HELLO LOVE BIRDS
This guide is here to help you through the wedding photography process. I'll talk a bit about my philosophy as a wedding photographer, my aesthetic (check out a deeper understanding of My Style Here) + lighting, and how you can prepare so that your wedding images are created with authenticity and intimacy.
Here is an overview of our working timeline together from the day you hire me to the delivery of your wedding images.
STEP 1. LET’S CHAT!
I love getting to know my couples before diving in. We'll chat on the phone about the two of you as a couple, your wedding plans, and the investment.
STEP 2. THE E-SESSION
If you'd like to schedule an engagement session (you totally should!) we'll decide on the details together and get it on the books! To start planning your E-session, check out my Engagement Guide.
STEP 3. THE PHOTOGRAPHER’S TIMELINE
Your timeline is super important to me as your wedding photographer. We’ll plan the day with the best light – and timing that works for you – that’s the key to creating the most natural and beautiful photographs. To help us with creating the timeline, I’ve curated a lovely questionnaire with both personal and logistical questions on there. The personal questions are so I can get to know you, your relationships, and your family. The logistical is well…logistical.
If you have a wedding planner or coordinator, please connect us so that we can all work together (coordinators are my best friends when it comes to timelines!).
STEP 4. PREPARING FOR TRAVEL
If I’m traveling from out of state to photograph your wedding, I’ll arrive at least 1-2 days before the wedding to allot for traveling wiggle room. I’ll book all of my reservations at least 4 months out from your date but please me know if you have any suggestions on hotels, restaurants or activities in the area.
STEP 5. LET’S FINALIZE THE DETAILS
I’ll contact you about a month before your wedding date to finalize details. We can set up a phone call or meet for coffee if your close to Frederick.
STEP 6. YOUR WEDDING
We’ll create. We’ll cry. We’ll dance. It’s amazing!
STEP 7. YOUR SNEAK PEEKS
I’ll be posting some previews to my Instagram shortly after your wedding, so please follow along! @emgudephoto
STEP 8. POST PRODUCTION + DELIVERY
It takes up to 3 months to organize, hand-edit and upload each photo. When I'm finished, you’ll receive your own online gallery and a gift to you will be on its way! You'll be able to share your online gallery with friends and family who will be able to purchase prints there as well!
STEP 8. LET’S KEEP IN TOUCH!
I’m always a little sad to say goodbye at the end of a wedding day. Please keep me in mind for anniversary photos, your friend’s weddings and future family photos! I love my clients and am so thrilled to be there for them throughout their biggest life events!
PREPARING FOR YOUR TIMELINE
This curated timeline is here to help you plan a kick-ass wedding. It is in no way a rulebook because every wedding is different. I’m super easy going and if you have any questions at all, I am more than happy to help.
The one and only rule: My inspiration for your wedding day comes from the connections between you and your people. I love love and that is why I’m a wedding photographer. The only rule I have for you is to enjoy your day.
1. GETTING READY
These are some of my favorite moments to capture and they set the tone for the rest of the day. I ask to have at least 1.5 to 2 hours to photograph your getting ready. You’ll want me to arrive about 30 minutes before your hair & makeup is finished (pro tip: tell your hair and makeup artist to be done by the time I arrive to allow for wiggle room! It’s a nice little trick to keep things on time.)
Aesthetic // Be careful that the excitement and energy of getting ready isn't ruined by a cluttered, messy, or dark room. We want to showcase the beautiful moments unfolding in a light and bright space! Here are some things to keep in mind:
Clutter // Keep clutter hidden and to a minimum. Put bags, suitcases, and food in another room. If I need to do a sweep before I begin shooting, I’ll miss a lot of important moments. A blank canvas (room) is best for creativity & portraits.
Light // Get ready in a room with lots of window light where we won’t need to use lamps or artificial light. This is key for beautiful & genuine images. Artificial light mixed in with window light is not ideal for color in photographs, so I always prefer to turn lights off and rely only on natural light.
Hair + Makeup // Heavier “stage” makeup is not necessarily the best for photographs. Be you and be comfortable! I’d suggest doing your everyday makeup but with a little more definition to bring out your natural features.
Your Fiancé! // Don’t forget about your partner! Sometimes they get left with the dark and tiny room for getting ready. They are just as important and their photos will look way better as all of the above applies as well!
AirBnB // Hotels are not a photographer’s friend (unless they are boutique hotels with lots of natural light and room to move around in. If you can, I recommend looking into other options like a well lit AirBnB. This option can often be more affordable and will provide you with a room full of character, authenticity and LIGHT!
Location // Please make sure your getting ready locations are close to your venue! Long travel times can really take away from the photos and your timeline. Traveling time between locations is included in my working time.
Elopements // If you’re eloping, I’ll probably be shooting your wedding by myself. Consider getting ready together! It makes for super cute moments that beautifully start off the story of your wedding day.
2. A FIRST LOOK
A first look is a private moment before the ceremony between you and your fiancé. This is totally optional, but I’ll usually suggest it for a better timeline flow. Here’s what a first look can do for you:
It makes the timeline easier to work with // If you can see each other before the ceremony, we can take your family photos and/or wedding party photos before the ceremony as well! Your family/wedding party will also be able to enjoy the cocktail hour, and we can jump right into some genuine JUST MARRIED couple portraits right after the ceremony.
It calms the nerves and gives you time to take it all in // There is nothing that relaxes a nervous couple more than finally seeing each other and enjoying a few moments alone before the official events begin. You can share what you’re feeling, hug and actually say “you look amazing!”– all the things you can’t do when you’re at the ceremony with everyone watching.
First look at the aisle // Of course, if you’ve always dreamed of walking down the aisle as your first glimpse of each other, then that is exactly what we'll do! Just make sure we can allot for at least 2 time slots for couple portraits after the ceremony – typically we’ll do them immediately following the ceremony and then another quick session at sunset.
3. GROUP PORTRAITS
The best time for family and wedding party portraits is before the ceremony. Everyone is ready to go and no one will miss any of the cocktail hour or reception. I recommend keeping the formal family list to immediate family only and to grab extended family + less formal group photos during the cocktail hour and/or reception. There will be a space for you to create a family portrait list when you fill out the questionnaire.
Standard group photos //
-Client 1 with: a. their wedding party + individually b. mom and dad, c. mom and dad and siblings if possible
-Client 2 with: a. their wedding party + individually b. mom and dad, c. mom and dad and siblings if possible
-Client 1 & Client 2 (the couple) with: Wedding party all together
-The couple with: a. Couple 1's parents, b. Couple 1's parents, siblings, c. Bride's parents, siblings, grandparents
-The couple with: a. Couple 2's parents, b. Couple 2's parents, siblings, c. Bride's parents, siblings, grandparents
Adding combinations // Every family is different and couples may add or subtract combinations (Just siblings or a picture of the couple with both sets of parents etc). Keep in mind that each combination can take up to 4 minutes to organize, place and photograph.
4. COUPLE PORTRAITS
I recommend 2-3 portrait time slots of just you two together. This could be 15 minutes at your first look, 15 minutes right after the ceremony and/or 20 minutes just before the sun sets.
If your ceremony is later in the day (closer to sunset) I suggest considering a first look with all group photos before the ceremony. This way we can jump right into your couple portraits after the ceremony as the sun is setting.
Why at sunset? // Because it's when we get the best light and it’s when my couples really get a moment to take it all in.
Trust // Trust is the key to amazing wedding photography. If you trust me to create photos you’ll love, I’ll be able to do my thing and guide you the best. It’s all about collaboration.
Why at first look? // This is when you’ve just gotten your attire on and the look is all set and a first look can be one of the most intimate moments of the day. I often get tears here more so than at the ceremony!
Why after the ceremony? // Because the pressure is off! And you’re ecstatic, giddy in love, and ready to party! I’ve gotten some of the most joyful couple photos at this time.
5. CEREMONY + UNPLUGGED
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 guests to be present without fussing with cell phones and flashes. Plus, you won’t have a photo of you walking down the aisle with cell phone screens lighting the way!
Be present // Slow down and breathe. If you’re anxious, come back to the reasons why you’re so in love with the person in front of you. Look at your fiancé (not your officiant), hold their hands and speak your vows with intent. Just breathe.
Ceremony lighting // Say no to spotty light! For an outdoor ceremony (especially in direct sun) it’s best to avoid spotty sunlight. Try to backlight the ceremony with the sun behind the altar to avoid weird shadows.
Ceremony exits // I love suggesting ceremony exits rather than reception exits. I enjoy the excitement of just being literally married. Flower petals, lavender and/or decomposable confetti photographs beautifully. If you’d rather a reception exist and know that your crowd may be rowdy I ask that we do a wedding party/immediate family only for the exit.
6. RECEPTION + LIGHTING
Capturing the mood of your event is essential. This is why I don’t use flash other than for party photos. For a romantic mood, market lights (or string lights) and candles are THE BEES KNEES, and if you use enough, they’ll provide a great light source for photos. Just try to stay away from using only candles, or super dim lighting, which will make focusing trickier for me. If you’re unsure about your setup, just ask me and I’ll help!
Reception Exits// I love getting right onto the dance floor for some epic dance shots! I typically stay anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour of the party and I love it when the couple stays on the dance floor for at least one fast song as the party gets started. If you have your heart set on a reception exit, I ask that we do a staged one 15 minutes before I depart. I’ve witnessed too many accidents to stay all the way to the end of your reception for the exit. Sparklers are the only “exits” I can photograph as bubbles or glow sticks do not provide any sort of light source.
DJ lights // While colored/flashy lights from your DJ might be fun for party time, they can really destroy the romantic mood of your first dance. If you are having colorful lights, I ask that they be turned off until it’s party. Just don’t turn off the string lights!
Photographer’s Dinner// It is ideal for me to be served as soon as dinner begins so that I can eat while guests are eating and be ready to pull the camera back out 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 the line and grab my own food.
7. YOUR RAIN PLAN
No one wants to think it's going to rain on their wedding day, but having a backup plan is a surefire way to take out the stress of worrying about the weather.
Embrace it // Chances are you hired me because you love the work in my portfolio – most of which is outside. Of course, if it's a hurricane we'll stay where it's dry, but if it's just a drizzle or light rain, I’ll probably still take you outside.
Rainy Ceremony // Some of my most romantic ceremony images were in the rain. Tell your guests to bring umbrellas if it’s just a light drizzle and hold a clear umbrella for you and your fiancé to stand under as you get married. It’s beautiful I promise!
Tents and clear umbrellas// The best kind of tents are clear top tents, for the same reasons as the clear umbrellas - the natural light is amazing for photos. A white top tent will do as well, just make sure that, no matter what you pick, there are ample amounts of string lights, candles and light sources on the tables.
Here’s a list of the questions I’m most often asked. Don’t see your question? No problem! Just shoot my an email or give me a call!
How/when do we receive our photos?
The amount of images you’ll receive depends on your wedding coverage. This can be around 300-800 individually edited photographs for the wedding, with around 40-75 for an engagement session. On average, weddings take up to 3 months for full completion, but I always release a few sneak peeks just after the wedding! For lifestyle sessions there is a 2-3 week turnaround time.
Do you edit your images?
Yes! From the 3,000 images I’ll shoot, I’ll choose an average of 600 to create a story tailored to you. The images chosen will provide an emotional narrative of how I perceived your day, and these will make up the memories that you pass on 20, 30, even 50 years from now.
Can I edit them myself?
No pleasssssse. Asking a photographer for pictures that weren't edited or in the final delivery would be like asking the baker for the egg shells from your wedding cake. Hours and hours go into editing the final images. Applying Instagram filters and/or altering the photos takes away from the finished product. When someone sees that altered image, they aren't seeing a correct representation of my work. It is important that the images I create for you remain authentic.
HOW DO I PROPERLY STORE THE IMAGES AFTER DELIVERY?
By contract I technically do not have responsibly for storing your images after delivery. You can properly store the images by downloading the whole set to at least 2 different hard drives or USB keys. I will keep your images on your online gallery up to 6 months. If you have any issues feel free to ask me directly. If your parents have any issues, I ask that they contact Best Buy - LOL.
Can I hire a videographer?
Yes - Just please, please, please keep in mind that too many cooks in the kitchen can really take away from everyone’s final work. Please send me your videographer’s info so that I may be in communication and coordination with them. I also have a list of WONDERFUL videographers that I work super duper well with! Please reach out if you are considering hiring a videographer.
Does the photographer own the rights to the photos?
Yes, but this doesn't mean that you can’t print your images or post them to social media. It only means that you can't sell, post to publications or use the images for personal branding without permission.
Can my Uncle Bob shoot alongside you?
This happens to me at almost every wedding and it’s ok! I’m only bothered when it’s distracting from the images I’m creating or taking your attention away from my camera.
Your contract states that I am to be the sole professional photographer hired for your wedding day. This includes guests and other vendors who many be using the images for a business portfolio. If your vendors would like to use the images, just shoot them my email and I’ll take care of it.
IT’S FINALLY THE END OF THIS WEDDING GUIDE!
WOW! I’ve given you LOTS of information to digest before your wedding day! Hopefully I’ve covered most of what you’re looking for, but remember, no question is too small and refer back to this page when need be. Shoot me a text or email me with anything else that comes up, or for suggestions as you continue planning.