This is a guide that will help me get great images on your day. I'm going to make many recommendations, however, everything that follows is just a suggestion. It's your wedding day and I'm happy to capture it however it unfolds.
I would love to take preparation photos of both of you if you two are up for it. Even when I have a second photographer, I still try to make it to at least part of both of you getting ready. I also like to get to know both sides of the wedding party as the day gets started. Let's work on your schedule to make this happen if it's important to you.
Hotel rooms are great, but can sometimes become cramped when you have a few people getting ready. Consider using an airbnb with some character (and you usually get a kitchen to allow for snacks and lunch). Rental homes also allow for way more natural light. Look for lots of windows and white walls so you don't get weird color casts onto your skin.
Please save 2 copies of your invitation suite if you'd like them photographed. Also, please have any other details gathered together out of its packaging and tags off (rings, shoes, jewelry, heirlooms, etc.).
Natural light is the most flattering (meaning not light from a bulb, think window light). If possible, set up your hair and makeup near the biggest window in the room.
Add lots of buffer in your getting ready schedule. Hair and makeup usually runs late and it's better to have to have too much time rather than rushing to the next thing. Also, if you want photos of you both getting ready, you don't necessarily need a second photographer. I can work with your schedule if you're getting ready near each other or would like to do finishing touches at the venue. Read below for schedule suggestions.
A Note About The "Robe Shot"
If you plan to have matching robes and would like a photo everyone in their robes, please add 20 minutes to your getting ready schedule. If you want to forgo this photo, I will simply ask them to put their bridesmaid dress on when they are done with hair and makeup. I only include this because I've seen robe photos eat away at the chance to have ample first look times or other portrait times.
Should you see each other before the ceremony? It does allow you to spend more of the day together and it calms some nerves that you may have. You also get to talk about seeing each other and your mornings (as opposed to seeing each other during a formal ceremony). We can also fit more into the schedule ahead of the ceremony so you can get to your cocktail hour more quickly. BUT, I also love a good first look during the ceremony, so it's completely up to you!
Generally, depending on the time of year, 10am-3pm is when light is the harshest. Having a first look, outdoor ceremony, or reception in full sun during this time creates a lot of contrast and shadows on people's faces. If possible, try backlighting your ceremony (have the sun behind the officiant). This creates more even light.
Asking your guests to put their devices away during your ceremony allows you to see your guests faces, for them to be more present at your ceremony, and for people to not look like they are texting in your photos. Some compromises could be:
1) Having you officiant announce a time where people can stand and take photos and then have them put them away for the rest of the time,
2) Placing "cell phone free spot" signs on all your aisle seats.
The only time I'll gently ask a guest to move is if they are in the aisle and interfering with a shot (unless you prefer I didn't).
If you only take one thing away from the guide, please just follow this one suggestion: Do sunset portraits. It's a great time to take a breather with each other and get some amazing portraits. The lighting is best at this time of day and we'll only need 15-20 minutes (but I'll take as much time as you'll willing to give).
I try to only use flash when absolutely necessary (often when people are dancing). Adding lots of market lights and candles helps tremendously to get a beautiful and romantic mood in your images.
If possible, don't place a vase for your bouquet in front of you at your table. Also, if you sitting at a long table, try not to seat people in front of you two. Both of these are so I can see your reactions during toasts. Snuggling up close to each other doesn't hurt either.
12:30 Photographer Arrival, Getting Ready and Details
1:30 Finish Dressing
2:00 First Look, Whole Wedding Party (Maybe Even Immediate Family Photos)
3:00 End Formal Photography (details photos and people arriving)
4:00 Family Photos
4:30 Join Cocktail Hour
5:00 Grand Entrance
7:00 Sunset photos
7:40 First Dances
8:00 Open Dancing
8:20 Cake Cutting
8:30 Photography Finished - Continue your party!
I would love to help you write your wedding day schedule as it pertains to photography. Let me know if you'd like any input at all.
I'm available by phone, e-mail or we can grab coffee if you need help thinking through any of this. Please don't hesitate to connect with me. As your wedding day gets closer I will be in touch about your schedule and family photo list.