Top Ten Wedding Day Photography Tips

1. Bride getting ready. We typically spend 1.5 hour to 2.5 hours for the photos of the bride/bridesmaids getting ready. We usually start from detail
photos that include wedding rings, wedding dress, wedding shoes, veil, bouquet, jewelry and other accessories. We will also take some candid/creative photos of get-ready moments. After the bride puts on the eye lash, then we will take photos of the last-step of the makeup touch up.
It often happens that makeup and hair take much longer than the bride’s estimate. This could impact the wedding day schedule dramatically. Therefore, we strongly recommend the bride to do a trial run of the makeup/hair service with the makeup artist. This way, the bride can have a realistic estimate of the timeline for the makeup/hair service.
After the bride puts on the makeup, we will document the process of the bridesmaids or mother of the bride helping the bride put on wedding dress, shoes and wedding veil. After the bride is fully dressed, we will work with the bride alone for 5-10 minutes for bridal portrait photos. This is important to have some beautiful photos of the bride.
2. Groom getting ready. Ideally, the groom should get ready in a place that is close to the bride’s place, so that we can capture the photos of the groom getting ready too. When there is a time constraint, we can take photos of the groom getting ready pretty fast, say 10-15 minutes. In the case that the groom is getting ready in a place that is far away from the bride and the groom still wants to take get ready photos, then a second photographer is recommended to take photos for the groom getting ready.
3. Wedding ceremony. A common mistake of the wedding ceremony is to cut it short. We understand that the bride and groom might want to get the job done ASAP. Still, it is recommended to have the ceremony last at least 15 minutes, which can give us enough time to walk around the ceremony site to take photos in different angles. When time allows, we will walk a little bit far away and take a grand photo of the ceremony. If the ceremony is rushed, then we will have to stay at one spot to avoid missing important moments. Another important tip for the bride and groom is that they should always focus on each other. Look into each other’s eyes and share the great moment.
4. After ceremony-Cocktail Hour. There is typically one-hour cocktail hour time. Depending on if the bride and groom are going to see each other or not, we need to arrange the cocktail hour time wisely.
4.1 Without first-look. If the bride and groom do not see each other before the ceremony, then it is going to be very intense and we can typically allocate the 60 minutes as follows:
. 5-10 minutes for formal family photos.
. 10-15 minutes for wedding party photos
. 10-15 minutes for the bride & groom photos
Then we will run to the reception room to set up the lighting and take the reception site detail photos before guests go in. When things run late, then the wedding coordinate will typically cut the wedding photography time short. When this happens,  we need to allocate time to take more photos for the bride and groom after the reception entrance.

4.2 With first-look. If the bride and groom see each other before the ceremony, then the time arrangement is much more flexible. We can get the bride & groom photos beforehand. We can even take photos for the wedding party before the ceremony. There will be more time for family photos and wedding party photos during cocktail hour. We can spend 15-20 minutes for formal photos in this case. We can still take more photos for the bride and groom if the lighting is good (say it is around sunset time).

5. After ceremony-Formal family photos. We typically take the formal family photos right after the wedding ceremony. It is important to have a family member organize the formal family photos.  This can save us lots of time for the formal family photos and keep everything on schedule. Each formal group photo will take about two minutes in average. We will take multiple shots for the group photo because people could blink in group photos. It will take less time to organize people if the group is small and more time when the group is big. So you can estimate how much time we need for the formal group photos and decide the number of group shots.

6. Reception entrance and detail photos. We need to get into the reception room to take the reception setup/detail table photos, wedding cake photos before guests go in. We will also need 3-5 minutes to set up the external flashes at the reception room. When the bridal party enter the reception room, please leave some separation between each pair.

7. First dance. Some bride and groom tend to get the first dance done ASAP. Still, please give us some time to get the clear shots of both the bride and groom’s face. We will also change angles to get different feelings. Therefore, a recommended duration for the first dance of the bride and groom is 3 minutes. The same rule applies for the father-daughter dance and mother-son dance.
8. Dinner and reception. People do not want to take photos when they are eating. If the dinner food is served, then it is important for the photographers to be served right after the bridal party, so that we can eat when the bride and groom start eating. We will finish eating when the bride and groom finish eating. If we are the last people to be served after guests, then it will leave us no time eating and could be exhausted for the next programs. If it is buffet style, then we will go ahead and grab the food after the bridal party, so that we can finish eating before the next program starts. During open dance when there is not much going on, if we see some more photo opportunity, we might grab the bride and groom for some more photos. It will be very fast because we will have everything set up before we reach you. We typically will have to do so when the bride and groom decide not to see each other before the ceremony, because there may not be enough time for the photos of the bride and groom during cocktail hour.

9. Table Visiting. When the bride and groom are visiting the guest tables, there are typically two ways to photograph. They have both pros and cons. One popular way is the candid photo shoot. We will take photos from the side and capture the candid moments. The pro is that we can capture the emotions of the bride, groom and guests naturally. The table visits can also be done relatively fast when there is a time constraint. The con is that only a limited number of guests could end up in the photos, because we still focus on the bride and groom most of the time during table visits. The other traditional way is to take posed table shot. To do this, guests need to get up and we need to arrange guests so that the center piece won’t block guests’ faces. Please plan about 3 minutes for each table if the bride and groom are planning the formal table shoot. If there are 10 tables, then it will take at least 30 minutes for the formal table shot.

The pro of this approach is that we can capture all the guests in the table. The con is that it could take lots of time and we are losing the candid moments to the posed photos. Sometimes, we could use a combined approach: we take formal table shots for 2-3 very important tables and take candid photos for the rest of general tables.

10. End of wedding day. At the end of the wedding day before we leave, if there is still 5-10 minutes left without much going on, then we will take photos for the bride and groom again. It takes us about 10 minutes to set up such a romantic night shot. Once it is ready, then we will ask the bride and groom to take the shot.

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