First and foremost, I think that it all begins with your mindset and your expectations. I want to start out by telling you my BIGGEST piece of advice for you on your wedding day!
Ready for it?!
You'll do so much planning leading up to your day, and on your wedding day, you need to do one thing:
Stop.
Stop the planning. Stop the micro-managing. Know that all of the hard work that you put into planning needs to be enjoyed and do nothing but that: enjoy your day. Don't worry about time or details (we've got that handled) and just be present in every single moment. Your only job is to feel joy and excitement and every single emotion that you're meant to felt and have the time of your life.
Everything will be perfect.
Even if it isn't.

First Things First

We Can't Document What Doesn't Happen

Your wedding day is an event to be lived.
It's not a staged production that we will direct.
We look out for moments that are emotion filled and this is where the most beautiful photographs and video take place. If you are drawn to emotional photographs and envision yourself in these moments, but you are so stressed or are spending most of your day micromanaging every little detail, we won't get the emotion that doesn't exist.
Be present.
Feel the feelings.
Set your day up so that you're able to do this.

First Look vs. No First Look

I have so many thoughts about first looks vs. no first looks.
Let me just say, if you have had it in your mind from the very beginning that you want to see your partner at the end of the aisle, do that. This is such a personal decision and it's important that you go with your gut and do the thing that makes you the happiest.
Here are a few points for having a first look:
You are allowed an intimate moment to actually talk and kiss and cry and hold each other. When you see each other in front of a group of people at the ceremony, you really aren't allowed that opportunity to talk and say how you feel seeing each other.
Another point for a first look is that you are able to see your partner and hang out with them for longer on your wedding day! Your day goes so fast and having a first look allows you to spend a majority of your wedding day together.
I also think that sometimes when couples opt out of a first look, they feel like their day doesn't really start until everything is checked off of the list and then they can relax. When you have to cram all of your photos in between your ceremony and your reception, it leaves a majority of your day to feel like you still have a big to do list that you need to check off still. When you opt for a first look, you're able to get the checklist of portraits done so that you can relax and have the time of your life.
I think it's a common misconception that first looks seem less intimate, whereas I think the opposite. I love when couples choose a first look because it gives us a little more time for portraits and it gives the couple more time to be with their full wedding party and I love that!

Family Formals

Family formals time can often be one of the most stressful times of the day. Here are my best tips to make sure this time goes as smoothly as possible:

1. Keep it simple!
Make sure to only put the groups that mean the most to you on your family formals list. Typically, family formal list consists of parents, grandparents, siblings and siblings family (in-laws, nieces/nephews.)

2. Organize the list in a way that makes sense!
Have your family in a list, and then move onto your spouses family. Going back and forth creates confusion and takes a lot longer.

3. Keep the order in mind.
If you have elderly grandparents, little kids or family with disabilities, put them at the front of the list and get ALL photos with them done so that they can sit back down and get comfortable.
ie: Don't have a photo with Grandma at the beginning of the list and then have one big family photo at the very end so that they have to stay and wait until the very end.

4. Use first names.
Use specific names that I can yell out! Instead of saying things like: "Grandma" to leave your family wondering which grandma, put "Grandma Barb" or just Barb so that I can yell out the specific name.

5. Reception list.
To keep things simple for family formals, keep in mind, you can always have a reception list for more extended family or specific groups of friends that you want a photograph with at the reception.

Your wedding day timeline is a HUGE part of organizing your day! I love helping to create a rough draft for the layout of your day.
Here are a few things to consider when creating your timeline:
First Look vs. No First Look
Creating time in your day that allows for a bit of wiggle room in case things run late OR to account for rest time.
What all will you want documented: letter reading, garter toss, hair/makeup, details, etc.
Accounting for travel time. This is huge! If your ceremony and reception are in different spaces, you'll need to account for getting from point A to point B.
Will you do a formal exit and do you want your photographer to stay for that?
Will you do special things for each other or for your parents/wedding party before the ceremony like gifts, letter reading, private vow reading, etc.?
Consider videography and allow for a few extra minutes for set up. With videography, it requires a lot more setup and prep than photography does.
Will you be dismissing your guests after the ceremony? This takes tiiiiiiime.
Will you be wanting to join cocktail hour or just allow your guests to enjoy this time while you finish up photos?
Consider allowing a few extra minutes for reception documentation. A lot of times, the reception room isn't ready until later in the day, so allowing time for your photographer to document this room after it's ready but before guests enter is super important!

Wedding Day Timeline

Sample Timeline

1pm- Photographer/Videographer arrives +
begin documenting details
1:45pm- Final touches on getting ready
2pm- Bride/Groom gets dressed + ready
2:30pm- Spouse #2 gets dressed + ready
2:45pm- First Look
3pm- Wedding Party Portraits + Couple Portraits
4pm- Everyone hidden for ceremony
4:30pm- Ceremony
5pm- Family formals
5:30pm- Finalize portraits +
document reception space
6pm- Reception entrance
6:15pm- Speeches, prayer, toasts, etc.
6:30pm- Dinner
7:30pm- Formal dances
7:50pm- Cake Cutting
8:30pm- Golden hour portraits
9pm- Photographer/Videographer departs

1pm- Photographer/Videographer arrives +
begin documenting details
1:45pm- Final touches on getting ready
2:30pm- Spouse #1 gets dressed + ready
2:45pm- Spouse #1 + their party portraits
3:15pm- Spouse #2 gets dressed + ready
3:30pm- Spouse #2 + their party portraits
4pm- Everyone hidden for ceremony
4:30pm- Ceremony
5pm- Family formals
5:30pm- Full Wedding Party + Couple's Portraits
6pm- Reception entrance
6:15pm- Speeches, prayer, toasts, etc.
6:30pm- Dinner
7:30pm- Formal dances
7:50pm- Cake Cutting
8:30pm- Golden hour portraits
9pm- Photographer/Videographer departs

first look

no first look

Random Tips

Hold your first kiss.
Have your marriage certificate filled out before the ceremony so that all you have to do is sign it!
Have a friend designated to pin boutonnieres!
When walking down the aisle, have all friends with bouquets make sure to hold their bouquet at their belly button. Look up and smile! And walk slooooooow.
Really think about the things that are the most important to photographers when dreaming about locations: light and space. Don't book a hotel just to have a hotel to get ready in and then your hotel room ends up being cramped and dark with thick, patterned curtains. 
Trust your spray tanner!


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