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YOUR WEDDING 33 40 43 56 63 67 YOUR IMAGES




Hello Bride-to-be and Welcome! This is such an exciting time for you! I’m sure your mind is racing with all that needs to be planned. It’s all very exciting but it can also be somewhat overwhelming. You’re planning the day that you’ve been anticipating your whole life and yet you only get one shot at it. By the time you get the hang of it, the planning is over. My goal as a wedding photographer is to make this one aspect of the planning process simple. Photography is more than just images, it’s a real part of your day. Not only do you deserve beautiful images, you also deserve an amazing photographic experience. The goal of the guide is to help you plan your wedding day in a way that will allow me to provide you with the BEST experience possible. I’ve gathered tips and tricks from all my wedding experience and written them here as a guide. I hope it can assist you and make the planning just a bit smoother. Since we’re official, the next step is to plan your engagement session. We’ll start chatting about wedding day details as we get closer to your date. I’m beyond excited to be working with you!! Here’s to an amazing journey through this season of life!!


CAPTURE - SHARE - PRESERVE The heart of my photography can be summed up in three simple words: capture, share, preserve. I would absolutely love it if this process was more of a dialogue, so that I know how to best serve you and your needs! CAPTURE I strive to capture your love story genuinely. I want your photographs to truly tell that story in the most amazing way! That begins with an engagement session because I believe those photos capture such a special time in your lives, and because I love getting to know you and your style before the wedding day! After your engagement session, we will be very prepared for your big day, and I will know how to make you feel comfortable in front of the camera. Closer to your wedding date I will share a questionnaire with you to gather wedding day specifics and prompt you for info like: When will you begin to get ready in the morning? Are there any special details or moments you have planned that are extremely important to capture? Are you thinking about a first look? Would you like me to stay for your amazing exit? We will chat about all of these questions and more to make sure your resulting photographs are everything you dreamed of!

SHARE I believe it is so important to be able to share the big moments in our lives with friends and family, especially those who may live far away! I always deliver your images in a way that makes it super easy for you to share them. You will receive a beautiful online gallery that will remain online for six months. The gallery makes it simple to share one photo or all of them through social media or email (read more about your gallery later in this guide.) PRESERVE How do you want to remember your story for the next 50 years? I desperately want you to have something beautiful, thoughtful, purposeful and tangible to remind you of your big day. Where the digitals are a small thing to many people, the tangible is a grand thing. Your story is important and deserves to be held onto, to be hung on your walls, to be flipped through, to be held in your hands. Someday there will be those who want to know who you are, what your story is. Someday, maybe soon or far away, there might be days where you need encouragement. There will also be days, in times of happiness, that you dive into your album with fond memories and relive all the feelings you had on your wedding day. Please know that I am not trying to sell you something, but rather I wholeheartedly believe in the importance of preservation!


Now that you have picked a date, venue and a photographer, you can celebrate! Those are some of the toughest decisions in wedding planning and you can cross them off your list. Hooray!! Now on to the fun stuff.... like your engagement session.

WHY THEY ARE IMPORTANT During your engagement session, you’ll have the chance to get to know me, experience how I shoot and how I handle posing and lighting. This session will make a HUGE impact on how the wedding day flows. I’ll arrive on your wedding day already knowing how you two interact and how you feel the most comfortable. What you learn during your engagement session is invaluable. You will feel like such a pro on your big day because of the great practice you had during your engagement session. Plus, the photos are perfect for your Save the Dates!

A TYPICAL SESSION Your engagement session can be scheduled anytime before your wedding day. I normally

suggest booking it at least 3-6 months in advance to avoid stress. Because weekends are filled with weddings, I shoot engagements on weekday evenings. Engagement sessions typically last approximately 30 minutes. If

you upgraded to a full engagement session of one hour, you can plan on one outfit change. Either way the session takes place the last hour and a half before the sun goes down. Depending on the light and the time of the year, this may be 4-5pm in the fall/winter and 6-7pm start time in the spring/summer. The light during this time will be soft and stunning! As you start to plan for your engagement shoot, you will need to start brainstorming about some location ideas. I LOVE it when couples pick a location that is special or sentimental to them in some way. If you can’t think of anywhere specific that you would like to shoot, I can help you decide on a location. There are also great location ideas under the category ‘Engagements’ on my blog that you can get ideas from. As long as the light is great, I can make ANY location look awesome! I shoot on farms, campuses, downtown alleys and even coffee shops. The more creative, the better! You can expect your engagement photos to be posted online within two weeks after your session takes place. Be sure to keep reading to find out more about outfit ideas and inspiration.


It’s always a little intimidating to have your picture taken....even if it’s just a photo on an iPhone that is taken by a friend, we still want to look nice, make sure nothing is in our teeth and that our hair is behaving! I realize that preparing for your engagement session can be a little overwhelming. Here are some tips that will make the eshoot preparation a little more managable.

• Don’t try to MATCH...try to pick outfits and accesories that coordinate instead. Ex. One person wears a pattern so the other wears a solid color. • Don’t be afraid to be BOLD! Accessorize and make your outfits your own. Layers and textures translate great on camera. Scarves, bold necklaces, fun shoes, sweaters and jackets create depth in your outfits. • MOST PATTERNS are actually great... however, graphics are not favorable for portraits. If you’re wearing a pattern, make sure it’s not overwhelming or distracting. • Be sure to check out my pinterest boards for more outfit inspiration if you’re having trouble. www. • Empty your pockets...Literally. You don’t want to have keys or a phone showing through your pockets. (This is for the guys!) I certainly can hold on your car keys during the session. • Gentlemen if your dress shirt isn’t fitted be sure to tuck it in. Untucked tends to make guys look heavier. 11 | THE BRIDE’S GUIDE

• If you’ve upgraded to a full 1 hour session, most often, couples like to have one casual outfit and then one outfit that is dressy. This will give your shoot two totally different “looks”. If you are doing a 30 minute session you will only have time for one outfit...pick the dressy outfit. • If you don’t usually spray tan now is not the time to start. A spray tan tends to give a muddy appearance on camera. Trust me pale is better then strange skin tone. • (favorite tip) can schedule your makeup trial for the morning of your e-shoot, this can relly help boost your confidence and definitely makes you pop in your photos. • Don’t forget the details! A fresh manicure will show off your ring, while polished shoes and even the simplest earrings can create a more styled look. • Clean the ring! I love to shoot a few rings shots while you change outfits. • Relax! You don’t have to be a pro at this. I’m going to help you along the way and it’s going to be a blast. Enjoy this time together and make a date out of it. Plan dinner afterwards and celebrate!!




PLANNING YOUR TIMELINE The day you have spent so much time preparing for, dreaming of and investing in, will go by as one of the quickest days in your life. I guarantee it. That’s one of the great reasons to invest in wedding photography that will tell the story of your day; giving you the opportunity to relive it! I know timeline planning isn’t the most exciting aspect of the wedding day but this is the one thing that can make or break your photography. THE TIMELINE Your timeline is one of the most important parts of your wedding day! I will say it again: your timeline is one of the most important parts of your wedding day! Having a well planned timeline will allow you to really enjoy your day. Without one, wedding days can very quickly become stressful. Imagine the perfect morning of your wedding: maybe you are sipping on coffee, chatting giddily with your bridesmaids, and finally it’s time to get in your dress. Your mom or maid of honor buttons up the back, you turn to look in the mirror and it hits you: you are getting MARRIED! Now imagine the same morning, but your hair took an hour longer than expected. Instead of chatting with your girls, you are glancing at your phone every minute to check what time it is. As soon as your hair and makeup is done, you bolt out of your chair and rush to get your dress on. Suddenly, your relaxing and exciting morning just turned stressful.

I have seen the perfect morning and I have seen the stressful morning. I want you to have a perfect morning and day! THE TIMELINE AND YOUR PHOTOS The timeline affects your photos in a few different ways. First, there’s the obvious one: the more time I have, the more photos you will receive and the more creative they will be. This applies to every part of the day! From getting an awesome dress shot in the morning that might take more time to set up, to the time I spend with you and your groom later in the day. We will get to do some awesome things! Secondly, photos of a stressed bride and groom look very different from photos of a relaxed bride and groom. If you are radiating happiness, that will show in your photos! Don’t know where to start? The next few pages will outline an ideal wedding day working off of a 6pm ceremony timeframe (additional time has been added to pad the schedule in case things take longer than expected.) This ideal timeline is also based off of a wedding day that includes a first look. 90% of my couples choose to do a first look and you can read more about that option a few pages over. Remember that all wedding days are different and your timeline may differ due to travel times and unique situations. We will talk about your specific timeline and create a sample just for you when your wedding day gets closer! STEPHANIE W. PHOTOGRAPHY | 16

After the details have been photographed, it’s time for the bride



to get into her dress. This is a big moment! I usually ask the mother of the bride and all of the bridesmaids to be dressed by the time the bride is ready to get into her dress. This ensures that everyone will look nice in those images. After the bride is in her gown, she can put on her jewely, veil, shoes, etc., and I will shoot some additional bridal portraits.



Every bride loves having those beautiful shots of her bridal details. It’s an important part of the story and I love having some time to shoot the dress, shoes, jewelry, invitations, etc. These shots allow me to get warmed up for the rest of the big day. I normally like to allow at least 60 minutes for this part of the day. While I’m shooting details, I’m also capturing some shots of the bride and her girls getting ready! If the groom is getting ready nearby, my second shooter will begin photographing the boys getting ready close to 40 minutes before the first look since it always takes them less time to get dressed.




This is one of my favorite parts of the wedding day! I will find the perfect location for my couple’s First Look prior to the getting ready portion of the day. Don’t stress about that one bit! I will make sure the location is private and as secluded as possible.

Here’s the page that can be somewhat intimidating. The TIMELINE! I know this isn’t the most exciting aspect of the wedding day but this is the one thing that can make or break your photography. The next few pages will outline an ideal wedding day working off of a 6pm ceremony timeframe. This ideal timeline is also based off of a wedding day that includes a first look. 90% of my couples choose to do a first look and you can read more about that option a few pages over. Remember that all wedding days are different and your timeline may differ due to factors including travel times and unique situations.





..... make sure to take some great shots of the guys and girls both separately AND together. After bridal party portraits are complete, the bride will go into hiding so that early guests don’t sneak a peek and the ushers will begin their duties. After the bride and groom take their time with the First Look, I will begin taking a few romantic portraits of the two of them while the initial excitment is still present! I will find the locations for these shots as well. Remember, the LIGHT determines where we shoot and so I can’t decide on portrait locations until the dayof.

As we shoot these portraits,

the bridal party can start making their way to us for Bridal Party portraits.

Now it’s time for Bridal Party shots! I buffer in extra time throughout the day just in case



we have some unexpected things that hold us up. One way to make sure we stay on schedule for bridal party portraits is to have someone put the boutonnieres on the guys BEFORE they arrive for portraits.During Bridal Party portraits, my second shooter and I will .....





It’s time to get married!! Most


Family formals normally take

ceremonies are 30 minutes long.

place immediately following the

If your ceremony is longer than

ceremony. It’s best to save all of

30 mins, we’ll make adjustments

the family formals until after the

to the timeline. Cherish these

ceremony because ALL family

moments! Your ceremony will

members will be present at that

pass by so quickly!


If the reception is in the same location as the ceremony, I will use this time to shoot the reception decor UNTOUCHED. If the ceremony and reception are in different locations, I recommend having a cocktail hour outside of the main reception area if possible so that I can grab some great shots of your reception before the night begins and guests start laying down drinks, purses and coats on the tables and their seats.



We’ll need about 30 mintues for family formals and I will send a questionnaire before the wedding where you can list out the shots that you want.

I recom-

mend shooting portraits outdoors if possible so that they resemble more natural family portraits, especially if the ceremony location is dark.




This timeline is for 8 hours of



coverage which allows me to be present for all the main events of the reception and about an hour of dancing. If you’re interested in having your exit photographed there are several options for this! You can either add additional coverage or plan a faux exit with just your bridal party! I have had GREAT success with this and the party never stops!

7:00 is the BEST time of day for

This is when the bridal party

portraits in the late spring, sum-

lines up for introductions and the

mer and early fall. This is when

party begins. By this part of the

the sun is glowy and golden. I

day, my timeline isn’t as strict. I

love having a few extra minutes

work off of the natural light and

with the bride and groom to take

so after the sun is set, my portrait

a few “Just Married” portraits

time is over and I begin focusing

right after family formals!

on the reception events.

10:00 EXIT!


LET THE DAY BEGIN! This portion of The Wedding Experience really sets the stage for the entire wedding day. The next few pages will share tips and tricks that will ensure a seamless morning of bridal preparation and beautiful portraits!


THE START TO YOUR DAY It’s the morning of your wedding! Hopefully all of the little details are taken care of and you’re relaxing with your best friends while your hair is being done. If certain items haven’t been checked off of the to-do list, it’s time to hand them over to someone else. Delegation is a key part of a stress-free wedding day. I know it’s hard to hand over the decorating duties and all of the last minute things that need to be done, but it really is important to relax the morning of your wedding. The rest of the day is going to be fast paced and filled with a lot of emotions! Take advantage of this down time. There are a few things to consider about the “getting ready” portion of the day. Will you and your groom be exchanging gifts during this time? If so, who would you like to deliver them? Are there certain women in your life that would appreciate seeing and/or assisting you get into


your gown? Some brides want very few people around for this moment. Other brides love having moms and grandmas present. It’s totally up to you! Whoever you decide will be helping you, communicate with them when they should be in their wedding attire prior to helping you get in yours. A few other things to consider.... as you get ready to put your dress on, refrain from putting any jewelry on. I love shooting all of those final steps when you’re in your gown. Speaking of the gown, if your gown is on a plastic hanger, try to make a note to bring a wooden hanger along for picture sake. If you want to get fun and bring a sparkly one...go for it! If you forget, no big deal... I’m a pro at finding wooden hangers at venues. Keep reading along for more “getting ready” tips to help you prepare.

WEDDING DAY: GETTING READY LOCATION If you are getting married at a hotel or resort, I suggest getting ready in your honeymoon suite - so think about booking two nights instead of just one! There are so many advantages to this: you will be able to relax the night before your wedding and get a good night’s sleep, everything you need for your wedding night and honeymoon will already be in your room so you will not need to worry about packing, you won’t need to travel on the morning of your wedding and will feel less rushed, and of course you will have a gorgeous space for photos! When you are thinking about which room to book, look for a large or spacious suite. Prep photos are always enhanced when the background is clean and simple. Large windows are always a huge plus as well! Also remember to factor in travel time and traffic to and from your getting ready location and your venue. If you will not be getting ready at a hotel, a lot of the above suggestions still apply! A clean and simple space is always best, and natural window light is a must! Try to keep the space around the largest window clean - water bottles, bags, and clutter will detract from your images. Asking your bridesmaids to keep their bags and belongings on one side of the room is super helpful! GETTING READY + PREP After I photograph the details, you will hopefully be done with your hair and make up. Remember to ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS schedule more time than you think you need

for that portion of the day. Even if you have done a trial, add at least half an hour to that time. Wouldn’t you much rather be sipping on some champagne with your girls and relaxing because you were done early rather than starting to stress because your hair is still not done and you were supposed to be in your dress already? At some point in the day, if your groom is getting ready in the same location as you or within 5-10 minutes, my second shooter will go hang out with the guys for a little while. Your groom should have his pants and shirt on when my 2nd arrives and the groomsmen should be completely dressed. The groom’s details will be photographed first (socks, shoes, cuff links, belt, watch, tie, etc.), and then he will be directed to put these on close to a window. CHANGING INTO YOUR DRESS Next we will have your girls change into their dresses. Anyone that you want to be present while you put on your dress should also be completely ready at this time (mom, grandma, etc). Again, make sure to schedule their makeup and hair with plenty of time to spare. Once all the ladies are ready, I will instruct you to slip on your dress close to a window. I will first get photos of your dress getting laced/ buttoned/zipped up by your mom or maid of honor. Then we will have all of your bridesmaids gather around for a optional reveal, followed by fluffing your dress and loving on you. It makes for such great photos! We will then direct you while you put on your jewelry, garter, veil, and perfume and give you a few minutes to take in the fact that you are GETTING MARRIED! STEPHANIE W. PHOTOGRAPHY | 26

details WEDDING DAY: DETAILS The whole day begins with the DETAILS! This is one of my favorite parts of the wedding day because it allows me to prepare and get my creative side warmed up for the rest of the day. I photograph a bride’s details in a way that matches and accentuates the style of the entire wedding day. So, in some ways, the details set the stage for the look of the whole wedding and I love having ample time to stylize and shoot everything from the dress to the jewelry to grandma’s handkerchief. Years from now


you’ll love looking at your album and seeing all the items you wore and details that were special to you on your wedding day. To the right you’ll find a list of the most common details that I shoot. I ask brides to gather any details they have before I arrive so that I can walk in, say hello, give you a huge hug and then begin with all the goodies! (Please ensure your mom that I will take GREAT care of the dress, I promise!)

TO HAVE WITH BRIDE • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Bride’s dress Bridesmaids’ dresses Pretty hangers for dresses Veil/hair pieces Rings (ALL THREE) Shoes Jewelry Perfume bottle Invitations (2) & programs Bouquets Boutonnieres A few single flower stems Garter


Tie/bow tie Cuff links Watch Belt Shoes and socks

OPTIONAL/OTHER IDEAS • Gift/letter from groom to bride, vice versa • Heirlooms/keepsakes • Clutch • Something old/new/borrowed/blue STEPHANIE W. PHOTOGRAPHY | 28





It’s incredibly helpful (I really can’t stress this enough) if all of your details are collected in one place before I arrive, either on a tray or in a box, so that I can begin quickly and have more time for some “getting ready” shots of you and your girls.

The most common detail missing when I arrive are the rings. Everyone will tell you to hand over your wedding band to the best man before the day begins. However, it’s actually better to hand it over during the bridal party portraits so that I can shoot some great ring shots in the AM! If you forget, no worries, I can always shoot the ring shot at the reception if there is extra time.

EXTRA ELEMENTS Sometimes, depending on the theme and “look” of the wedding day, there may be some extra elements that you could include when you gather your details. For eample, if you’re having a rustic themed wedding that includes some wooden elements, maybe save a small piece of wood for me to use when I’m shooting your rings and jewerly. This REALLY makes for beautiful, consistent album spreads.

FLORAL DELIVERY Have the bouquets AND bouts delivered to the bride. If possible, have them arrive right before I do. That way I can photograph the gorgeousness when they are still fresh, and you get to enjoy them for even longer! It’s always great to have a few single stems to work with while photographing the details. All you have to do is ask your florist to include any extra or leftover stems they have from the bouqets.



By having just


simple window in the

bridal prep area, I am able to create beautiful portraits with soft light. I prefer natural light so the more windows, the better!

FIRST LOOK Your first look is an amazing part of your wedding day! If you aren’t sure about this new tradition, the next few pages will explain why it would be a romantic addition to your wedding day celebration that not only adds to the experience but also reduces stress.



In a nutshell....They’re AWESOME. However, not

go on and little by little… the tension grows.

everyone is aware of how awesome they are because they get caught up in how “un-traditional” it is and

It’s before the ceremony and the gravity of what is

they immediately write it off. I can talk about those

about to happen starts to sink in and the calm, col-

brides because I was almost one of them. I wanted a

lected groom that was playing golf just a few short

REACTION…I wanted Scott to be so surprised and

hours ago is now starting to feel a little anxious. So

overcome with joy when I walked down the aisle that

what happens next? The groom waits in a little room

he bawled at the first sight of me! Isn’t that EVERY

somewhere just waiting for his que from the coordi-

girl’s dream? Who doesn’t want that reaction? Scott

nator. It seems like it’s taking FOREVER. Finally,

and I decided to share an intimate “First Look” mo-

the coordinator leans her head in and hurries the

ment on our wedding day AND walking down the

groom to get ready. With clammy hands, the groom

aisle on my wedding day still remains a moment that

enters the ceremony and what does he find? …. he

I absolutely treasure!!

finds anywhere from 80-300 people and they’re all looking where? Right at his face… because everyone

After experiencing my own wedding and shooting

has expectations and anticipation about his first reac-

over 100 others…. I’ve come to this conclusion. Some

tion. This is the farthest thing from a private, inti-

brides love “traditions”…. but what a bride REALLY

mate moment. Sure, it’s SO powerful and SO won-

wants when it comes to her groom seeing her for the

derful!! ….. But when I walked down the aisle… Scott

first time is a REACTION. Those that are not inter-

wasn’t a nervous wreck…he had spent the morning

ested in a First Look usually think that by seeing each

with me and our best friends and the pressure was

other beforehand, they will lose part of that reaction.

OFF. By the time our ceremony rolled around he was

They also assume that it will not be as emotional or

ready to ENJOY our beautiful day! The nerves were

as intimate as it would be if they were coming down

gone and when the nerves are gone… true emotions

the aisle. What I have found (this is starting to sound

are free to be expressed. So if I were to condense

like a research paper!) is so ironic! Everyone knows

what I just wrote… basically, Grooms normally

that wedding days are a bit stressful for the bride and

become incredibly nervous on wedding days…. even

groom. The whole day is focused on them, they need

if they seem cool and collected. For most grooms,

to look their best, they need to be on time, the groom

the nerves kick in before they see their bride because

has no idea what side the boutonniere is supposed to

when they see her, everything becomes VERY real!


So when the nerves start creeping up, instead of

the cocktail hour and there isn’t a DJ coming to find

keeping the groom in a secluded space until his time

the photographer to get a time check. It’s wonderful!

to enter the ceremony, what if you took him to a private place… no people, no on-lookers, no distrac-

After portraits are done, the girls and guys separate

tions…. and you let his beautiful bride, the love of his

and prepare for the ceremony. The guests begin to

life, walk up to him and gently tap his shoulder. He

arrive and the ushers are in place. Pretty soon it’s

would turn around and finally get his first look at his

time for the processional music to begin and one

stunning bride and not only would he get to see her…

by one, the bridesmaids make their way down to

he could embrace her… cry with her…. kiss her… and

the front of the ceremony. As the groom clasps his

ENJOY that moment with her for as LONG as they

hands… they aren’t clasped out of nervousness but

wanted. As she shows him her dress, twirls a few

excitement. The music builds, the mother of the

times and then asks him what he thinks… his nerves

bride stands and all of the guests follow her lead. The

start to diminish. After all, she’s the one that can

groom looks up and here comes the BRIDE!!! His

make him most comfortable anyway.

best friend, his companion, his sweetheart…..she’s stunning…. ABSOLUTELY stunning. The closer she

Because they aren’t on a time crunch… they casu-

gets, the bigger he smiles.

ally move into their romantic portraits. No one is around, the coordinator isn’t announcing “15 minutes

Now let me put a disclaimer on here before we

left”, and there is no pressure. It’s just the two of

continue…my clients are not required to do a First

them and their photographer….. capturing the excite-

Look by any means! I used to feel bad for sharing this

ment and the joy of their wedding day. This is their

option with couples who were against it because I

time to be TOGETHER…and to be ALONE. When

didn’t want to push anything on them. However, I’ve

does that happen on a wedding day? Without a First

seen the benefits of a first look over and over again

Look…. it doesn’t. After their romantic portraits are

and so I only share this because I want the BEST for

done, they meet up with their best friends. Their

my couples! It’s totally ok if couples choose not to

bridal party joins them and because they still have

share a first look. It’s just my preference to do one

plenty of time to spare… the bride touches up a little

for many reasons.... Keep reading to find out more of

makeup while the boys act like boys. After a few min-

the benefits of sharing your first look privately. For

utes the bridal party portraits begin and they’re FUN.

brides not interested in a First Look, lets start chat-

They’re FUN because there is time to make them

ting soon about how we’ll create a special timeline to

FUN. There aren’t any guests waiting impatiently at

fit everything in. STEPHANIE W. PHOTOGRAPHY | 36



- You’re a lot into your wedding photography. With a first look, you’ll receive 30% MORE portraits of the two of you… and those are the images you will decorate your first home with! (Believe me, our house is decorated full of our portraits!) With a first look, you make the most out of this large investment and get the most for your money.

intimate time

on your wedding day with your man. Most brides - You actually get to have don’t realize that when you come down the aisle and totally SHOCK him with your gorgeous-ness… he can’t even tell you how amazing you look. He can’t touch you, embrace you or even SPEAK to you. You have to wait until 30 minutes later when the ceremony is over for him to react and tell you how amazing you look. And after 30 minutes of the ceremony, the reaction isn’t the same as the initial first glance.

extend your wedding day

. Normally the wedding day - First Looks allow you to would start when you come down the aisle, then the ceremony would end, you would rush through portraits so that you’re not late for the introductions and then it’s reception time. With a first look, your wedding day is extended by almost 2 hours! Instead of being rushed for your bridal party portraits… you actually get to enjoy them and have fun hanging out with your BEST friends on your wedding day. Practically the first half my client’s wedding albums are filled with just images from this cherrished time together before the ceremony.

alone with one another

on your wedding day. When – First Looks allow you to be Scott and I saw each other, not only was it intimate, it was our only time to be alone the whole day! We held one another tight and laughed… and then that put us in the PERFECT mood for our romantic portraits. Normally portraits are a little rushed after the family formals and it can be hard to really get back into that loving mode…. especially with family around. When you have just shared your first look, you’re READY to love on each other and I always capture some super sweet images during those moments!

rid of the nerves!

I’d say, 1/2 of my couples who have done a first look, the - You get grooms were not fans of it at first. However, because they have never experienced their wedding day before, they didn’t know how nerve racking it can be. Those grooms that initially weren’t a fan of the first look afterwards admitted to being SO much more relaxed and ready for the ceremony! SIDE NOTE: Bride’s, if you have never seen your man cry or get emotional, you can’t expect him to be overly emotional on your wedding day. Some guys just embrace their brides and never cry.... and that’s OK. Some guys have their game face on and show very little emotion when his bride is coming down the aisle and that’s ok too. Just enjoy this amazing day and try not to put any expectations on him. :) STEPHANIE W. PHOTOGRAPHY | 38

Ceremony Here it is! The moment everyone has been waiting for! The music is playing and the guests have been seated. Ushers make their way to the back of the church and the coordinator is lining up the bridesmaids while giving the musicians a 5 minute warning. The bride is about to walk down the aisle to the love of her life..... and if she’s like most girls, she’s dreamed about this moment for a long time. Vows will be shared and promises will be made... this is what it’s all about!! In a world full of wedding blogs, Pinterest and bridal magazines, it’s easy to be overwhelmed and consumed by the “prettiness” of the event. While details do matter and planning is necessary, it’s important to never lose sight of the real purpose of this amazing day.


LIGHTING Ceremony lighting is really important. If you get married outdoors at 12pm, the lighting will be extremely harsh and not only will there be harsh lines of light on your faces, you will also be squinting. I suggest planning an outdoor ceremony for 2 hours before sunset if you are having a FIRST LOOK. If you are not interested in sharing a first look, then I would suggest having your ceremony 3 hours before sunset to ensure that you will have plenty of time for all of your portraits afterwards. The lower the sun, the more romantic the lighting. If you are having an indoor ceremony, it is always best to have soft and EVEN lighting at the altar. If there are two spotlights on the bride and groom, I will not be able to expose the rest of the bridal party.

PROGRAMS & DETAILS The BEST advice I have for the program making process is to remember that not EVERY 41 | THE BRIDE’S GUIDE

guest needs a program. We printed a program for everyone attending our wedding but quickly realized that most families only took one. We ended up with over 60 extra programs! Also, before ordering your programs, have SEVERAL people check it for spelling and grammatical errors. Programs and the ceremony decor is something that the bride can plan in advance but then deligate the actual job of setting it up to a friend or coordinator. The last thing a bride needs to be doing the morning of her wedding is running around setting up floral arrangements. This leads me into my next item...

COORDINATION Hiring either a full event planner or just a dayof coordinator is SO important! Brides realize very quickly that if they do not have someone in charge of the coordination on the wedding day, that responsibility automatically falls on the mother of the bride, the photographer or the BRIDE! When a photographer is in charge of

the coordination, the images end up suffering. The most stressful wedding situations I have witnessed were caused by a lack of organization and coordination. It’s so important to make this a priority. If you need any recommendations I would love to share some of my favorite vendors with you.

UNPLUGGED CEREMONY If you haven’t heard about unplugged weddings it’s where the bride and groom have signs posted and the officiant makes an announcement before the ceremony that there are no cameras or phones allowed. The reason they do this is that guests tend to stick their camera phone and arm out in the aisle ruining the professional photos. Sadly, I’ve had guests stand up and get in the aisle during the first kiss while I’m trying to capture it with my telephoto lense from the back. They’re excited and want to capture the moment but instead should be relaxing and ENJOYING the moment. I HIGHLY suggest

going this route and you can get a ton of helpful information and examples of wording online by searching “unplugged wedding” on Pinterest. I find it works best when it is also announced just prior to the ceremony starting, otherwise people will STILL use their phones and cameras.

FIRST KISS You might want to ask your officiant to step back during your first kiss so that only you two are in the frame. And don’t be afraid to smooch! Kisses that last longer than a peck allow my assistant and I to get a few different photos. If it’s possible, it’s always fun to get a shot from behind you so that your guests are in the background! During the recessional make sure you and your groom stop halfway down the aisle and kiss! It makes for an incredible photo as your guests will be standing, clapping, and possibly throwing petals, confetti, etc!


ROMANTIC If we’re being honest, all of the wedding day images are important but the real favorites are almost always from my time with the Bride and Groom. These romantic portraits of just the two of you will be the images that you frame beside your bed, over your mantle and they will also be the images that will fill your album for generations to enjoy. These images are always my favorite not only because of their beauty but because this is such a sweet portion of the day. For this brief moment in time, you will be alone with your groom on your wedding day. You will have a chance to love on each other and really connect before the craziness begins. Romantic portraits are normally done before the ceremony (after the “First Look”) and then I LOVE shooting a few “just married” portraits after the ceremony as well. This is when the light is low and golden. It’s such a romantic time for bride and groom portraits! If you’re not interested in a first look, we will make sure to include a lot of time after the ceremony for these portraits.





PARTY Lets chat about your bridal party. This is when the fun REALLY begins! I know from experience that all brides want their closest friends to have an AMAZING time during their big day and I will make sure that happens. Bridal party portraits should be a ton of FUN! After you share your first look, depending on the locations and the timing of the day, your bridal party will join us for portraits. If all goes well, we will be able to accomplish ALL of your bridal party protraits BEFORE the ceremony. This means that your guys and gals will be free to mingle at cocktail hour if they wish. If there are flower girls and ring bearers involved, they can either join us for the pre-ceremony portraits or we can take one final group photo after the ceremony, before family formals. Be sure your groomsmen arrive with boutonnieres and your bridesmaids arrive with bouquets.





If you choose not to have a first look, most likely I will photograph your bridal party two separate times. The first time will be before the ceremony with the guys and girls separate (just you and your girls, and then just your groom and his guys). The second time will be immediately following family portraits and will include you, your groom and the entire bridal party (including flower girls and ring bearers - so make sure their parents know they are needed for pictures before the wedding day!)

There will most likely be group photos where I ask you to look at each other and interact/ laugh. You might not be physically looking at someone, but just look to the right or the left. I also recommend not talking during these types of photos - but instead start laughing! Often times when we talk the photos may not be super flattering, but a big fake laugh usually ends up in genuine laughter and adorable smiles. And that translates to great photos!

If you choose to have a first look, you have two options. The first is very similar to the scenario above, but the entire bridal party will be photographed right before the ceremony. The other option is to do all the shots back to back - so you and your girls, your groom and his guys, and then all of you together (this is how it is laid out in the sample timeline). Let’s chat and figure out which option works best with your timeline! I will also be taking individual photos - each bridesmaid with you, and then each groomsman with your groom. Usually I will take one or two normal, smiling photos and then ask for one silly one (which can either be extremely silly or could just be you and your maid hugging each other - it’s up to you!)

TIPS • Remember to have fun! Your wedding day is a huge celebration and often one of the few times where your family and friends from all over can be together at once. During group photos you have your very best friends standing next to you - have fun with it and enjoy yourself! Those moments will make for some of the best memories. • Loose the chewing gum. It always shows up in smiling and laughing photos. • If you bring along any props (sunglasses, balloons, chalkboard signs, etc.) assign a point person to be in charge. There’s always one or two people who forget to bring their flowers or sunglasses for these photos.




When it comes times to select bridal party attire, my biggest piece of advice would be to shop around. David’s Bridal and bridal boutiques will always have options but recently, I have seen bridesmaids wear amazing dresses from everyday stores such as Macys, Anthropology, LOFT, Jcrew, Mod Cloth, Nordstorm and Banana Republic! Also, if you come across a sale, it’s actually more economical for the guys to buy suits rather than spend $175 to rent one for one day!



WEDDING DAY: FAMILY PHOTOS LOCATION If you are getting married in a church and do not have your heart set on the church altar for family photos, I strongly recommend heading outside to a location with beautiful, flattering natural light. We have found that outdoor photos are much more relaxed, natural and fun! TIMING Family photos add up quickly because we need to set aside about 3 minutes per group, and the more time we spend on family photos, the less time you will have for Bride + Groom photos, which is what most couples will want for the next 60 years! We politely ask that you limit your family photos time to your immediate family, grandparents, and any other extremely important people, and save the rest of your group photos for the reception. The reception is great for those group photos of your coworkers, cousins, sorority sisters, and high school friends! Make sure to tell everyone that is expected for family photos to stay immediately following the ceremony. Having to wait for family members is the number one reason your family photos take more time than is scheduled into the timeline. A great tip is to appoint someone from each of your families to assist us in making sure everyone is present for your family photos. I might not realize that Aunt Sally is missing, but your point person will be able to make sure your family


photos have everyone that is supposed to be in them actually in them. And the point person can help us get the next group on deck. CREATING YOUR LIST When creating your family photo list, it would be helpful if you would break them into the following four categories: must have during family photo time, must have at some point in the day, would be nice to have, and only if time allows. Since I don’t know everyone’s names, it’s also helpful to let me know their relation to you. The questionnaire I send over will prompt you for this info so once I have the list, I will put it in the order that makes the most sense. Significant others cannot be edited out from photos in the future, so it’s best to take family group photos with and without them if there are any concerns. COMMON FAMILY GROUP PHOTOS • B&G with B’s Grandparents • B&G with B’s Immediate Family + Grandparents • B&G with B’s Immediate Family • B&G with B’s Parents • B&G with G’s Grandparents • B&G with G’s Immediate Family + Grandparents • B&G with G’s Immediate Family • B&G with G’s Parents • B&G with both sets of Parents



The party is here!! Receptions can be a blast! However, it’s important to make sure that you have your event well thought out. This is the job of your coodinator and your DJ/Band. Your caterer will also play a big role in the design and set up of your event. Every aspect of your reception affects the overall outline of the evening. For example, if you’re not having a plated meal, your reception will need to be set up in a way that allows movement. Guests will need to be able to find the food stations easily and there will be a mixture of dinner tables and hightop cocktail tables. This will encourage guests to mix and mingle. If you are having a plated dinner, you will more than likely need escort cards, full place settings and space for all of your guests to be seated comfortably. Whatever the style of your event, make sure that you plan out all of the events of the evening. Your coordinator and DJ can help you set up the evening so that guests won’t leave early or experience long periods of wating for the next thing to happen. 65 | THE BRIDE’S GUIDE

Much like the ceremony, you have the freedom to make your reception your own. It’s your party, it should be exactly how you want it to be. Here is a list of some key events that happen often at receptions:

- First Dance - Daddy-Daughter Dance - Mother-Son Dance - Money Dance - Traditional Religious Dances - Welcome by Father of the Bride

- Blessing - Cake Cutting - Toasts - Bouquet and Garter Toss - The exit of the Bride and Groom


RECEPTION TIPS Your coordinator and DJ should take care of making sure that everything stays on schedule so that you can enjoy your night. Here are some helpful tips that will help your reception flow smoothly. - Take your guests into consideration when planning your timeline. If you have a lot of elderly guests that will not be staying until the very end, make sure you schedule the cake cutting at a relatively early time so that they can be a part of it. - Make it your own. If you want to have a special dance with your grandparents, do it! Make your reception a reflection of who you are and don’t feel tied to traditions. Also, make sure you give your DJ or Band a “Do Not Play” list if there are some songs you really don’t want to hear during your reception. - During the reception I tend to shoot very candidly. I typically do not take photos of each table of guests, but if this is something you really want please let me know. It’s also a great idea to have someone that can point out the VIPs, that way I can be sure to grab some photos of them. - If you haven’t purchased enough coverage time for your photography to last until the exit, that’s ok! (See ‘Faux Exit’) I recommend planning your timeline so that you can have at least one hour of dancing photographed. The guests that dance during the first hour will still be dancing in the third hour. One hour of dancing will be enough to really capture the joy of your reception. 67 | THE BRIDE’S GUIDE

FAUX EXIT If your coverage ends before your exit, you have the option of planning a faux exit with your bridal party. This is more common than you may think. Instead of saving your exit until the very end, you can plan a faux exit with just the members of your bridal party and a few family members instead. This allows us to have more control over these shots and the party NEVER has to stop! In most cases, no one even notices that the bride and groom are missing for a few minutes. Also, it’s almost impossible to tell that the whole wedding party isn’t there waving sparklers and sending off the happy couple. I dare you to look at my blog and see if you can pick out which exits were fake and which were real. This idea allows our couples to save money and still have all of the shots that they dream of. SPARKLER EXITS The sparklers you use make all the difference! I recommend buying 36 inch sparklers that are advertised as “smokeless.” Too much smoke takes away focus from you and hides the pretty part of the sparklers! The 36 inch varieties usually last about four minutes. There are so many advantages to these. They burn brighter and provide more light, it also gives you ample time to make your exit instead of sprinting the whole way, and you can stop towards the middle of the line and kiss without worry that they will go out. Extra time also means more photos!

PHOTOS ARE MEANT TO BE SHARED Every day a photograph grows more significant and valuable because every day after it is taken we are one day further away from that precious moment in time that is captured in the image. Your wedding photographs should be enjoyed and shared by you, your friends, family and even future generations! I provide photography coverage as a service to my couples and include a complete gallery of images with every wedding collection because I believe your photos should be shared. I want you to have your images, enjoy them and share them. They don’t do you any good if they are locked away on a hard drive. They are meant to be shared! PASS: YOUR ONLINE GALLERY PASS is a photo sharing solution that was created for professional wedding and portrait photographers. When your wedding images have been fully edited, a collection of your photos will be uploaded to your unique PASS online gal-

lery. You will receive a URL where you can view, download, share and order prints and products on any computer, tablet, or smart phone device that has internet access. To make it easy on you to share your images with family and friends I pass out guest cards at your reception with your unique URL so they too can view, download, share and order prints and products of your images. PASS does allow for your unique URL to be password protected at your request, so just let me know if you’d like this feature turned on. Professional lab quality prints and products can be ordered directly within your gallery and basic shipping is always a flat rate of $5. PASS is easy to use and if you would like to see a sample a link to one was included in my initial email to you. If you don’t have that email let me know and I’ll be happy to send you a link to a gallery you can view on any computer, tablet, or mobile device.



ALBUM OPTIONS Linen or Leather covers Sizing choices of 8x8, 10x10, 12x12 Highlights Album (20 pages) or Full Story Album (80 pages) options starting at - 8x8 20 page Album $480 Cover engraving or cameo window $100 8x8 Duplicate Parent Album - 20%off

WHY INVEST? Your first decision as an engaged couple is to set priorities for your wedding planning. You have to decide what you value most. Is it the dress? The food? The Venue? As a former bride AND photographer, I believe that couples should make their photography a top priority. After the big day is over, you will leave your reception with a spouse & your pictures.... that’s it! All of that planning and preparation is over in a matter of hours! So if you’re choosing to invest in high quality photography, those images deserve a classy, elegant home after the wedding. I offer high end, Legacy Albums for my wedding clients. The images are printed straight onto the pages and the covers are wrapped with your choice of linen or leather. This is the perfect keepsake that you will one day be showing your children, grandchildren and beyond! STEPHANIE W. PHOTOGRAPHY | 72

thank you! Last, but certainly not least, THANK YOU for trusting me with your special day. I am so honored to be the one capturing your memories and I CANNOT WAIT to celebrate alongside of you! Enjoy this season of planning, but also remember that your MARRIAGE is more important than the wedding. The wedding will come and go in a matter of hours but your marriage needs to stand the test of time. Continue to make time for one another, even with all that needs to get done. As you continue to plan, please feel free to contact me with ANY questions you may have along the way. I hope this guide has been helpful as you continue to plan and prepare for your wedding day! Love,


Bride's Guide - Stephanie W. Photography  
Bride's Guide - Stephanie W. Photography  

Tips and tricks to help in planning the best photography experience from your engagement to your wedding.