I’ve been doing more and more events lately and I have to admit – they are so much fun! Ana’s 50th birthday party was absolutely amazing! When they told me that it would be a Chanel-inspired theme, I didn’t know what to expect. But when I walked into the room, I was blown away! I fell in love with the mini dress form centerpieces, each one completely different and unique, but all decked out in black and white and accessories. The mini Moet champagne party favors and cigars were the perfect gift for the grown and sexy attendees. The gorgeous quilted Chanel handbag cake by Cake Bliss and Treats was literally the icing on the cake. But all the gorgeous details pale in comparison to the absolute joy of the occasion! Ana (who looked stunning in red gown) celebrated her special milestone surrounded by her family and closest friends. It was truly a night to remember!
This post was inspired by a recent conversation I had with one of my good friends and gym buddy, Laura, who got engaged over the summer and is planning her dream wedding for October 2016. Because we see each other several times per week at the gym, I’ve been in the loop when it comes to all her wedding plans. This week she shared with me that she had finally found her wedding venue! Among all the excitement and the sharing of details, she mentioned that she was going to finalize the details with her priest for the ceremony time and that it would be anywhere between 3-5PM. Hearing this I immediately mentioned: so you’ll be doing a First Look, right?Because if you wait until after the ceremony, it starts getting dark outside around 6PM. She admitted that she hadn’t thought of that! Most brides are not aware of the importance of having a realistic timeline. It can be the key difference between a really stressful wedding experience and an enjoyable one! Luckily in Laura’s case, I was there to intervene ahead of time and prevent what could’ve been a big timeline oversight. The truth is I love First Looks! And though I recommend a First Look to all my brides because I just think it makes the whole day flow much easier for both the couple and photographer, there are certain scenarios where I HIGHLY recommend a First Look! Here are a few of those:
• Winter/ Fall or Late Evening Weddings: Actual daylight hours are far less between the months of October – March. In the dead of winter in New Jersey, it can get dark around 4:00PM some days! So unless the wedding starts early in the day, you’re looking at most of your portrait time falling right when it’s already dark outside. If you follow my work, you’ll see that I love to shoot using natural light in outdoor settings. And if you hire me to produce some of those same type of images, but your portrait time falls when it’s already dark outside, it’ll be impossible to recreate some of those beautiful natural light pictures. Not to say you can’t do amazing things with flash (and we do!), it’s just a completely different look – that may or may not appeal to you.
• Large Wedding Parties: When you have 20 bridesmaids and groomsmen in your wedding court – that’s a lot of bodies to wrangle together after the ceremony! Plus, by the time the ceremony comes around, it’s been a pretty long day already between travel, hair, makeup and getting ready. So even though your friends are excited and honored to be a part of your day, the truth is that they are far less interested in pictures than you are – they are ready to get to the good stuff (i.e. the party!). That’s why I prefer to schedule wedding party portraits immediately following the bride and groom first look. That way they are relieved from all the “boring” photography duties at the beginning of the day and can enjoy the cocktail hour with the rest of the guests!
• Big Families: Family formals are probably my least favorite part of wedding day coverage – and if we’re keeping it real, it’s usually the same for the bride and groom too. But we need to take those pictures to keep mom, dad and all the grandmas happy! Like my previous point on large wedding parties, the more people you need to manage (i.e. personalities!), the more time a simple task like taking a photo where everyone looks at the camera and smiles can take. So if you have a large family and think formals will take 20 minutes or less – think again! This part of the day can easily take 45 minutes and if you’re running on a tight schedule, it will definitely cut into your portrait time.
• Travel from Ceremony to Reception Venue Required: If you’re ceremony is driving distance from your wedding venue (and especially if you fall into any of the other categories mentioned above), this is one of those times that I’d highly recommend a first look! So many things can happen on a wedding day without factoring in time for travel. Traffic, accidents, lost limo drivers, detours…just some of the unexpected travel delays I’ve encountered shooting weddings! Knowing that the majority of your portraits were already taken before your ceremony will alleviate the stress that comes with these unplanned setbacks, especially if you’re already running short on time. Not to mention, you don’t want to keep your guests waiting too long at the reception while you’re taking pictures!
If you find that you fall into any of these categories (or all of the above!), I highly recommend that you and your partner weigh the pros and cons of having a First Look. Sure you won’t have that first A-HA! moment at the church in front of all your family and friends, but you will still share that special moment of seeing each other for the first time in private – and it’s always such a lovely experience! It will also free up your wedding day, so you can spend more time enjoying the company of your guests that have traveled both near and far to share the day with you, as well as allow more time for portraits of just the two of you. As your photographer, it’s my job to always respect your wishes and provide excellent service and images regardless of whether you choose to see each other before the ceremony or not. However, it is also my responsibility to manage your expectations and ensure that you are well informed when it comes to your wedding day coverage. And since I can’t be with everyone during the planning process like I have been with Laura, I hope this post has offered some insight on things to considers when planning your wedding day timeline and scheduling your photography coverage.
*Speaking of Laura, she’s opting out of a First Look, but will discuss moving the ceremony earlier in the day with her priest to allot more time for photos during daylight hours. Again, first looks aren’t for everybody and that’s perfectly ok! But planning a realistic timeline that allows for plenty of time for the kinds of portraits you want will ensure you get the most out of your wedding day coverage!
Decided to have a little fun with this month’s Creativity Project theme and enlisted my sister Cindy‘s help with a few shots for this month’s “RED” theme. The last time I did a session was at the end of December. And even though it was nice to take a little break from shooting after the holidays, it was great to be reunited with my camera and my partner in crime for another “Style Snapshot” shoot.
To continue the circle, please be sure to stop by Stephanie’s blog for her take on this month’s theme.