New Client Guide
You probably envision your morning with your bridesmaids starting with you getting your hair and makeup done,
mimosas and girl talk while I snap away taking beautiful photos all while your favorite songs play!
All of this can happen with the proper planning. Here are some of my top Dos and dont’s for getting ready:
DO HAVE A TIMELINE
Having a set wedding day timeline is absolutely crucial to how the day will go, and it starts with getting ready. If you're having an evening wedding you may have a little leeway with getting up later, but for afternoon and early evening weddings, you'll probably be looking to set your alarm for 7 a.m. or close to it. Start with the time you must arrive at the ceremony venue and work backward. What do you need to do before then? Are you doing a first look and taking photos with your entire bridal party? Did you and your hairstylist agree that you're washing your hair the morning of your wedding? Do all your bridesmaids want to shower the day of too? These are all important questions to ask to figure out what time to wake up. Also, keep in mind that hair and makeup can take 60 to 90 minutes for the bride, and 30 to 45 minutes each bridesmaid and the mother of the bride. Depending on how many stylists you're using, this can greatly affect your timeline and that is assuming everyone is on time.
DO HANG YOUR DRESS AND VEIL
The first thing you should do when you wake up is take your wedding dress and veil out of the garment bag and hang it up where it can breathe a bit (preferably where nobody will disturb it). Hang it as high as you can, un-bustled, so you can see which areas need steaming the most. Tuck the comb of the veil inside the back of the dress, and let it hang down.
DO HAVE PLENTY OF FOOD FOR YOU AND YOUR CREW
There's nothing worse than a hangry bride—along with 10 hangry bridesmaids. Make sure to have an array of filling, nutritious breakfast or lunch options for your wedding party that will tide them over until the reception and won't give them a sugar rush and then make them crash. Think: sandwiches, wraps, salads, fruit and veggie platters, yogurt and granola bars. You can pre-order from any local delis or restaurants, and it's a much better option than sending your bridesmaids out to get food the morning of. Everyone will be busy and focused on getting ready, and you'll want to spend as much time as possible together that morning.
DO HAVE A GREAT PLAYLIST
If you have a bridesmaid who always makes the best playlists, task her with creating an awesome morning-of one. Fun getting ready tunes will put everyone in a good mood and ease any nerves.
DO MAKE SURE YOU HAVE ENOUGH OUTLETS
If you have a large bridal party and everyone is getting ready in the same room, double-check ahead of time to make sure there will be enough outlets. Think about it: Everyone will want to charge their phone, hairstylists will need multiple outlets for blow-dryers, curlers, straighteners and hot rollers, and there may be a few steamers on hand to press all the dresses. If there are only a few, you may want to buy a power strip or two to ensure everything can run smoothly.
DON’T DRINK TOO MUCH
Along with breakfast or lunch, providing mimosas or Bellini’s for your crew is always fun—who doesn't love a cute cheers-ing photo op? Just be careful—the last thing you want is downing too many and getting a headache, being too buzzed to concentrate on details or feeling extra jittery. I would say two per person is a fair amount.
DON’T FORGET YOUR EMERGENCY KIT
Things happen—nails chip, mimosas stain and hair droops. That's why it's important to have a day-of emergency kit for any mini-emergencies, including stain remover, breath mints, tweezers, tissues, hair spray, fashion tape and more. I also put one together throughout the years.
DO REMEMBER TO GIVE OUT BRIDESMAIDS GIFTS
If you have getting-ready robes, monogrammed shirts or any other gifts for your bridesmaids, distribute them the night before so they can wear them on arrival to the getting-ready space, or right when they get there as a fun surprise!
DON’T GET READY IN A DARK, CRAMPED ROOM
When you're choosing your getting-ready venue, make sure there's plenty of natural light and space, if you're having a large bridal party and multiple hairstylists and makeup artists. You want your getting ready photos to be beautiful, and the key to that is plenty of good, natural lighting. You also don't want everyone to feel cramped and on top of each other (plus, think of all the garment bags, beauty tools, food, drinks and more things that will take up space)—so the more room you can get, the better. Do not forget about the guys space either. I’ve seen the guys end up with the rooms in the basement, or an all pink room! Just keep lighting and space in mind when choosing a location for the both of you!
Timeline: 60-120 Minutes
First look VS. Traditional
A first look gives you and your love a chance to see each other in a private, intimate setting before the ceremony.
Many photographers will push first looks. While I prefer my couples do a first look for the reasons below, I will NEVER persuade you otherwise if you feel strongly about seeing your fiance for the first time during the ceremony. However, I highly recommend considering a first look for the following reasons:
IT TAKES THE PRESSURE OFF
There’s often a LOT of nerves going into your ceremony. I believe much of that is the anticipation of seeing your soon-to-be spouse for the first time! But if you have a chance to see them for the first time in a quiet, intimate setting before the ceremony, chances are you’ll be MUCH more relaxed when ceremony time comes!
YOU’LL HAVE EVEN BETTER PHOTOS
While I do love the groom reaction shots while a bride walks down the aisle, it’s far less intimate than a first look and we aren’t able to capture the emotion as well as if you took some time aside for the two of you! It’s also a lot harder to take in the moment for yourselves when there’s dozens of people watching you!
IT FREES UP THE TIMELINE
Yep! Usually after a first look, we’ll do family photos prior to the ceremony. This means you won’t have to spend time doing family photos after all the excitement of the ceremony and you’ll be able to spend even more time with family and friends during cocktail hour and the reception! I’ll still grab you for sunset/night portraits at some point depending on when your ceremony is, but more time at the reception is a win for everyone!
I HIGHLY recommend keeping first looks completely private. Meaning you, your fiance, myself and possibly my assistant/second shooter. That means Mom and Dad aren’t coming along and the bridesmaid aren’t hiding behind a bush somewhere taking photos on their phones. The moment you see your future spouse for the first time can be such a beautiful moment and I recommend keeping it as private as possible!
TIMELINE 15-20 MINUTES
You’ve spent hours planning the PERFECT outdoor ceremony overlooking the mountains, waterfall or in a lush forest. (...or maybe wisheful thinking, right!?) However, you soon realize your planning efforts were in vain when your wedding photos from your ceremony come back with harsh shadows streaming across your faces and blinding light coming in your eyes causing you to squint constantly.
When planning your outdoor ceremony location, it’s easy to get caught up in the location and views and disregard the lighting, but the lighting will play the BIGGEST role in how your photos will turn out!
This is especially important if you must have a midday ceremony. This means setting up your ceremony so the sun is behind you, your fiance, and your officiant, and your guests are facing the sun. If your ceremony is in the afternoon or close to sunset, your guests should be facing West (towards the sunset). For morning ceremonies, your guests should be facing East (towards the sunrise).
SUNSET IS BEST
With few exceptions, I plan portrait sessions and bride and groom photos right before sunset because the lighting is most beautiful that time of day! It’s softer, golden and straight up gorgeous. That same light is just as important for your outdoor ceremony. I recommend doing outdoor ceremonies about 2-4 hours prior to sunset allowing time for bride + groom photos as well as potential delays + timeline emergencies.
Family/Bridal Party Portraits
While the majority of the day is focused on capturing emotion and unplanned moments, I realize that family photos are just as important and I take them very seriously.
If no First Look was done, Family Portraits take place immediately after your Ceremony followed by Bridal Party Portraits.
We’ll chat to come up with a list closer to your date, but I recommend limiting to 10 family formal groupings. I know it can sometimes be difficult to get your list down to 10 groups, however, I’d encourage you to think about which arrangements are most important to you and stick with no more than 10 groupings. Family photos are often the most exhausting portion of the day, and instead of tiring yourselves out with dozens of family groupings, I recommend allowing for more time with family during cocktail hour and reception while I capture all the candid moments along the way.
Corralling everyone during cocktail hour is often difficult. Grandma is likely to get lost in the crowd and it’s easy for the best man to find himself at the bar instead of lining up for bridal party photos. This corralling can really eat into the time we have for portraits and for you to enjoy your reception! With enough communication prior to your wedding day with immediate family, you set the expectation for family members to be present whether before or after the ceremony. I would recommend a friendly message/call a few days prior.
Timeline: 30 minutes Family + 30 minutes Bridal Party
Bride and Groom Portraits
It’s no secret that bride and groom photos are my favorite part of the day. Not just because the moments you share on the day you become husband and wife are nothing short of magical, but because these are the photos you will share for the rest of your life. They’ll be on your walls, in your heirloom album, and the ones you’ll show to your kids and their kids someday. You likely won’t reminisce over photos of you cutting the cake or entering the reception, but the look of pure joy on your face as your love holds you close are the memories and photos you’ll treasure for a lifetime!
You’ll hear me talk about “soft, beautiful light” a LOT on the days leading up to your I dos, but you might not understand quite what I mean by that! We won’t get too scientific (because let’s be real.. I can’t), but the closer the sun gets to the horizon, the more diffused the light gets. Essentially, all the sunlight gets filtered through little particles in the air making it “softer,” which is why many photos are most beautiful at sunset! There’s less harsh shadows and the light is much more flattering on both your skin and the landscape around you. I recommend arranging your timeline first and foremost around beautiful light for your bride and groom photos. I like to plan for 30-60 minutes for photos. But the more time you give me for bride and groom photos, the better your photos will be and the more you’ll receive!
While most couples do a first look prior to the ceremony, we don’t do couple’s photos until after the ceremony. Not only because of the light, but because you are SO much more relaxed! There’s a lot of nerves building up to the ceremony, and once it’s over, not only are you MARRIED, but you’re in a giddy, I-can’t-believe-I-just married-you, love bubble of joy and it makes for some amazing moments!
JUST THE TWO OF YOU, PLEASE!
While mom, dad, the best man and every other guest is so excited to spend time with you after the ceremony, I ask that the time during your portraits is just between us. Not only can guests watching be a distraction, but it often takes away from those sweet moments you’ll share after you say I do!
Timeline: 30-60 Minutes
While your wedding ceremony is both special and crucial (it's when you'll actually get married!), the reception is probably what you and your guests are most looking forward to—who doesn't want to eat, drink and dance? The best celebrations incorporate personal, fun and unique touches to keep guests smiling and talking about it long after the last dance.
ARRANGE SEATING THOUGHTFULLY
It sounds obvious, but don't discount the importance of a solid seating arrangement. Place guests with people they'll know and get along with. It might seem like a great idea to play matchmaker, or force your guests to sit with strangers to make new friends—but at the end of the day, they're there for you, and to catch up with their own pals. Put another way, a well-thought-out seating chart leads to great conversation, which leads to a great dance party, which leads to an unforgettable night. So seat your tween cousins with other kids their age and let your college friends sit together.
HAND OUT AWESOME FAVORS
Let your guests know how much you appreciate having them there by offering a take-home treat (think: doughnuts, hot cocoa mix and marshmallows, a bag of your favorite coffee beans or jars of local honey), a cute succulent plant or a pair of sunglasses branded with your initials and wedding date.
KEEP TOASTS SHORT AND SWEET
Wedding toasts are all about quality over quantity, so ask anyone who's speaking to make sure their toasts are no more than two minutes. If they have any longer anecdotes, they can feel free to share at the rehearsal dinner.
HAVE A PLAN FOR KIDS
Give them their own designated area. In a separate room, arrange for a babysitter to set up and oversee movies, games, crafts or a kid-centric dance party. You can also set up a few tables topped with coloring books, crayons, games and small toys. Or simply opt to have a strict “no kids” rule on the invitation.
SHAKE THINGS UP FOR THE FIRST DANCE
All eyes will be on you during your first dance—it's the perfect opportunity to wow your guests with a fun surprise. Start with a romantic dance to "At Last," or other classic first dance song, then suddenly switch gears to a energetic Latin dance or break it down to Bruno Mars.
PLAN SURPRISE ENTERTAINMENT
Sometimes the best parts of a reception are what guests don't see coming. Surprise your loved ones with unexpected entertainment during the cocktail hour or reception, like a magician, mariachi band, aerialists or a salsa dancer.
FIND A DJ THAT GETS YOU
Okay, this is a little more obvious, but we have to mention it because music is a major reception fun factor, and has a lot to do with how long your guests will stay. The last thing you want to see is your dance floor clear out when the DJ plays obscure songs that are hard to dance to. Talk to your DJ about your do-not-play list upfront. Also, play music everyone can dance to. You may love obscure indie rock, but now isn't the time to show off your discerning taste in music. Sure, mix in a few of your favorites, but don't leave out the past and present hits, otherwise you risk an empty dance floor. Make sure your DJ has good break music as well.
HIRE A DAY-OF COORDINATOR
You may have a ton of fun ideas lined up for your reception, but no matter how organized you are it's much more difficult than you'd think to keep each of those plans and moving parts in check. If you already have an event planner, you're all set. If not, look into booking a day-of coordinator to oversee the details (trust us, it's worth it).