As I was planning my own wedding, I was in agony because I paid SO much attention to details. I wanted every tiny thing to be perfect for photos. I mean, everything. But then I realized what a great position I was in to help others plan their weddings from a wedding photographer’s perspective. I posted a couple of TikTok videos and they blew up! Apparently, this topic is one that needs some attention. My TikTok videos gave rise to the Wedding Guide that includes my personal list of must-have photos, wedding selection tips, some great products from Amazon and Etsy, and some info on posing. It’s a nice little summary of all the things I have to share!
First up, selecting your wedding venue. This is probably the most important piece (other than having found beautiful love). For us, we wanted something intimate and a little quirky, and of course, within our budget. We looked high and low, in Texas, New Mexico, and even Colorado for a venue that would suit our needs and wants. We finally found a perfect little place outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico called Hacienda dona Andrea. With 15 rooms, a beautiful view, and a full commercial kitchen, we couldn’t go wrong with this place.
So more specifically, what was I looking for from a wedding photographer’s perspective? I wanted A LOT of natural light, a great outdoor location for our ceremony, color, and a large bridal suite. I personally prefer shooting outdoor ceremonies, even in harsh light (we’ll get to the timeline later). Indoor ceremonies usually require some sort of artificial on- or off-camera lighting, and that comes with a whole set of extra things that could go wrong. How many flashes do I have? FIVE. Because chances are, even with the best ones they make, one of them will overheat or just stop firing in the middle of the ceremony. No bueno. So, outdoor ceremonies are ideal in my eyes. If the weather is a concern, look for a venue that has a lot of natural light coming inside and light-colored walls to optimize the lighting in your photos. Photographers will typically “bounce” their flash off of a reflective wall, so if that wall happens to be dark, it won’t bounce as well and the images will be darker. If there aren’t any light-colored walls to bounce from, we generally have to point the flash closer in your direction, which causes shadows (bleh). All of this goes for your bridal suite as well! Make sure there is a place with a lot of natural light to get into your dress while staying out of your groom’s sight. Even in rooms with great artificial lighting, nothing beats the natural light of the sun.
Let’s talk about your timeline. Whether you’re opting for an outdoor or indoor ceremony, the timeline is so important for your photos. Depending on your location, the season, the amount of shade there is outside, and the direction your guests will be facing, usually late afternoon is best. The 2:00 ceremonies I’ve done without shade have been challenging, to say the least. The key here is to visit your venue at the time you want your ceremony to start. If there’s no shade and you’re getting married in August, you may want to consider a 6:00 ceremony for the sake of you and your guests, as well as the lighting. If there is shade and you’re getting married in November, 2:00 would probably be just fine! As far as all the other things that take place on your wedding day, here are some general guidelines for timing. Your photographer will typically need about 30 minutes to an hour to photograph your dress. If there isn’t a second shooter, consider delegating someone to help the photographer with the dress. It can be challenging to carry a very precious (and heavy) gown along with a camera and probably some extra lenses and a stepstool. For photos of your invitations, rings, shoes, and bouquet, you probably want to allow about an hour. Photos of the bride and bridesmaids getting ready takes about 30 minutes, and add on another 30 minuets for the groom and groomsmen photos of getting ready if you don’t have two photographers. A first look typically takes about 20 to 30 minutes. Your photographer will also need about 15 to 20 minutes to set up and get ready for the cerememony just before it starsts. Plan on about an hour to an hour and a half to get formal family and group photos after the ceremony, depending on your guest list. It will save time if you have a list made of the groupings you’d like to do and have those guests on deck, ready to go. Once all the groups are done, it’ll be time for photos of the the bride and groom. This could take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, so grab a snack if you need to. In my experience, it’s best to plan for a cocktail hour so you can eat with your guests and avoid scarfing down a roll before your first dance. Remember, this is about YOU, not your guests.
The things we are all guilty of forgetting about; all the tiny things. It wasn’t until my eighth wedding or so that I realized I needed to either remind my couples about certain things or make it my job to bring extra supplies. The main thing I notice that is overlooked at weddings, but so important, is your wedding dress hanger. There have been countless weddings where there is only a plastic hanger for this incredible gown. In my opinion, I think the bridal shop should just include a luxury hanger if you’re spending that much on a gown! But that’s just my two cents. If I’m your wedding photographer, you can count on me to bring a couple options for your dress hanger for photos. But, some photographers leave it to you to get that taken care of. You can find some adorable personalized ones on Etsy (the link is in my Wedding Guide toward the bottom). Next are ring boxes and ring cleaner. I’ve used my shirt to clean off so many beautiful diamond rings. Now, I bring a ring cleaning pen (link is also in the guide) with me to clean off your ring before I take super up-close photos of it. I’ve also had to improvise many times to photograph rings that are in a Jared or Zales box. If you want your rings in cute little plush boxes, grab some from Etsy (link in guide). For my wedding, I got one box for my groom with one slot, then one for my rings with two slots. There are literally thousands of options that are just adorable. You can go the velvet route, the glass route, or even wooden. Of course, boxes aren’t necessary, as I’ll probably grab shots of the rings in the bouquet, on top of your invitation, in some ribbon, etc. But, if you want them in a box, get a box that doesn’t have the store name on it.
Those are the main tiny things, but there are more tiny things. Like I said, I think of everything. Ever seen a bride holding a tissue and trying to put the groom’s ring on? I have. Not something I would want in the wedding photos that I look at for the next fifty years. The solution? Get a cute handkerchief that you can stuff in your dress when you need to and won’t bomb your photos. It can also be your “something blue” as well as a keepsake. Now, have you ever seen a groom pull out a folded-up piece of paper from his suit jacket to read his vows? Yep, I’ve seen that too. While the sentiment is cute, it’s not great for photos. Instead, opt for some customized matching vow books (link in guide).
I could go on and on, but those are the important things! You can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions. I’m happy to help, even if I’m not your photographer! Happy wedding planning!
- Whitney + Michael, 7.8.22
"Choosing Kensey to be our photographer for our wedding and engagement photos, was the best wedding decision we made! When planning for our wedding, we made a decision that photos were going to be our top priority since they last a lifetime and beyond.My family was blown away by how good Kensey was and kept asking me how I found her. It was definitely a blessing that I will be thankful for for a lifetime!"
"Kensey’s passion and dedication for making your wedding vision come to life is absolutely incredible."
- Kailey + Jared, 7.23.22
"Kensey was amazing from day one! I hired her to be the photographer for my daughter's engagement photos. We were so impressed that we booked her immediately for the wedding. She went above and beyond to make us happy and that is saying a lot considering we have such a big family! She went with the flow and anything we threw her direction she did with a smile on her face. She helped make my daughter's day the most perfect day and now we have the memories to prove it. Don't hesitate to book Kensey! Book her now!!"
"She went above and beyond to make us happy..."
- Kirsty + Collin, 12.3.21
My husband and I were so happy with Kensey. She is very professional, yet personable and fun! She’s invested in her couples and does everything she can to meet every need. She even had a sewing kit when my husbands button popped off of his jacket and held onto my shawl just in case I needed it during the wedding since it was a little chilly out! She is so easy to communicate with and captured so many amazing moments. We’re so happy with our photos and will cherish them for a lifetime.
"She’s invested in her couples and does everything she can to meet every need."