Thank you so much for hiring Jackalope Photography to be there for your big day! I couldn't be more thrilled to document this amazing time in your lives. I have been lucky to have witnessed almost 6 years of weddings, and over that time, I've learned a thing or two.
I wanted to create this guide for you, to help you along with some part of the planning process. It sure can be cumbersome and overwhelming. Having witnessed so many weddings over the past few years I came up with a little guide to help you not only create a day you’ll enjoy but will have some beautiful photos to match.
Take each piece of advice with a grain of salt. Enclosed in here are a few things and points I’d like to share that you can choose to use to make your photos that much better. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box and throw traditions (that don’t speak to you) into the wind. Some of the best weddings and parties I’ve had the honor to document all boiled down to one core truth: the day was truly about the couple, and what the couple wanted.
01. Your Wedding Team
Your team of people you surround yourself with on your wedding day are just as important as your photographer to make the day run smoothly. Below is a list of some of my favorite people I have worked with or know to help you guys make your decisions much easier.
Coordinators & Planners
DJ's & Bands
Hair & Makeup
(I am an approved vendor!)
02. Engagement Photos
After you guys are all booked, let's get that engagement session on the calendar! I like to schedule these as soon as you book as its important to get them on the calendar especially if you are looking for a fall session. In peak seasons - Spring, Fall and from Thanksgiving to Christmas I have week-day availability only. For this reason, please keep in mind what time the sun actually sets so that we can schedule accordingly.
A few of my favorite spots are located in this blog post: Location Ideas
If you are looking for a "different" type of session, check out this blog post: Engagement Session Ideas
03. Your Photography Timeline
Once we are roughly 1 month out from your big day I will send you a shot list questionnaire. On this questionnaire you will select important family groupings, details and more that you definitely want taken. Once you have submitted that, I will send you a timeline which will basically break down the photography of the day.
Throughout the day I will be referring to my smart watch, which houses the shot list, making sure that I capture every detail and family grouping that is important to you. Before I leave for the night, I will check in with you on shots that we may have missed due to timing or someone not being available to be sure to capture those shots.
04. The Big Day!
Once the big day arrives, I will show up and get the ball rolling with whatever you guys put on our timeline to be the first thing. I will roll through my timeline and shot list to make sure we capture everything we can for the day.
Below are a few really great tips / things to think about for the wedding day... like if you want to do a first look (DO IT!!) or thoughts on unplugged weddings or even things to think about for outdoor ceremonies!
I love to document both you and your partner getting ready in the morning! These photos will no doubt remind you of little nervous moments, happy tears as you see yourself in your dress, and the reactions of friends and family around you. Most people opt for the easiest location, which usually ends up being a cluttered relatives home or a stark hotel suite. I suggest instead finding a quaint Bed and Breakfast or scouring Air BnB for a beautifully decorated home.
The key is good light - anything with lots of open windows and interesting decor will help elevate your photos to the next level.
Outdoor ceremonies in the middle of the afternoon can be gorgeous but ensure you do so in a shady spot; the sun can be very intense. If
you’re going the outdoor route, I recommend trying to find a large tree or an awning. I don't want to see you squinting at a time when you
should be looking into the eyes of your love.
If you’re planning on an outdoor wedding in the summer, try to avoid scheduling your ceremony before 3pm (unless you are planning a
sunrise ceremony). I can’t really change the trajectory of the sun, and if you’re going to be in a non-shady spot, you and your partner
will be left with dark circles under your eyes and shadow mustaches below your nose. Ideally, schedule the ceremony 2-3 hours before
Also, if you are planning a wedding for the summer, think about the guys and the guests. If your ceremony is outdoors, try to avoid spots in direct sunlight so that the groom and the groomsmen aren't dripping in sweat and so that the guests are comfortable. Maybe suggest that guests can be a bit more casual or consider no jackets for the groom and groomsmen or at least putting paper fans on everyones seats so they can cool off a bit! Everyone will be thanking you in the end!
One more thing! Think about your exit as you walk down the aisle! Maybe give flower petals to the people on the end of the row, confetti canons (check with the venue to make sure this is allowed), bubbles... anything to be a bit different! Once you get to the end of the aisle stop for a second and kiss. This is a super cute shot because everyone is so excited and happy behind you!
The First Look
The first look can be one of the most romantic and intimate parts of your wedding day. I am a huge fan of this new tradition for a number of reasons.
First off, it gives you a (rare) chance to actually be alone on your
wedding day. It can be a beautiful moment where you both see one another prior to your ceremony and can actually privately have a genuine reaction without prying eyes.
Secondly, it gives your wedding day a natural ‘Flow’. If you choose to do a first look, I would schedule your family portraits and bridal party shots right after (and before your ceremony). The bonus of this is you get to enjoy cocktail hour and see so many more of your guests.
Your wedding day goes by really fast, and missing cocktail hour will mean you will not get to connect with as many of your loved ones as you can.
Finally - with so much time, money, heart and soul invested in your day a first look allows you to spend that much more time together!
Why invest so much of yourself and your pocket book in to this lovely celebration and then have to wait until half the day is over to see the love of your life?
In this day and age everyone has a camera in their pocket. While its incredible that the world is able to document and share our lives so easily, there are certain points in time where disconnecting is best. Your ceremony is a sacred moment that should commend the undivided attention of your guests. Its best they really hear your vows instead of trying to line up a shot on their iPhones. As you plan your beautiful day, please do consider these few points:
1. I have absolutely no issues with guests taking selfies during cocktail hour, taking photos during the reception, or getting a snap with you after the ceremony, but I ask that they stay seated and put their cameras away during the ceremony. Guests leaning over the aisle to get an iPhone or iPad shot can not only ruin my photos (that you are paying for), they can also get in the way of the groom seeing his bide at that moment or visa versa.
2. Guests with phones and cameras during the ceremony get in my way - I love your guests, but they don't know HOW to stay out of my way. If your loved ones are moving around trying to get shots for themselves, they will inevitable either step in front of my camera ruining what could have been a beautiful composition or trip over themselves and fall in the midst of your ceremony. I only say it as I have seen it happen...
3. Its a shame to invite your loved friends and family to your big day, look out into the audience and see an ocean of lenses and cell phones. Ask them to unplug for those 30 minutes or so and to remember the moments in their hearts and minds instead. You receive all the photos that I take and I promise you, you’ll much rather appreciate photos of guests wiping away tears, and smiling over photos of guests lining up to Instagram photos while you were reciting your vows.
In your invitation, inform guests that your ceremony will be a cellphone and camera free zone. Ask your officiant to make an announcement again PRIOR to your walk down the aisle - typically if this announcement is not made, people ignore any sign you have made or paid for telling them to put their phones down. I promise you, you’ll love your ceremony - and photos - that much more.
To make the most of the best light, I like to schedule your main couples portrait session about 15 minutes before the sun goes down, and photograph the two of you for about 20 minutes. In the summer time, this is usually scheduled during your reception, in between courses. Please do keep touch with me as you build your timeline as I want to give you the best possible results.
Also... Ladies... Your dress is GOING to get dirty and you can get it cleaned after the wedding if its that important. Please, don't stress about walking in the sand or getting a bit of dirt on it... What's the point of spending so much money on this dress if you aren't going to get awesome photos in it?!
Depending on your timeline, I like to photograph your families and bridal party just before the ceremony, so that you can freely enjoy your cocktail hour and mingle with as many guests as possible. If you are not doing a first look, this is done immediately after the ceremony.
To ensure I have enough time, I will send you a shot list questionnaire which will encompass everything you want photographed. This list will be with me day of and I will check off photos as I go to ensure that you get every single photo you want. To give you an idea of timing, for 20 individual groups, I require roughly 40 minutes of time.
Bridal Party Photographs
Now this is where I like to have some fun! I start out with shots of the bride/groom with each individual bridesmaid or groomsmen and then we move on to the group shots. I really like to do silly shots, so think some up if you want or I will just go with my standard flow of throwing the groom in the air, jump shots or your favorite boy band cover pose.
These tend to happen immediately after the family portraits so don't let people stray too far or start heavily drinking as we need people to pay attention and be there to knock these out quickly.
If you’re hosting your reception in a dark space with very little natural light, bistro style string lights are a great way to light up the area. Use them as a perimeter for the dance or for right above the head table. A great addition are lots and lots of tea lights and candles on the tables. The best lit venues for reception are a mix of window, candle and warm soft overhead lighting. (Large windows + string lights or chandeliers overhead + tea lights and candles on tables = photo success!)
- Try to ensure that there is a clear view of the two of you at the head table. Avoid large (tall) centerpieces in front or between the two of you (including your bridal bouquet) Your bridal bouquet is gorgeous but its place is not on the head table in front of you as it blocks my view of you during speeches and such. If at all possible, leave the two seats in front of you empty so that I can get a clear shot of your faces without seeing the back of someones head.
- Up lighting can be lovely, but avoid harsh colors like bright green or pink. I love DJ lights/lasers/smoke machines! If you can get a white spotlight for your first dance, it will make the photos so much more romantic.
- Try to seat the photographer in the reception room, ideally amongst your guests. There are so many spontaneous moments that happen during your reception that I will miss if I am not seated in the room. Additionally having the opportunity to get to know your guests during dinner, makes for much more intimate photos. Your guests will be more ‘themselves’ around me and in the photos, if they see me as one of them, vs. hired help.
- Try to avoid venues that lack natural light or ones that rely on overhead pot light systems. Unfortunately, these modern style venues end up limiting with what I can ‘fix’ with supplementary lighting or post production.
05. After The Wedding
Once everything is all done, I start the editing process. I will send you a handful of images to preview within 2 weeks of your wedding day. If you want any images faster (and more than around 5 shots), you can add on a 50 image preview that will be delivered within 1 week of your wedding - kinda fun for family to see quick shots! After roughly 90 days, you will receive your entire gallery. This gallery allows you to download all of the high res images and share with friends and family.
If you have decided to get an album you will be required to favorite your top 40 photos (or more if you opt to get more spreads). Once that is done, the album design process begins. For the framed photo in your Perfection or Premier collection I will ask you to choose your favorite photo to have printed after you have received your final gallery.
You can also order your images through my gallery! I would 100% suggest this over going to a big box store to do it as the quality is just that much nicer. If you are interested in items that are not included in the order form, please reach out to me and I can help you get whatever it is you are looking for!
Below you can see ALL of the photos from Amanda & Zach's wedding to get an idea of what you might get!