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For any significant event, a well-thought and practical timeline is essential. As a photographer, the schedule of any wedding is one of my biggest concerns. It isn’t only important to account for the structure of the celebration itself, but also the time of day in which each phase of the wedding takes place. Taking film photographs requires time and a plentiful amount of natural light for the most organic looking shots. A little preparation and organization are needed to ensure we capture the highest quality photos. You don’t need to plan everything down to the minute, but having a simple guideline to follow should help to make sure you get the best out of your celebration.
To start, you should always consider lighting when it comes to portrait time. As a general rule, the best time for portraits is about one to two hours before sunset. This usually ensures that there will be plenty of natural light and an even amount of shade to work with. Of course, this rule can vary considerably based on the venue, time of year, and other practical considerations. If shooting indoors, for example, it’s usually best to take advantage of the natural light streaming in while it’s brightest. If shooting outdoors during the height of noon, finding a large open space with even shade works best. Remember not to stress too heavily on shooting at any precise moment. In the bustling flow of weddings, it’s perfectly fine to deviate from the guideline as the event unfolds. Hiring a coordinator or appointing a family member to keep the schedule is may help to keep from stressing yourself overmuch. There’s nothing wrong with taking a few minutes to capture a quick portrait at the opportune moment either, should the opportunity present itself.
The getting ready photos are always the first step. About one to two hours should be allocated for these, and hair and makeup should be nearly finished by the time we arrive. We’ll start with detail shots while everyone is still together, which should take about 45 minutes. From there, we can move on to bridal party photos, putting on the dress, and bridal portraits. If you don’t plan on having a first look, we can also take care of a few more portraits before the ceremony. This is a great time for shots of the bride with each bridesmaid as well as each parent. Family portraits always come just after the ceremony, while everyone is still together. You may wish to take a few bridal party or couples photos at this time if the moment is right. From there, you can leave it up to us to cover the reception.
If you do plan on having a first look, I’d recommend on planning for an additional hour or two before the ceremony. The first look usually goes by pretty quickly, so be sure to soak it in as much as you can. It’s likely to be the only time you’ll have alone as a couple while the day lasts. Just ten minutes should suffice for the photos, after which we can move on to the couples portraits and bridal party photos before the ceremony. Family photos can be taken immediately after the ceremony is finished with everyone in the same spot. A few “Just Married” or “Sunset” photos could be taken just before or possibly during the reception as the light allows. Once that’s done you shouldn’t have to worry anymore about photos. We’ll take care of capturing every detail of the reception for you, so you can rest easy and enjoy yourself in the moment while it lasts!
Creating the perfect schedule is simple when you know what to expect. Above all, remember to take your time and enjoy yourself regardless of how busy things may seem. However the day of your wedding unfolds, your photographs should cherish the moments rather than defining them. It’s your day to live and to feel loved. Whatever may happen, your photographs should allow you to remember the day as it was, for many years to come.
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Whether you’re working with a wedding planner on a multi-day event or you’re planning an intimate affair, you’re still dealing with many moving pieces right up until your big day. Having photographed more than 200 weddings, we’ve come up with the answers to our most frequently asked questions and turned them into this guide, from day-of timelines to inclement weather, from engagement sessions to first looks.
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