- Welcome! -
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 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 -
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 and very little actual space).
I recommend my coverage to start around 2 hours before you see each other, 2.5 hours if there is travel time to the ceremony. If there are any details that are special to you and you would like them photographed, it is really helpful to have them all in one place for me when I arrive.
There will be a space on the Day of Questionnaire to tell me about them. I really love how sacred and special this part of the day is...
If you have a large wedding party, please think about saving a clean room to get dressed in. This can save us a lot of time and time is very valuable on the morning of your wedding.
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!!
Hey gentlemen, I know you are all usually crammed into a hotel room but an AirBnB is a great choice for you as well. Often times you can find them big enough for the entire Wedding Party to be together.
I realize that you don't need as much coverage time as the ladies do, so when we go over your Day of Timeline we will decide how to capture your morning as well. If you have included a 2nd photographer in your Collection, we ask that you be showered and in your pants and shirt only when she arrives. She'll want to photograph you tying your tie, putting on your jacket, shoes etc.
Also, if you have special cufflinks, cool socks or anything that you would like photographed, please have them out and all together for her when she arrives. If you are giving your Groomsmen gifts, please wait for her to arrive before you hand them out.
- The First Look -
The First Look is a trend of the last decade that has really taken off. It was developed by one the world's 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 stress-free 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. We not only take care of your portraits but we can also shoot all the Family and Wedding Party pictures as well!
Here's my ideal timeline with a First Look (actual time of day is just for reference):
1:00- Sam arrives to Bride location
2:45- Bride starts getting dressed
3:15- First Look into portrait session
4:00- Wedding Party Pictures
4:15- Family Pictures (this will vary greatly based on the size of your immediate families)
5:00- Done with pictures- get hidden away as guests start to arrive
6:00- Ceremony ends, take off for 15-20 minute portrait session as husband and wife! while guests head to Cocktail Hour
6:20-7:00 Enjoy your Cocktail Hour
7:00- Party Party Party!!
It is also a fantastic idea to ask your venue/caterer about having Cocktail Hour run for 1.5 hours. This has become a very popular option that allows us extra time for creative portraits and still gets you to a full hour of Cocktail Hour.
Even though I think doing a First Look can be very advantageous, I will never pressure you into it. I will only be real about how much time I need for everything. So here are two examples of what a timeline looks like without a First Look. Keep in mind, there are a lot of factors that can alter this such as, if the B + G are getting ready in the same location or if there is distance between. Another large factor is if you have a Second Photographer or not. The biggest factor is how large your wedding party is and how many family images you would like. Ok, here are two samples:
SAMPLE ONE (this is my ideal version):
1:30- Sam arrives
3:00- Bride starts getting dressed
3:30- Bride Portraits
4:00- Pictures of Bride with her Bridesmaids
4:15- Pictures of Bride with her immediate family - travel to Ceremony location
4:45- Pictures of Groom with his Groomsmen at ceremony location
5:00 - Pictures of Groom with his Immediate Family at ceremony location
5:15 - Get ready for Ceremony
6:00- Co-ed Wedding Party Pictures + Bride and Groom with each others Family
6:25- Bride + Groom Pictures
6:45- Sam takes off for reception to get set up for Intros and First Dance, take reception
detail shots ( Please note that there will not be any time for me to cover the actual Cocktail Hour)
7:00- Guests enter reception
7:45-8:10 Head out for last light portraits.
This options is a medium stress level and takes your families being cooperative and
ready earlier than usual. It also means the Bride would need to be ready early as well.
It is also a fantastic idea to ask your venue/caterer about having Cocktail Hour run for 1.5 hours. This has become a very popular option!
SAMPLE TWO (this only works if Ceremony and Party are in same location) :
2:30- Sam arrives
4:00- Bride starts getting dressed
4:30- Bride Portraits + then head to Groom for portraits
5:00- Get hidden away from guests arrival or travel to ceremony location
6:00- Ceremony over- go right into Family Pictures - must be small groupings to maximize time
6:25- Wedding Party Pictures - simple and quick group shots
6:35- Bride + Groom Portraits
6:45- Sam heads to reception to get set up for Intros and First Dance, take reception
detail shots (Please note that there will not be any time for me to cover the actual Cocktail Hour)
7:00- Guests enter reception
7:45-8:10 Head out for last light portraits
This option is obviously the most stressful. It takes a lot of cooperation from your families and
wedding parties to be on point right after the ceremony. With this option we must sneak
you out again for last light pictures because it will be your only portrait session, but this is obviously hinged
on time of year, reception timeline, weather, etc.
It is also a fantastic idea to ask your venue/caterer about having Cocktail Hour run for 1.5 hours. This has become a very popular option!
- THE CEREMONY -
I will most likely cry at some point during your ceremony. Don't worry, nothing's broken. :)
I feel like there are only two things that I constantly find happening at ceremonies that are worth mentioning:
1. If you have an altar, circle, tree, something that you are standing in front of, PLEASE make sure that you are centered. There is nothing that makes my symmetrical OCD twitch more than a couple who put so much time
and energy into the gorgeous place they stand to get married, and then are totally off center of it. It is such an easy way to ensure your final photos are super pleasing to the eye.
2. When you have your first kiss, if you peck really quick, you may only end up with one image. Take your time, linger at the end, kiss twice, three times, whatever you want, but think about enjoying the moment longer than a quick peck.
- THE UNPLUGGED CEREMONY -
(Please note that not all of these images are mine- some have been borrowed to show the point)
Ok so let's have some real talk! By now you have probably heard about the Unplugged Ceremony. It is such a hot topic, that I now give a discount for an Unplugged Ceremony.
So let me take a moment to explain why it means so much, because it's not just about me.
Here we are at the biggest moment of your wedding day- the actual ceremony. You start to come down the aisle and you are greeted with smiling faces but most of them are blocked by cell phones, iPads and your well meaning family with cameras because, by gosh, they want that shot of you coming down the aisle. And the biggest problem with this? Most of the time, not only do they block me and your videographer, but they also block the Groom from being able to see his Bride. And that just breaks my heart.
I like to imagine that they all mean well, but I have literally had Aunts step in front of me, in the center aisle, to get their iPhone picture. I have had Father's of the Bride, sitting in the front row, stand up to take pictures during the kiss. I have had so many people lean out into the center aisle, that there is no possible way any of us can get a clear shot of the Bride. And it breaks my heart.
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 five to ten seconds.
There is only one first kiss.
There is only one ring exchange.
There are no do-overs.
If you are having an indoor or church ceremony, this is especially important. 99.9% of the time, I am either not allowed to use flash or I make the decision that it is too intrusive.
But that rule does NOT apply to your guests.
Whether they mean to or not, their iPhones and point-and-shoot cameras will read the low light and AUTOMATICALLY turn on their flash.
This means that I will lose images to the little orange/red light that helps them focus )which always lands on your face or dress).
I will also lose images to their flash overexposing you.
There is literally nothing I can do about that in the moment, or in editing afterward.
The images below show this example:
So now the big question is how do you make an unplugged ceremony happen? Well I 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 I will be sharing all of my images with them!
Second, put a large sign in the ceremony space, right up front where the officiant stands because that is where all eyes are looking 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 your 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.
If make your best attempt at these three things, I will give you a $200 discount on your Collection. It means that much. :)
- BRIDE + GROOM PORTRAITS -
And here we are. This is the part of the day that I look forward to the most.
Making gorgeous portraits for my couples. Hopefully 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 45 total minutes with you for portraits. If we do it all at once, my ideal time would be in the last hour before sunset. However, this rarely works on a wedding day! So, I think it works really well to split up the portrait session into a few different parts of the day:
30 minutes after the First Look, 15-20 minutes after the ceremony and 5 minutes during the reception when the sun is setting OR if you're feeling up to it, sneaking out at night for a quick night shot.
I also ask that we all be on Team Good Photos! This means that after the “safe” images are taken you give me some time to play a bit and make you an epic portrait. Sometimes making one image can take 10 minutes. Sometimes it takes 30 seconds. But it will always be worth it!!
- The Reception -
Thinking about lighting during your reception can really make a difference in your images. There are so many variables here and lighting varies stylistically from person to person and venue to venue, but my vote is always natural looking, warm light.
Italian string lights are a beautiful way to add pretty bokeh (the out of focus orbs in the background of photos) to backdrops. They’re ideal for inside tents and barns, outdoor yards, to make a borders around dance floors and eating areas, and they help to light the perimeter of the reception in a beautiful way.
I will shoot in the natural light of your reception space for as long as I can until I feel the image quality is suffering and THEN I will pull out my flashes. I want to honor the ambiance and decor that you decided on and only use flash to help enhance it. So the more candles, string lights and bistro lights, the better!
If you’re having a ballroom wedding, and you are choosing to do uplighting for your reception space, it’s best to avoid overly warm colors (red and orange) although my personal preference is spaces that are lit more naturally. Some DJ lights can lead to colored splotches on you and your guests, so use caution when discussing lights with your DJ. I generally love the party lights that the DJ's bring, however, I am always bummed when I see the red and green laser light ball as there is no way to work around that and it leaves you looking like you have the measles.
- PREFERED VENDORS -
- WEDDING PLANNERS AND
DAY OF COORDINATORS-
Owner- Tatiana Jones
**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.
RUFFLES AND TWEED
Owner: Adrienne O'Connor
- HAIR + MAKEUP -
HAIR BY ANNALIESE - Fishkill, NY
Onsite Hair + Makeup Team
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
- ENTERTAINMENT -
YOUNG LOVE AND THE THRILLS
Small Band with big chops. They had young and old on the dance floor at the
same time which is hard to do!
THE GROOVE SHOP
Big Band with incredible talent. Not your mama’s wedding band. Like, 13 pieces big. 4 singers. 4 horns players.
INCREDIBLE! No one sits when they play.
THE NEW YORK PLAYERS
Elegant + traditional Full Band with 3 singers, horn section. Your traditional mom
will love them.
Ali Gruber spins nothing but vinyl from the 50 thru the 90’s- she’s the real deal.
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.
This is a company full of freelance DJ's. I have only worked with Dan but he was fantastic!
He played such a great mix of what the clients wanted and what he felt would keep the party
going and it was a great mix!
74 Events email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dan's email: email@example.com
Holy sh*t this kid! He’s the real deal. Just a table with turntables and no flashy fluff. He actually MIXES like a club DJ but without all the twerking. Songs that you want to hear but mixed with amazing beats and it all just flows so well together. He had the parents shaking their booties as hard as the friends. So so good. You’re friends will not stop talking about how good your party was!
number: 646 641 2676
Latest Sample Mix - more upon request
- CATERING -
HUDSON VALLEY BBQ CO.
Do NOT let the name fool you. They are SO much more than what comes off the grill. Like when they catered an all vegan wedding and it was some of the best food I have ever tasted- and I’m a meat eater. He even does a TACO STATION!!!! Come on!
Brandon creates completely customized menus for you based on what YOU want!
BLUE MOUNTAIN BISTRO TO GO
Mary Anne and her Chef husband Richard are SO fantastic. They catered our wedding and we did not make it easy on them!
They brought an entire, functioning kitchen to our empty venue site and rocked it.
Mary Anne Erickson
948 Rt 28, Kingston, NY 12401
CORNER STONE CATERERS
The Stone Family has been catering Parties and Events for over 25 years and still have a majority of the same staff they started with.
That dedication and commitment speaks volumes.
The Stone Family
MAIN COURSE CATERERS
These guys can handle anything you throw at them and their food is damn good!
- SHAPEWEAR -
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!
- CONNECTING -
If you didn't book a Connection Session but are thinking about going for 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, it's time to 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! By February, all May dates are usually filled. By May all summer through September dates are usually filled.
If you have any questions about your session, head over to the Connection Session Guide to learn more about it.
- CONTACT -
3 months before your wedding you will receive a reminder to start the Wedding Day Timeline Questionnaire but in the meantime, you can start filling in what you know!
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*