Am I the only one that thinks planning a wedding is ridiculous? Literally minutes after the post-proposal glow is over, you are expected to plan a giant party for all your closest friends and family. It’s likely that you’ve never planned a wedding before, and it’s surprising difficult to know where to start, yet couples are expected to plan it perfectly and to plan it in style.
Planning a wedding is an insane task that millions of couples take on each year in the U.S. alone. When it comes to wedding photography, most couples have no idea where to start or what questions to ask, and many photographers won’t communicate important details. This list details some of the most important aspects of wedding photography that your photographer may conveniently forget.
Planning a wedding day timeline is the solely wedding planner’s job, right? Actually, it should be a group effort from all the vendors! Your florist, cake baker, hair and makeup artists, and especially your photographer all have important information to communicate about the timing of the day. Often, vendors won’t offer up this information unless asked, or they’ll wait until the last minute to mention it. This causes stress, confusion and a lot of last minute hustling – all of which can be easily avoided if you start the conversation early.
Ok, before we get in to the details, let me explain the why. Why is it important for your wedding photographer to contribute to your timeline? Your photographer can tell you how much time she needs for particular photos, what time of day is best for shooting, and what in what order the photos should happen. Allowing your photographer to help with this will relieve a ton of stress from your special day and also ensure that there is enough time for every photo that you want. A wedding day can get really hectic really fast if you haven’t made specific plans for when you will be taking photos, who needs to be there, and where they’re being taken! Even the most organized bride can find herself stressing on the day-of, and this can be so easily avoided by making a plan in advance.
So what’s the best way to plan alongside your wedding photographer? The best thing to do is to ask what she needs from the start. A good photographer will be the first one to start this conversation, but regardless of who you’re working with, you will want to know how much time she needs as well as her input for where you should go and how you should organize the order of photos. You’re photographer will be grateful that you care about photos, and you will be grateful that you had this conversation in advance!
For my couples, I always draw up a custom timeline based on the unique needs of their wedding day. If they are working with a planner or coordinator, I get in touch with this person as early as possible to make sure we’re on the same page. Nobody wants to feel rushed or stressed about getting all the photos they want on their wedding day. By the time your wedding day arrives, all these details should be worked out so all you have to do is relax and enjoy!
Bottom line: it’s totally normal to have doubts and concerns about the timeline of your wedding day. Ask your photographer for her advice and how much time she needs well in advance so that you both can plan for a relaxed, enjoyable wedding day!
Sometimes, in an attempt to provide an excellent customer experience, a photographer won’t tell you when you’re idea for a photo isn’t as good in-camera as it looks to the naked eye. This is particularly true when it comes to scenery and lovely views. While the backdrop that you have in mind might be the perfect spot for photos, it also may be very difficult (if not impossible) to get truly beautiful photos.
There are a few specific things to avoid when choosing a photo location, but the best thing to do is consult your photographer about your ideas. Generally, large, open spaces (like fields) are a bad choice in the middle of the day, busy city streets or large works of architecture are logistically difficult to photograph without tons of people in the background, and a gorgeous view that is in direct sunlight can cast harsh shadows on subject’s faces if photographed outside of golden hour. Your photographer is an expert at lighting and planning when it comes to photography, so trust her input and ask for advice!
Bottom line: ask for your photographers advice when choosing a photo location, and trust that they know best if they advise against your idea!
A lot of photographers will probably hate me for saying this, but GENERALLY speaking, a first look is NOT necessary in order to get gorgeous photos. While I encourage all my couples to consider a first look (not just for photos, but for many other reasons!), if you don’t want to see each other before the ceremony, it won’t ruin your photos for the day. However, there are certain challenges that often arise when most of the photos are saved for post-ceremony, and with careful planning, you can still have a spectacular day.
If you’re not going to do a first look, planning a timeline with your photographer is even more crucial in ensuring you get all the gorgeous photos that you want. The time between the end of the ceremony and the beginning of the reception is the only time you’ll have for portraits of the two of you, the wedding party, and family photos with both of you. Work with your photographer to make sure that you are leaving enough time for these photos, because that is a LOT of photos! It’s absolutely doable, but it should be planned in advance, even before you set a start time with your reception coordinator and caterer.
One more note – keep in mind that in some cases (i.e. if the sun sets before your ceremony ends, if you wish to immediate go to cocktail hour after the ceremony), it is necessary to see each other before the ceremony. If you think carefully about your priorities before setting the timeline in stone, and you’ll be much happier on the day of your wedding!
Bottom line: A first look probably isn’t necessary, but be sure to plan your day carefully and communicate with your photographer so that you have enough time for photos AND don’t miss out on anything that is important to you.
Many couples, after selecting a wedding photography collection, consider adding on additional hours to capture the entire wedding day from start to finish. While this is always an option for my couples (and most other photographers, too), it may not be as essential as you think!
Think about all the special moments you want documented during your wedding day – your maid of honor buttoning up your dress, the moment you see your groom, your kiss at the ceremony, the best man making you both laugh, the father-daughter dance. I encourage you to actually make this list, and then write the time when each of these things will be happening.
Chances are, most, if not all of the major moments of the day will be finished within two hours of the start of your reception. All of the pre-ceremony photos, portraits, and reception events (toasts, first dance, cake cutting, etc.) usually finish within this time frame, AND dancing has also begun! The only planned event after this time is your exit, and some couples don’t even have a formal exit plan.
A lot of photographers won’t tell you outright, but there will be a lull in photo-taking. After 30-45 minutes of dancing, the initial “open dance floor” excitement dies down and guests are getting tired of lots of camera-flashing. Your photographer will likely take a step back and only capture a handful of photo-worthy dance moments that happen as the evening goes on. From there, the only event left is the exit.
So, the question is if you’re planning a formal departure that you want photographed, is it worth all those extra hours just to capture the exit? Instead of having to make this decision, I’ve come up with a way to capture the exit without paying for the extra hours.
When couples book me for an amount of time that doesn’t cover the full day, we do a quick “practice” exit before I leave. Together, with the bridesmaids, groomsmen and parents, we spend 3-5 minutes outside practicing their exit with sparklers, balloons or whatever special exit they have planned. Normally, you can only see about 15-20 people in any given exit photo (so there is no difference photo-wise), AND this gives your wedding party a chance to practice how the actual exit will go! While not all photographers will do this, many will – you just have to ask! This plan can save you anywhere from $500-$1000 and still allows you to get all the photos you want.
Bottom line: Think about the photos that are most important to you and plan with your photographer how you can make all those photos happen in your given timeframe.
It sounds so cheesy, doesn’t it? But it’s very true, and this attitude always the difference between a happy bride and a nervous, grumpy bride.
I’ll be the first to tell you that I believe your wedding photographer is the MOST important wedding vendor that you will choose. Your wedding photos are the only lasting part of your wedding day, and you will have them for literally your entire lifetime. However, your marriage matters infinitely more than the party you throw to celebrate it. The vows you make to each other are so much more important than what you wear or what food you served. Your marriage is something to be celebrated beyond the wedding day! It’s a once-in-a-lifetime commitment, and if you’re marriage to one another isn’t the most exciting part of your wedding day, then you’re going to be disappointed regardless of how the day goes.
Yeah, I know planning a wedding is both stressful and exciting at the same time. Chances are that you will probably feel like the planning is becoming more important the marriage itself at some point. That’s ok! Planning a wedding IS a lot of work, and managing the expectations of family and friends while trying to create your perfect day is exhausting. At the end of the day, rest easy. You’re getting married to the love of your life! Nothing can change that, and that will make the day perfect regardless of whether or not each detail goes as planned.
Bottom line: You’re getting married to the love of your life! Let’s celebrate!!
Planning a wedding? Was this article, 5 Things Your Wedding Photographer Won’t Tell You, helpful? Learn more about Hannah Bjorndal Photography and my wedding photography services here, or get in touch!
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La Vie En Rose is a wedding photography and videography studio for couples who want photos that live in the moment with them. They are based in Washington, DC and Naples, FL and are available for travel worldwide.