For most of my couples, photos are a super important (if not the most important) part of the big day. Why? Well, think about all the planning, time, and dollar bills that go into a wedding. In the end, what will you have left? Yes, that gorgeous gown will hang in your closet. You might have a frozen top of your cake in the freezer, some dried flowers in a frame? But really, what tells the story? The photos! That's really all that's left after about a year's worth of blood, sweat, and tears!
Because of the high priority my couples give their photography, they regularly ask me what the wedding day schedule should look like to maximize my time and give me the most freedom to create jaw-dropping images. So here are the key points to keep in mind when planning the schedule for your wedding:
1. Front load your coverage
Most couples think about their weddings in terms of the party - the reception. And of course you do! That's where all the fun will be happening. But really, when it comes to photography, you want most of your coverage happening BEFORE ceremony. Here's why:
Ideally, I like to have 1.5-2 hours with my bride and 1 hour with my groom before the first look (if you're planning one - more on that later!)
I can hear you now "Three hours, Rachel!?" How can I possibly need that long? The truth of the matter is that the "getting ready" portraits aren't just that. Getting ready time is when I create those elegant, effortless bridal portraits that my clients adore. It's the time I get dashing groom portraits of the dapper dudes in all their finery! And if you notice, in all of these images on the left, the bride's hair and make up is DONE. No one wants photographs taken with a half-completed smokey eye or zero makeup at all. And if you want those epic shots of your mom, helping you get into your gown, her hair and make-up should be done too, right? And she should have her dress on. And your maid of honor? You get the picture (pun intended!) With so many people involved in the "getting ready" shots, it's important to make sure that you budget your time accordingly. Schedule your hair and make-up to be done at least two hours prior to your first look to give your photographer enough breathing room to create for you.
When it comes to reception coverage, yes, be sure you have enough time to capture important, family/friend history moments. You want your photographer there to capture your dad's speech, the first dance with your new hubby's mom, etc. But do you really need 2 hours of coverage as your friends get crazy on the dance floor? Typically the answer is no. Trust me, you'd rather have more epic couple's portraits of you and your hubby, in the gorgeous setting you've chosen, than 10 pictures of your best man cutting a rug :D
2. Have a first look
I'll go into more detail about the beauty that is the first look in a future post, but for the sake of your schedule, first looks are ideal.
Why? Because if you're hubby-to-be sees you before the wedding, that means you can also see his family, his side of the bridal party, and your family together, prior to walking down the aisle. That means you can get the formal family shots and bridal party shots out of the way, prior to the ceremony. Leaving all that beautiful golden hour time for couples' portraits!
3. Consider the lighting at the ceremony space
If you're having your ceremony close to sunset, this situation usually takes care of itself. As the sun sets, it's light becomes softer and more diffused, so the ceremony site is usually bathed with nice, even lighting.
BUT if you're having your wedding in the middle of the day (when the sun is directly over head) or earlier in the morning, think about getting a covering (awning) for the ceremony space. Something to give you open shade so that you (or your fiance) aren't staring directly into the sun. Especially in Arizona! Trust me, your eye-balls (and your guests) will thank you! And so will your photographer ;)
If you're having the ceremony in an outdoor space, be sure to talk to your coordinator about the timing and location of your "I do's"!