What You Need To Know About How We Shoot Weddings

Updated August 18, 2017! So you know it’s fresh! ?

The first, and most important thing we want you to know about how we work is this: we understand our responsibility to you.  We don’t mean to beat a dead horse, but we take very seriously the responsibility we have to capture the events of your wedding day naturally, as they occur. Your trust means everything to us and we truly want you to experience your day fully, confident we will capture those irreplaceable moments. They’re worth a king’s ransom and we cherish them. You shouldn’t have to think about photography when, instead, you could be focused on celebrating your new life together with the people that matter the most to you.

So how does that actually work on the day of the wedding? Well you should definitely read our post on how to have a wedding day that is personal and well-lived. It will definitely help you get in the right mindset. For now, we will walk you through a typical wedding and how we approach each stage of the day.


Getting Ready – Where the Story Starts

This is really the first step in telling the story of your wedding day. We like to get there towards the end of hair & makeup. We want to capture those memorable moments of all the ladies getting ready and that means we usually show up about 1 to 1 1/2 before you are going to start putting on the dress.

TIP: We love to start with some photographs of the personal details you’ve gathered for your wedding. If possible, try to have these ready for us when we get there. So for the girls that means shoes, gown, jewelry, invitation suite, vows, flowers or any other special personal details and for the guys, it means having your suit, tie, cufflinks, vows and any other personal details. Having these all in one place helps us make sure we don’t miss anything, but it also helps you make sure you have everything ready in one place and nothing is forgotten.

Usually we like to come in, introduce ourselves and get the lay of the land. We are usually nervous the day before and the morning of a wedding. We are confident in our craft and trust our creativity, but nevertheless, the responsibility we have to you and your family is huge.  We don’t fight it, we embrace it, and we use it to remind ourselves how important this day is. So we like to spend the first 30 min or so sniping candids and photographing those details and then slowly working our way into your space. This lets us rev our engines creatively and gives everyone a bit of time to get used to the sound of camera shutter. If you and your fiancé have exchanged gifts or letters, nows the time to do that (unless you’d like to use them during your first look).

TIP: We love being in personal homes for getting ready. Having everybody with you and getting pumped to celebrate together is awesome. But sometimes (like an elopement or destination wedding) we don’t have access to your home, or some worry about clutter and mess in the home, if any of these apply to you, DEFINITELY skip a hotel room and find an AirBnB with awesome style! You can almost always find an awesome place with tons of window light (look for this specifically!) for the same or cheaper than the big hotel room you were thinking of! ??

In terms of timeline and planning your morning, try to plan on having your dress on about an hour before we need to leave. This gives you a bit of buffer if hair & makeup goes over, and gives you a moment to get a makeup touch up, grab a couple bridal portraits, and if you’d like to do a reveal to your bridesmaids or Pops, let’s do that now too. Then we will grab one last sip of champagne and head out together to whatever is next.

First Look, or First Touch or First…What?

Yeah, seriously… There are a lot of different ways to do this. Here’s the skinny: we want about 2 hours total for portraits (that’s total for bridal party, family portraits and just the two of you). Whether we split that up or not is up to you.  We know it’s not always possible, but having as much time as possible helps account for drive time and other what-have-you’s. The best way to do this amount of total time is to get started before the ceremony.  The old fashioned (and perfectly acceptable) approach is to wait to see each other until the ceremony, while walking down the isle. Many people worry that if they see each other before this moment it won’t be special.  Trust us, it will be. Everybody gets a little verklempt when the bride is coming down the isle, whether they’ve done a first look or not.  Heck, we’ll probably cry while you walk down the isle too and we’ve been looking at you all morning…but truth be told, we’re a bunch of hopeless romantics. ?

TIP: Take a look at this Junebug article with a couple ways to make this unique and special for you, even if you don’t want to see each other beforehand.

Here are 3 reasons to have a first look:

  1. All the special feels and more control! When walking down the aisle most people are nervous, and those nerves can result in you not getting the reaction you are looking for (hint: boys clam up sometimes. ??‍♂️) There is nothing that can relax you more than finally seeing each other before things get too hectic.
  2. You can experience it genuinely. What do you want to feel when you see each other for the first time? You want to feel loved, express your love and hear how beautiful you look. During a first look you can share what your feeling with the other person and saying “Bae, you look drop dead gorgeous” is a lot less weird when it’s not in front of a ton of people. You can hug, kiss, tell each other sweet things and you can do it all in private.
  3. It makes our job easier. Just kidding. Well, not kidding, it does… But more importantly, we can do the bridal party photos (and maybe even the family photos) before the ceremony. Then everyone can go straight to the party and you will miss less of that party too!

Whether we do a first look or not, we do have a coordinated way we like to do portraits. Either we do: first look -> couple’s portraits -> bridal party -> family portraits (before or after the ceremony is ok), or we do: family portraits (usually after the ceremony in this order) -> bridal party -> couples portraits. Basically we want to structure the order of the groups so when we get to the couple’s portraits (the ones of just you two together), we are alone. These are going to some of the most cherished photographs from your day and it’s probably one of the few times you two will be alone on your own wedding. If you let them, your friends, your family, your Mom and Dad, your pet frog, your neighbor Greg, and anyone else you don’t say no to, will want to be there. They love you, especially Greg, but this is one time we want you to say no. It’s one of the few times we… well we aren’t putting our foot down or anything… but we are asking nicely.  Bringing one person to help with your dress is fine, but how much more romantic is it if it’s the love of your life doing it? Think about it.

TIP: Lighting is super duper important to the quality of a photograph. We love to do some of the portraits right after the ceremony (or first look) and some more at sunset. Why? Because the lighting just before sunset is amaaaazing no matter the location. And right after the sun disappears is beautiful moody lighting. If the ceremony is later in the day, let’s just merge these into one and shoot all your portraits right at sunset, wherever we are at.

When it comes to choosing a location for portraits and first look, our suggestion is always choose a location that is convenient over one that is meaningful. Unless of course, you can do both.  Usually we are all about the sappy romantic lovey dovey-ness. But trust us, this will be hella romantic. We don’t necessarily need to drive an hour each way to the location of your first kiss to achieve that level of swoon-worthiness.  If that location is really important to you, we can totally make it work (or we can do an after wedding session – ask us about these!), but we want you to understand it might affect some other part of your day the farther we travel. We hate to get all mathematics up in here, but there are only so many hours in the day (read: daylight! ?), so the time will definitely have to come from something and that could mean missing a special moment that might have happened naturally.

The Ceremony – Why We Are All Here!

This is it, the big moment. This is so breathtakingly special. Two people committing to each other to eat other’s cooking and wash each other’s undies for the rest of their lives. Seriously. We love being married and we love marriage. A marriage is like a slumber party with your best friend, every night. A gruelingly difficult and incredibly rewarding slumber party. The wedding ceremony is just a public declaration of what is actually many small commitments and accomplishments and we love that. We love that it’s a culmination of all that hard work and we love the rite and ritual of it all. When we are watching it and seeing everyone’s reactions and support, it’s just…awesome. I hate to overuse that word. But it really is a thing full of awe.

TIP: If your ceremony is outdoors and especially if its close to midday, try to make sure you will be backlit (meaning the sun is behind your officiant). You can use the app “sun seeker” on Android or iOS to figure out where the sun will be at the time of your ceremony. Just use the 3D view. Or ask us to help. 😉

The ceremony is also a “ceremony,” (duh!) so what happens is, generally speaking, pretty set in stone. But don’t let that diminish the fact that it’s important, it simply means that we know what’s going to happen. Here’s what you can do to make it really special, and this is going to be one of the hardest times during the entire day to do this, but try to focus on each other and forget everyone else is there. When you’re walking down the aisle, lock eyes. During the ceremony hold hands, give the other’s hand a little squeeze, no one else will know – but it will remind the other person you love ’em. This is your day and you can laugh, you can cry and you can stop and hug each other. When you are saying your vows and when you are listening to your officiant, remember how special this is and how you absolutely can’t, in any way, screw this up.  It will be amazing. After the ceremony, you’re going to walk out first. Celebrate a little. You did it!  Want to give a whoop? Do it! Want to stick your fist in the air in triumph? Yaaass! You did it and the hardest part of the day is over. It’s ok to let off a little steam!! ??

TIP: A note on your ceremony venue, especially if it’s a church, they will probably have some restrictions for us.  Help us out and get these from them before the day of the wedding. We don’t want to be those jerk photographers that broke a rule – unless you want us to break a rule –  then let’s totally do it.

The Party – Also Why We Are All Here!!

Everyone is going to get a little dancing fuel in them and some grub. You guys are going to dance. Then everyone is going to dance. This is the culmination of the entire day: everyone you love celebrating with you. It’s a party darling, and it’s your party.

TIP: We love natural lighting for sure! Hint: so do you, that’s why you like our photos. ? So we recommend getting all romantic and picking up some market lights and candles (if your venue allows them). If you use enough of them we can turn off the harsh lights and it can really create dramatic and moody lighting.

When everyone is dancing we are going to be right up in there, documenting everything. When your cousin Jeff does his patented backflip in the dance circle and when your sister Maggie puts her heart and soul into The Wobble, we will be there. Gawd almighty, we will be there. ??

TIP: Colored/flashy DJ lights are tons of fun, but, they can destroy the romantic mood of your first dance and special dances. If your DJ is bringing special lighting please ask that they are not used for the special dances. For party time, let’s get it on! ???

After a couple hours of us taking pictures, with flash, from about 4 feet away, just about everyone hates us though.  We don’t want to kill the vibe and to be honest we will probably have captured just about everything that could possibly happen on the dance floor. We usually jet after about an hour or two of dancing, but we will definitely check in with you guys first.  If you notice that Grandma has had a few soda pops and is about to get jiggy with it, we will totally stick around a couple extra minutes to get that shot.

A Treatise on Dinner

Dinner. You guys are going to be so hungry. So are we. This is a big one for us, especially – we’ve had some venues and caterers treat us pretty poorly; it’s sad, but true. We’ve even had them not want to feed us, even though our couples graciously included us in their guest count. Unfortunately most vendors have no idea how close we are with our couples, or how much energy goes into our process with you before the wedding, on the wedding day and after the wedding. All we ask is that we are served dinner as soon as dinner begins. We promise, we aren’t greedy, but we do want to eat quickly and be ready to capture anything that happens (Screw you OSHA! We don’t take breaks!) so we need to be done eating before everyone else. Generally caterers/venues want to serve us last after all the guests, but if we are treated like a “guest” we can get back out there at the same time as you. Also, if we aren’t seated at a table like other guests, many venues will put us in another room or even outside. That is totally fine with us, but if anything happens while we are out of the main room, we will probably miss it. When it comes to asking for us to be served before other guests, caterers & venues don’t want to hear this from us and they will refuse, or even treat us even more poorly if we ask. You will absolutely have to tell them for us. ??‍♀️ 

TIP: Here is an example email you could use: “Catering Manager, We hope all is well! Contrary to popular belief our photographers are humans too and not garbage people to be yelled at when you’re frustrated. We would love it if you treated them as partners trying to make our day special, just like you are. Because they want to be ready to help us capture every special moment, we would love it if they are served dinner right after us. This doesn’t mean they are robbers trying to steal from us, or think they are better than our guests, it means they care about doing a great job. Thanks!”
Too much? ?


Cool Exits / Send Offs

There are a lot of other things that you can do in the “cool exit / send off” category, what with sparkler exits, etc.  Those are bawler. We are in. You probably don’t want to wait until you are actually ready to leave though.  We would recommend doing it before everyone else leaves –  or you will be instantly transported back to high school when no one showed up to your party. We would suggest doing it basically as soon as it’s dark outside and before too many drinks are drunk (if you know what we mean ?). Make an announcement early on that you will be doing a send off and you want people to stick around.  Give them a specific time and they will generally stick around if it’s not too late. This is usually one of the last things we shoot before we leave. Then everyone goes back inside and gets their party on.

TIP: Whether it’s your cool exit or that throwing the rice thingy or entering your reception, don’t rush it.  Take your time making your way.  Thank people as you go. Before you get to the end, take a moment, stop and savor it. Celebrate a little! Twirl. Smooches. Ecstatic outbursts of joy! It’s all good man.

That’s it.

We are done and our dogs are barking. We are going to leave and go get some Taco Bell on the way home, have a beer and back up your photos before collapsing in our beds. We did it. You did it. We got you crazy kids married. Congrats!!


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