bride poses amongst cacti on a gorgeous sunny day showcasing the importance of bridal portraits




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Preparing For The Big Day!

Oct 28, 2019

Preparing for the Big Day can be a little overwhelming, especially if you’ve never done it before! After all that planning and preparation, your wedding is fast approaching and we’re sure you’re ridiculously excited for the big day (so are we!!!), but are you prepared? Have you mapped out a timeline that allows for enough time to get all the important stuff in and also gives you space to breathe and enjoy each moment as it unfolds? After shooting so many weddings (and being married ourselves), we know that many couples who have never been married don’t realize how much time certain parts of the day can take and we want to help you get the most out of your day.

If you’re not quite sure if you have the day’s timeline dialled in, we have some tips to help you prepare for your wedding day that will ensure you get the best of both worlds—all the important Must Do’s and room to breathe it all in!

First Look or Traditional?

We don’t try to persuade our couples to go either way for their weddings as it’s a very personal choice, but there is no denying that First Look weddings allow for a more relaxed day with more time for the couple to mingle with their wedding guests. Both have pros and cons and, as long as you plan accordingly, both can fit nicely into the timeline of the day. 

Here’s the difference:

Traditional Wedding: The bride and groom get ready and then head to the ceremony where they first see each other as the bride walks down the aisle, then the family photos are done immediately after the ceremony before the wedding party heads out for portraits (leaving the guests behind to mingle) until the reception when the wedding party returns to make a grand entrance. This usually means 2-3 hours between the ceremony and reception to allow for portraits and for travel time as the wedding party moves to a different location away from the guests (otherwise, the bride and groom are constantly intercepted by guests wanting to give them love and congratulate them). While Traditional weddings are just fine with us, we love it when our couples allow us plenty of time between the ceremony and reception to make sure we have enough time to be creative and get all those amazing shots our couples expect from us!

Groom with dark, curly hair catches his first glimpse of his bride as she walks up the aisle in church with her father and they only have eyes for each other in this traditional wedding

First Look Wedding: The bride and groom get ready earlier in the day (as well as their wedding party). Then we take the two separately and get them set up to see each other for the first time, one on one, with no one else around except us (and we shoot from a distance to give them as much privacy as possible). [Often in a Traditional wedding, there is so much excitement and jitters, that the couple forgets that moment when the bride and groom see each other for the first time as she walks up the aisle]. The First Look allows the couple to not only see each other, but to soak each other in for as long as they want until their jitters disappear and they are both calm and ready to start their lives together. Many of our couples report that their First Look was exactly what they needed to gather themselves together, take a collective breath, and prepare for the craziness of the day! Once the First Look is done (15-20 minutes), we take the couple out for portraits and then meet up with their wedding party and get all the wedding party portraits done as well. Then we always have some time to get back to the venue, refresh everyone and get ready for the ceremony, so it never feels rushed and everyone is relaxed. Immediately after the ceremony, we gather in the family for family portraits and then everyone heads to the reception to mingle. A First Look allows the couple to break up the photos into manageable increments and gives them plenty of time to spend with their guests, many who have come from out of town to share their day. 

groom waits for his bride to tap him on the shoulder for their First Look
bride and groom enjoy their first moments of seeing each other during an intimate first look
bride laughs at something her groom says during their First Look

Lastly, we always try to sneak our couples out for a quick portrait session during the golden hour before sunset, which is the best light of the day and a great chance for them to disengage from the crowd and remember to breathe again!

Bridal Portrait Session:

Regardless of Traditional or First Look, we always ask that our brides allow for at least 30 minutes in the day to do a bridal portrait session. After all, you’ve been waiting for this day for so long and you feel absolutely stunning so it would be a shame if we didn’t get some time to capture that magic. 

bride poses amongst cacti on a gorgeous sunny day showcasing the importance of bridal portraits

Tips and Trick for better videos

Wedding videos are always so much more personal and heartwarming if the bride and groom can read something for each other. It doesn’t have to be elaborate—maybe the vows they have written to each other, a poem or song lyrics that mean something to them, or a cute little note they have written to accompany their wedding day gifts to each other. Having them read the notes out and incorporating that into the video adds an indescribable element of sentimentality to the entire artwork. 

Travel time

If your wedding venues are spread out and require travel between them, it’s really important to account for the time when you are preparing your timeline, especially for portraits if you plan to change locations a few times during your portrait sessions. Try to keep locations relatively close together to cut down on travel time between them, but if that’s not possible, add the travel time between activities so you don’t find yourself scrambling to get to your ceremony or reception on time and you have plenty of time for portraits.

bride, carrying a clear umbrella, and groom wald the streets of New Orleans in the rain
New Orleans bride and her bridesmaids travel via private streetcar to their photo destination, all laughing and sipping on cocktails.

Reception planning

Something many couples don’t anticipate is the length of speeches given by their guests and wedding party. The rule of thumb for most weddings is to assume everyone who gives one will use at least five minutes and, just to be safe, add three more minutes to it. If you plan to have an open mic, allow for at least 20 minutes because once people get going, it’s sometimes tough to get them to stop! LOL.  Another really nifty trick to save time is to have people deliver their speeches during dinner. This, effectively, kills two birds with one stone and has the added effect of making people pay attention during the speeches because they are busy munching away on their delicious dinner. 

There are so many ways to prepare for a wedding day that will run smoothly and give you room to get everything done without becoming overwhelmed or bombarded by people. If we are photographing your wedding and you are having trouble nailing down your timeline, we are more than happy to have a look and help you tweak it. Better now, before the big day, so you can wake up on the day of your wedding confident that you have it all dialled in and all you have to do is show up and be pampered and loved by everyone around you. 

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