Planning for Wedding Photography
A wedding is a complex, fast moving event. It can be difficult to pull off, as you can imagine without a dedicated Wedding Planner.
Recommended Philadelphia-area Wedding Planners:
- Natalie Diener Weddings and Events
- Truly You Events
- Angela MALICKI events
- Sarah French Events
- Eventricity - Ronnie Anderson
If you don’t have a Wedding Planner, please read this entire page carefully, as you assume the responsibilities listed below. It also contains tips that I have gathered over the years than can help you avoid some of the most common pitfalls of a self-planned wedding.
PLANNED PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES
There are 2 major photo opportunities that you must schedule adequate time, arrange transportation, and choose general locations. Please do not leave this for the day of the wedding.
1: FAMILY FORMAL PHOTOS
- Can be done before the ceremony with a First Look, or in between the Ceremony and Reception.
- Time frame varies and is determined by the size of your family, bridal party, and the amount of shots desired. 30-45 minutes is the average amount of time needed.
- Prepare a detailed list of groups, starting with the largest and taking away people to make smaller groups. Please do not leave this for the day of the wedding. There is no "normal" set of family photos; every wedding is different.
- Please remember to check with both sets of parents for any additional desired groupings.
- It is very important to assign someone to gather family members at the appropriate time, especially if you do not have a wedding planner. Inevitably, people can wander and someone important can go missing, slowing down the entire process.
2: Bridal Party + Couple portraits
- Can be done before the Ceremony with a First Look, in-between the Ceremony and Reception.
- Schedule at least 45-60 minutes.
- The portraits can be done at any hour of the day, but lighting is optimal 1-2 hours before sunset.
- If you are having your Ceremony and Reception at the same location, I do recommend a First Look. This way the Family Formals, Bridal Party and Couple Portraits aren't rushed, and you won't miss your entire cocktail hour.
PERMISSION & PERMITS
Photographing on private property always requires permission, but there are many public places that require a permit. It is important to look into this matter as soon as possible. Many locations are first-come, first-served, so you want to make sure that no one else claims your date, time and location.
Permits are generally not necessary for engagement shoots.
Here are a few public locations that require permits for wedding photography:
- Independence Park: Including the Magnolia Garden, Rose Garden, 18th Century Garden, Benjamin Rush Garden (sometimes referred to as the Bishop White Garden), south steps and lawn area of the Second Bank of the United States (see example), front steps of the First Bank of the United States, the lawn area on the south side of Carpenters' Hall between 3rd and 4th Streets, Washington Square (vicinity of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier excluded) and behind the Merchants' Exchange. Wedding Photography is not permitted in or near Independence Hall or the Liberty Bell. Permits are strictly enforced by Homeland Security.
- Delaware River Waterfront: Including Race Street pier.
- Water Works, Philadelphia Art Museum’s Azalea Garden
This is not an all-inclusive list. It is your responsibility to fully research the requirements of each location.
PLANNING FOR RAIN
- If any of the locations that you select for photos are outside, you will need to plan for a backup location that is indoors or is covered.
- If you are willing to brave the rain, I recommend purchasing matching umbrellas (see example), or generic white wedding umbrellas and we can attempt to proceed as planned outdoors. This isn’t always possible if your dress is long, or if the rain is heavy/driving.
- Under City Hall is a good alternative in Center City Philadelphia. No permit is required.
- If you are getting ready in a hotel, email or text me your room numbers when you check in.
- The size and quality of a hotel room can have a significant impact on prep photos (see example). Splurge a bit on the bridal suite if you can fit it in your budget!
- Have your makeup artist set up near a large window. Natural light is much better for photography.
- In my experience, the Bride's hair and makeup often takes longer than expected. This can cause a time crunch, which results in missed opportunities for shots like the Bride's Individual Portraits. It is wise to add extra time in your itinerary in case of a delay.
- Generally, a good time for me to arrive is after hair, but before makeup, and getting dressed.
- I typically like to take a few shots of the bride and bridesmaids before they get dressed, so if possible make sure no one is dressed before I arrive.
- Have your dress, shoes, jewelry and anything sentimental ready and unpacked at least 30 minutes before my arrival time.
- Buy or bring along a better-looking hanger than the one supplied with your dress.
- Have one of your invitations available.
- Keeping the room clean and clutter-free helps to keep your images free from distraction. An easy way to accomplish this is to assign that task to one of your Bridesmaids!
- Have the flowers delivered at least 1 hour before getting dressed at the Bride and Groom's prep locations.
- Have someone experienced with boutonniere pinning available to help the guys attach their flowers.
- Consider having an unplugged ceremony. Have an announcement made asking everyone to enjoy the ceremony without taking photos. This will reduce the chance of any disruptions with the professional coverage.
- Ask your Officiant/Priest/Minister to move out of the way just before they announce the first kiss. They can look very awkward hovering over you.
- One way to streamline your day, and to save time for photos, is to avoid a receiving line.
- Have the caterer or venue arrange for the photographers to eat at the same time that you do, not after all the guests have been served. This will ensure that no important moments are missed.
- Ask the DJ to avoid any (or any excessive) laser lighting effects on the dance floor (see example).
Recommended Reception Vendors:
LOOKING YOUR BEST
- The camera is very sensitive to color variations, so I recommend that couples consider a teeth whitening treatment just before the wedding.
- Any concerns with complexion should be handled with makeup (men & women). It can be much more expensive to fix afterwards.
- Avoid tanning! While the effect of a tan may look pleasing in person, it often leaves the skin looking unnatural in photographs, especially when it is overdone.
- For optimal candid photos, it is best for you, your bridal party and family, as well, to ignore the photographers.
- If there is a possibility of chilly temperatures on your day, I recommend having a fur shawl or matching sweaters ready for portraits. They can make outdoor portrait sessions significantly more comfortable.
- Any time estimates listed include shooting only. Be sure to accommodate for travel between locations.