wedding picture

[For those who wish help with this aspect of the wedding plans, the following is my suggested procedure regarding pictures. Tell me any changes you might prefer. The point is to help your wedding be the way you want it and to be the nicest it can for you, your family, and your guests. Then there will be more of the kinds of pictures you will like as well -- whether formally posed, informally posed, or candids.] 

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Bride and Bridesmaids

If the bride and her bridesmaids are dressing in the same room, then, insofar as it is possible and convenient for them, I would like them all to change clothes at the same time, so that I will not have to be out of the room more than one short time. Then I can take as many good candids of the bride's getting ready as reasonable (hair or makeup, buttons, adjusting the veil, mother-daughter interaction, bride-bridesmaids interaction, etc.). As soon as the bride has on her dress, I would like to come back in to photograph some of those finishing touches. I cannot do that if bridesmaids are still changing. 

About 10 minutes before the ceremony the bride and her parents may spend a few quiet moments together IF they wish to do that; and then likewise with the bride and her father after her mother leaves to be seated. If the bride would rather have her bridesmaids remain at that time, that is fine; some like it one way, some the other -- whatever is most helpful for the bride in collecting her thoughts before the ceremony. 

Getting Ready

I normally come to the wedding one to one and a half hours before just to look around and get to know the family and wedding party as they arrive and to shoot pictures as they become available. You do NOT need to be that early. I generally take mostly candids (such as the bride getting ready) and less formally posed groupings (such as the bride with her parents in a room other than the sanctuary, the groom with his parents, etc.) before the ceremony, since it is unnecessarily stressful(1) for the families and wedding party to have to pose for formal pictures early, so whatever time you arrive will be fine -- you and your family and wedding party do NOT need to be ready for formal pictures ahead of time. In fact, it usually works out better for the bride's nerves if she finishes getting ready just about 15-20 minutes before the ceremony. If the groom and groomsmen arrive dressed early enough, I usually take their pictures beforehand at the altar; if they don't I take them after the ceremony also.

If, after considering this, you wish to take all the formal pictures before the wedding, I will be happy to do that.

If the bride's or groom's parents are divorced and/or remarried, we will arrange the groups however you would like them to be. Just be sure to inform any 'step' parents and 'step' or 'half' siblings how that will be. Normally I will do the pictures in the order that allows the person most responsible for the reception details to get done first, usually this is the bride's mother, and therefore I will usually photograph the bride's mother's family first in the case of the bride's parents' being divorced. 
If the above people are ready, the formal pictures will only take 10 to 15 minutes. If they are not, it will take longer. So please be sure that everyone KNOWS ahead of time that they are supposed to be available for the family and group pictures after the ceremony. 

If the bride's parents and the groom's parents are all present and married to each other, the second picture will be of the bride and groom with both sets of parents. After this picture the bride's parents may go to the reception. 

  The remaining pictures will be: 

  • 3) the couple and minister (which I often take first if the minister is still at the altar when we return to it, since that picture is pretty easy to do and takes almost no time); 
  • 4) the groom's family (bride and groom, his parents, grandparents, siblings and their spouses and children); 
  • 5) then the couple and entire wedding party; 
  • 6) then the couple and honor attendants (best man and maid of honor) 
  • 7) then the couple; 
  • 8) then the bride by herself in a full-length picture. 

 All this should only take about 10-15 minutes and then you can be on to the reception. This time frame normally is comfortable for your guests as long as they have access to the reception room and as long as there is something for them to eat or drink and they can visit with each other, look at the wedding cake, etc. If the caterer does not allow them into the reception room or allow them to have anything to taste or drink before the bride and groom arrive, it will seem much longer to the guests and they will become uncomfortable. 
Some caterers or churches recommend that the bride and groom cut the cake immediately upon leaving the ceremony, with no one watching except the photographer. I think this is unfair to the parents and to the guests, and robs them all of a chance to see, and comment at (or heckle), a fun part of the reception. Moreover, it takes the bride and groom away from family and attendants right at the time that is often the most enjoyable part of the wedding --the greetings and joy and relief right after the ceremony is all over. That is a very emotional and wonderful time usually; and it is taken away if you are off cutting the cake just so it could be served a few minutes sooner than it would be anyway. 



The formal pictures of the families and the wedding party will be shot immediately after the ceremony, so it is important that: 

1) After the ceremony, as you all march out and back around to where we will be taking pictures, NO ONE should stray away or stop for any reason to talk to guests or members of the congregation -- since if you stop to talk to one person, everybody else will gather around you to talk and you will never get back to the altar for pictures. 

Of course you may congratulate and enjoy each other after the ceremony; that is a really exciting, emotional, and wonderful time together -- one of the best of the wedding. I just do not want anyone listed below to get caught up with "outside" guests or to go wandering off. 

2) ALL the wedding party members and ALL the family members should be ready for these group picture, and not be missing. The people in the wedding party will simply follow the bride and groom out from the ceremony and around the route to where the formal pictures will be taken -- usually back to the altar. Parents of the bride also usually follow that route. Grandparents and great-g rand parents MAY also follow, but IF it is at all difficult for them to get around, it would be better for them to remain seated after the ceremony so they will be ready for family pictures when we all return to the altar, if that is acceptable to everyone. 
3) The first pictures will be the bride's family so that the bride's parents can get to the reception right away. These pictures will be the bride and groom, the bride's parents, brothers and sisters AND THEIR SPOUSES AND CHILDREN, if any, and the bride's grandparents. (If the parents of either the bride or the groom are divorced and want the family pictures to be separate, I normally do the mother's family picture first and then the father's family picture.) 

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The following people need to be informed at the rehearsal, or before, that they are needed for the formal pictures at the altar.  Please MAKE CERTAIN THEY KNOW to be present for these pictures (to be taken immediately after the ceremony, unless we have arranged a different time.) 

  • The families of the bride and the groom (please be sure to inform the parents of the groom so they inform their family members): 
    • Bride & Groom 
    • Parents' of the bride and groom 
    • Grandparents of the bride and groom 
    • Great-grandparents 
    • Brothers & Sisters of the bride and groom 
    • The Spouses of the brothers and sisters 
    • The children of the brothers and sisters 
  • The minister 
  • All members of the wedding party 
  • Anyone else that you would like


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At the reception, unless it is a dinner, I recommend that we take the cake cutting (and toast, if there is one) pictures as soon as possible -- with your guests being able to watch, because that is a fun event for them -- so that the cake can be served as soon as people are ready to eat. Then I will leave you alone to greet your guests, while I remain nearby to take candid pictures and whatever "requests" you might think of as the reception proceeds. 
If the reception is a dinner, the cake cutting is usually better to do when people are about ready for their dessert. 


At the end of the reception, please let me know when you are about to leave or about to change to your traveling clothes, so I can properly prepare for those last minute, usually hectic, pictures of your leaving. If you throw the garter and/or bouquet, I would like to be able to line everyone up so that everyone can see, and so that the people can be in position who are eligible to catch the items. First the bachelors will line up to catch the garter after the groom removes it from the bride's leg; then we move out those fellows from that spot and allow the eligible women to get in place to catch the bouquet. Then have everyone step aside from the path of the bride and groom to the car, so that you can make a dash to the car as everyone showers you from the sides with rice, birdseed, bubbles, or rose petals. This usually makes it the most fun for everyone since no one feels they did not get to participate or watch. And it allows me to get better pictures of it all. It makes it a bit less hectic for you. Plus, it ends the event with a flourish. 

1. While I understand that some photographers take too long to do the pictures after the wedding, I am not one of them. Those pictures should go very quickly, and you will be at your reception before any of the guests really are looking for you. Trying to do pictures before the wedding, however, while it is easier for me in certain ways, is often much more difficult for you and that is why I tend to recommend against it -- especially if the bride and groom do not want to see each other before the ceremony. 
The main problems trying to do pictures before the wedding are that with all the usual commotion and final attention to coordination and communication of details, the pictures take much longer, there is much more stress on you, it starts your day too early, and it leaves the bride dressed and ready with almost nothing to do for 45 minutes before the ceremony -- often unable to sit for fear of wrinkling her dress; it is an extremely nervous time that way for most brides. I would prefer to work my pictures around your wedding rather than for you to worry about working your wedding around the pictures. 
Also, since almost all the pictures after the ceremony have the bride and groom in them together, if the couple is not going to see each other before the ceremony, not much time is saved at all by doing some pictures before anyway.

If, after considering this, you wish to take all the formal pictures before the wedding, I will be happy to do that.