It’s official!!! You’re engaged. Now comes the fun part of planning the wedding. As a wedding photographer, I probably have the most knowledge when it comes to the overall flow of your wedding day. Your other vendors definitely have their specialties, but I’ll be by your side the entire time. Which is why I created this little welcome guide to help you out in the journey. Feel free to pick my brain throughout the process.
LETS PLAN YOUR WEDDING
The thing to keep in mind throughout the planning process, is that it’s your wedding. You will always have the final say in how things go. Consider me the professional perspective in your corner. There will always be people wanting to give you their opinion in how a wedding needs to play out. The fact is, weddings these days can be anything you want them to be. And over the years, I have become really good at playing devil’s advocate. So if you’re arguing with your mother over wether to wear a veil during the ceremony, I can argue your side no matter what that side happens to. I got your back.
WHY YOU SHOULD
- Practice run with your wedding photographer
- Get comfortable infront of a camera
- Test out your hair/makeup before the wedding
- Images for your wedding invites and save the dates
- Learn some posing tips and tricks
- Introduce your fiance to family members they haven’t met
- Fun excuse to hang out with eachother
WHY YOU DON’T NEED TO
- Already worked with your photographer
- Not that picky when it comes to photos
- Already have tons of photos together
- Travel distance is too much
- Don’t like having your picture taken
- Can’t work it into your busy schedule
- It may not fit your budget
It is best to plan for colors and tones that complement your complexion. Try to stay away from busy patterns so the focus is more on you than what you’re wearing. Your clothing selection should be comfortable and flowy. That way you don’t limit your posing options by having the outfit be too tight, restrictive, or revealing. It’s also a good idea to keep the season/weather in mind when planning your outfit. So with winter comes cosy sweaters and hot chocolate.
engagement shoot outfit
pinterest inspo board
WHAT TO BRING TO YOUR ENGAGEMENT SHOOT
AS LONG AS YOU HAVE YOUR FIANCE, YOU’RE IN GOOD SHAPE. HOWEVER, HERE ARE SOME FUN ADD-ONS YOU CAN BRING TO SPICE THINGS UP.
Something with your Wedding Date
Token from your Proposal/First Date
Props that Reflect your Interests
An Outfit Change
Kids and/or Furbabies
Items for Touchups (Comb, Makeup, Sweat Rag, etc)
THINGS TO CONSIDER FOR MORNING PREP PHOTOS
- Pick a location to get ready in that has a lot of natural light coming in and extra open space
- Keep your getting ready room as clean + de-cluttered as possible
- Use the bathroom before you put your dress on
- Wait to put your lipstick on until after your dress is on
- Practice tie assembly before your wedding day (for the guys)
- As the bride, your hair and makeup should be done near the middle of everyone else. Too early and it will wear out. Too late and you may get rushed if things run behind.
- Pack a change of comfortable shoes
- Have your Hair/Makeup person provide touchup items such as lipstick or extra bobby pins
- Keep some tampons or pads available just in case
- Have a purse handy to keep essentials for you and your groom
THE MORNING TIMELINE
**TIP** WORK BACKWORDS
12:00 Out the Door
11:30 Gather all your Personal Effects
11:00 Solo Portraits, Bridal Party Photos, Gift Exchange, Last Minute Touchups
10:30 Bride Gets Dressed
10:15 Hair/Makeup Ready, Robe Photos, and Toasts
? Start Time Consult with your Hair/Makeup Team
The first thing that I will do when I arrive is photograph the little details. Since you’ll likely be in the middle of your prep process, it’s always good to have these items pre-collected. I also suggest getting both of yourselves a nice wooden hanger for your dress and suit. It doesn’t have to be customized, but something better than the generic one the store provides.
WHAT TO COLLECT
A First Look is a moment during the wedding day when the Bride and Groom plan to see each other for the first time. The First Look allows couples to share this special moment together in a more private setting. Unlike traditional weddings where the couple plans to see each other during the ceremony. This element is completely optional. Doing a first look allows you extra time for the couple and bridal party photos. It also opens up your timeline for after your ceremony so you can socialize with your guests during cocktail hour.
A BIT OF HISTORY
ORDER & TIMING
WITH A FIRST LOOK
First Look 30 min
Bridal Party Photos 30 min
Couple Portraits 30 min
Family Photos Post-Ceremony 30 min
AFTER THE CEREMONY
Family Photos 30 min
Bridal Party Photos 30 min
Couple Portraits 30 min
WHO IS PART OF FAMILY PHOTOS?
BASIC FAMILY LIST
- Sibling’s Spouses/Kids
- Kids of the Couple
If you’re having a traditional tea ceremony, be sure to include any aunts & uncles who participated.
With Southasian Weddings (Hindu, Sikh, and Muslim) it is customary for the couple to take pictures with every guest who attends. They decorate a sweetheart table at the reception. And guests come up for photos throughout the night.
If you have guests flying in internationally, be sure to let your photographer know. Based on the quantity, you can include them in your family photos, or we’ll make a point of capturing them during the evening festivities.
SELECTING A LOCATION
- Choose a location that is logistically not far from the ceremony/reception
- Make sure its safe for you and your wedding party (weather, high heels, etc)
- Plan to be there for about 60-90 min
- Have a backup plan in case of bad weather
- Limit youself to one location
- Avoid locations that are overly crowded
- Check to see if photo permits are required
- For inspiration, checkout the portrait site category on my blog
- Or contact me directly for ideas.
- The weather becomes less of a factor
- Fewer logistics to worry about (bathrooms, air conditioning, etc)
- Capacity limit
- Possible decor restrictions
- Ceremony to reception flip?
- Artificial or natural lighting
- Weather plays a huge factor
- You’ll still need a bad weather backup
- Possible permit requirements
- Travel between ceremony and reception
- Outdoor noise and photo bombers
- Handicap friendly?
- Grass and high heels
HOUSE OF WORSHIP
- You’ll have less control over your ceremony
- The officiant is often provided
- Affordable pricing
- Large capacity
- Possible restrictions on photo/video
- Travel between ceremony hall and reception
- Tight time restriction
There are several reasons why an unplugged ceremony may be a good fit for your wedding day. For those of you who have not heard of an unplugged ceremony, here is a breakdown. There is a movement in action where couples are asking their guests to be fully present with them during their wedding. This involves leaving their cell phones and cameras turned off for the duration of the wedding ceremony. As a result…
- Guests will actually listen instead of focusing on their cameras
- The professional photos won’t be compromised
- You’ll have more control over what happens to your wedding photos after
Keep in mind, I do deliver my wedding photos within 1-2 weeks of your event. I also include a complimentary downloading link that your can share with any guests or vendors you wish.
**TIP** Have your officiant make an announcement about the unplugged ceremony before the procession.
There are so many wedding traditions when it comes to the actual ceremony. Exchanging rings is the most common for sure. But every culture and religion has its own unique traditions. However, when you work with as many diverce cultural weddings as I do, you start to see that we have more in common than differences.
Your wedding officiant is the most important vendor you will hire for a wedding. You’d think I’d say photographer to toot my own horn. But without the officiant, it’s not technically a wedding. If you’re getting married in a house of worship, the officiant is often provided.
An officiant of a civil ceremony can be a member of a religious organization but does not have to be. He or she is simply the person legally recognized by the state to lead and validate a wedding ceremony. Their legal responsibilities are quite straightforward: get ordained, get the bride and groom to exchange I do’s, and file the marriage license.
However, unlike the US, getting ordained in Canada is pretty complicating and expensive. So make sure to check if the one you found is actually registered with your province to legally perform the marriage. You’re welcome to have a loved one perform your ceremony. But you’ll still need a registered officiant to sign and file the paperwork. Same applies if you’re getting married abroad. Which is why many couples sort out the legal paperwork locally at city hall before or after their ceremony.
Colored Lighting: Some DJs offer creative and colorful lighting which is so fun for partying during your reception. Unfortunately, these lights are not great for photos. If you want to use these colorful lights, I suggest limiting them for your dance floor.
Accent Lighting: These can be used along your reception room walls, however keep your primary lighting white to avoid skin color discoloring.
Pyrotechnics & Effects: Be sure to confirm that whoever you hire for this service knows how to do it safely. They work really well for grand entrances and first dances.
Dry Ice: Love, love, love. However, make sure your dress is properly bustled so you’re not soaking up water remains. Also, confirm that what you’re receiving will actually be dry ice. Smoke machines are not the same and can affect both visibility and breathability when in use.
You might be wondering if a seating chart is even required. Short answer, yes. A chart will make the event feel more organized and avoid guest conflict. They also allow caterers to be better aware of meal requests and food allergies for each guest.
- Use place cards for weddings under 100 guests, and seating charts for bigger guest counts.
- Place VIP guests closer to the bride and groom.
- Don’t forget to place your vendors in the same room as your reception events.
- If you’re maximizing your capacity, be aware that some tables will have to be broken down during the evening to create your dance floor
CHECK OUT THIS AMAZING
INTERACTIVE SEATING CHART
It’s an old tradition. People like to see it. If you don’t have one planned, guests will likely resort to the classic clinking on glasses. However, most reception venues these days don’t allow that. It scratches and damages the glassware which you will inevitably be charged to you. So it’s generally a good idea for you to have an alternative game in mind.
- Demonstrate a kiss for us
- Sing a song that has the word love
- Give some marital advice
- Share a story about the couple
- Name that tune
- Guess Movie Quotes
- Donate to the couple’s Honeymoon
- Colored Hershey Kisses
- Mini golf putting hole
- Spinning wheel
- Kissing dice
- Scavenger hunt
- Trivia pursuit
A crucial element of wedding reception planning is crafting a well-honed timeline for the evening. Your typical wedding reception runs about 4-5 hours. Here is a sample wedding reception timeline to ensure a smooth, fun-filled evening of celebration for you and your guests. Note that this timeline is good for 100 guest count and a 3 course meal. For each additional 100 guests, expect to add an extra hour to accommodate catering food service.
- 0:00 Cocktail Hour
- 1:00 Seating
- 1:15 Grand Entrance & First Dance
- 1:30 Welcome Announcement
- 1:45 Appetisers Served
- 2:00 Best Man/Maid of Honor Speech
- 2:30 Main Course Served
- 2:45 Parent Speeches & Dances
- 2:15 Dessert Served
- 2:30 Bride & Groom Speech
- 2:45 Cake Cutting
- 3:00 Bouquet and Garter Toss
- 3:10 Dance Floor Opens
- 4:00 Late Night Station
- 5:00 Farewell
THE FORGOTTEN DETAILS
- Cake Cutlery: Your cake artist will often drop off your wedding cake but they don’t provide cutlery or serving utensils.
- Throwing Bouquet: Florists can create a smaller version of the bridal bouquet for throwing, so you don’t knock out a guest.
- Gratuities: Plan for gratuities in your budget. They’re often mentioned in your contract.
- Cell Phone: Both of you should have a point person to answer your phone and any questions that come from it.
- Late Night Transportation: For yourself and your bridal party.
- Overtime: Talk to your vendors about possible overtime.
- Groom’s Shirt: Bring the groom a change of shirt in case he sweats through the first one.
- Bride’s Shoes: Bride should have a change of comfortable shoes to dance in.
- Veil Removal: Have your hairstylist show you how to remove the veil without ruining your hair.
- Cleanup: Have someone designated to collect personal things at the end of the night.
- Security: You’ll need a secure place to store money envelopes and expensive gifts.
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