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Best photography practices for the wedding day

As a photographer who has been in business for a little over 14 years, I know a few things about creating an effective timeline that allows you to enjoy yourself and make sure you do all your photos without any stress. Read below for my top tips to make this a walk in the park! Just remember that this is YOUR day, so if you’re going to take away one thing from this entire post, let it be this: design it in a way that will maximize your own enjoyment.

First things first: Getting Ready.
Allow your photographer time to capture some candid images and photos of your dress, shoes, and other important details. 60-90 minutes for these photos is ideal. Consider choosing a location that is open, spacious and filled with light, as this will be the backdrop of your very first photos of the day. 

This is your day, consider a First Look

This is a perfect opportunity to shake the nervousness and greet each other with love before your vows. It is also an amazing photo opportunity since it’s such a heartfelt and intimate moment. Bonus: you won’t have to worry about couple photos after the ceremony. Allow 20-40 minutes for first look/couple photos.

Time for portraits: Formals

Make a list of the people to be included in formals, or ask your photographer for guidance. Allow 20-30 minutes for these, and remember that if you’re doing a first look, you can add these to the tail end of that portion of the day and be done with photos even before the ceremony starts!

Telling the whole story

Details + Guests:

If you’ve done family and couple photos before cocktail hour, you’re all set! Your photographer will be busy capturing shots of reception designs and some candids of your guests. If you’ll be doing photos during this time, make sure you allow 30-40 minutes for details and guest photos, and in the meantime, relax and recharge.

Party time: Reception.
Party time is mostly candid, but if you are planning a big exit shot, remember that you don’t have to wait until the end. You can stage it with a handful of your guests and make sure your hair and makeup are still in top shape for this last shot. Ask your photographer for guidance on this!

How much photography coverage do you need?

It’s all relative as to what you prioritize during this day. Do you prefer to have more party photos and photos with your guests? Or would you rather have your photographer arrive early on to capture portraits, candids and other “frame-able” images? Once you decide this, think of when would be the ideal time of departure of your photographer and then count backwards until you reach their ideal arrival time. Most weddings will need anywhere between 8-11 hours of coverage, depending on how much reception coverage they need. Keeping in mind the advised times for getting ready, first look and formals, now do the time math and voila! You’ll know exactly how much time you and your photographer need together.

Timing is everything

Take into consideration any extra time-consuming details that may occur at the beginning of the day while you are getting ready. Do you have a gift to open? Are you exchanging letters with your soon to be spouse? Are there any special moments that you want to have with a loved one? Does your dress or tux take an army to get into? Do you want to take sunset photos? Scheduling time for each of these things will keep you on track and from falling behind schedule. 

Even the most organized couple with the most well thought out timeline can find themselves a little behind schedule on the big day. Sometimes things don’t go exactly as planned. People can get caught in traffic, a dress can malfunction and things might take a little bit longer than you expect. Adding an extra 15 minutes to your getting ready time, travel times and portrait time will help keep things running smoothly.

And on to a few other useful tips:

Transportation: Booking a party bus or limousine if you have to travel on a wedding day keeps your whole party together without having to worry about anyone getting lost, broken down, etc…Also, make sure that you communicate ahead of time with your driver exactly where they will be taking you, addresses and all!

Skip the receiving line: Unless you have your heart set on shaking the hands of 200 plus guests, feel free to ditch this super time-consuming tradition. If you are able to go to your cocktail hour, that is the perfect time to mingle with your guests and doesn’t take up any extra time!

Trust your vendors

When selecting which companies you will be hiring to make your wedding day perfect, it is of the utmost importance that you put your full trust into these professionals. Micromanaging could cause a delay in the timeline because you have to focus on all the details instead of celebrating your wedding day.

Working with wedding planners can help your vision and enhance it to make this truly the wedding of your dreams. And bonus, on the wedding day you celebrate it stress free, knowing there is someone in charge of making everything run smoothly.

Wedding planning, and sometimes even the wedding day, can be stressful but it doesn’t have to be. All of the things that I’ve shared here are based on the experience that I’ve gained from shooting dozens of weddings. I know that following these tips will help make your day run a lot easier. If you’d like to talk to me more about your wedding day, please send me a message.

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I’m Diana, a Film and Digital PHOTOGRAPHER in NYC & beyond

I believe in the magic that happens when people feel comfortable, allowing their true selves to shine. Real emotion is the secret ingredient that turns a photo into a precious memory. But it’s not just about the final images; it’s about having a great time while creating them. 




Wedding and Portrait Photography in New York City and beyond

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