Wedding & elopement guide
You may be popping over on this page because you are a lovely wedding couple of mine and I have sent this over for you to take a peek at when planning your day. Or you may have landed on this page because you're looking to find out more information on how to make your wedding/elopement day honest and genuine. Either way, welcome my friends! This resource guide I placed together is truly meant as a tool to help couples create a day that's authentic and feels real for them. Bonus, it also talks a little bit about lighting (my personal favorite), wedding portraits and some unconventional places to consider for your day. Onward my friends!
STAY TRUE TO YOU
Creating and planning your day can come with a lot to-do's and while it's great to go down the list of wedding norms, my first and strongest suggestion to any couple is to create a day that really rings true to who you are. Let me repeat that, create a day that is completely true to who you two are.
Don't be afraid to step out of the box, say no to all the things that perhaps the wedding industry makes you feel like you have to have or do. Be bold and make a wedding + elopement that's completely your own. Whether that's choosing to get married on top of a mountain or in your family backyard, saying your vows during a first look, or shaking off any wedding traditions that just don't quite fit you two; I'm here to tell you that you can do things your own way to keep it truly sincere.
I'm also here not just as your wedding photographer but as a resource and a friend. I work closely with my couples to help create portraits that really reflect who they are. Whether that's helping you choose an unconventional place to get married, placing together your wedding day schedule so you have plenty of time for the portraits you want, lighting tips, vendor recos, or if you simply need to grab a beer or coffee and talk, I'm down. Whatever it may be, just know I'm here.
For many couples beginning their wedding/elopement planning starts with finding a place to share the day together, aka a venue. With planning a wedding of my own and while working with my couples, finding a wedding venue can be one of the more challenging parts of planning for a variety of reasons. While I was planning a wedding I didn't know the first thing about weddings so how was I to know what was normal and what wasn't for a venue, what was expensive and what was actually reasonable; and then on top of that finding a date that's available for a venue you like can be a whole other layer. That's why I put together this helpful resource when it comes to looking beyond the conventional wedding venue and into other options for your day. I truly believe it all comes back to staying true to who you are and creating a day that really fits you. If a ballroom wedding with a cost per fork and spoon just isn't your thing, then consider an elopement, or a small backyard wedding or an unconventional place such as a brewery, greenhouse or National Park. With a little out of the norm thinking options and some planning, you can build something that sets a truly authentic tone. With this, I would also suggest hiring a Wedding Coordinator. They can provide resources and help throughout planning and on the day-of so you can really focus on each other and enjoy the planning process as a collaboration rather than a major weight to carry on your own.
Above all, give yourselves the time and space to sit down and write out what your wedding or elopement looks like for you two when looking at a place to celebrate the day. Often times the most unconventional places will surprise you.
Think of natural light as a special guest appearance at your wedding or elopement. Natural light is the best type of light to capture in your photos and is a beautiful element to include throughout your day. I've dropped below a few main areas where natural light can bring your portraits to life.
GETTING READY // Lamps and overhead lights mixed with natural light can create an orange-ish tone in your portraits. I suggest getting ready for your day in an area with lots of windows and natural light, or opening up the area you're getting ready in by pulling back the curtains or opening up the blinds. Small, dim rooms don't always provide the best clean light. The area you get ready in should also be a space where you feel relaxed and have room to breathe.
CEREMONY // If you're planning for an indoor ceremony, natural light can truly be your best friend with large windows to bring in lots of natural light. This will give you stunning portraits and more room to capture those real moments. For outdoor ceremonies, two factors to consider with light are... time of day and direction of light. For ceremonies later in the morning or in the afternoon, the light can become fairly harsh but not to worry. With this time of day, it's best to "backlight" yourselves or place the sun behind your officiant or alter area. I'm happy to help assist with this and provide some additional information where the sun will be for your date and time of the ceremony. You can always find a bit of shade for your ceremony as well, but you may want to consider spotted light coming through the trees overhead and splashing on you and your other half. For ceremonies in the evening, I can help work with you on your day-of schedule so you'll have time to capture your ceremony, couple portraits and any group portraits before any daylight is lost. The first and last light of the day is the warmest in tone, also known as "Golden Hour", but we'll hit on this below a bit more.
GOLDEN HOUR // We've all experienced those beautiful warm sunsets in all their grand tones as they drop over the horizon. Golden hour is the hour before the sun sets and it's when the light has more air to cut through, therefore it's softer and contains warmer tones which gives you that gorgeous light in your portraits. Utilizing this time, also known as Golden Hour, is something I always try to place into every wedding schedule and plan any portrait session around. If you're okay with utilizing this time for photos, we'll fit it into the schedule.
RECEPTION // Receptions most often come after the sun has set or in a more low light area. Typically I will keep shooting with the natural light available until the dance party starts and then I will use my flash. For bands or DJ's with their own lighting setup, I ask that they keep the colored lights or dance party lights off for the first dance or special dances as this can give off different colors on your skin tone.
The time getting ready before your wedding or elopement is such a sincere time. Whether you're getting ready separately or together, it's the quiet time to yourselves where the day begins to feel very real. Below are a few tidbits to help capture the authenticity of this time.
LIGHT // Like I mentioned above, getting ready in a room with a lot of natural light is pretty dreamy.
ALL THE THINGS // Most of the time, you've got one space and a lot of getting ready to do. With this comes wedding party suitcases, clothes, hair and makeup tools and it can get a bit scattered. When I arrive, I normally help clean up a bit and shift a few things around so you won't get too much of that clutter in the background of your photos. You can also keep suitcases and such in a closet or another room.
THE TWO OF YOU // Getting ready for the both of you is equally a special time. I recommend having a room full of natural light for both of you. I also suggest throwing off the conventional norms if you would like to get ready together. Yes yes, I know this sounds a little out of the box but consider it if you'd like to maximize the time spent together on your big day. Elopement couples may want to consider this since it creates such a special element in getting ready together. Remember it's your day, so do what speaks to you both.
HAIR + MAKEUP // If you have the ability to bring in someone for hair and makeup, I always suggest this. Normally the hair and makeup individuals are great about keeping things on schedule and spending a quality amount of time on you both so you look and feel your best. Before the bride, or brides, hop into the dress(es), I'll ask if hair and makeup to do some last minute touch-ups by a window or a naturally lit area so we can get some stunning portraits of you.
More often couples are opting for a first look before their ceremony and this is something I definitely recommend. The first look is time to see each other before the ceremony and it gives you the space to celebrate, just the two of you. You two can laugh, cry, hug it out and simply express all that you're feeling for each other. For the fellow introverts (I feel ya!) it really gives you the opportunity to convey what you want to each other without having to do it front of everyone. You can also exchange your personal vows during this time or do something special for just the two of you.
Having a first look is not only sentimental but it can also take some stress off of you with the wedding day schedule. Along with the first look, you can also take couples portraits, family portraits and/or wedding party portraits before the ceremony if you'd like. That way you can enjoy the rest of the day's festivities instead of rounding people up for photos post ceremony.
A wedding day can be busy, understandably so, but the reason for the day is you two of course! Therefore I suggest placing in two timeframes for couples portraits: a time after your first look and a time during Golden Hour. During and after the flow of your first look, you two are connected, emotional, and so happy to see one another. This is a wonderful time to stay present and celebrate time for just you two. During Golden Hour, I'll normally sneak you two away before the last light of the day to get in a few more sentimental portraits as the sun drops. Sometimes stepping in front of the camera can bring about some nerves so I've created a quick guide here to help provide some tips and details on what to expect.
FAMILY + GROUP PORTRAITS
Typically the best time to capture family and wedding party photos is before the ceremony if you choose a first look. Or directly after the ceremony if you opt away from a first look or the schedule doesn't allow. Please take into consideration if you opt to take group portraits after the ceremony, then you'll want to add in a bit of time to gather everyone if they've gone off to get a drink or chat with other guests. Rest assured, I will work with you during the wedding planning process to get a rundown of family portraits you want and create a photo schedule for the day. For family groups, I normally suggest keeping it to 7 different groupings but no more than 10 family groupings if possible. Please know that I will not take additional family group portrait requests the day-of your wedding from your wedding guests or family members, only unless you two say it's okay. My first priority is you two, your energy and the flow of your day.
With our social media flowing and our ability to take photos at the snap of a camera phone, I do suggest an "unplugged wedding" or at least an "unplugged ceremony". This is when you kindly ask your family and friends to refrain from taking photos during your wedding and/or ceremony. This can help them truly be present during the day and not be so concerned with getting that perfect photo for social media. Instead it places their energy into enjoying the love and emotion of the day and between you two. This also provides the space and ability for me to capture the images for you and your guests to cherish rather than having sweet Aunt Sally (pictured above) snapping photos of an otherwise intimate moment and now forever being in your photo. If you choose to not have an unplugged wedding, then I do suggest requesting that guests don’t get into the aisles to take pictures and refrain from using their camera flash.
AND ABOVE aLL...
Weddings and elopements have their own unique, beautiful and unscripted moments and remember to embrace it all. Truly have a wedding that is your own, one that you'll look back on 30 years from now and say "that was really us in every way". With trust and collaboration, we'll create portraits that will bring you right back to the emotion of your day and last a lifetime.