It's going to be the best day
I highly suggest that our brides get ready in their honeymoon suite. Getting ready in your honeymoon suite offers so many benefits including beautiful photos. Preparing for your big day in your honeymoon suite will allow you to rest and relax the night before your big day, it will cut down on or eliminate travel, and you will have the perfect setting for gorgeous getting ready photos. When you're thinking about which suite to book, look for one with vast north or south facing windows, luxurious modern furniture, neutral walls, and classic decor. St. Louis has quite a few wonderful options for bridal suites. The Four Seasons, The Marriott Grand, the Westin Downtown, the Magnolia, and the Hilton at the Arch have perfect getting ready locations. Some of our brides fall in love with The Sheraton Clayton, which is great if you get the walkout suite to the rooftop. Otherwise, you will have smaller windows which will give more dramatic and darker images.
I schedule our arrival time for about 90 minutes before to the time the bride needs to leave to travel for the first planned event of the day, whether that be a first look, the ceremony, or pre-ceremony bridal party portraits. We arrive as a team, check in with you, and introduce ourselves to your awesome bridesmaids. During the first hour, Dana, the lead storyteller, photographs the bridal details and scouts for great light, while the associate photographer focuses on candid moments of the chaotic reality of getting ready for a wedding day!
It is imperative that we plan for the bride's hair and makeup to be completed one hour into our getting ready photo time so that we can get those beautiful hair and makeup shots. All the bridesmaid's hair and makeup should be completed at this time as well. Doing this will allow us to create those adorable bridesmaids photos with the girls in silk robes toasting champagne or laughing before the bride gets dressed. Being sure makeup is completed on time allows for everyone to be dressed and looking fantastic in your photos!
In the second hour of pre-wedding coverage, we approach image creation with our timeless editorial-style, putting you in the very best light and giving a lot of direction to get the images we need for your heirloom album: you getting dressed, putting your jewelry and shoes on, getting your veil put on, etc. Then we create our signature bridal portraits. If you're comfortable, and your gown allows, we ask you to gracefully sit on the floor so we can wrap stunning soft light around you bringing out all your best features. Finally, because we genuinely believe in the importance of family, we give your parents a moment of time with you. Many of our brides opt to do a first look with their dad-it truly creates some sweet moments and beautiful images. Making this time, a priority also allows us to create intimate portraits of the three of you together. After all, you looked forward to this day for so long, but it will go by quickly, and you never get to have those sweet moments you have always dreamed of if time isn't intentionally carved out for them. We know you'll treasure those images as your family grows and changes, so we always encourage our brides to make time for them. Once that's all wrapped up, it's time to see your groom.
There are two options to consider for the best wedding day timeline when it comes to the guy's preparations. The first, and best, option is for the guys to get ready in the same hotel that the girls get ready in, and then one or both of us will head over to where the guys are while the girls are doing their final preparations. The second best option is to meet at the ceremony location about 60 minutes before the ceremony so we may create the editorial getting ready images we need. We simply need a window or a cracked open door for our light source, and about 20 minutes to get those timeless getting ready portraits for your album. Guys simply don't require as much time as ladies to get ready!
Just like we encourage each of our brides to take a few minutes with her parents, we encourage our grooms to do the same. I am a parent, and I understand just how much each mom wants to see photos of her child in the most special moments. Because of this, we give the same attention to the groom and his parents as we do the bride and hers. Be sure to let your parents know what time to meet us so that we can include these sweet moments in your wedding day coverage.
A poorly fitted suit, tuxedo, or shirt can look sloppy in your photos Just as brides always have a dress fitting before the ceremony, grooms should have their tuxedo or suit fitted by an experienced tailor. Additionally, even though many the tuxedo rental outlet offers complimentary shirts, they almost never fit well. The sleeve length is invariably too long the collar is too lose. I suggest, the groom and groomsmen purchase their own brand-new shirts that are well fitted and that exactly match their neck size and sleeve length.
Whenever possible, try to ensure that the groom gets ready at the same location as the bride. Traveling between locations to photograph the bride and groom separately can be logistically problematic. Even if the additional photographer is tasked to photograph the groom, that additional photographer is not me and thus the photography of the bride and groom will not be perfectly matched in your album.
We always plan on arriving at the ceremony location about 30-45 minutes before the ceremony start time. Doing this allows for the bride to be properly hidden away, it lets our team to get the images of the groom getting ready and those sweet portraits of him and his parents. We also use this time to chat with the officiant and church staff, set up necessary equipment, and document ceremony and church details, as well as your guests, arriving.
When the ceremony is about to begin, my associate photographer is in the back capturing your bridal party's excitement and those precious moments with you and your dad as he prepares to walk his little girl down the aisle. Meanwhile, I am up front photographing the processional. Please be sure both you and your beautiful bridesmaids are walking down the aisle standing tall, keeping your shoulders back, your chins forward and down, and looking straight ahead and as you smile! It helps to hold your bouquet down low towards your belly button this will center your stance and make everyone look their best. I know your bouquet is heavy, but refrain from holding it up towards your chest or face! It will give you a floral neck- and that doesn't look great on anyone.
When you see your handsome groom, lock eyes with him and let that moment wash over you. Allow everyone and everything else fade away! Those few moments are so precious, you have thought about them since you were a young girl. We want to focus on the two of you and document those wonderful expressions of excitement and pure joy!
During the rest of the ceremony, we take a photojournalistic approach. We do kindly ask that you let us know on your wedding questionnaire if there's anything unique happening during your ceremony, as well as the timing of your first kiss if you're having a Catholic ceremony (immediately following the rite of marriage or right before the recessional).
During the recessional, I encourage you to stop half way down the aisle and go in for a big kiss, it makes an amazing photo with all your guest smiling and clapping in the background. Make that walk memorable because you only get one walk down that aisle. The associate photographer always follows the two of you out to capture your first few moments alone as husband and wife while I document the recessional and begin to set up for family formals.
Please note that formal receiving lines can eat a very large chunk of your wedding day timeline, (sometimes they can take up an entire hour! ). In the past, we've had our newlyweds spend so much time in a receiving line that we've had little or no time for their formal family shots. I highly recommend visiting with guests during the reception, but if you really want to thank your guests at the ceremony, I recommend by releasing rows. This accomplishes the same thing as a formal receiving line but is generally much quicker!
Finally, be sure to discuss photography rules with your venue. There are usually time restrictions as to when we have to be out of the ceremony venue, as well as flash photography restrictions. House rules limit us, and while we're completely comfortable not using flash during a ceremony, it's nice to have if we can!
As you have already noticed, I really value family, and I believe that family formals are a part of the day that deserves a lot of attention and respect. That said, if not planned for correctly, this will eat up a huge portion of your wedding day. I recommend using this time for your family photos that will end up in a frame in your home, and to save extended family photos and other group photos like coworkers and treasured friends for the reception when we are not limited on time and sunlight.
On average, we plan on 2-3 minutes per grouping. Be sure to tell the people that you want in these photos that we need them to stay seated and quiet to get through the list as efficiently as possible. I address everyone kindly but firmly before we start as a reminder. Although it seems obvious, let them know that there is a list that we are working off of, and anything not on the list will be photographed at the reception. Also, let them know that they'll receive copies of all photos taken. We respectfully ask that nobody else take photos while we are creating your formal images because it tends to cause our subjects eyes to dart in different directions, and that ends up costing our couples money to combine photos in post production if they want everyone to be looking at the camera.
If your ceremony location allows for outdoor images, I suggest photography the all the groupings outdoors. Our couples who have chosen outdoor family formals have told us that they love their family portraits and they are more relaxed, natural, and fun and that they more accurately represent their familial relationships! Don't worry if your location will not allow for this we can always use the alter for more traditional portraits.
As you planning it seems like it may be a lot of fun to hop on a party bus or trolley and have photos taken in multiple locations throughout St. Louis, the reality is, we have far less time for the bridal party and romantic portraits when travel is factored in. Any time there is travel there could be traffic or accidents, and don't forget loading and unloading the party bus. You'll notice in my images that I'm always looking for a place with beautiful light and using long lenses, allowing the background to melt away. This means that we don't need multiple locations to create beautiful images. Just one with amazing light and several creative options for various looks!
The entire wedding party takes 20-30 minutes with the exception of very large wedding parties, and then I'll move on to the bridesmaids. I photograph the girls as a group and then each of the girls with the bride (a classic portrait, a fun image, and then an "advice" photo which might produce tears or genuine laughter). Next, I repeat this process with the guys before sending the bridal party back to the party bus to relax while we spend the remainder of the time for romantic portraits!
If time allows, we can go on to a second location. Most couples choose to spend time celebrating with their closest friends while I head to the reception to get stunning detail shots.
Larger bridal parties understandably take a longer photograph, whereas smaller bridal parties allow for more time for romantic portraits for the two of you. On average, plan for 3 minutes per bridal party member + 5 minutes for the girls + 5 minutes for the boys + 10 minutes for the entire bridal party to estimate the minimum time needed for your bridal party photos. This minimum time for bridal party does not include the time needed for your romantic portraits.
You will hear me say two things often, so everyone looks their very best. For the ladies, turn your body 45 degrees from the camera, shift your weight to your back leg, and bend the front knee and point it away from the camera. This causes a slimming effect by creating an s-curve, and who doesn't want that!!! For the gentleman keeping hands in their pockets and weight on the back leg. This will make you look strong and masculine.
Romantic portraits are my favorite part of the day! The romantic portrait time, with the Bride & Groom, is likely the only time all day that the two of you will be alone (almost alone, I will be there too)! Because this time is so essential to accurately telling your unique love story, I kindly request that the only people present during this part of the wedding day are the two of you and the two of us. (Romance party of four!)
Our Bride & Groom portraits are based on five foundation poses and the power of emotional suggestion. These emotional suggestions give you the inspiration to be romantic, silly, or serious, depending on your personality and comfort level, and it most certainly will bring you back to what was going on in that moment when you look at your photos later when you reminisce over them. The foundation poses paired with the emotional suggestions give that candid feel to the editorial pose, which gives you the best of both worlds: you look great, but it's always a sincere moment.
My simple rules during Bride & Groom portrait time are to always keep each other as close as possible and don't ever be afraid to show emotion. You're in love, so let it show! I am honored that you're allowing me into very intimate moments, and we want to document those for you because those are the moments you'll genuinely treasure 50 years from now.
If you are having an evening wedding is in the winter where sunset is around 5pm or earlier and you opt not to do a first look, your photos will be lit with off camera flash and will look different than the natural light photos you see in our portfolio. The images are still stunning, but looks a lot more like "end of the night shots"
If your portrait time overlaps with cocktail hour, please be fully aware that you may receive limited reception detail photos. If detail photos from the reception are extremely important to you, we will have to allot time for both B&G portraits and detail photos in your timeline! Since you spent so much time planning all the perfect details I highly recommend allotting time for both!
I'll work with you and your DJ/Band to create an ideal timeline for your reception. We we photograph all of your formal events like entrances, cake cutting, toasts, the first dance, the father-daughter dance, and the mother-son dance. Once the dance floor opens, we split up and one of us covers the dance floor and the other walks the room and photographs "grab and grins" in an effort to make sure that the guest who aren't on the dance floor get photographed. We can't guarantee we will get a photo of everyone, of course. On average, we plan our end time to be about one hour after open dance begins, because we've figured out after thirty weddings a year that it's about that time that the images start to become blackmail-worthy! Before we wrap up for the night and take our couple out for night portraits, we always ask our couple and their parents if there's any last minute group photos they'd like for us to grab.