This post has proven so helpful over the last couple of years that I evolved it into a printed information sheet for my clients as well! I thought it was time for a 2016 update!
There’s so much to think about in the final months before your wedding day – most of it involving fun things like flowers, shoes and how many massages you can fit in on your honeymoon!
You’ve hired all your important vendors to support you on your wedding day, and we’re definitely busy preparing to make everything special for you! One of my favorite things is how we come together as a unified team during this time. We know your wedding day is no small thing. And a lucky few like your photographer and planner have been building a friendship with you all year :-)
But alas… your wedding day is coming closer and we’re giving you homework!
At least three of us (music, venue coordinator, photographer) are asking you for a schedule. Who, when, where, and to what music will things be happening? I aim to start this part of the conversation from the very first day I meet you, because I simply can’t do my job without the one big commodity called TIME :-) But there are so many questions and unique situations – and seriously three different pieces of paper to fill out – that I thought I’d address a bit of it here together. My hope is that this will help to inform you in a way that helps you AND each of us on your team all in one fell swoop!
The one big thing that often can’t be flexible is your ceremony, so I always start from there and go backwards. The other aspect that’s determined a couple of months out is your salon schedule. Here’s a little suggested timeline to keep in mind – about 8 hours in full:
- Salon Appointments: You may have some salon appointments, or hair and make-up coming to your home/hotel. Generally, you should be prepared for this to go 30 minutes over schedule, and then still plan to be back at your home/hotel a full hour before you need to be dressed and leaving.
- Getting Ready: (one hour of photography) I recommend always having me there for at least an hour of prep time. This is when I’m able to meet your friends and family, and capture things like shoes, jewelry, a fun champagne toast, and generally just set the tone for your day. Think about the guys too… how far away are they getting ready? Can I make it there too, is that important to you, do you want a second photographer who can visit them?
- Travel: (15 minutes) Don’t forget about the time it takes to move from one place to the next. Even if everything is on the same property, I can’t tell you how much more relaxed the couples are who’ve allotted a bit of extra time to catch their breath!
- Ceremony: (20 to 45 minutes) This is very dependent on your plans, rituals and creativity. It’s what it’s all about! Take time to savor this moment.
- Hugs & Travel: (15 minutes) Again, leave a bit of breathing room here. Just because you don’t plan a receiving line doesn’t mean 10 of your closest friends and family aren’t going to run up and hug you after the ceremony :-)
- First Look: (20 minutes) The best way to ease some scheduling woes is to consider doing a “first look”, where you and your future spouse see each other before the ceremony. It’s often way more intimate and meaningful than walking down an aisle of over 150 people, but it’s totally up to you! I didn’t do it, but I wish I had. The choice is yours. Once you are together, we can focus on photos of the two of you, your bridal party, even family (but they probably won’t be ready on time).
- Group Portraits: (25 minutes bridal party, 25 minutes family) Think ahead about where you want this portion of photos to take place. It’s easiest to grab everyone while they’re together for the ceremony – right before or right after – or at least to catch them before cocktails are flowing. Backdrop doesn’t matter a ton here, if I’m being honest. We can do family groups pretty quickly and move everyone along, and then incorporate another location perhaps for your bridal party who probably knows their job is a little more involved anyway. Allow for more travel time if you need it.
- Couple’s Portraits: (30 minutes) Hey now, you didn’t think you were done, did you? By now we’ve moved on to maybe a totally different location and undoubtedly the best time of day for light! This is your time to be alone as newlyweds, take a deep breath, take a walk… I’ll even keep my distance and just let you interact for most of it. This time allows me to be my most creative (I’m taking a deep breath too!) vs. instructing you for a few quick, cheesy poses. The more limited on time I am, the less natural you’ll probably feel in your photos.
- Travel again! (15 minutes) Are we far from your reception venue by now?
- Cocktail Hour: Lawn games or other activities are a great way to stall for time if we’re off doing photos. This allows you to sneak in for the tail end of cocktail “hour”, which is often more like an hour and a half.
- Dinner & Toasts: (1.5 hours) The rest of the evening is pretty chill. You will plan for blessings, toasts, first dance, dancing with your parents and cutting the cake. But really, the order of things is very flexible, and everyone’s in one location having a wonderful time. You can move the toast or cake on a whim if needed. From a photographer’s standpoint, the only thing I’d like to mention here is to ask your venue to feed vendors early. The best venues will feed me and your videographer right after they feed you, so that we’re back in the room quickly without missing something important. It’s not about me being starving at this point, which I probably am, but if I’m fed last it usually results in me almost missing a toast or your cake-cutting.
- Sunset: (10-15 minutes) If you’d like to step back outside for this golden-hour of light, it’s one last chance for some amazing photos of the two of you. Maybe we haven’t actually photographed much at your reception venue by now. While it’s pretty easy to sneak out during meal time, there’s no pressure at all from me that you do this.
- Dancing: (1.5 hours) Most guests are on the dance floor early, and I’m able to capture a great number of shots before things get too sloppy. The amount of evening coverage is up to you, and you may have a special exit plan you’d like captured. But if I’m only booked through the cake-cutting, trust you’ll have plenty of dance-floor photos to enjoy.
Do you have any other questions or thoughts to contribute? I’d love to hear from brides, grooms, planners and other vendors below if you’re thinking of something I don’t have listed! We’re all in this to create one awesomely special – and successful – day, and my goal is to capture these memories for you to hold close for years to come.
Hope this post proves helpful! Happy planning!
You may remember Jessie & Pete from one of my favorites ever – searching for a Christmas tree during their New York City engagement session!
Their wedding was no less spectacular, as we joined the planning team of The Pink Polka Dot on a gorgeous August day at Bourne Farm in Falmouth! The weather was blissful, every little detail so thoughtful, and their friends and family were full of heart and gusto.
The day started out on Patuisset Island in Pocasset, MA with this little fella right here… literally, first photo of the day.
I always love a wedding day when I’m joined by Mandy of Mandy Mayberry Photography – credit for getting ready with the guys above and the beautiful photo of Jessie below!
While getting ready at the bride’s family home on Patuisset Island, it seemed a pretty darn obvious backdrop for gorgeous “first look” photos with the bride and groom!
The groom’s fellow band members played as all were welcomed to the ceremony site at Bourne Farm…Bourne Farm is one of THE prettiest wedding spots on all of Cape Cod. There’s no sweeping ocean view, which may seem essential to some, but the salt is definitely in the air and the grounds are oozing of rustic romance.
The sunset lit up like a gorgeous fire, changing colors from moment to moment! I finally had to let these two head back into the tent, but not before a few dozen photos alone – and a few dozen more with friends!
Jessie and Pete, I absolutely loved being part of this incredible year of your lives, and I couldn’t be more honored to carry these memories with me for years more to come! You are the prime example of why I do what I do. Thank you for your friendship!
Venue: Bourne Farm | Planner: The Pink Polka Dot | Assisting Photographer: Mandy Mayberry Photography | Hair & Makeup: Lisa George | Florist: All About Flowers for Weddings | Catering & Dessert: Chef Roland’s Catering | Officiant: Wesley Wildman | Invitations: The Pink Polka Dot | Transportation: Cape Cod Valet | Band: “Legit” from Nightshift Entertainment | Dress: J.Crew | Suit: Bonobos
Thom Barrett is a local woodworker and owner of Tidal Pursuit, based right here in Marstons Mills!
I had the pleasure of capturing Thom’s intimate wedding aboard a sailboat last year, at which point he was already retiring and delving deep into his second-life career with furniture and wood! He’s gone on to some incredible training and mentorships, and it was an honor to visit his studio with my camera – and my MARKETING cap on – this January!
Yep, that’s right! As I work to formalize my marketing offerings alongside my photography skills, Thom and I spent the morning on a deep-dive session evaluating his target market and the strategy for his website and social media channels. I delivered a 7-page report dedicated solely to his business as a wood-working craftsman on Cape Cod, and we got him moving on new Facebook Pages and Instagram accounts too. I LOVE this stuff, and it’s exciting to be sharing my knowledge in helping another great local entrepreneur grow!
Our afternoon photography included full furniture products, smaller craft pieces, headshots and even photos of Thom’s chocolate lab puppy, Nutmeg. Our goal was to build a great sample of images for Thom to use in his WordPress blog design and social media outreach. I’m excited to see where Thom’s business goes this 2016!
And if you know of another small business or idea-maker who would benefit from a little partnership with ME, please spread the word!
Find Thom’s gorgeous, hand-crafted work on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google +!
This July, I was ECSTATIC to photograph Caitlin & Brett’s wedding right in my husband’s home town of Dorset, Vermont! Not only was it in Dorset, but the Barrows House sits at the base of one of my favorite Vermont backdrops for photos – the Dorset Hollows (the Upper Hollow and Lower Hollow Road loop). You might remember some of these scenes from this Vermont wedding bride and Kathleen & Pete’s fall engagement photos!
Caitlin and Brett are an absolutely fantastic and fun-loving couple! Honestly, it’s not entirely rare that I don’t get to meet with clients before their wedding weekend. Maybe we have a couple of great Skype chats in the year ahead, particularly for a destination wedding… but even without that, I KNEW I was in for a good time with these two (thanks Brigitt & Stephen!). Plus, it’s always a favorite of mine to be able to join for the rehearsal dinner – a lovely evening at the Dorset Inn!
You guys went crazy for this photo on Instagram and Facebook, so let’s start off strong for the story of Caitlin & Brett’s Vermont wedding!
The setting of the Barrow’s House made for a relaxed day of preparations. When Julie and I arrived, the guests – who were mostly staying on the property – were busy with lawn games, laughter and helping out with decorations. Dad and his pals were lifting a gorgeous and heavy menu sign he had made, Caitlin herself was helping under the tent with her curlers in, and still more guests were pulling in to the adorably quaint village of Dorset.
Programs designed by Etsy shop VineWedding.
Invitations by PaperDainty on Etsy: Caitlin & Brett chose to share a “first look” before their ceremony, and what better place than Brett’s family home across the street! Such a sweet little patio and garden, which fit the July day perfectly. This allowed us to take some time to explore the Dorset Hollows for plenty of photos before our return to the celebration.
The flowers were amaaaazing, thanks to Jen of Perennial Studio!
I’m a sucker for a mountain wedding backdrop! These guys were willing to explore and climb over trees and rocks… which makes for the best photos!
Back under the tent, another shot of Jen from Perennial Studio, because why not?! She wore that adorable apron and cowgirl boots for the camera, right?
A perfect summer evening for cocktails and old friends…
Yep, that’s right – FUNFETTI!! Please go ahead and PIN that one above! I want funfetti at every wedding! This cake traveled up from Momofuku Milk Bar.
A great group of girlfriends to match the colorful cake!
Caitlin & Brett, you’re my kinda people! I’d photograph your wedding for DAYS, which is convenient because I’ve loved seeing you on other wedding dance floors now too ;-) I hope your photos always remind you of what a fantastic celebration you had to kick off your marriage! Thank you for inviting me to be there with you in Vermont! XO
Assisting Photographer: JEsther Photography | Venue & Catering: The Barrows House | Flowers: Perennial Studio | Hair & Makeup: Five Elements Salon & Day Spa | Invitations: PaperDainty | Programs: VineWedding | Menus: LetteredStudio | Officiant: Pastor Margaret Dawedeit | Ceremony Music: Moose Crossing Jazz Trio | Band: Big Party Orchestra | Cake: Momofuku Milk Bar | Dress: Amsale | Shoes: Yves Saint Laurent | Suit: Men’s Warehouse
I recently became certified as a Kripalu yoga teacher. What the heck does that have to do with photography?
Don’t be confused here, it’s just yoga ;-)
As mentioned in my last post, I’m a Gemini – and boy do I rock that hard! There’s this thing about “twins” and multiple personalities, or I like to call it “versatility”… In modern day terms, let’s just say I have a LOT of domain names. A lot of interests. I grew up on the beach and belong to the Appalachian Mountain Club, I’m a photographer with an MBA, I studied calligraphy for a weekend, I’m a huge knitter, I still take language courses, I’ll sign up for any sewing class, I had a membership to a pottery studio in Vermont, I love to watercolor, I’m a runner and enjoy building community around that, I volunteer for local animal rescue organizations, I’m off to a meditation retreat this weekend… and mostly, I just freak my mom out with too many things on my plate at once. For me, though, “too many” isn’t a thing. If there
is was a gap in my schedule, it’s been filled by now. That’s kinda how I like it.
[insert meditation here]
Once going out on my own after corporate life, I began taking a month of time off to travel – like fully renting an apartment and living somewhere else for a while. I spent one August in the Rocky Mountains of Banff, Alberta, and more recently spent an April month amidst the adorable streets of Florence, Italy. This year? I spent a month in the Berkshires of Massachusetts learning yoga.
My yoga teacher and mentor, Coby Kozlowski seems to be a soul mate of mine… She taught herself to surf, took time away to attend DJ school, and recently spent a week learning floral design in NYC. I’m only mentioning her to help make the case that I’m not the only crazy one. Did it work?
Anyway, that’s the story of how Stacey became a yoga teacher. It has nothing to do with photography and everything to do with life experiences! That being said, *call me* if you’re looking for yoga photography!
All photos are of the beautiful Shell, a Kripalu yoga teacher over at shellovesyoga.com!
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