The Wedding Guide
Comprehensive Wedding Guide.
Firstly I want to say a massive thank you for choosing me to be a part of your special day.
I’m absolutely thrilled and honoured to be your wedding photographer. Over the past decade, I’ve had the privilege of capturing the magic of hundreds of weddings. Each of these experiences has been a source of invaluable lessons and insights. With this guide, my aim is to assist you in planning your special day to perfection, all while minimising any stress. Please keep in mind that this guide isn’t a rigid set of rules; rather, it’s a collection of insights born from my own experiences and tailored to complement my unique style of photography.
Think of it as a friendly companion to help you navigate those finer details you might not have considered otherwise. Feel free to pick and choose the tips that resonate with you, and don’t hesitate to disregard any that don’t quite fit your vision. My hope is that you’ll discover some nuggets of wisdom here that prove truly beneficial as you prepare for your wedding day.
If you ever have any questions or ideas, or just want to ask me more questions, don’t hesitate to reach out. I’m here to make this experience as enjoyable and stress-free as possible. I can’t wait to embark on this creative journey with you both.
What to expect
WORKING WITH ME IS A COLLABORATIVE PROCESS
The reason I meet with every couple is not only to see if we are a good fit but also to discover how I can provide you with the best possible service. Understanding your preferences and dislikes regarding wedding photography is crucial. That’s why working with me is a collaborative journey, and I always encourage open communication about what matters most to both of you in terms of photography. My whole philosophy is about capturing moments of your story creatively and in a documentary style.
I WANT TO MAKE YOU FEEL RELAXED
This is super important to me – capturing those one-of-a-kind, in-between moments without any awkwardness is absolutely key. I’m all about having a blast! I’m incredibly laid-back, and you’ll quickly see that. Almost every couple I’ve had the pleasure of photographing has shared that I put them at ease and make portrait sessions enjoyable. The main idea is to simply be yourselves and have a fantastic time together. I’ll be right there to document both of you having an awesome time.
LET’S HAVE FUN!
I want to capture the laughs, hugs, and tears on the day. Why not pop some champagne and spray it everywhere? Let’s take some drinks and snacks with us when we go off for some portraits. Banter with your friends and don’t be afraid to just be yourself. I want you to feel at ease knowing I will be there to capture the story as it unfolds. All I ask from you both is to enjoy the moments around you (not thinking about what’s next on your schedule) and have as much fun as possible.
When it comes to crafting your wedding day timeline, meticulous planning is key. What you’ll find below is a strong foundation to kickstart your timeline planning. However, remember that flexibility is your best friend in this process. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, as factors like travel time between locations and varying sunset times throughout the year can come into play. If you ever find yourself feeling overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to reach out. But keep in mind that I will design a photography timeline FOR YOU. In due time I will collaborate with you and create a unique timeline that perfectly aligns with your vision.
For now, this is a guide for you to know approximately how long each part of the day takes for photos on a typical wedding timeline.
Allowing the perfect amount of time for each part of the day is essential. You can base your timeline on your ideal ceremony time or what time sunset will be on your day. I have shown how much time I usually like to have for each part of the day.
I find these times above work really well and give me enough time to capture the images I need and want to tell your story. This is just a guide. Every wedding is different which means times can change accordingly. Family photos can be more or less depending on how many you have written down.
If you want to do your photos after your “first look” (before the ceremony) your schedule will be different from the one I am showing. In the questionnaire I send out to ensure I have all your correct times, I ask if you plan to do photos after your first look. That way I make sure I draft your schedule allowing time for photos before the ceremony.
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This timeline is based on a 3:30pm ceremony (start time) for a wedding in the Southern Highlands, N.S.W in April. Sunset is at approx 5.30pm
- 1:00 – Prep location 1 (Groom/Partner 1) Getting ready photos
- 1:45 – Photographer departs for Prep location 2
- 2:00 – Prep location 2 (Bride/Partner 2) Bride’s Hair and makeup should be finishing up/or finished
- 3:00 – Photographer departs for Ceremony
- 3:15 – Photographer arrives and documents guests arriving, set up etc.
- 3:30 – Ceremony begins
- 4:00 – Ceremony ends
- 4:00 – Celebratory hugs & kisses!
- 4:15 – Family Photos
- 4:30 – Wedding Party Portraits, On Location (If time allows for it, you could have the option of hanging out with your guests for canapés before starting portraits. 60mins is plenty for photos).
- 6:00 – Reception: Wedding Party & Couple Entrance
- Reception cont. including: Dinner (Photographer takes a break and eats at the same time as the guests), speeches, cake cutting, first dance, dancefloor opens up!
- Coverage Ends (if the night goes on longer than this and there is an exit you want to capture, you’ll need to add extra time).
The ‘getting ready’ phase is an essential chapter that kickstarts the narrative of your wedding day. I absolutely love capturing the intimate moments, the presence of your loved ones, the palpable anticipation, and all the nerves that lead up to the ceremony during this time. It’s often the most misunderstood part of the day. Think ‘story-telling’, the beginning of a film. Without the getting ready photos it’s as if you’re walking partway into a film without the vital context of the intro.
So when contemplating your ‘getting ready’ location, a few key factors should come into play. Consider the cleanliness and tidiness of the space. Does it bask in natural light, or is there adequate window light if it’s a darker spot? I’ve compiled some valuable tips to guide your preparation planning process.
Good lighting is essential for achieving stunning photos. I’m not talking about artificial downlights; I’m a big fan of natural window light! The more natural light available, the better your photos will turn out. Lighting plays a crucial role in capturing beautiful moments, and it’s one of the things I prioritize when I arrive on your big day. If you’re getting your hair and makeup done, try to choose a room with plenty of natural light. Trust me, it’ll make a significant difference in the final look of your photos.
I recommend keeping your getting-ready space as clutter-free as possible. Hideaway suitcases and clothing so that the room looks neat and clean. This way, I can capture the space without any distracting elements in the background. If you’re getting ready in a hotel room, consider reserving an extra room or asking friends if they can help you create a clutter-free zone. It might seem like a small detail, but it can make a world of difference in your photographs. I can always move things around when I arrive, but being prepared ahead of time is a great way to ensure everything looks perfect.
I absolutely love photographing in Airbnb’s or cozy family homes because they offer a unique and quirky backdrop that adds character to your photos. I understand that this might not always be an option, but if you’re still in the planning phase, consider investing in a space that aligns with your style. Airbnb offers a plethora of choices, so you can handpick one that resonates with your wedding vision. Hotel rooms, while comfortable, tend to be more straightforward. Opting for an Airbnb sometimes infuses more personality into your wedding images.
While not everyone likes detail photos, and it’s certainly not essential, I do like to capture details to help with the storytelling. This includes your elegant shoes, invitations, dress, jewelry, perfume, wedding rings, and any other meaningful items you may have. Additionally, opting for a wooden coat hanger for your dress instead of a plastic one can add a touch of elegance to your gown’s presentation.
First Look or First Touch
Traditionally, couples would wait to see each other for the first time as they walked down the aisle. However, some couples opt for a more intimate approach by having a ‘first look,’ where they actually see each other before the ceremony, or a ‘first touch,’ where they speak to each other or exchange gifts or letters without seeing each other. These moments are incredibly special and can help alleviate any stress or anxiety associated with the traditional approach.
A first look or first touch can be such a special and intimate time between you both on the wedding day. It’s definitely not for everyone but it’s something to consider
The Pros & Cons of portraits after a first look
Choosing to do some portraits after a first look can be a great option, but there are important factors to consider. On the positive side, it allows you to spend more quality time with your guests after the ceremony and ensures that all your photos are taken care of before the big moment. While this may sound appealing, there are a few important considerations to keep in mind.
One potential downside is the lighting situation. Shooting in harsh, midday sun isn’t typically ideal for achieving the most flattering photos. Another important factor to consider is the bride’s dress. It’s completely understandable that she wants to keep it pristine before the ceremony, which could affect the quality of the photos or limit your choice of locations.
Based on my experience, having a first look or first touch can be a fantastic option. If you opt for a first look, it might be best to schedule the portraits after the ceremony. This allows the bride to worry less about keeping her dress clean and gives you more flexibility in choosing diverse and stunning locations for your photos.
This information is invaluable for planning the location and lighting of your ceremony. While we can’t control the weather or the lighting on the day, you can harness that natural light to your advantage, ensuring I capture the best possible photos.
One of my favourite moments is capturing couples walking back down the aisle, officially married and surrounded by loved ones. Adding eco-confetti or rose petals is a perfect addition that elevates the fun and beauty of the image!
Things to consider for an outdoor ceremony:
- Position yourselves with the sun at your back to avoid glare and squinting.
- Seek out shaded areas for the ceremony, if available, to ensure comfortable lighting.
- Prior to your big day, examine the natural light conditions and research similar settings for reference photos.
Consider having an “unplugged” ceremony. Not so that guests don’t get in my way, but to encourage them to be fully present, resulting in more genuine and emotional moments. I’ve noticed that smiles and tears from guests happen more often when they’re fully present.
Things to consider for an outdoor ceremony
- Take into account any structures above or behind the ceremony area, such as gazebos, arches, or elevated stages.
- Ensure there’s ample space for me to move around the perimeter of the ceremony space. This flexibility enables a wider range of captivating images, including shots of your parents and bridal party.
If you’re holding an indoor ceremony
- Assess the available lighting in the indoor venue. Is it primarily natural light or artificial illumination?
- If artificial lighting dominates, consider enhancing it with hanging lights, candles, or spotlights, depending on the venue and scenario.
- If you’re tying the knot in a church, inquire about any photography restrictions. Some churches may limit photographers to the last pew or prohibit crossing the aisle.
While there may be situations where finding shade for your ceremony isn’t possible, consider positioning yourselves with the light source behind both of you, this typically ensures a softer and better image even in full sun.
Here, the sun gently frames the couple from behind, casting a soft and flattering glow. If you can discover a shaded spot or have the sun behind you, that’s a bonus as it compliments the image.
This ceremony was captured closer to midday when the sun shines directly in front of the couple. This can create harsh shadows and make members of the wedding party squint, which can be less than ideal for capturing those beautiful moments
Create a list of the people you want photographed
eg. The two of you with parents, the two of you with siblings & parents etc…
Select a reliable family or friend to coordinate with your family members on the wedding day. Provide them with a list of the family members to be included in the formal photographs, but please do not share this list with me, as I’m not familiar with your family members.
It’s also not necessary for all extended family members to be present. If you’d like to include more people in photographs later in the evening during the reception, that’s absolutely fine. To ensure we have sufficient time, allocate approximately 15 minutes for this portion of the day. If your list of people for photographs is extensive, consider allowing more time to accommodate everyone comfortably.
On Location Photos (Portraits)
When it comes to the portraits, there’s no rigid formula. I encourage you to simply relax and enjoy some downtime. I absolutely love having a chat and capturing all the fun and banter if you have a wedding party with you.
But, I’m equally passionate about capturing those more intimate, heartfelt moments between the two of you. I will give you directions, don’t worry, you won’t feel like you won’t know what you’re doing.
There’s no need to overthink this part of your day. It’s a time to unwind, let loose, and enjoy.
Golden Hour and Blue Hour
This is the best time for some awesome photos! The sun sits low in the sky, giving us that soft, warm light that makes everything look dreamy. I usually like to steal you away for about 10-15 minutes during this time to capture those super intimate shots of you both.
OK, here’s a little something you may not have thought of. But after the sun has set, we enter what photographers call ‘blue hour.’ It’s like a secret sauce for moody and magical pics.
Now, depending on when your date is, you might want to sneak out of your reception for a quick 10-minute golden hour photo sesh or finish your portraits at sunset/blue hour. To find out when the golden hour strikes your wedding location, just pop over to Google and search for ‘sunset time’ on your wedding date and venue.
When it comes to photographing your wedding party, here’s how I like to do it: I typically begin with some group shots, and then I focus on capturing each side of the wedding party. If there’s enough time scheduled, I enjoy getting creative with different combinations.
I usually allocate around 20 minutes for the wedding party photoshoot. However, the duration can vary based on the size of your party. If you have more than 12 people, it’s a good idea to think about extending the portrait session time.
Feel free to bring along some champagne, drinks, and snacks. This not only helps set a relaxed and enjoyable mood but also provides a great opportunity for me to capture those genuine moments of you all having a good time together.
Opting for no wedding party has its benefits
Skipping a wedding party means you can allocate less time for your portraits and give more time and attention to your guests and each other. It creates a sense of togetherness, where everyone present feels like a VIP.
Embrace the rain! My best advice is to simply enjoy your big day, come rain or shine! After all, you’ll be surrounded by your wonderful family and friends, and that’s what truly counts.
Believe it or not, some of the most enchanting photos happen on those stormy days. Overcast weather gives everything a lovely soft glow, and rain can add a dash of drama to your photos that’s just plain awesome. To keep everyone dry but still looking stylish, consider picking up some clear umbrellas for your bridal party. It’s a practical move that’ll help capture those unforgettable moments, rain or shine!
It’s time to celebrate! the part of the night where you get to kick your heels off and party with your guests! So, what should you keep in mind when it comes to photography for your reception?
I prefer to use the available light and save my flash for those lively dance floor shots towards the end of the night. So during the reception, I aim to rely on your venue’s lighting. To create a romantic atmosphere, market lights and candles work wonders (as long as there are plenty of them). Sometimes I’ll use my continuous light setup depending on the venue.
Going without a break or food for over 8 hours can be quite a stretch. I truly value the opportunity to pause and recharge with a meal. Ideally, the best time for the photographer to grab a bite is at the beginning, when the rest of the wedding guests are being served. This way, I can finish in time to capture the next part of the reception, like the speeches. It’s also a great time since I don’t typically take photos of guests while they’re eating. Most venues are aware of this, but occasionally, some insist on serving vendors towards the end of the mealtime, which can clash with important moments like speeches.
Coloured party lights are EPIC for the dance floor vibe and really help with dance floor photos. If your DJ uses them that’s always a bonus. Although they can really affect the mood of your first dance photographs, a good DJ knows to not use the party lights so that I can capture the romantic moments, just as they are without distracting coloured lights. If you want to find some great DJs, scroll down to the vendor list at the bottom of this guide and get in touch with the ones I have listed.
Festoon lighting is a great option for a dance floor especially if you have an outdoor reception.
Have you considered the lighting arrangements for your dinner reception? Whether it’s hanging lights or the soft glow of candles, these choices can significantly influence the mood and the quality of your wedding photos by adding a unique ambiance to the setting. I personally favour candlelight and hanging lights because they create a warm, inviting atmosphere that perfectly aligns with my photography style.
Another important aspect to consider is the placement of your head table. What will be the backdrop behind you? Is it a wall of speakers, a catering table, or a clean and elegant background?
When it comes to speeches, think about where your speakers will stand. Having them near you and your guests can capture genuine reactions without being intrusive. It allows me to document the heartfelt moments and emotions shared by both you and your loved ones seamlessly.
Kickstart your day with activities that ease your nerves and set the right tone. Take a morning stroll, enjoy a refreshing swim, or savour a champagne breakfast. Feel like getting ready together? There are no hard and fast rules here. Do what makes both of you happy and sets the perfect vibe for your big day.
Crafting personalised vows is so special. Hearing your partner’s vows for the first time on your wedding day is an unforgettable experience. It might bring on the waterworks, but trust me, it’s a beautiful way to express your love in front of your nearest and dearest.
Consider having your celebrant kindly request that guests put away their phones, iPads, cameras, and gadgets during the ceremony. We’ve all seen moments nearly spoiled by giant screens in the aisle. By keeping it gadget-free, your guests can fully be present, and helps me capture emotions from your guests too.
Don’t hold back on the affection during the ceremony. Holding hands and touching each other is not just allowed but encouraged! You might also want to chat with your celebrant about standing to the side for a portion of the ceremony. This will give me the chance to capture some beautiful shots of just the two of you as you exchange vows – and especially for the first kiss!
This is my number one tip for family photos. Designate someone who knows your family well (preferably with a strong voice) to assist me in gathering everyone for the family portraits. Make sure this person has a copy of the list and understands that this is their role. Family photos can sometimes get overwhelming, so good organisation is key! And perhaps someone with experience in herding cats 🙂
This one’s a game-changer! Depending on where we’re headed for photos, we could be away for quite some time. Packing a picnic with drinks and snacks for the photoshoot ensures everyone stays hydrated and energised. Popping some champagne with your wedding party also makes for fabulous pictures and a whole lot of fun! Plus, it allows everyone to relax and munch while I focus on capturing your beautiful moments.
This has been mentioned a few times throughout this guide, and that’s probably because it’s the thing that couples worry about the most in the few days leading up to their wedding. Some of my favourite photos I’ve taken were during the rain. Keep a positive attitude and stay relaxed, and your photos will be nothing short of breathtaking. Having a backup plan is a smart move, and if rain is in the forecast, pack some clear umbrellas just in case. Overcast weather actually provides soft, beautiful light that photographers secretly adore.
Amid the busyness of your wedding day, carve out at least 20 minutes to be alone together. Let me capture the magic during the Golden Hour – it’s the perfect moment to savour the day.
Because no one wants an empty dancefloor at their reception! A lively dance floor is a must. Pick a great band or DJ to keep the party going. Seat enthusiastic dancers near the dance floor to set the tone. Oh and one thing that always works, have everyone join you after your first dance, this kicks off the dance floor perfectly. You don’t want a gap between the first dance and the dance floor officially kicking off.
If capturing the late-night party moments and the exit is essential, consider extending my coverage. This way, you can relive the entire celebration.
Every once in a while, STOP and look around. Take a mental snapshot of what is going on. Breathe in, breathe out. Have a great time!
When selecting your wedding vendors, look for those who share your vision and truly invest in making your day special. They provide more than just services; they create an unforgettable experience tailored just for you. Investing in them ensures they’ll invest wholeheartedly in your wedding. I have a list of awesome vendors below.
I’ve come across some truly awesome folks and businesses in the wedding industry. I’ve either had the pleasure of working alongside them or am genuinely inspired by their craft and unique style. I keep this list fresh, so if you’ve crossed paths with any other vendors that you would highly recommend, I’d love to hear your stories!
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time to read this. I understand that wedding planning can feel like a whirlwind. Remember, this guide is just a helpful resource, not a strict rulebook. Feel free to tailor your day to your unique style and preferences.
I’m here to pour my whole heart and soul into capturing your special day as genuine and creative as possible. If you ever need guidance or support during your planning journey, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I genuinely hope that this guide has provided some ease along the way. I’m incredibly excited about the opportunity to create something truly magical together.