The morning of your wedding day can be some of the most fun moments you’ll have — but it can also be some of the more stressful. Here we’ll go over some things that will increase your changes of sipping more bubbly and less time stressing about the time.
We’ll also go over the timeline of the morning and how it pertains to photo & video and what things you can do for us that will maximize time and our efficiency!
THE FIRST HOUR
The first hour of preps is packed with things to do! When we arrive we’ll immediately start shooting the ‘details’ of your day (after we say our hello’s of course). These are things like your dress, your shoes, invitation suite, and any jewelry you may be wearing.
It’s really important to make sure that all those things are in one location and ready for us to start photographing. Although there are not as many details for the guys, we’ll still shoot them so the same advice applies!
If you included cinematography in your package (or if you’ve only hired us for video), we will try to do the Q&A session while the photo team is shooting details. The Q&A session is a short 7-8 minute sit down with one of our cinematographers where we ask you questions about your love story. It’s not an interview – more of a fun conversation where we learn about how you met and fell in love.
If you’re not done with your hair and make up yet, we’ll try to grab the Q&A sometime before we leave the preps. It’s important to get it done before you see each other so we can capture all that excitement and anticipation in your answers – there’s truly nothing like it!
Once we’re done shooting the details, we’ll capture some candid photos of you and your friends and family having a great time. Try to relax and not worry about the cameras around. It might be difficult at first but as the day goes on you’ll forget we’re even there!
HAIR & MAKEUP TOUCHUPS
OK it’s time to #GetReal. Having shot more than 200 weddings, what we are about to tell you is a fact. Hair and makeup is the #1 cause for timeline delays. It’s not always their fault since they have a lot of people to get through but it’s imperative you tell your H&M people that you need to be completely done and ready to go 30 minutes prior to the actual time you need to be done. This will give us a little buffer just incase things are running behind (and they most likely will).
When you’re completely done with your H&M, we’ll ask to shoot a few staged photos and video of you getting touchups done. The reason we do this is because most of the time your hair stylists and makeup artists will sit you in the darkest part of the room, using their artificial lights to do their job. Natural sunlight/window light is 100% better. If you want to save time (always a good idea), ask your H&M people to set up near large windows or doors – anywhere that there’s ample window light.
This is a photograph of a real bride getting her makeup done under the Makeup Artists artificial light. Unfortunately due to timing issues, we did not have enough time to stage any makeup or hair shots under optimal conditions.
This is a photograph of one of our brides during our “staged” touchups. We brought her and her makeup artist over to a window and used only natural daylight. SO. MUCH. BETTER.
Hopefully at this point everyone in your bridal party (including you) is done with hair and makeup. If you and your girls are wearing matching robes or special garments, nows the time we’ll grab some shots of you all wearing them. After we’re done with the robe shots, tell anyone you want helping you into your dress, to get dressed themselves!
We can’t forget about the men! But truth be told, their morning is a lot easier.
As we mentioned earlier, we’ll still arrive, say hello, and start with shooting the details. That should take about 15 minutes to complete. As we recommended to our bride, the groom should also have all his details in one location. Details for the men usually include:
Once the details are complete, we’ll bring your man over to a window and have him get dressed. First a few shots solo and then we’ll include his best man and/or father. Once fully dressed, we’ll shoot a few portraits of him – first by himself, and then with the other individuals that are present.
It’s time to get into your dress! At this point, the people helping you into your dress should be dressed in their formal attire – to us it just looks better than if they’re still in their sweats/robes. Ultimately though, this is your call on how you want them to look. We recommend only having the most important people in your life helping you – if not, the room could get over crowded.
The moments of you stepping into the dress can be really beautiful. We prefer to be present so we can capture what’s going on, but understand this isn’t for everyone. For those who don’t want us there, we’ll step out of the room until you’re comfortable. Remember that we want to capture those final zips so call us back in when you’re covered up.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE LIGHT
Where you’ll actually get into your dress will depend on a few factors but most importantly is the light in the room. If your preps are happening at your childhood home and you want to get ready in the room you grew up in, we’ll make it work but don’t be surprised if our shooters request to redo some photos in a room with better light. If you’ve seen work of ours and are hoping to get similar results, the whole MJS crew is trained to find the best possible light and shoot in those areas.
We may ask those getting you into your dress to re-zip or pretend to do certain actions while we capture different angles for the story. We’re always thinking about your story and how these images will tell it best.
JEWELRY & SHOES
Remember that your photographers and cinematographers will want to document you getting into every aspect of your wedding attire. That includes you putting on any jewelry and your shoes. This is also a great opportunity for other important people in your life to get some screen time.
GIFTS & CARDS
At this point you’re completely dressed and technically ready to get to either your first look or the ceremony. However there are still a few key moments that are great storytelling opportunities that will be used in your heirloom storybook and your film.
The first is a gift and/or card exchange.
First, let us say that it’s not imperative that you do either of these, really. Out of the two though, we see much more value in a card. Not only is it special to hear the beautiful words of your soon-to-be husband or wife, it’s also much much cheaper!
We prefer you to read it aloud so we can use it in the film – another great storytelling moment!
DAD FIRST LOOK
If your father will be part of your wedding day and you want to have a moment where he sees you for the first time, we’ll set up what’s called the “Dad First Look.” We’ll have him enter the room and see you in all your glory. It usually results in some really sweet and tender moments (but don’t worry if Dad doesn’t get emotional – not all men verbalize or show their feelings). Regardless, it’s a great way to have a special moment with one of the most important people in your life.
BRIDESMAIDS FIRST LOOK
Let’s assume you took our advice and only let a select few people help you get dressed. That means there’s potentially a good number of your bridesmaids who haven’t seen you yet in your wedding dress. So guess what – another storytelling opportunity! We’ll gather all your girls into one room and have you enter. We especially love this moment b/c we’ll see a bunch of different emotions – from shock and amazement to tears of happiness and joy. We’ll never force you to do anything you don’t want to, so if this isn’t something that interests you, no worries!
If you’re seeing each other at a first look, now would be when we would leave for that. However if you’re seeing each other in the traditional setting of the ceremony, we’ll want to grab as many portraits before the ceremony as possible. That includes parents, bridal party, and any family members that are there at your preps. Our goal is to get all solo combinations (meaning any requested photographs where it’s just YOU, not you + your soon-to-be spouse) completed.
The cinema crew would most likely not stay for this and head to the ceremony to set up. They have a much more challenging ceremony prep that the photographers. They need a minimum of 30 minutes before the ceremony start to get everything completed – keep that in mind when scheduling everything that morning. Sometimes that means leaving 1 hour before the start because travel times from the prep to the ceremony might be a while.
We’ll be asking you to create a very detailed list of combinations that you want us to photograph. Our biggest fear is that days, months, or years after your wedding, you realize we never got a photo of you and someone important in your life. A wedding day is jam packed with things to do, we don’t want to leave this part of the day up to chance.
Here’s what a typical photo list looks like before the ceremony (note these will differ slightly depending on your family and bridal party). Also, if we are running behind in regards to timing, we’ll do these during the family formal session:
HEAD TO CEREMONY
You’ve done everything you need to do – now it’s time to get married! If time allows, your photographer may stay and photograph you getting into your car. If not, both the photo and video teams will capture you arriving at the church and exiting your car.
Arrive 30 MINUTES PRIOR
This will give you enough time to welcome some of your guests, speak with your officiant, and make sure you don’t cross paths with your bride.
Arrive 10 minutes prior
This will have you there on time but not too early.