Wedding Guide

engagement session tips, timeline guidance, vendor recommendations & more!

Hey there!

Nice to meet you, I´m Carolyn

I’m so excited to be working with you and we can’t wait to get to know you better over the next several months! I know photography is one of the larger investments you’re making for your wedding day and I’m so honored you chose to work with me!

Even if you’re working with a wedding planner or you’re planning a simple wedding, there are likely still a lot of moving pieces left leading up to your big day.

Having photographed a lot of weddings over the past few years, I tend to get asked the same things over and over again. So I thought it would be beneficial if I put together a guide that walks you through everything from timelines to engagement sessions and inclement weather.

Thank you again for choosing to work with us and please don’t hesitate to let me know if I can offer any additional guidance throughout the wedding planning process!

-Carolyn

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Carolyn Headshot

EXPLORE

MY PORTFOLIO

 Engagement Session

I’m a big fan of engagement sessions for a few reasons. Not only do they allow you to get comfortable in front of the camera, they also give you the opportunity to showcase your personalities in a more casual setting that is significant to the two of you. I’ve created an entire page dedicated to outfit tips, location ideas, timing considerations and more!

     VENDORS

who will make your day incredible

Over the years, I’ve learned the important role quality vendors play in creating a stress-free wedding day. This is not a paid list – I’ve chose these vendors for both the quality of their work as well as their professionalism on the actual wedding day.

Is a First Look Right for You?

If you’re wondering whether a first look is right for you, stop here.

That moment the Bride and Groom see each other for the first time on their wedding day is magical. And this is true whether the couple chooses to wait until the bride walks down the aisle or chooses to do  a “first look’ prior to the ceremony.

First looks—a private moment couples choose to spend together prior to the wedding ceremony—have become more popular
over the last few years. About half of my couples this year have chosen to do a first look.

While I consider myself a person who values tradition, there are definitely a few good reasons to consider a first look.


Here are 3 reasons to consider a ‘first look’:

1. A first look cuts through the chaos of the day.

Once the ceremony begins, the day takes off quickly. A ‘first look’ is an opportunity to enjoy some quiet time alone, enjoy each other’s company, and reflect on all this day means before your day takes off.

Wedding days can be a whirlwind and they tend to fly by. There’s much to do, and a lot of people to see and to catch up with. I always encourage our couples to take a few minutes every so often during their wedding to stop and soak in everything that’s happening.

2. It makes more time for pictures without sacrificing        cocktail hour.

When there is no first look, the majority of the pictures have to be taken after the ceremony. Family pictures are generally done as soon as the ceremony ends because it’s the easiest time to round everyone up. Next up is full bridal party, and then bride and groom portraits. This generally runs into cocktail hour.

A first look opens up time prior to the ceremony for full bridal party pictures and, sometimes, for a few bride and groom portraits (although I prefer to do bride and groom portraits at sunset). This allows the couple to get the most out of cocktail hour, which makes the rest of the evening feel less rushed.

3. Avoid possible bad weather and/or have time to              freshen-up after crying.

If you’re expecting poor weather on your wedding day, it might be best to plan on a first look because it gives you more options for pictures. If its pouring rain after the ceremony, you’ll be thankful you had pictures done in advance.

And reason 3b is for all you cryers out there. If you know the tears are going to fly the first time you see your other half the day of your wedding, a first look will give you time to freshen up before the ceremony.

First look or not, the first time you see each other on your wedding day will be special.

Wedding Day Timeline

Whether you’re planning a first look or sticking with a tradition and not seeing your groom until you walk down the aisle,
I have tips to help make planning your timeline as easy as possible!

 

Whether you choose to do a first look or the traditional “no see before the ceremony” I will work with you on making sure you have the best timeline and plan for images. If you’re choosing to go traditional, you’ll need two different sets of photo times: images taken before the ceremony and images taken after the ceremony.

You’ll need to plan for about one hour of pre-ceremony bridal photos (bridesmaids and bride’s family) and about one hour of pre-ceremony groom photos (groomsmen and groom’s family) at separate times. You’ll also need 15 minutes of combined bridal party portraits, 15 minutes of combined family portraits and at least 30 -45 minutes of couple’s portraits after the ceremony if you’re not doing any portraits together until after the ceremony.

If you’re doing a first look, photos can be done all at one time, taking an average total of 2 hours pre-ceremony (although I also LOVE grabbing just the two of you for a few additional bride and groom photos at sunset!) If you choose a traditional aisle reveal, all I ask is that you keep your ceremony time in mind when planning your wedding.

If you’re planning a sunset ceremony or an evening ceremony, it’s best to do all photos before the wedding, as daylight is crucial to getting amazing portraits for your families, wedding party and your couples portraits. Making sure we have enough time while the sun is up is a great way to make the traditional ceremony work.

First Look

example timeline 

12:00pm – Getting Ready

Carolyn arrives at Bride’s getting ready.

Note: Ideally by the time I arrive, hair and makeup is already wrapping up. So I can shoot details, getting ready, getting the dress on and then Dash to the guys to shoot them for an hour. This is easier if you stay at the same hotel.

2:15pm – Guys Depart

Groom + groomsmen depart for ceremony site.

2:30pm –  2:45pm – First Look  

The first look takes place. Ladies Depart  Bride and bridesmaids depart for ceremony location.

Note: The First Look can take place at the getting ready location, ceremony, or reception location. It’s up to you! Although I’m happy to make recommendations.

3:00pm – Portraits  

Bride & Groom + bridal party portraits

4:00pm – Ceremony

The I Do’s

4:30pm – Family Portraits

I do family portraits right after the ceremony because everyone you need will be easy to grab. If you can give your family notice that I’ll be taking pictures immediately after the ceremony, that will also ensure that no one wanders off. I’ll help you create a list of family portraits before the big day.

5:00pm – Portraits

Additional Bridal Party & Bride & Groom Portraits
Note: Depending on what was taken before the ceremony, I might grab 1 or 2 more full bridal party shots.

5:30pm – Cocktail Hour

Note: The great thing about doing a First Look is that it gives you more time at cocktail hour. I’ll grab some pictures of your guests while you enjoy the hour.

6:00pm – Introductions  

Bridal Party entrance and introductions

6:15pm – Dinner

Welcome toasts & salads followed by speeches and entrees.

7:00pm – Sunset Portraits  

I’ll make sure to grab you two about 45 minutes before the sunsets. This is usually the best light of the day!

7:30pm – Dancing begins   

Fist Dance/ Father +Daughter / Mother + Son

7:45pm – Traditions
Cake cutting followed by bouquet toss

8:00pm Party Time
Everyone on the Dance floor!

8:30pm Photographer departs

See ya later gator!

Aisle Reveal

example timeline

12:00pm – Getting Ready

Carolyn arrives at Bride’s getting ready.

Note: Ideally by the time I arrive, hair and makeup is already wrapping up. So I can shoot details, getting ready, getting the dress on.

1:30pm – Ladies Depart

Bride and bridesmaids depart for ceremony location and take pre-ceremony group photos.

Note: I leave when the ladies do to then shoot the Guys getting ready. If you are both getting ready in the same location that makes coverage of both groups flow easier.

2:00pm – Guys Depart

Groom + groomsmen depart for ceremony site & take pre-ceremony group photos

2:30pm – Pre-Ceremony

pre-ceremony group photos and Individual Bride and Groom Images

3:30pm – Ceremony

The I Do’s

4:00pm – Family Portraits

I do family portraits right after the ceremony because everyone you need will be easy to grab. If you can give your family notice that I’ll be taking pictures immediately after the ceremony, that will also ensure that no one wanders off. I’ll help you create a list of family portraits before the big day. 

4:30pm – Portraits

Bridal Party and Bride & Groom Portraits

Note: Depending on what was taken before the ceremony, this normally takes about an hour total.

5:45pm – Introductions

Bridal Party entrance and introductions

6:00pm – Dinner

Welcome toasts & salads followed by speeches and entrees.

7:00pm – Sunset Portraits

I’ll make sure to grab you two about 45 minutes before the sunsets. This is usually the best light of the day!  

7:30pm – Dancing begins

Fist Dance/ Father +Daughter / Mother + Son

7:45pm – Traditions

Cake cutting followed by bouquet toss  

8:00pm – Party Time

Everyone on the Dance floor!

8:30pm Photographer departs

See ya later gator!

Rain Tips

 

If the forecast is calling for rain, fear not because rainy days can still be beautiful!

If rain is in the forecast, I recommend ordering a few clear umbrellas on Amazon. It also might be good to re-evaluate portrait locations to make sure I can still shoot in natural light – even if it means heading offsite.

If you don’t own a pair of cute Wellies, now may be a great time to order a pair – even if you’re just wearing them in between shooting locations.

If you’re not working with a planner, it might also be a good idea to check in with your entire vendor team to make sure they’re aware of the weather. Hair and makeup may need to be tweaked to withstand humidity and if your wedding is outdoors, DJs and bands may need to take extra precaution to protect their gear. A quality rental team can also minimize the amount of mud at outdoor events.

While I can’t guarantee that rain on your wedding day is good luck, I can put a plan in place to ensure a beautiful day and beautiful images. Rainy day weddings may require a little more flexibility and creativity, but there isn’t any reason why they can’t be as beautiful and as joyful as sunny weddings!

 Wedding Day Details

I love capturing all the little details you’ve carefully chosen to be a part of your wedding day! Once I arrive at your wedding, I need about 30 minutes to capture and style details. I recommend choosing a getting ready location filled with natural light and, if possible, please keep the space free from trash and clutter.

It would be wonderful if you could put all of your rings, jewelry, shoes, veil purse, perfume, invitations and other keepsakes together in one spot for us. Please unwrap your dress but don’t worry about styling it – I’ll hang it in a beautiful spot!

Bridal Details Checklist

☐ Dress Dress Hanger Rings (both engagement and wedding bands)

☐ Shoes

☐ Veil

☐ Bouquet

☐ Ring

☐ Hair pieces

☐ Jewelry

☐ Invitation Suite ( 2 full sets with envelopes + stamps)

☐ Any other paper stationary you may have like program cards.

☐ Vow Book

☐ Any other sentimental keepsakes you would like to include.

This is completely optional – but if you have something sentimental you’d like styled with your details, I love including family heirlooms in our detail shots.

Bonus: I’d love to have a few cuts of the florals you’ll be using throughout your wedding day. If your florist will supply us a small bucket of extra pieces I can incorporate those in your detail shots.

 Groom Details Checklist

☐His Suit

☐His shoes

☐ Socks (if they’re special)

☐ Cuff Links

☐ Tie or Bow Tie

☐ Pocket Square

☐ Boutonnière

☐ Vows Book

☐ Rings

☐ Watch

☐Any Grooms Gifts or his Gift

☐ Anything else he’ll have that is special or sentimental.

Consider Unplugging

If you’ve been to a wedding recently, you may have seen a sign from the happy couple asking for their guests to remain “unplugged” during the ceremony.

And while it might seem like a strange requests to ask guests to put down their phones, there’s a pretty good reason for it! You made a big investment in photography and I’m sure one of the last things you want on your wedding day is for our photos of your ceremony to be filled with obtrusive iPhones, iPads and relatives standing in the aisle with their own cameras. In order to help us do the best possible job capturing your wedding, I recommend asking guests to unplug during the ceremony.

This priest got the photo for everyone so the guests didn’t have to pull out their phones.

Family Formals

your entire family, dressed up & together

For family portraits, I’ll place you in the center of a large group photo with all of your grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, godparents, etc. And then I’ll remove the extended family so it’s just grandparents, parents and siblings.

I’ll keep removing family members and switch a few closer family members in and out so I can get photos of you and your parents, you and your siblings, some with the groom and your family, etc. Then I’ll repeat the process with your spouse’s family. The whole thing will go quicker and smoother if you let family know how the portrait process will work ahead of time.

When I send out our pre-wedding questionnaire, I’ll ask you for a list of specific groupings, special situations (such as divorces or handicapped family members & more), but if you want to start brainstorming photos in the meantime, you’ll find our typical list below.

Family Portraits Checklist

Please note that this list is just a starting point and that I’m happy to take any requested family portraits as long as time allows.

☐ Bride + Groom + Bride’s Extended Family

☐ Bride + Groom + Bride’s Parents + Bride’s Siblings +

☐ Bride’s Grandparents • Bride + Groom + Bride’s Parents + Bride’s Siblings

☐ Bride + Groom + Bride’s Parents

☐ Bride + Groom + Bride’s Siblings • Bride + Mom

☐ Bride + Dad  • Bride + Groom + Groom’s Extended Family

☐ Bride + Groom + Groom’s  Parents + Groom’s  Siblings + Groom’s  Grandparents

☐ Bride + Groom + Groom’s  Parents + Groom’s Siblings

☐ Bride + Groom + Groom’s  Parents

☐ Bride + Groom + Groom’s Siblings• Groom + Mom

☐ Groom + Dad

Additional Tips

 

1. If you’re getting married in the summer months, a “not-so-heavy” snack or lunch time before portraits is always a good idea for you and your bridal party to avoid hungry      bellies and passing out!

2. If it’s going to be hot, a cooler of cold waters and frozen washcloths can help keep a wedding party cool – especially if your men are wearing lots of layers.

3. Make sure and have your bouquet delivered in time to make an appearance for the detail shots and for your first look. Often they are delivered in water and need to be        dried off before use. Having towels handy can help.

4. If you’re planning on having a first look with your bridal party or a parent, they often feel more comfortable being fully dressed in their wedding attire.

5. If your reception is at a separate venue, add some “fluff time” so that I can run over to the venue to capture it while it’s still “untouched” by guests.

6. To help make family portraits go smoother, it’s best to have a breakdown of what portraits you’d like and it’s really wonderful if both sides of the family have a chance to        have their input on what portraits they’d like before the wedding. Supplying me with a list ahead of time, so I can go over it and make sure that I shoot things in an order        that is efficient and won’t leave anyone out.

7. During the cocktail hour and the reception, I’ll follow you around. Anytime you’d like a photo with someone, grab our attention. I love being your personal paparazzi!

8. I’d love to help you plan your timeline. If you’d like my input, don’t hesitate to email or call!