HOW TO PLAN
00. CHOOSE THE VENUE, CATERER, PHOTOG/VIDEO & DJ
01. START + END TIMES
02. NEXT TIER OF WEDDING VENDORS
04. ORGANIZE IT
05. CONSULT + CREATE EMAIL CHAIN
06. GET MARRIED
So, you definitely need some wedding professionals
to help make your wedding totes amazing.
I'm guessing you have the venue + the catering. So let's look at some other areas. Check out the bottom of my WEDDINGS page to see my favorite wedding vendors!
02. DJ or BAND
04. WEDDING PLANNER
06. RENTALS (CHAIRS, TABLES, TENT, ETC.)
08. HAIR + MAKEUP
09. DRESS + ATTIRE
10. TRANSPORTATION (limo or UBER)
11. CAKE / DESSERTS
12. BARTENDING SERVICES (if required)
12. HONEYMOON PLANS**
13. HOTEL BLOCKS FOR GUESTS
14. DETAILS / CENTERPIECES
16. THE RINGS
17. BRIDE / GROOM GIFT
Okay, so the entire reason you are having your wedding is because you are choosing to marry someone for the rest of your life; remember? I say that because a lot of couples get caught up with wedding planning and forget about the ceremony, which is the reason!
So, with that being said,
the entire timeline of your wedding day needs to start with your ceremony.
In order to create the best timeline, figure out what time your ceremony is going to begin. Most likely when you booked your wedding venue the first thing discussed was the time of your ceremony and length of your reception. Therefore, you have the main parts of your entire wedding day already figured out. From that you need to then decide whether or not you want to have a first look, if yes, then you should make sure that your fist look is over by at least 45 minutes before your ceremony begins (this is because your wedding guests will arrive around 30 minutes prior to the ceremony and following your first look you want to be away and unseen). Before the first look or beginning of your ceremony (whichever route you want to go) you need to then consult with your hair/makeup on when they will arrive.
Blah blah blah, I can go on and on and this doesn't help you for me to just write it out, here is a better way to visually see what I'm talking about.
1. Where will you be getting ready?
2. If at a separate location, how long does it take to travel to the other locations?
3. Who will drive you?
Build in EXTRA time for traveling. Traffic is a thing, a really shitty thing. Make sure you aren't stuck in it.
hair / makeup
1. How many people (including yourself) are having hair + makeup done?
> Always consult with your hair stylist or makeup artist about how long it will take for the hair and makeup to be completed prior to getting dressed.
Typically it takes between 45m to 1h for hair or makeup per person. Again, this always depends on the hair/makeup so always consult with them before planning this time out but also leave extra time in case something was to come up during that time. I can not tell you the amount of times that I've had hair/makeup go longer than it was supposed to and things have been delayed during the entire wedding day because of it. So always give yourself extra time!
While the makeup artist is doing makeup the hair stylist will be doing hair so each person getting makeup/hair I would allot 1 hour for.
> Consult your hair/makeup and trust their judgement on times.
1. What time will the ceremony start?
2. Do you have a rain plan?
*allot extra time in the event of rain because things turn bad really fast if you don't have a plan
3. How long is the ceremony?
Have an email chain going with everyone who is included in the ceremony so they are well aware of times and locations day of.
1. What time is the cocktail hour?
*cocktail hours are typically one hour, duh, and before the reception.
2. What time is the official reception beginning? Once you figure this out, determine what time the catering has dinner to be served. The best reception outline *in my opinion* looks like this:
1. introductions (bridal party + bride/groom)
2. First Dance (bride/groom)
3. Blessing or Welcome speech
4. Dinner is served
5. When last table is served/sits from the buffet start Best Man/Maid of Honor Speeches
6. Parent Dances
7. Dance Floor Opens
9. Bouquet Garter (immediately following cake)
10. Dance floor reopens for the night
The reception time is when your DJ takes over the timeline of events. Be flexible, things happen and depending on the flow your DJ will make adjustments as needed. TRUST THEM!
1. Do you want to do a first look?
- If so, plan it 1.5 hours PRIOR to the ceremony. The first look will take about 1 hour in time and we will get ALL the bride/groom and bridal party photos completed during this time. All family photos are best to be done following the ceremony because, they will ALL be at the ceremony. **suggestion: print out reminder cards for all family members that will take part in the "formal family portraits" with a location to be at.
2. Who will be in your family formals?
I highly suggest only including grandparents, parents, siblings, and only extremely close relatives during this family portrait time. Any other remaining individuals can be photographed during the reception time. Obviously its your wedding, do what you want and have who you want. This is JUST a suggestion.
3. Bridal Party Portraits
Depending on how many bridesmaids and groomsmen that you have in your bridal party, 15 minutes should be more than enough time with one photographer, at one location, with the entire bridal party to capture enough images to tell your wedding story. If you have a bridal party larger than 16 (not including the bride/groom) I think you need a second photographer to help during this time. Make sure that you let your bridal party know when and where they have to arrive and the expectations that they will have during the portraits. I'm all about the party, but it's a good idea to make sure your bridal party knows not to get too lit before the portraits. There's nothing more hilarious and distracting than a drunk groomsman pulling his pants down to show everyone the tattoos he has on his butt while I'm trying to move everyone for the posed portraits.
4. Bride + Groom Portraits
30 minutes is all I need to create those gorgeous shots you see now on my website. But, you always need to keep in mind that your expectations of your formal portraits are completely based on what is given to me as the photographer to work with. If you give me 30 minutes of time, during golden hour, with a gorgeous backdrop and perfect day-- then obviously those shots are going to be epic. But, if it rains and there isn't a rain plan in place, or the ceremony was 20 minutes late, or let's say you needed to take more family photos or wait for a drunk groomsmen to hurry to portraits from cocktail hour, then I can't guarantee that I can make those epic shots happen. I'll do everything possible, let me REPEAT... I WILL DO EVERYTHING POSSIBLE!!!! However, to be 100% honest, when weddings are crazy, bridesmaids get moody with trying to push their ideas for photos... ugh...,its hard to get that 30 minutes. BUT, with 100% certainty, couples who have planned everything out, met with me in person for their 1 hour wedding planning meeting, and consulted with all of their wedding vendors never had a problem with capturing those epic, gorgeous, perfect shots!
> Assign one of the bridesmaids and one of the groomsmen to "maintain" the rest of the bridal party for their rowdiness and keeping to schedule
> Create an email chain for your wedding team (DJ, Hair, Makeup, Officiant, Catering, etc...) and another one for your bridal party. Send them an itinerary and make sure they receive it. That way the day of, they should know what is going on.
Trust the people you are hiring for your incredibly important wedding day and if you don't trust them, or feel like you still have to micro-manage, I highly suggest looking for someone else.
> CREATE MASS EMAIL WITH ALL YOUR WEDDING TEAM TO OPEN UP COMMUNICATION SO EVERYONE KNOWS WHAT TO EXPECT
> DISCUSS EXPECTATIONS OPENLY THROUGH PHONE CONVERSATIONS, IN PERSON MEETINGS, AND THROUGH EMAIL
> CREATE A MORE PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR PLANNER / DJ / PHOTOGRAPHER / CATERER / HAIR+MAKEUP / LEGIT EVERYONE, THIS IS A PERSONAL EVENT AND A PERSONAL EXPERIENCE, MAKE SURE YOU WORK WITH THE RIGHT PERSON WHO CARES JUST AS MUCH AS YOU DO.
During your wedding day there are so many times for photos, most of them, about 80% are candid, unposed images that you will receive.
But traditionally during the cocktail hour is when I will get the photos of your bridal party, your families, and just the two of you.
So, you get an hour of portrait time. In that time you need to get photos of your family, bridal party, and then photos of the both of you. I like to split up the time into 25, 25, 50 portions. I want to spend a quarter of the time (about 15 minutes) with your family portraits, another 15 minutes on your bridal party portraits, and the remaining half hour with you both. I am a firm believer that it is MORE important to capture the bride and groom then anyone else during the wedding day so I really try to shift my gears when I'm doing the family and bridal party portraits.
Portrait Hour Timeline
The family is ALWAYS photographed first during that portait hour (cocktail hour). The reason being is that within your family there are varying generations and grandparents may not be able to stay for a while. Also, I want to reduce the amount of iPhone photos that get taken during this time because it causes a problem with keeping everyone focused. Make sure that you send me all the names of the family members that are going to be included during the family portraits. There is a specific area for this in the google form Wedding Day Itinerary that I send you.
**WHEN I PHOTOGRAPH THE FAMILIES WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT THAT I AM GOING TO DO IS FIRST START WITH EVERYONE IN THE FAMILY FIRST. THEN I WILL TAKE AWAY PEOPLE AND ADD THEM BACK. DURING THIS TIME I WANT TO MAKE SURE THINGS TRANSITION SMOOTHLY AND THEREFORE I WILL DIRECT EVERYONE TO THEIR PLACES AND ASK PEOPLE TO LISTEN TO ME. NOT IN A MEAN WAY, BUT IN A DIRECT WAY TO KEEP IT MOVING. YAY! **
The second part of the portrait hour is the bridal party portraits. During this time we'll take a few different shots of your entire bridal party, the groom and groomsmen, the bride and bridesmaids, and then everyone gets individual shots with the bride and/or groom. I have a way of getting through these photos quickly but some of the problems that come up include:
> drunk bridesmaids and groomsmen not paying attention
> bridesmaids complaining about getting their dress dirty in the grass and their shoes (if it's an outdoor wedding)
> controlling bridesmaids/groomsmen dictating what photos to do
> when people start to talk... alot. your face moves when you talk and as a result, the photo looks like you are screaming.
The last part of the portrait hour is the photos of the Mr. + Mrs. Now, obviously if you took your photos during the first look this will be a little bit different. One of the only things I feel like I need to say in this section... is to relax. So many times the bride and groom are so stressed out and either don't want to take photos or tend to look upset in them because of everything going on. Also, ladies... don't worry about your dress!! It's so frustrating for me when these brides send me these gorgeous, amazing photos but on the day of the wedding... they don't want to take photos in the grass or outdoors in certain areas because they are concerned about their dress getting dirty.
LADIES, THE DRESS IS GOING TO GET DIRTY. WHAT IS THE POINT OF BUYING AN EXPENSIVE GOWN TO WEAR ONE DAY IF YOU DON'T TAKE PHOTOS IN IT?! That is all.
HOW TO MAKE THE DAY GO SMOOTH
> Like I discussed previously, you need to create an itinerary and keep to it.
> Additionally, you need to share that itinerary with your bridal party and family members that are participating in the portraits.
> Create a list of all the family members you want in the portraits. Preferably keep this list to grandparents, parents, and siblings only. Once we get into Aunts and Uncles it takes up so much time.
>The second way, to get some bridal portraits done early. If you are doing a first look, this takes care of most of that, but if not, no worries there is no stress to do a first look. We can always photograph your bride/bridesmaid and groom/groomsmen photos before the ceremony. That was during the portrait time all that needs to be photographed of your bridal party is your entire bridal group (the groomsmen and bridesmaids) all together.
> TRUST me. There is a meaning to everything that I do on your wedding day. I've been to well over 150+ weddings as a photographer and I want to make sure that everything is captured and everything is done in a timely manner. Just trust me. You hired me for a reason, and that main reason is so you can enjoy your wedding day and trust that I will capture it.