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Breaking Down the Wedding Day – Part 1

After photographing nearly 150 weddings, I’ve developed a really good sense of what works for me and what doesn’t. Although every wedding is a unique event with a story of its own, I’ve come up with a really great system that helps ensure that things run smoothly (both on my end and for the couple, too!) and makes sure I have the time necessary to get all of the shots that I need.

Breaking down the ideal timeline for a fine art wedding photographer

I thought it would be fun to pull back the curtain so to speak and share a little bit about how I manage each part of the day, starting with the “getting ready” portion, which begins shortly after I arrive to start shooting for the day!

ARRIVAL/GETTING READY
I typically arrive at a wedding about an hour before the bride is ready to get into her dress. This allows me time to start shooting details (bridal gown, rings, stationery suite, shoes, etc) and gives me a chance to warm up for the day. I spend about 40 minutes or so on details…I’ll style the bride’s details (and the groom’s if they’re available to me) before shooting them and often will shoot several arrangements of things (like the rings with the stationery, the flowers with the stationery, etc) for variety. Styling each little vignette that ends up in the photos usually takes a little bit of time, which is why shooting the details typically takes me about 40 minutes or so.

(Tip – Having all of your details ready to go in one spot before I arrive helps expedite the process.)

By the time I’m wrapped up with details, it’s usually right about the time for the bride to get into her dress! I usually select the location where I will want to photograph this when I arrive the day of the wedding. I look for something fairly neutral and clutter free, but the most important thing about the spot I chose is the light! The bridal suite at the venue or the hotel room where the bride and bridesmaids are getting ready may seem like the logical choice to most people, but sometimes I’ll pick something different…that could mean we’re shooting in a vestibule, a hallway, or even outside on a patio depending on the situation.

A good example of this is the bridal suite at King Family Vineyards. Their bridal suite is nice, but the overhead, fluorescent lighting isn’t great for photos, so I have had my brides have their dress photos taken out in the entry area (We always make sure that the groom and groomsmen aren’t in the vicinity before bringing the bride out to have her photos here). I think this spot is so much nicer because the window light is a lot more flattering and natural looking. The overall vibe of this spot also reflects that of the venue and the wedding day and will help the final gallery have a cohesive feel to it.

Note: It’s very rare for the bride to actually get fully dressed out in the spot I choose for the “getting dressed” photos. Usually, she’s entirely in the dress before stepping out for the photos and we have someone she chooses to help her zip or button it for the shots we need.

After this, we do accessories (jewelry, shoes, veil) and a few bridal portrait type shots (time permitting). Once this is all done we usually move on to the first look, which I’ll get into in more detail next time!

I hope this series will be helpful to those of you who are currently planning a wedding, but also entertaining to anyone who’s ever wondered what it’s like to work with me to see a peek behind the scenes! Thanks for reading and be sure to stop by again for the next chapter in the series!

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