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          a photographers guide to timing, lighting and storytelling

          We had tears in our eyes as we looked through them, we will cherish these for the rest of our lives

          -Tori + Billy

          Timing + Scheduling

          Ah, scheduling. This is without a doubt, the topic that I get the most questions on. It’s so tricky to anticipate how much time things will take on your wedding day. This day is one to celebrate your relationship and spend time with your favorite people in the world, so it’s important to do our best on the front end to make the photo-taking part of the day as efficient and enjoyable as possible. 

          My goal as your photographer is to help you find the balance between having plenty of time to take the photos you’ve dreamed of and getting you to your cocktail hour! 

          Listed below is a timeline I recommend with and without a first look. This photo schedule is based on a mid-sized wedding party. If yours is large, or you don’t have one at all, please note that this timeline may look different for you. It is also based on immediate family and grandparents only for family photos. If you would like to have extended family photos taken, no worries, just know that you should plan for an extra 15-30 minutes.

          Not sure if you want to do a first look? Scoot on down to the “first look” section.


          Sample Schedule

          With A First Look:

          Getting Ready

          The best time for me to arrive is when the bride is getting her makeup done. Typically this means her hair has been done, and everyone is looking more awake and excited. The key photos I take during this time are final touches, getting into the dress, and enjoying time with your girlfriends.

          Bride + Groom First Look & Portraits (1hr)

          This gives you two the chance to talk, be together, relax, and time to be alone for the only time that day. Another perk, more portraits! I always recommend if possible to have your bridal party join you afterward so you can have an intimate and stress-free time.

          Wedding party portraits (30min – 45min)

          Family photos (30min – 45min)

          Time after photos and before your ceremony to freshen up,  hide away, and get those last-minute butterflies out.

          Ceremony + Reception

          Without A First Look:

          Getting Ready

          The best time for me to arrive is when the bride is getting her makeup done. Typically this means her hair has been done, and everyone is looking more awake and excited. The key photos I take during this time are final touches, getting into the dress, and enjoying time with your girlfriends.

          Bridesmaid/Groomsmen portraits (30 min)

          These would be photos of just the bridesmaids and/or just the groomsmen. Not the full party.

          Downtime (30 min)

          Time after photos and before your ceremony to freshen up,  hide away, and get those last-minute butterflies out.


          Family photos (30min – 45min) 

          Wedding party photos (15 min)



          All weddings are completely unique, timing and lighting can play a huge role in the outcome of your photos. As your photographer- my job is to be aware of the various lighting situations that can arise, and help you to get the photos you want. Below I have listed some suggestions that can help you ensure that our focus is on the moment unfolding rather than the lighting.


          Getting ready photos have the potential to be stunning if taken in a location with natural light (think, windows!), and clean walls. Even though you cannot plan everything around lighting- you can choose to put your dress and get your makeup done by a window, which will help tremendously. It’s important to get ready in an environment where you feel comfortable and stress-free. 


          Churches can be such a meaningful place to become one. Make sure to chat with your church if you’re having your ceremony there as many have strict restrictions for photography. Please understand that while I’m happy to work with any regulations your church/pastor may have, these regulations will affect the outcome of the photos. It is helpful to know these rules and regulations prior to the wedding so that I can come fully prepared with the proper lenses and equipment.


          Lighting plays a bigger part in outdoor ceremonies than you might think. In the summer- the sun will be the brightest between the hours of 12-4 PM. If possible, avoid having your ceremony during those hours to achieve softer light. If it is unavoidable, find an area of shade to prevent harsh or uneven lighting; and if no shade is available, place the sun behind the altar. 

          In addition to the portrait time before or after your ceremony, pay attention to when the sun will set that day. The best photos happen during golden hour or blue hour; the hour before and the hour after sunset. Try to make extra time for you and your spouse to escape, be alone for a moment, and get some dreamy portraits. If your wedding is in the fall or winter be aware that it happens much earlier than the summer. It may be wise to google the sunset time on your wedding date before setting your schedule. It is SO important for winter weddings that all portraits (including family) happen before the sunset. 


          Reception lighting can make or break photos and although I always come with a flash for dark spaces, there are some things you can do to create a softer, dreamy look. I recommend using bistro lights and candles to fill spaces that might otherwise be naturally dark. If you must use uplighting- amber or white lights provide a nice, warm glow to the atmosphere. Please note that if you have purple uplighting in your reception venue, prepare to see A LOT of purple tones in your photos. Lastly- make sure your DJ is aware that if they use laser lights during your first dance, they will be fully evident in your photos.

          A little bit of this, a little bit of that.


          These are so much fun- but they require more planning and timing than you might think. You will need to designate 2-3 people to hand out sparklers and organize a long, narrow tunnel. Make sure you purchase the kind that burn for a long time. Also, keep in mind that it’s best to move slowly through the tunnel enjoying and soaking up every second. If the sparklers last long enough, I might have you go through multiple times. If you anticipate that many of your guests might be drinking a lot at your reception, you may want to reconsider using sparklers–accidents with sparklers happen frequently. 


          Your wedding party doesn’t have to be equal amounts of men/women. In fact, if there are wedding traditions you don’t feel connected to, don’t feel pressured to do them. Your photos will look great regardless of if your parties are balanced. Also- don’t be afraid to have friend who are of the opposite sex stand on your side! Whatever floats your boat and makes you feel most loved.

          YOUR DRESS

          If you want to eat, sit, walk, and dance at your wedding make sure you remember this when you are buying your dress. If you need help walking in your dress, that makes photos and moving around difficult. A few tips while trying on dresses; try sitting, moving your arms back and forth and make sure that at least two people know how to bustle your train. If you’re greatly afraid of bugs and your wedding is outdoors, avoid layers of netting as you’ll leave your reception with a nice collection of bugs between the layers of your dress.


          I know it might seem scary – but reading your vows can be incredibly special and memorable. I’ve had couples who were too nervous to read their vows in front of all of their guests still write them and then read them during their first look. It makes for a great moment between the two of you and allows you to really tell each other how you feel in private while not having to speak a ton at your ceremony.


          I am 100% on board if you want photos with your pet on your wedding day. Bring your dog, bring your cat – heck bring your goldfish. Just make sure that you have a friend who has volunteered to be the “Dogfather” who can help get your pet to you and away from you.


          I absolutely love wedding videos. I think they are so important and such an awesome additional aspect to document your day. However, make sure they have a similar artistic vision as your photographer. Let them know your expectations as far as the ceremony goes. Is it okay for them to step in front of the parents? Is it okay for them to walk down the aisle with the bride? I’ve seen many couples get offended by the videographers purely because of miscommunication. I feel really strongly about this. I would love to talk to you more in person if you have any questions. My favorite videographers are: Forrest bound Films, Glory Visuals and of course my hubby, Josh!

          Victoria cares deeply... it comes out in everything she does.

          -Brett + Mercades


          I absolutely looooove engagement sessions. In fact – I always recommend them to my couples for a few reasons;

          1. You’ll know what it’s like to be in front of the camera. Getting your photo taken is a hilariously vulnerable thing that we subject ourselves to. I promise to guide you through it and make you laugh more than you feel uncomfortable – but the more you do it the easier it gets. Couples who have already taken engagement photos with me tend to know the drill on their wedding day – making it even easier to get those dreamy shots.

          2. You’ll have photos to hang in your house without the fancy clothes.
          Let’s face it – we don’t always look like how we look on our wedding day. Engagement sessions offer you the ability to grab some photos of your real life. This can be in your home, at your favorite coffee shop, with your fur-babies and probably in some sweatpants if you’re anything like me.

          3. We get to hang out! It’s great to spend a few hours together so that we don’t meet for the first time on your wedding day. It’s definitely not mandatory and I promise to get to know you via Facetime or real-life hangouts – but it’s a bonus.


          Engagement photos can be so much more than romantic portraits. You can go on that hike you always do with your dog, make pancakes at home in your pajamas or take that walk down your favorite street you do every Saturday. My goal is to document your life as it looks today – so you can look back and think “that was me, that was us”.


          Please feel free to reach out to me via email at hello@vicandjosh.co or shoot me a quick text of phone call at 402-875-0042.