If you haven’t read my post about “Should I Do A First Look?” please check it out! There are some advantages for doing a first look that you may want to consider. If you know for sure that you don’t want to do a first look, let me tell you, that’s ok! As a photographer I would prefer to do a first look but I have shot many weddings where the couple did not do a first look. With that in mind, I have four tips to help you plan your wedding day.
TLDR: Do an earlier ceremony, get as many photos as you can before the ceremony, hide away from guests after ceremony, let family members know to stay for family formals after the ceremony.
- Move your ceremony time earlier. We need to know the sunset time on your wedding date and location. We also want to make sure you are accounting for time zones and time changes. Knowing the sunset time will help us plan backwards to know when the ceremony should take place. For instance, with a 6pm sunset I would suggest a 3:30pm ceremony at the latest. This would allow for an hour after the ceremony for photos. Some of this is a little flexible depending on the size of your extended family and wedding party. The math may sound off there but it’s best to add some padding into the timeline and not need it versus running out of time for photos. You may think you have a 30 minute ceremony but by the time everyone gets in place, walks down the aisle, have special speeches/singing, say vows to each other, and exit, you may be pushing to an hour. Time has a way of slipping away before we know. If you plan some extra padding you can relax and not worry.
- Get as many group shots as you can before the ceremony. This would include the bride with all of your bridesmaids (as a group and individually) and immediate family. And then after tucking the bride away photograph the groom and all of his groomsmen and immediate family. This will free up some time for other photos after the ceremony.
- Hide after the ceremony. Yes, hide! In order to get to the reception as quickly as possible it’s important to tuck away from the guests as you exit the ceremony. So many well meaning guests will want to grab you for a “quick minute” to congratulate you. This is great, but it also uses up the time we have before sunset and before you can get to the reception. We still need to do extended family formals, the whole bridal party and your most important photos, couple portraits.
- Communicate with your extended family about photos after the ceremony. The last thing we want to do is chase down family members that should be present for your family formals. All the grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and anyone else you want in your large group formals need to know to stay for photos after the ceremony. If someone is missing we can start with smaller groups but waiting on folks will make our time less efficient than it could be. I start with large family groups first so we can send them on to the reception as soon as we are done. After family photos we can focus on the whole bridal party and then we can finally focus on just the two of you. This is where moving your ceremony time up really helps because we have enough light to capture your couples portraits.