Creating Your Perfect Wedding Day Photo Timeline

The number one question I get asked is ‘how much time do we need for our photographs’.  My answer to this is often quite varied, depending on what type of coverage individual couples are looking for, but I thought I would outline a general guideline for planning time for photographs into your wedding day.

            The photographer in me instantly says, ‘the more time for photos the better!’, BUT the WEDDING photographer in me says that we want to plan enough time for your photographs, while making sure that it still feels like the photographs are about your wedding day, rather than your wedding day being about the photographs.  Consider the guidelines below for each series of photographs you would like to have taken, and feel free to get in touch to talk about creating your timeline together if you’re unsure!

Getting Ready Photographs

These are some of my favourite photographs of the day, and make for some amazing candid images of your family and friends spending time together.  Even though I often work with a second shooter, I like getting to stop in with the guys and the girls in the morning if possible.  I usually spend about 30 minutes with the guys, then head to the girls location for about 1 to 1.5 hours.  30 minutes to an hour of candid and ‘makeup’ shots is plenty, and I usually find 15-20 minutes to put on your dress and finishing touches is enough.  I love getting to spend a quiet 10 minutes after you’re finished getting dressed to capture a few really beautiful and fresh bridal portraits before the day truly begins.  Make sure to plan enough time to get packed up and into the Uber after this, while I hop in the car and head to our next destination early.

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First Look Photographs

While this is called the ‘first look’, this is actually when we get the bulk of the photographs done for the day.  Plan approximately 1.5-2 hours for this depending on what photographs we will be taking.  Plan around 10 minutes for your first look, 30 minutes for bride and groom portraits together, 30 minutes for wedding party photographs, and 30 minutes for immediate family photographs.  If possible, 2 hours is ideal for this, as it gives us some extra buffer time if anyone is late, and allows everyone a bit of room to have more fun instead of having to run your photographs like a drill sergeant.  Try to plan in an extra 20-30 minutes after these photographs to take a rest before your ceremony.  This can be some quiet time, a little champagne celebration, or simply time to eat a sandwich and drink some water.

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Post-Ceremony Photographs

Immediately following your ceremony I will grab you for 5 minutes to take a few quick ‘just married’ photos, because at this point you’re going to be feeling on top of the world, and we want to document that!  During this time it’s best to have a designated family member making sure that your extended family is all gathering in a set location, so that we can dive right in to taking photographs with your grandparents, cousins, uncles etc.  Try to schedule about 30 minutes for these extended family photographs (depending on how many shots you would like to have).  I can usually move through them pretty fast with an organized list and roll call. 

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Cocktail Hour Candid Photographs

If we’ve finished most of our photographs early, this means that you’ll have time to head to your cocktail hour!  Yay!  I use this time to capture candid photographs of you, your guests, and the many, many, many hugs that are shared!  I often disappear for a few minutes to get some photos of the reception décor before guests enter.  I find that spending around 30 minutes at the cocktail hours after family photographs is enough to capture some beautiful candid moments. 

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Sunset Photographs

If you want to have a variety of beautiful photographs with your partner on your wedding day, sunset photographs are a must!  I try to convince everyone to schedule time for sunset photos into their day, no matter what.  The light at this time of day is beautiful for portraits, it’s a lovely quiet time to slip off together for a few minutes of privacy, and it creates one more ‘buffer’ time into the schedule in case things ran later than expected and we haven’t captured enough photographs of the two of you together yet.  I recommend scheduling in at least 10-15 minutes for these, and the beautiful photographs we can create if we have a relaxed 20 minutes to half an hour to work with will blow you away!

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Reception Photographs

It’s always important to make sure I’m there late enough to capture some of the fun stuff too!  Once the band kicks in and your guests hit the dance floor, we have an opportunity to capture a few more great candid moments to end the night.  I find that usually about a half hour of dance floor coverage is enough, but schedule in an extra half hour to make sure that we have enough time to capture the party if it doesn’t start on time (which, chances are, it won’t).  If you’re wondering what time we should finish photography coverage, there’s definitely a point about an hour or so into the party when the bar has been open for long enough that I recommend switching to photo booths and iPhones to capture the remainder of the evening.  People have much more fun with a photo booth anyways! 

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The Grand Exit

Sometimes people have a grand exit planned that they want to have photographed, but don’t necessarily want to hire me to stay until 1 am.  If this is the case, there’s absolutely no problem with having some fun and having your ‘exit’ ahead of time.  Sparkler photographs don’t have to happen right as you’re leaving, and photographs getting into your getaway car can happen at any time in the evening.  My favourite ‘grand exit’ moment happened when the party was going much later than expected, and the couple wanted their grandmother to feel that she could go to bed, so they took off in their getaway car, and drove around the traffic circle a few times while their grandmother was escorted upstairs to bed.  They came back to join the party, we captured fantastic ‘get away’ photographs, and family members could go to sleep not feeling like they were missing anything.  It was a win-win plan!

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I value working closely with every couple I get to photograph, to make sure that we create a photography coverage plan that is uniquely suited to their wedding day, and the photographs they value most.  While this is intended to serve as a guideline, I’m always happy to sit down for coffee or a phone call to over your individual timeline in more detail, to make sure we create the perfect balance for your wedding day!

 

Kate & Brendan's Colourful Kleinburg Wedding at The Doctor's House

I met Kate at the Wedding Co Show last winter, and we hit it off right away talking about camping and our favourite outdoor adventure locations.  I immediately knew I wanted to work with her, and was so excited when she got in touch to talk about photographing her wedding later that year!

            Kate and Brendan are the most quintessentially classic, relaxed, outdoorsy, Canadian cottager couple.  They wanted nothing more than to enjoy their day, from getting ready at home with their friends and family dogs, to reciting a funny poem as part of their vows, to hiring The Big Smoke Brass band to make an appearance at their reception and get a dance party going around some fantastic music other than ‘Ra Ra Rasputin’.  They hosted their wedding at The Doctors house in picturesque Kleinburg, with their ceremony in the cutest little chapel, and their reception in the most gorgeously lit room with wide paned windows looking out over the property.

            Kate smiled and laughed her way through the whole day, and had their guests in stitches with her relaxed and happy humour throughout their ceremony.  Brendan couldn’t take his eyes off her, and is truly one of the sweetest, happiest, and most comfortable grooms I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.  The weather was gorgeous, the food was amazing (The Doctors House always knocks meals out of the park), and I was sad to leave what was obviously going to be a fantastic party at the end of the night. 

Vendors:
Venue: The Doctor’s House
Flowers: Rosehill Blooms
Makeup: Shade Makeup
Hair: Krystina Zita
DJ: DJ TimFamous
Band: Big Smoke Brass Band

xo
-c

Sophia & Terrence: A Summer Engagement Session on the Toronto Islands

Sophia and Terrence met at camp when they were teenagers, and have carried on the most beautiful long distance relationship between two different countries ever since. You can’t help but fall in love with these two when you meet them in person and see them interact!  I met them at the Jack Layton Ferry Terminals at the Toronto Harbourfront to fit in an engagement session while Sophia was visiting in Toronto.  We hopped on the ferry together and spent the afternoon exploring the Toronto islands, sipping coffee, walking with the sand between our toes, and enjoying some ice cream before Sophia boarded her plane back to Chicago.

            I had so much fun shooting with these two, and they have way too much fun hanging out together.  I can’t wait to share more photographs from their winter wedding in downtown Toronto right before Christmas last year!

xo
-c

Megan & Kyle's Life and Love Affirming Wedding at a Historic Mansion

Megan and Kyle are from Calgary, you might remember photographs from their Rocky Mountain engagement session last winter, but decided that they wanted to host an intimate destination wedding somewhere beautiful, historic, and cozy.  They settled on Perth, just outside of Ottawa.  I had never been there before, but quickly understood why Megan’s taste had settled here.  The old streets are lined with beautiful historic stone buildings, bed and breakfasts in manor houses sit in every neighborhood, and the quiet pace of the downtown streets lulls you into the calm you imagine of a small town from 50 years ago.  Perth is a hopelessly romantic city, and the perfect destination for the blend of Megan and Kyle’s east and west coast lives to meet and celebrate their love.

            They chose to rent a historic bed and breakfast to host their wedding day, with light flowing in through beautiful old gabled windows, a drawing room that looks like a classic old cocktail parlor, and a small dinner reception in a dining room complete with a fireplace, bay windows, and a grandfather clock on the mantle. 

            I could talk at you endlessly about their beautiful style, how Megan is so relaxed and talented that she did her own hair and makeup, and ordered her dress off the internet and found that it fit like a dream.  Or the gorgeous jewel tones of the florals she chose and the stylish charcoal grey suit that Kyle sported, but really the most important part of this beautiful wedding was the emotion.  Over all the details, I was struck over and over by how strong these two are together, how they accept and love each other no matter what, and how excited they were simply to be together, getting married in front of the handful of people closest to their hearts.

            This is one of those weddings that energized me in the middle of a busy wedding season, and reminded me of why I love this beautiful and heart filled job so much.  By the time I put away my cameras in the evening, Megan’s dad had pulled out his guitar in true east coaster fashion, and was singing to the bride and groom as they stood together in the doorway with their nephews clinging to their knees.  Saying it was hard to leave that night is an understatement, and I have been looking forward to sharing photographs from this beautiful day ever since.

Vendors:
Venue: Perth Manor Boutique Hotel
Flowers: Apropos
Wedding Cakes: Sunflower Bakery
Copper Arch: Willowbend Workshop
Silk Ribbon: Stella Wolfe
Veil: Everthine Boutique

xo
-c

Kendra & Jeff: A Waterfront Wedding at The J.W. Marriott Rosseau, Muskoka

Kendra and Jeff set out to plan a wedding day that would first and foremost be a tonne of fun!  Living in California, they managed to plan a destination wedding close to their families at the J.W. Marriott Rosseau Resort in Muskoka, one of my favourite wedding destinations.  It’s the perfect location for an active, outdoorsy, and relaxed couple to really enjoy their wedding day.   From the first skype call we had together when I learned that Jeff had proposed on top of a mountain while on a ski trip, down to delivering their final gallery of photographs, I knew that Kendra and Jeff were my kind of couple.  When I hit send on their final gallery they immediately emailed me back saying, ‘we’re on our way out for a backcountry camping trip this week, but are looking forward to looking at them when we’re back!’.  Too. Perfect.

            They had the most beautiful, sunny, August summer day, with warm weather, a clear view over Lake Rosseau from their ceremony location, the most picturesque garden party cocktail hour, and glowing sunset photographs down on the dock to end the evening. 

            Along with the talented Holly from ‘Holly Matrimony’, they planned gorgeous details like a polaroid canoe for their guests to capture memories and decorate, a ceremony arch and view that was absolutely jaw dropping, and invitations with soft watercolour scenes from Muskoka that suited them perfectly.  Kendra chose an elegant off the shoulder lace gown, and her bridesmaids looked stunning in mismatched blush toned dresses, while the guys rocked glacier goggles from their bachelor adventure trip during our portraits. 

            As always though, the treasured moments of any wedding day are the little interactions and meaningful words and gestures that are scattered through out the day.  Like their family members cheering them on in the background of their first look, Kendra laughing her way through the entire day, their close friend presiding over the ceremony and reading a passage from the Alchemist, and the massive amounts of excitement in their expressions as their signed their marriage license and skipped back up the aisle between falling flower petals.  Kendra and Jeff’s wedding day was filled with these little moments, and I can’t wait for you to scroll through and see them all!

Vendors:
Planning: Holly Matrimony
DJ: Total Entertainment
Officiant: Humanist Officiants, Julie Rose
Ceremony + Cocktail Hour Musician: Classic String Quartet
Videographer:  Dave Tebutt Videography
Florist: Seasons in the Country
Signage:  Cabin Calligraphy
Décor:  Pure Elegance
Stationery: Paper and Poste
Hair Stylist:  Allison Kam
Make-up Artist:  Robert Weir Beauty

Annie & Colin's at Home Engagement in The Beaches

I met Annie and Colin for a sunrise engagement session at their home in my favourite neighbourhood of Toronto, the Beaches.  We settled down at their kitchen table to enjoy a cup of coffee together to wake up and start out shoot on the right foot.  I was immediately smitten with them both.  Their home is filled with music and instruments, displaying Colin’s profession, and decorated with all things retro, folky, and funny, true to Annie’s unique style.  They have a large painted portrait of The Dude over their fireplace, next to a piano, across from a mid century modern sofa, where they sat sipping a second cup of coffee from some of Annie’s antique mugs.  I adore these guys.

            As the sun rose higher we headed out the front door for a short walk to the beach where we strolled the shoreline together, skipped stones, and sat on the breakwater soaking up the early morning sun.  Sunrise engagement sessions are always the best start to the day, and getting to work with these two made it even better.  Looking at them you can just tell that they are one another’s person, they just fit, and I absolutely can’t wait to share photographs from their beautiful, musical wedding on the waterfront later this past summer. 

xo
-c

8 Reasons To Plan a First Look on Your Wedding Day

Planning a first look is the number one way I recommend for couples to create a wedding day timeline that helps them feel relaxed, unhurried, and stress-free on the big day.  A first look helps your day flow smoothly, makes for a great photo opportunity, and gives the two of you a chance for a private moment together in a day that will otherwise fly by. If you’re on the fence about whether you want to do a first look, or save this moment for when you’re walking down the aisle, here are 8 reasons why I find couples always love including a first look as part of their wedding day.

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1. It helps get rid of your jitters.

As soon as the last button is done up on your wedding dress or the bowtie is straightened on your tux, things will really start to feel real.  Inevitably, some nerves start to emerge at this point, and everybody (I mean everyyyybody) finds that a first look helps them calm down.   It’s a chance to see your other half, hug it out, remember what this amazing day is supposed to be all about, and get excited for it together.

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2.     It’s a rare moment of privacy together on your wedding day.

It can be hard to even find a moment of privacy for yourself on your wedding day, let alone spend a peaceful moment with your partner to soak it all in.   The first look is one of the only moments when you can send everyone away and enjoy a few minutes of solitude together laugh, cry, hug, and generally take a step back to enjoy the momentous occasion that this day will be for the two of you.

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3.     You’ll get to enjoy your cocktail hour.

Adding a first look to your wedding day timeline means that we can create time and space before the ceremony to get a whole whack of photographs out of the way.  Photographs that we would otherwise have to capturing during your cocktail hour. We often try to do a series of bride and groom photographs during the first look, as well as your wedding party portraits, and immediate family portraits.  This means that, after the ceremony, the only photos we’ll have left to take are your extended family photographs, so you’ll be able to get back to your cocktail hour, guests, food, and drinks in no time!

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4.     It’s the perfect chance to capture so many great bride and groom photographs.

If creating great photographs of the two of you together is a priority for your wedding day, this is often the best moment to really spend some time crafting beautiful photographs together.  You will be able to feel fully present and enjoy this time together without feeling like you have to get back to your guests, or fielding a flurry of questions like who has the napkins and where the card box goes.   Plus, earlier in the day you’ll still feel like your hair and makeup is fresh, your feet are comfortable, and you won’t be too hot inside of your suit, all things that make having your photograph taken feel so much more comfortable and fun!



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5.     It builds some buffer time into your day.

This is my favorite reason why first looks are so great. Scheduling an hour or two in for photographs pre-ceremony photographs will automatically build some much needed buffer time into your wedding day.  When things start to run behind (which they inevitably do at some time) you won’t have to worry about being late for your ceremony, or losing all your time for bride and groom photographs together.  In addition to the first look, we schedule several other, shorter, photo sessions into the day, so we can always get back on track and never have to worry about running out of time.  Could it get any more relaxing?!?

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6.     Get your family photographs finished early.

Some of the most important photographs of the day are your family photographs, but they’re also everybody’s least favourite part of the day.  I love getting to take the bulk of your family photographs ahead of time, during the first look photo session.  This means you won’t have to spend as long taking photographs instead of going to your cocktail hour after the ceremony, helps us make sure that all family members are present and accounted for in photographs, gives us a chance to take photographs of everybody before they get too hungry, hot, and bothered. Seriously, this is how to make family photographs not suck!

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7.     Create space for a great emotional photograph

Most people have a much easier time showing their emotion when seeing each other for the first time during the first look, rather than walking down the aisle in front of everybody.  Some of the favourite photographs of every wedding day are captured during the first look, when couples feel free to gaze at each other, hug, kiss, twirl, and laugh without the pressure of hundreds of eyes on them.

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8.     Never worry about being late!

Alright, I may have already said this earlier, but this point is SO important!  The number one thing that I see causing stress on a wedding day is the timeline and running behind. Take advantage of the fact that YOU get to create your schedule, and use tools like a first look to schedule in extra time, buffer time, and generally far more time than we actually need for photographs.  I can guarantee that some of this time will get used up by other parts of the day running behind, and if we find ourselves with a few extra minutes here and there then you just get to relax, eat, and maybe pop a bottle of bubbly early to celebrate!