I usually ask couples to finalize this form two months before the wedding. By that point you should be firming up the actual details for the wedding day. After you've finished the form, we will set a time for a conference (in person or by phone) to discuss your wedding day schedule and how much time to set aside for posed photos.
If there are a few items you don't know at that point, you can email them to me later, but please do your best to provide as much information as you can by two months before the wedding so our phone conference can be as thorough as possible. (Things can get crazy in the last few weeks before a wedding, and I would love to be out of your hair by that point and not adding any stress!)
The most important purpose of the form is to get the names of family members and friends who you want to be sure that I capture in photos. Please consult with both families so you can include their requested photos, too. I’ll use the answers on this form to create a schedule of posed photos that I share with your families and the wedding party. So, please use the names that people would want to be called, not necessarily their given names, e.g., Missy instead of Melissa, Nina instead of Christina.
One more slightly related issue: As they start to plan their timeline for the wedding day, couples typically ask "how much time should we save for photos?" A good friend of mine has an excellent post on this topic, saying exactly what I would say if you asked me. If you have time to read this post, the advice is wonderful.
You do not have to fill out this entire form in one session. There is a button at the very end that says "Save and Continue Later" for when you need to take a break. It's probably a good idea to hit the "Save and Continue Later" button every 30 minutes or so while you are working, just to make sure no work is inadvertently lost by a power failure or a software or hardware issue.
Apparently the "Save and Continue Later" link expires after 30 days, so please don't let 30 days run without coming back and finishing the form.
When you are completely done with the form, please hit the "Submit" button so I'll know you're done.
Thanks again for asking me to photograph your wedding. I look forward to working with you!
The following section is just for Partner A
The following section is just for Partner B
Wedding rehearsal information
Rehearsal dinner information
Your wedding vision
If you are planning anything out of the ordinary such as a sparkler exit, fireworks or any surprises for guests, I need to be warned (before the wedding day) just in case I need to bring special equipment. Please be aware that floating paper lanterns are now illegal in Maine.
Who you want captured in photos
This is an incredibly important portion of the photography planning process, so please set aside time for carefully considering all the questions here.
Long-standing wedding tradition is that the couple should not see one another on the wedding day before the ceremony. The tradition stems from the day of arranged marriages when the couple didn’t even meet until the actual ceremony; the fear was that a groom might back out if he didn't like the looks of the bride being offered. The veil might not even be lifted until after he said “I do,” at which time it was too late for him to change his mind.
Today, many couples are choosing to see one another beforehand in a “First Look" so that they can take all the posed photos before the ceremony, as they’d rather not miss some or all of their cocktail hour.
Ask any wedding photographer and you’ll hear nothing but praises for taking your formal posed photos beforehand. We (photographers) get incredibly sweet, emotional, and totally natural photos when we are there to eavesdrop—from a respectful distance, of course—with our cameras as you see each other for the first time in your wedding-day attire. You two are so focused on each other that you are barely aware of the camera. And, the expressions and posing that you naturally fall into simply can’t be mimicked in a session later on in the day.
Many couples say that getting together beforehand actually calms them. It gives them a chance to speak to one another, something they won’t be able to do standing at the altar. They say they go into the ceremony much more relaxed.
Plus, when photos are taken beforehand, the pace is less rushed—you aren't hurrying to get somewhere else.
Finally, if I take all your posed photos beforehand, I can devote the entire cocktail hour to taking candid photos. The cocktail hour is a wonderful opportunity for candid photos. About a third of your guests will show up with their own cameras; immediately after the ceremony they will start posing one another in friend/family/college/work groups, and each time I see one of these groups forming, I can jump in and take a professional quality photo for you. When a cocktail hour is outdoors, guests spread out comfortably and even walk down to the waterfront for photos. It’s one of my favorite parts of the day to photograph.
If you wait and take your photos after the ceremony (in the traditional manner) there is a good chance you’ll get very few photos of the cocktail hour. That’s because, even if you have two shooters, neither one of us may be able to spend much time at the cocktail hour. One photographer will be off taking the posed photos and the other is likely to dash off to the tent / reception space to record the reception details, as the venue/caterer typically won’t have the reception space pulled together until the very last minute, right before guests enter the space. So, chances are your cocktail hour will be only lightly photographed if you take formal photos after the ceremony.
Please talk with friends who have gotten married recently—some who took all the photos beforehand and some who did not see each other until the ceremony, then make the decision that is right for you. Though I totally recommend the First Look, I realize only you can decide what will work best for you.
If you do plan to take photos together before the ceremony, it would be nice to make a special moment of that first time you see each another. If you plan to exchange gifts on your wedding day, this might be a good time to do that.
There is no one-size-fits-all slate of formal photos. Some couples want to spend more time taking posed photos and being more creative with poses and locations, while others want to just hurry so they can get to their party. And, every couple has different family dynamics; if you have blended families or parents who have divorced, we might need several versions of “the family photo” in order to make everyone happy.
I let you tell me what photos you want. In deciding which posed photos you would like, please budget five minutes per group of five or less; add one minute per person for larger groups. If you want to get creative / go to multiple locations, I'll need to set aside a little more time.
Here is a fairly typical slate to get you thinking about which photos you want.
- Tracy Alone
- Tracy with Honor Attendant
- Tracy with All Attendants
- Tracy with Each Attendant
- Lee Alone
- Lee with Honor Attendant
- Lee with All Attendants
- Lee with Each Attendant
- T&L with All Attendants
- T&L with Tracy's Family
- T&L with Lee's Family
- Multi-generational shots (e.g., Tracy, Mother and Grandmother)
There are probably some groups that you want photographed outside of the formal (posed) session. These photos are usually taken during the cocktail hour or the reception. You might want a group photo of college friends, work friends, or an extended family groups. For each group, please name the group and designate a point-person. (Example: Bowdoin College Group/Point person Barry Mills) The point person’s job is to round up everyone in his/her group and then come tell the photographer "I have the such-and-such group ready, where do you want us?”
Sometimes the logistics work out for getting one giant photo of everyone in attendance. To accomplish this with the least amount of disruption, it's best to set this immediately after the ceremony ends (before guests begin to scatter) or right before the start of the reception (as guests are being herded into the reception.) Allow about 15 minutes to round up guests and take the photo.
Unless your wedding is very small, I simply can’t promise that I’ll get a photo of everyone there. It’s just not possible unless I spend the whole event walking around with a list in my hand crossing off names. I’ve asked for names of all your wedding party members and your immediate family members so I can focus on these people. But, I also need to know if there is anyone outside those two groups who absolutely has to be in a photo. Maybe it’s your Godparents or the person who set you two up on a blind date? Tell me about these people so I can make sure to seek them out.
Is there is anyone who has physical limitations that affect picture-taking? Or is overly self-conscious about a physical feature? Any ex’s who shouldn't be asked to stand near each other in a group shot? Any very old or very young guests who are leaving early? Please share anything I should be warned about.
Many of your vendors will stop me on the wedding and ask for photos for social media, blogs and websites. I am usually busy shooting when they ask me. If you can share names of important vendors here, I won’t have to put the camera down and stop shooting in order to collect their names and contact information when I should be shooting. As many names as you want to share would be great.
A special note about videographers
I pride myself on being as unobtrusive as possible, especially during the ceremony, toasts, first dance and parent dances. I try to find a spot where I will not block guests or interfere with their experience. If you hire a videographer who is also unobtrusive, we each stay out of each other's shots and things work perfectly. However, if you hire a videographer who sets up a tripod in the middle of the aisle or up by the altar, that blocks my view and I end up having to move in close, where I might also block guests. It's a good idea to let the videographer know ahead of time if you want unobtrusive coverage, and that guests and photographers should not be blocked if at all possible.
After the wedding
Please let me know (by email) if you change your names, mailing addresses or email addresses after the wedding. Please make sure we stay in touch at least until you have all the product that you are due (digital images, album, prints). Thanks!
After the wedding, if you have time, I’d love (by email) any feedback that you want to share. And, it doesn't have to be just about photography. I'm often asked to recommend venues and vendors, so if you want to share something that I can pass along to other couples using the same venue or vendors, that's wonderful. What would you tell another couple getting married there? What would you encourage them to do/not do? What was your favorite moment? Which of your vendors should I highly recommend? Did any vendor drop the ball? I don't want to recommend someone who failed to meet your expectations.
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