertip technology, social media, and instant gratification, we have a world of iPhoneographers and Uncle Bob’s. Now I know you have no idea who Uncle Bob is so let me explain. Uncle Bob is what professional wedding photographers call the guy or gal at every wedding who brings their camera along and thinks that it is their job to document everything for you, regardless of how much you have vested in your wedding photographer. It is usually a well meaning relative, who shoots on auto, with their pop up flash on the entire time because they don’t know any better. Now while it is our job to work around them during the reception, the ceremony is a different story.
There is only one aisle.
There is one way in, and one way out.
There is only one time you will walk down it.
It only takes about ten seconds.
The last two images above break my heart. This is a proud Father walking his gorgeous daughter down the aisle on her wedding day. A walk that lasts about 10-15 seconds. And there is Uncle Bob with his point and shoot camera, in the isle, blocking the view of the photographer, but of her fiance and their families in the front row. And the worst part is, the Bride will probably never see that picture. Not to mention everyone else with their phones held up in the air, so that any shot that we take, has your friends more interested in their phone picture than in you coming down the aisle. You know what happens next? They all spend the next several minutes uploading those images to facebook and instagram, tagging you, and showing the world your ceremony before it’s even started. That is a moment that we can never get back. That is a moment that you should have professionally documented in the most beautiful way possible.
I believe the ceremony is sacred. It’s why we are all there in the first place. It’s the moment that you become husband and wife but it seems that these days everyone wants to rush through it, ignore it, and just get to the party. Now we all know that the party is the most fun, but by asking your guests to be present during this sacred time, and not staring into their phones and camera, it allows several beautiful things to happen. First, when you look out at your honored guests, every face meets your gaze. Second, when we pull back for a gorgeous wide shot of your entire ceremony, there aren’t phones and cameras in the air, spoiling the sacred moments that we are documenting. Third, without people in the isle, we always get the shot and I am pretty confident that our image is going to be better than theirs. I’m not saying that to be mean, but you wouldn’t have paid me to be there if Uncle Bob could do the same job.
So now the big question is how do you make an unplugged ceremony happen? Well we believe the best approach is in three’s. First, put it in your wedding invites or programs. Add a special card asking your guests to refrain from taking any pictures during the ceremony. Let them know that we will be happy to share all of ours! Second, put a large sign in the ceremony space, right up front where the officiant stands because that is where all eyes are while they wait for the start of the ceremony. Pinterest has a lot of clever examples of gorgeous signs.
Third, have your officiant announce it to your guest BEFORE anyone ever walks down the aisle. This one is the most successful part. Make sure our officiant really understands that this is important to you and write down exactly what you want them to say. Remember, there is no do-over.
This is a great article about many other reasons to have an unplugged ceremony!
And here we are. This is the part of the day that I look forward to the most. Making gorgeous portraits for my couples. Making gorgeousl portraits for my couples without the stress of time restraints. Getting creative. Playing with light. Creating art for you while also creating timeless, classic portraits.
This takes time. I would love to have one hour total with you for portraits. My ideal time would be in the 2-3 hours before sunset. I think it works really well to split up the portrait session into a few different parts of the day. 20 minutes after the First Look, 20 minutes after the ceremony and 10 minutes during the salad course when the sun is setting. I am open to non-traditional timelines and crazy ideas! My goal is to make sure you have amazing portraits for your future children and families to cherish and that takes some time to do- but it doesn't have to all be at the SAME time. Let's think of some great ways to make that happen!
So now that we have talked about the day from my point of view, here is what a successful timeline would look like for me, obviously taking into account that a wedding with everything in different places will need more travel time added than weddings with everything at one place. If you do not want to do a First Look, I still arrive to the Bride 2 hours before you see each other.
1:30 - I arrive to the Bride's getting ready location, photograph details and Hair + Makeup
2:30 - Bride gets dressed + puts on shoes, jewelry + veil
2:30 - Take a few Bride portraits before heading to First Look
3:00 - First Look into Bride + Groom portraits
3:30 - Bridal Party Pictures
4:00 - Family Formals
4:45 - Freshen up for ceremony
5:00 - CEREMONY
5:30 - Leave for freshly-married Bride + Groom Portraits for 20 mins? 30 mins?
5:30 - 7:00 Cocktail Hour
7:00 - 11:00 Reception - sneak out right before sunset for one last epic picture. Or head out close to the end of the party for a nighttime, big sky shot.
Owner- Tatiana Jones
Facebook - www.facebook.com/whimsyweddingsandevents
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
**Tatiana was our Wedding Weekend Event Coordinator
and was SUCH a big help. We love her and her team!
She is also available as just the Day Of Coordinator.
HAIR BY ANNALIESE - Fishkill, NY
Onsite Hair + Makeup Team
FB - www.facebook.com/pages/Annaliese-Co-Bridal-Hair-Makeup-Artistry
Email - email@example.com
**These girls are amazing! They are great with a schedule
and have a ton of variety but they book up fast!! Like 18 months to 2 years in advance.
BRIDAL BY ALEXANDRIA
Onsite Hair and Makeup Team
** I have worked with Alexandria + Katie and they were so wonderful, on time and really talented.
*** If you want a band, stop right here and get in touch with these guys immediately. They blew me away- SO SO good. Seriously. Not cheesy, crowd ramping, amazing vocals, good MC-ing of toasts and dances, really kind + professional. SO SO good. Not your typical wedding band at all, but parents and friends both dancing hard at the same time!
THE NEW YORK PLAYERS
Elegant + fun Full Band with 3 singers, horn section and complete with Master of Ceremony
Phone: (518) 482.8252
SILVER ARROW BAND
These guys are great for those on a budget. They get the crowd going without being cheesy and that is really hard to do! They have a NYC group and an Albany group. There are many players for each instrument so you're never sure what combo you'll get, but almost all of the ones I have seen were good.
Ali Gruber spins nothing but vinyl from the 50 thru the 80’s- she’s the real deal.
**Ali was the DJ at our wedding. She uses record and turntables and her knowledge of music is underground and right on.
Dave Leonard is wonderful. He has been a DJ at Radio Woodstock for years and really know his stuff. Like Ali, he is the real deal. No big lights, games, or TV's, just an amazing blend of old and new with song choices that keep your party going! There is no one better than him, but he does have a great team if he's not available.
32 E Market St, Rhinebeck, NY 12572
Phone: (845) 876-6999
**I can not say enough nice things about this shop! They came to the rescue for me 48 hours before my wedding and made my dress better than ever!
I know this is such a seemingly random thing to have on here but I NEED to tell you about this ladies. I shoot 45 weddings a year and our Bridal Parties average about 5 Bridesmaids for each Bride. Let me do the math for you- that's 270 women per year and if we add in the Mothers that's 360 women each year that I witness who loathe their Shapewear under their dresses. And I have seen it ALL! 3 girls in the bathroom pulling up, taping, saftey pinning each others shapewear just to try to get it to stay up. But we all know, once your dress is on and that puppy rolls down, you're screwed.
So I am introducing you to Hooked Up Shapewear. No more Spanx ladies. And Hooked Up is SUPER soft and breathable. You'll LOVE it!
You're welcome. Tell your friends! Tell your Mothers!
BLUE MOUNTAIN BISTRO TO GO
Mary Anne Erickson
948 Rt 28, Kingston, NY 12401
**Mary Anne and her Chef husband Richard are SO fantastic. They catered our wedding and we did not make it easy on them! The brought an entire, functioning kitchen to our empty venue site and rocked it.
10 IBM Rd. Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
Phone: (845) 214-0300
Mike and his team are fantastic. I have seen them do wonderful buffets and beautiful sit down dinners. He really goes above and beyond to make sure your wedding is beautiful. His staff is fantastic and you can tell that they all want to be there.
If you didn't book a Connection Session but are thinking about adding it, head over here to the Connection Session Packet to learn more about it! You can decide at any time before your wedding to add it on, keeping in mind that the most popular time slots book up months in advance, like Spring and Late Summer/Early Fall.
If you chose a Collection with a Connection Session, start thinking about what time of year you would like to book your session. Space fills up quickly so the sooner you lock in a date, the better! If you have any questions about your session, head over to the Connection Session Packet to learn more about it.
3 months before your wedding you will receive my Wedding Day Timeline Questionnaire but in the meantime, please know that I am always here to help.
I realize that you have never done this before so let's chat whenever you feel the need or have some questions.
Please feel free to follow me on Instagram and Facebook. I love seeing posts relating to your wedding!!
I am in the office Monday - Thursday (most of the time) from 9:30-4:30 and can be reached by email.
The rest of the time I'm a mom. Or a rockstar. You know, either one.... ;)
I look forward to getting to know you and making you awesome images.
xo sam june*