Whether you're a client of mine or not, your photography will be one of the most important aspects of your wedding. After the party's over, after all the flowers are gone, the gifts are opened, and after the years have passed, your photographs will still be there to bring you back to this day- this incredible time in your lives!
I created this guide for anyone getting married that wants to make the most of their photography. Share this with your planner, your mom, your maid-of-honor, or anyone who's helping you plan out your day. These insider tips, ideas, and guidelines will give you the knowledge to make your day go smoothly as possible. So get a cup of coffee, sit down, and dig in!
The venue and locations you choose for your wedding will make a huge impact on your photos. First and foremost, you'll want to choose a venue that reflects your own style. Really think about what you're drawn to- what excites you? The more creative you can get, the more personal your wedding will be. The best thing about weddings these days, is that the days of the traditional, cookie-cutter weddings are over! Anyone can plan a fantastic, memorable wedding day that showcases their own personal style. Get creative- have fun! It's your day, do what makes you happy!
If you prefer a rustic style, you might want to consider a barn wedding. If you like a more industrial chic style (think delicate florals, antiques, and industrial elements), maybe a brewery or warehouse wedding would be perfect.
Other ideas include romantic vineyard weddings, bohemian style weddings on the beach, or vintage weddings in historical settings. There are so many fantastic wedding venues in Michigan, and if you're leaning towards a natural setting, Michigan is abundant in woods, lakes, beaches, sand dunes, even mountains (in the UP)!
For the most seamless and stress-free day, have your wedding and reception in the same location! If you have to have your ceremony and reception in different locations, try to keep the style of the settings cohesive so your images will flow nicely.
If you need any advice or recommendations for the wedding venues in Michigan, get in touch! I'd love to help you find the perfect location! If you're planning a destination wedding or elopement, or you're in another state or country, use these guidelines to find your perfect wedding spot. Your wedding should be a reflection of your unique personality and style as a couple
The portion of the day before your ceremony, when everyone is preparing for the main event, is a great time for me to capture beautiful images! The air is filled with excitement and anticipation. But sometimes the energy is ruined by the aesthetic. A cluttered, messy, dark room takes away from the genuine moments happening and the beauty of the morning. Here are some things to keep in mind:
Choose a great location to get ready in. Keeping with the overall style of your wedding day is an important thing that most people don't even consider. If you're having an elegant vintage wedding at a gorgeous venue, and are getting ready at a generic, poorly lit room at the nearest hotel, it just doesn't mesh well. Consider looking into renting a well-lit Airbnb. Oftentimes you can find a beautiful flat or house that's decor will match your style!
CLUTTER: I know there is a lot going on, but try to keep clutter hidden and to a minimum. Keep bags, suitcases, laundry, etc in a different room, or the closet. I often do a short sweep when I arrive to clean up the area anyways!
LIGHTING: In a perfect world, the room you get ready in will be spacious, clean, have white or light neutral walls, and have plenty of large windows and natural light. Window light is my favorite light. Having an orange tungsten light mixed in with the window is not ideal for color. So I always prefer to turn all lights off and rely only on window light whenever possible!
HAIR + MAKEUP: If you will have a hair/makeup artist, they'll prefer lots of bright window light, too. I suggest setting up next to the window, for them and for me! Don’t forget about the groom! Sometimes the groom gets left with the dark tiny room. He is just as important, and his photos will look way better in a well lit room.
GETTING DRESSED: Give yourself plenty of time to get dressed! Things usually start running behind, the closer to the ceremony start time. Give yourself at least 15 minutes just to get your dress on, and then leave yourself extra time to take care of any last-minute things like figuring out how to bustle a dress, gathering everything you need, doing last minute hair and makeup touch-ups, etc. It's also a good idea to reserve a little bit of time to share with your parents, if they'll be present before the ceremony.
Consider getting ready together. Sometimes the best moments are captured when a couple is getting ready together! My husband and I went this route, and I wouldn't change it. He helped me get into my dress, I helped him with his tie, and we'll always remember those moments together, sharing laughter, nerves, and anticipation for our ceremony.
A First Look is when the bride and groom see each other for the first time in a more private setting before the walk down the aisle. It doesn’t have to be a big staged moment. It can be simple, genuine and intimate.
Let me tell you why I love them:
IT TAKES THE PRESSURE OFF. Your nerves are guaranteed to be a factor during your wedding ceremony. A First Look takes a lot of the pressure away, because you've already seen each other and had a chance to calm each others nerves. You'll be much more relaxed during the ceremony.
YOU ARE FRESH. You just had your hair and makeup done. You aren't all sweaty yet. Your clothes are clean and wrinkle free.
IT MAKES THE TIMELINE EASIER TO WORK WITH. If you can see each other before the ceremony, we can do all family portraits and bridal party photos before too. Your family can go enjoy the cocktail hour right after the ceremony, and we can get to couple portraits right away. Which means you miss less of your cocktail hour too!
*It's best to keep this moment just between the two of you. No moms, no bridal party, no one but just the two of you. And me there to document it. This is such a beautiful moment, meant for the two of you to cherish alone, and I recommend keeping it as private as possible!
If you’ve always dreamed of the walk down the aisle as the first glimpse of each other, then we’ll do it that way. It’s your day!
Most of the time on your wedding day I'll be capturing moments, documenting the events of the day, and telling your story through photographs. Even though they're not the most creative part of the day, family and wedding party portraits are important, and I do them at every wedding. Most of the time its a very short list, with the immediate family, plus bridal party. The amount of time needed will obviously differ for different photographers, but I like to do them as quickly as possible, so everyone can get back to the celebration.
I help all of my clients plan out their group portraits ahead of time, so there are no surprises and everything flows seamlessly. I recommend limiting family portraits to 10 or less groupings, to maximize time. When there are tricky situation like divorced parents, it's good to have a game plan figured out to avoid stressful situations. When you work with me, you and I will fill out a worksheet designed to map out the family and group portraits so you don't have to worry about it.
Wedding party photos are usually kept pretty simple- I take a few shots of each side of the wedding party, then the entire wedding party together. Very easy, no stress, no being made to pose in front of a camera for long periods of time while everyone else is celebrating!
Family portraits work best prior to the ceremony.
The best time for family and bridal party portraits is before the ceremony. Everyone is ready to go and no one will miss any cocktail hour or reception time.
If we’re taking just a handful of shots (parents, immediate family, bridal party) then about 20 minutes is plenty of time. I recommend keeping the list short, because on your wedding day smiling at the camera posed with tons of different groups will get tiring!
LOCATION: You might have your heart set on a certain location or backdrop for your photos. However, sometimes the light doesn’t want to cooperate with your intentions, bringing harsh shadows streaming across your faces, spotty light coming from trees, or blinding light coming in your eyes causing you to squint constantly. If the quality of light isn’t good, then your photos won’t be good, and I will move you to a better spot.
Simple, clean backgrounds are the second most important factor. So, even though your wedding might be at an amazingly gorgeous venue, having group portraits with nice, even light and a clean background is most important.
This is truly my favorite part of the day! I love capturing just the two of you, on this incredibly special day- your love, your connection, your emotions, and your vibes. These are the photos that you'll share for the rest of your lives with your family and friends and each other.
Photographers all shoot differently and work at a very different pace, so this part might differ a lot for each photographer. I’ve done weddings where I have 2 hours of time allotted for portraits, and weddings where we only have 15 minutes to shoot because of schedule delays. Either way, we are always able to get enough couple portraits in whatever time we have. As far as ideal time however, here is what I tell my couples:
I recommend two portrait time slots for portraits of just you two together: right after the ceremony for 20 minutes, and at sunset for about 20 minutes.
Why after the ceremony? Because the pressure is off, and you’ve just tied the knot! You're in love, and full of excitement. I’ve gotten some of the best, most genuine joyful moments at this time.
Why before sunset? Because its when we get the best light, At sunset we’ll get great golden light. And right after the sun disappears we’ll get some of the best moody light in which I love to shoot. If your ceremony is later in the day or late season when daylight is shorter, we'll just merge these two into one, for about 30min total.
The most important thing to ensure we get great photos is trust. If you trust me to create the photos you’ll love, I’ll be able to do my thing and guide and direct you well. It’s all about collaboration and trust!
Your wedding ceremony is going to be amazing, it will fly by in the blink of an eye, and I'll be there to capture it so you can re-live those moments for the rest of your lives.
Ceremonies in nature are my favorite: the setting, the light, and the freedom for me to shoot all around. For outdoor ceremonies, light and sun are super important factors in the photos. Spotty sun light and harsh uneven light are not ideal. So if you’re having your ceremony midday, try to always have the light coming from behind you (the couple), so you are back-lit evenly.
You could also plan your ceremony later in the day, so the light is nicer, closer to sunset. Just be sure to leave enough time for any delays, as well as couple portraits around sunset.
For indoor ceremonies, you might not be able to do anything about the lighting, and that's ok- I can still capture your ceremony and all the moments during it.
RAIN PLAN: No one wants to think it’s going to rain on their wedding day, but having a plan can help to relieve the stress if it does. Lighting is absolutely the #1 aspect that I'm always working with, and natural, outdoor lighting is always the best light! Of course, if it’s raining cats and dogs, it's better to have a backup plan just in case.
Clear umbrellas can be bought in bulk on Amazon. Having a pop-up canopy handy for smaller weddings has worked in the past. For larger weddings, having a tent or backup area indoors can be a relief if it downpours. (Just a note- I have no problem shooting in the rain!)
UNPLUGGED CEREMONY: An unplugged ceremony is when you ask your guests to refrain from taking any photos. Asking your guests not to use cameras or cell phones allows all guests to really take in your ceremony, without fussing with cell phones and flashes. It also keeps guests out of the aisle during your ceremony (blocking me). If you ask, your officiant will usually be more than happy to make an announcement before the ceremony starts, asking guests to silence their phones and refrain from taking photos during the ceremony.
RECEIVING LINES: They can be very time consuming, especially for a medium/large wedding guest list. They can also get very exhausting and they take away from the burst of excitement right after the ceremony. However, I do love the energy right after you walk down the aisle, and your wedding party or family walks out and greets you, hugs you, kisses you, etc. So having a few minutes there to laugh and love is great. I just recommend that it not become a 20-40 minute event. Of course, its up to you and I’ll work around your schedule! Many of my couples opt instead to greet and mingle with guests during dinner.
Space out. During the processional, space each couple out far enough so that they won't be bunched up in the photos. You don't want one couple blocking another couple's faces. The same goes for flower girls and ring bearers. When you walk down the aisle, try keep your gaze on your fiance. Have everyone walk slowly and not rush down the aisle.
Face each other. At the altar, don't face the guests, and don't face the officiant (unless it's required)- face each other! Stand close- about 2-3 ft. apart. You'd be surprised at how far apart couples stand sometimes, and that space is amplified in photos! After you exchange rings, hold hands and keep each other's gaze. Forget the audience, and that I'm there with my camera. Try to enjoy and be present in the moment!
If you are unsure, feel free to ask me anything about your ceremony and I’d be happy to help!
LIGHTING: Capturing the mood of your event is very important to me. That's why I shoot using natural light as much as possible. This means instead of setting up a bunch of big lighting equipment up, I prefer using the available light already in the space, and one small on-camera flash (if needed). I don't like lugging around a bunch of lighting equipment, and it helps me to blend in better.
Having a few candles around may feel great, but will likely not be enough light for me to capture your reception without using flash! Candles and lanterns are awesome for soft, warm, cozy light, but please supplement that light (it's dim!) with other lighting. I recommend using market lights or similar string lights. I can work with any space or lighting condition, but for outdoor, open air receptions, the more lights the better...
DJ LIGHTS: While colored/flashy lights that your DJ provides might be fun for party time, they can destroy the romantic mood of your first dance and special dances. If you are having colorful lights, I ask that they be turned off for special dances. For party time, go crazy with them if you want!
DINNER: Most wedding days are fairly long, and I burn a ton of calories. After a few hours, I tend to start getting very hungry (dare i say- hangry?) and that messes with my ability to think and create. It's ideal for me to be served as soon as dinner begins. so that I can eat quickly while guests are eating and be done in time for any toasts or dances that might happen during or at the end of dinner. The easiest way to do this is for me to be considered a “guest” as opposed to a “vendor.” Some caterers insist on serving vendors at the end of the meal, so please make sure you speak to your caterer about this so I don’t miss anything! If you have a buffet, I’m happy to go through it and grab my own food too of course! I'm gluten-free and don't eat beef, pork, or chicken. Most caterers/chefs are more than happy to accommodate :)
I've been photographing weddings full time for three years, and part time for six, so I have a pretty good idea now of how much time I need to cover the different aspects of your day. This varies from wedding to wedding, but typically these are the amounts of time I need:
Getting Ready: 60-90 minutes
First Look: 15 minutes
Family Portraits: 30 minutes
Wedding Party: 15 minutes
Couple Portraits: at least 30 minutes, preferably two sets of 20 minutes)
To give you a better idea of what this looks like, I've put together two sample timelines- with a First Look, and without. Of course, these are just an example, to give you an idea of how things could go, but are customizeable to your own wedding timeline.
With a First Look + Group Portraits Before Ceremony:
2:00 First look
2:30 Family Portraits
3:00 Wedding Party
4:45 Couple Portraits
5:30 Reception Begins
8:00 Sunset/Dance Floor Opens - Together Portraits
Without a First Look:
4:45 Couple Portraits
5:15 Family Portraits
5:45 Wedding Party Portraits
6:00 Reception Begins
7:00 Sunset Portraits
8:00 Dance Floor Opens
Keep in mind that sunset times vary by season. I recommend researching sunset times for your location and date before you plan out your timeline!
A NOTE ABOUT PADDING: It's always best to make sure you "pad" your timeline so that if things run over (which they always do!!!) you won't be crunched for time. It's the worst feeling when you've spent all this effort getting your timeline perfected and something ends up taking longer than expected and then you're stressed out the rest of the day or feel rushed. Some of the things that typically take longer than planned or are:
Hair and Makeup: if the stylist says 45 minutes for makeup, plan on at least an hour and a half!
The Ceremony: oftentimes the ceremony doesn't start exactly when planned because of unexpected things happening just before (I once had a bride accidentally dump her makeup all down her dress 5 minutes before the ceremony), or guests coming in late, etc.
After the Ceremony: sometimes couples think we'll be able to squeeze couples portraits, family portraits, and wedding party portraits in just an hour after the ceremony. While it can usually be done, it's typically very rushed and stressful. Don't forget to account for the time it takes to sign the marriage licenses, and the time for family and guests who will (guaranteed) be coming up to congratulate you!
Be sure to involve me when planning your wedding day timeline! I want to make sure you're getting the best experience, and the best photos, and part of that is making sure I have enough time to do a great job.
SHOULD WE ADD A SECOND PHOTOGRAPHER?
Sometimes a second photographer can be awesome, because you get a bigger variety of shots and angles. For large weddings or extra long weddings, a second photographer can be awesome! However, when it’s just me, I can blend in and be less intrusive while still covering all of the important moments. So I leave this up to you to decide!
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE FOR US TO GET OUR PHOTOS?
I want you to have your photos as soon as possible! It depends on the season, but you will have your images within six weeks after your wedding. I usually post a “sneak peek” on my Facebook Business page within 48 hours so make sure we’re Facebook friends so that I can tag you!
DO YOU EDIT/RETOUCH THE IMAGES?
Every last image you receive from me will be carefully and creatively edited in Lightroom and Photoshop in my signature style. Post production is what makes my style unique, and no un-edited photos are ever released. As far as retouching, I believe in telling stories naturally, and with authenticity. I will do minor retouching, but nothing over the top like making people skinnier/younger/etc. Trust me- you are beautiful!
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN DOING THIS?
I always feel like this is kind of a funny question! Because I’ve been obsessed with taking photos since I was very young. So technically, I’d say I’ve been a photographer since age 7 or 8? But I’ve been photographing weddings full time for over three years.
DO YOU CARRY INSURANCE?
Yes! Lume Photography has full wedding photographer business insurance and I’m happy to provide your venue with an insurance certificate upon request.
HOW DO I BOOK YOU?
Contact me through my website, by email at email@example.com, or call 248-660-9187 to inquire. If I am available for your date, we’ll set up a time to meet in-person or over the phone, to get to know each other and go over details. I'd love to hear from you!
HOW SOON DO I NEED TO BOOK YOU?
I recommend getting in touch as soon as you have your date and venue booked. My calendar fills up pretty quickly, especially in peak wedding months, so don’t wait!