Wedding Photography

Creating A Wedding Day Timeline

Every wedding is unique, which is one of the reasons I love them so much! From indoor to outdoor ceremonies, dates during the summer or winter, and bridal parties of a single bridesmaid and groomsman to those with ten of the couple's best friends standing up on either side, the one thing that is consistent between all wedding days is the need for a schedule or timeline. As a wedding photographer, I often lend my experience to the creation of these schedules, so I've put together a list of five of the most common questions that come my way:

How much time should I budget for photos if my fiance and I are planning to do a first look beforehand?

The first look provides the opportunity for a quiet moment with your fiance before the wonderful craziness of your wedding day begins! You may not realize it beforehand, but you are actually rarely alone on your wedding day - you'll be nearly constantly surrounded by your bridal party, parents, and guests that want to wish you well - and if you're a bride with a gorgeous ball gown, sometimes using the restroom still requires a helpful friend to be by your side! When my couples opt for a first look, I like to plan that we'll go right into portraits afterward, followed by full bridal party photos. We can usually knock most of these out before the ceremony begins, providing more time for you to kick back during cocktail hour! I typically budget 45 minutes for portraits and 30-45 minutes for the bridal party. Family shots usually take around a half hour - see question #4 below for more information on when to best fit them in!

How much time should I budget for photos if we do not want to do a first look and prefer to wait until the ceremony to see each other?

There is always a little spark of magic that I feel incredibly lucky to witness when my couples choose to see each other for the first time when walking down the aisle! In those instances, I focus my pre-ceremony photos mainly on each of you with your respective bridal party members - separately - since we won't bring the full group together until after the ceremony is over. My personal preference is to wrap up family and bridal party photos before going into your portraits so that you don't have a large audience when we want to capture those special moments featuring just the two of you! This timeline layout usually means a little less time spent at cocktail hour, but is still a very popular choice! In these cases, I usually plan 30 minutes for each of you with your squads respectively prior to the ceremony (with the plan to always have you hidden at least a half hour before the show begins!), with an additional 30 minutes for the full bridal party and 45 for your portraits afterward.

Breanna and her bridesmaids showing some attitude - we’ll always get shots of you with your chosen bridal party members, but can split up bridal party shots before and after the ceremony if you opt out of a first look!

Breanna and her bridesmaids showing some attitude - we’ll always get shots of you with your chosen bridal party members, but can split up bridal party shots before and after the ceremony if you opt out of a first look!

Do you have any recommendations on how I can make sure my family members are where they need to be when we take family pictures?

Yes! It can be incredibly helpful to have one member of each extended family appointed as a runner to find any stragglers who may not remember where they need to be and at what time! I can call out someone's name from my photo list but since I likely don't know what Aunt Suzy looks like, it will be much more difficult for me to pick her out of a crowd - identifying someone that can pull her away from a conversation with your neighbor Grace that she hasn't seen since she was her babysitter ten years ago can go a long way - and as soon as she's done I'll let her know and she can go right back to catching up with anyone she'd like!

If you're feeling particularly organized, I've worked with couples that have had a lot of success after adding a note to their family members' invitations requesting that they stay present following the ceremony to be part of the group pictures.

Keegan and his mom share a special moment as she pins his boutonniere. Family photos can encompass anything from specific people you’d like to capture in their requested roles for the day to the full extended family photos!

Keegan and his mom share a special moment as she pins his boutonniere. Family photos can encompass anything from specific people you’d like to capture in their requested roles for the day to the full extended family photos!

We want to make the most of cocktail hour with our guests; should we plan to do family photos before the ceremony begins?

I recommend planning family pictures prior to the ceremony if you decide to do a first look AND you feel you can count on all your desired family members to arrive earlier than the ceremony time listed on your invitation. You can make your wedding day anything you want it to be, so feel free to completely ignore my recommendation and proceed in any way you see fit; that is simply how I have seen it work the best! We can always grab a few family shots ahead of time as they are available - for example, if you want a picture of just you with your siblings - but if you'd like to arrange your full family but have not yet seen your fiance, we'll likely end up using a little more time later on recreating the same photo while adding your new spouse in as well.

Planning family photos immediately following your ceremony works well because it allows you to start with a larger group and then let them each go as their photos are done…continue in this way and before you know it, it will just be the two of you and the photographer taking your wedding portraits!

Planning family photos immediately following your ceremony works well because it allows you to start with a larger group and then let them each go as their photos are done…continue in this way and before you know it, it will just be the two of you and the photographer taking your wedding portraits!

What happens if we're running late during the day and can't follow the exact times on the schedule?

I always try to build a little extra time into the schedule to proactively combat the inevitable moment we realize that the best man doesn’t have any socks to wear or the flower girl’s parents get lost on their way to the venue. Even so, it’s always a good idea to talk to your photographer about which photos are the most important to you so they can make sure to come back to them later in the day if there wasn’t enough time to capture them when originally planned. We will always do our best to catch each special moment throughout the day, but it may not always be 100% feasible; in those cases it’s helpful to know which ones will mean the most to you when you’re looking at your images years down the road!

A few other things to consider are potential travel time if your ceremony and reception are not located in the same place (or if you’d like to travel to a park, brewery, winery, etc. for some of the portraits), whether or not there will be a receiving line, the time toasts will ideally occur during dinner, and when you plan to show off your best moves during the first dance! If you have any questions or are one of my clients and would like assistance putting together your own wedding day timeline, please shoot me a message at info.amykphoto@gmail.com!

Emily and Joe's Winter Wonderland Wedding

Thinking back, I can’t remember when I first met Emily; we grew up a “country mile” apart, and because her older brother was one of my best friends, she and I became friends naturally. I was thrilled to learn she and Joe were engaged, and even more excited when they asked me to be part of their Friday morning winter wedding! I couldn’t wait to see how they would make the day their own.

Since the happy couple met each other while working at Camp Luther in Wisconsin, their faith and camp backgrounds played huge parts in the day. Joe is studying to become a pastor, and the service was particularly meaningful with readings, music, and a sermon that truly highlighted their love of Christ and each other. As a nod to their camp experiences, the bride and her ladies wore Chacos sandals, the pastor asked all couples who met as a result of Camp that were in attendance to raise their hands during his sermon (from my bird’s eye view in the back of the church, let me tell you - it was an impressive number!), and we even took a fun GIANT group photo of all their Camp connections that included multiple generations!

If you’ve ever met me, you understand how much I honestly love a good meal and this wedding did not disappoint! Since the service took place mid-morning, we were blessed with an incredible BRUNCH made up of all the best breakfast foods you could imagine. They even had a sticky roll “cake” to complete the experience for their guests!

We finished the day with portraits at a local Christmas tree farm; I’d love to say that the snowflakes fluttered gracefully around us to create the perfect picturesque snow globe, but in reality the wind was whipping them around like a snow globe that had just been picked up and shaken by an enthusiastic three year old! The entire bridal party was incredible to work with, even with the freezing conditions, and we captured some magical moments out in the snow!

Holiday Styled Shoot

I've wanted to take part in a styled shoot for some time now, and jumped at the opportunity to participate in this evening Christmas-themed wedding and New Year's Eve-themed engagement rolled into one! It was a wonderful experience that introduced me to a multitude of incredible area wedding vendors that were absolutely fantastic to work alongside! I've included their information at the end of this post in case anyone would like to contact them for their own weddings and events!

The shoot took place at the Sinclair Depot in Minneapolis, which has gorgeous light features, a great stage to really center you in the space, and a great rustic-chic feel for those brides looking for something a little more off the beaten path and yet close to the city!

The Jeweler Ryan provided rings that sparkled extra brightly for the holiday theme of the evening. Detail shots of rings are some of my favorite photos to take at weddings because each ring is different and gives a glimpse into the personality of the couple getting married! It always reminds me of the fun I had ring shopping with my husband and how pleasantly surprised I was when I discovered how well he knew my style when describing the "ideal" engagement ring to the sales person assisting us!

Florals were created by the talented Liz Pham at Gemma Floral & Gifts. Her designs were a perfect balance between traditional wedding blooms and festive Christmas fun! Not only did she offer two beautiful bouquets for our models to use, but she also brought several elegant feature pieces for the tables that we also used as perfect pops of color during portraits of the couples.

Sleepy V's baked some absolutely delicious donuts (Did I sample a few at the end of the night? You bet I did! They were so tasty!) that were displayed along with gorgeous table scapes created by Vintage Soirees. I thought the variety of china patterns, accent pieces, and golden glow from the candles created a stunning look for table design, and now I see that I should really up my own game when I have friends over for dinner during the holidays! I don't think I'll come anywhere near the exquisite display at the shoot, but a girl can try!

I also loved the chairs provided by Preferred Antiques; they were classic while had a little extra pop of character with the beautiful red and white fabric on the seats, really rounding out the Christmas decor at the shoot.

Wendy at WS Design created tasteful custom paper designs for appetizers, dinner menus and day-of stationery that would please just about any bride looking for a little something extra to make their wedding day details a step above guest expectations!

The magnificent wedding dress was loaned to us by Che Bella Bridal, and could not have been more perfect for a winter wedding! The design of the sparkles and flow of the skirt made the bride look like an stunning ice princess and had us all wishing we could have been modeling it instead!

Victoria (hair) and Aleah (makeup) with Primped salon created spectacular looks for both our models, Megan (the bride) and Shilow. The girls looked flawless throughout the entire shoot and I'm already trying to find a reason to head over to Primped myself in the near future to make the most of their talents!

I also need to send a shout out to my good friend and second shooter Jules for these dreamy photos she got of Megan at the end of the night:

It was just the best day and such a pleasure to work with everyone else who was involved! I'm already looking forward to the next opportunity to participate in a styled shoot. :)

Vendors:

The Jeweler Ryan
@thejewelerryan

Che Bella
@chebellaboutique

Primped
@primpedmn
@vohlhauser
@makeup_by_aleah

WS Design
@wsdesigno1

Gemma Floral & Gifts
@gemmafloralgifts

Sleepy Vs
@sleepy.vs

Vintage Soirees
@vintagesoirees

Preferred Antiques / Sinclair Depot
@sinclairdepot1

Photography: Yours truly!
@amy.k.photography