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  • Joe and Jenny

Wedding Q&A to plan your day!

Updated: Mar 6

wedding party standing in front of amphitheater in downtown Asheville

Did anyone notice how that blog title rhymed? :) Last year we wrote a blog on our most frequently asked questions. Thus far it has been a hit in helping us to quickly answer many of our couples’ most common questions! However, most of those questions were the type of questions you would ask your photographer prior to booking. As many of you know, there’s a whole other list of questions that you’ll likely have leading up to your wedding day! We decided to use this blog as a platform to answer many of those common wedding photography questions that will help you to better plan your day and solidify your timeline!

Should we do family photos before or after the ceremony?

All of these are great questions but we put this one at the top as it is especially important when building the timeline for a wedding and thinking about how you want to spend your time on your big day. Some of the benefits of doing your family portraits before your ceremony are being able to attend cocktail hour with your guests, making time for more couples photos at a time of day when the light is likely more ideal, and it saves you the headache of not spending upwards of 20 minutes looking for that one family member who decided to go missing because they hit the open bar as soon as you said I do. You can also go the traditional route and plan to do all of your family photos after the ceremony. This will allow more flexibility earlier in your wedding day when it comes to when need to be done with brunch, hair and make up, etc, as you won’t be as rushed to have everything done so you can squeeze in family photos. There’s also the split route where you can choose to have individual family photos with your side of the family done before the ceremony while your soon to be husband or wife gets photos with their side of the family. This is a great option if you don’t want to see each other before the ceremony and can still help with the overall flow of the day. There’s no right or wrong answer here, it’s your big day, do what feels best for you. Pro tip: If you didn’t plan on doing any family photos (separate or together) prior to the ceremony but you find yourself ahead of schedule, it’s always a good idea to squeeze in a few groupings beforehand, just incase you end up running behind later.

How do we get the family photos completed faster so we can enjoy cocktail hour?

Make your list smaller (just kidding!). No in all seriousness, the best way to ensure you get your family photos completed efficiently is to 1) Make a list of the family members you want combined in your photos (specifically how you want them combined). 2) Order the list in an order that flows. Your wedding photographer can help you with this but an example of something we do to help make the flow easier is keeping the bride in place for every possible combination until she’s not needed. It’s easy for the groom to step in and out whereas the bride requires her dress to be set and possibly her veil. Each additional time you have to re-adjust her dress and veil extends this part of the day even longer. 3) Lastly, our favorite tip, make sure to let your family members know a few weeks ahead of time when, where, and if they need to be present for family portraits on your wedding day. If all of the above tips are done and this one is missing, you can spend a lot of precious time looking for certain family members. Then what typically happens is they send another family member to go find that family member, and will say “Ok can we move on to what’s next on the list?” and then it will likely be a combo that can’t be completed because you just sent a family member who was apart of it to go find a family member that was supposed to be a part of the last one (lol…we see this one all the time). Trust us when we say, your extended families won’t know to stick around unless you tell them. Let your aunts, uncles, cousins, spouses of siblings, etc. know to stick around if you want them in the family combos, it will save you a ton of time on your wedding day. Another pro tip: If you have a large family and you’re still worried about it taking too long even with the above tips, use the post ceremony time for immediate family members and grab a few extended family shots during the reception when nothing but dancing is going on.

How do we get a photo with everyone at the wedding?

With more and more intimate and moderate sized weddings, this has become a popular request over the last few years. While it may seem like an impossible task to corral 100 guests for a group photo, with a little bit of strategy it’s quite easy! The following are 4 options we’ve seen work well to get such a shot!

A) Once you reach the end of the aisle during your recessional, stop. Have your officiant, DJ, or photographer make an announcement to have everyone stand up, turn around, and gather in close! You’ve already got everyone in place from the ceremony, it’s an easy, fun, and efficient way to pull everyone in for a quick shot! Note: Not all venues are created equal in terms of lighting, layout and space so before you decide on this strategy, make sure to discuss it with your photographer.

B) Have your DJ make an announcement during the reception that the bride and groom would like everyone to gather on the dance floor (or patio, or front steps, etc.) for a group photo! This one works well also. If it is super important to you to have a shot with everyone, make sure not to wait too late into the evening as guests do leave throughout the day!

C) Mission Impossible: This is a fun option where the DJ explains that he is going to play a song (usually the mission impossible theme song) and during that time the bride and groom are going to make their way to every table in the reception space to snap a quick photo! The goal is for the bride and groom to hit every table before the song ends. It’s a fun little game to play during the reception and allows you to get a photo with everyone.

D) If you have a photo booth, we’ve also seen the DJ make an announcement along the lines of “Hey everyone, the bride and groom are currently at the photo booth, and have requested that they get everyone to come up so they can grab a photo with all of you before the night is over so be sure to head over and grab a quick photo with the bride and groom!” This option works well if you have a fast and efficient photo booth set up and if your wedding is on the smaller side. We wouldn’t recommend this idea with 200+ guests.

group shot of everyone at the wedding in front of a pool
bride and groom kissing in front of all the wedding guests

Should we do a first look?

This is a subject that we’ve covered in depth in the past, even giving it it’s own blog! For the purposes of answering it here, Yes and No! It’s totally up to you! Some of the benefits of doing a first look are allowing you to get in more couples portraits, giving you a moment to share with your bride/groom alone (one of the few you’ll actually have on your wedding day), it allows you the option to squeeze in all your family photos pre-ceremony and if the weather is looking like it may rain after the ceremony, it allows you the option to get at least some photos outside at your venue. However, some couples want to keep it traditional and save this special moment for the wedding ceremony. We’ve been a part of a ton of weddings and whether you choose to do a first look or wait until the ceremony, both options can be beautiful and moving. Stick with your vision on this and go with what feels right for your wedding.

groom awaiting the arrival of the bride for the first look

When would you suggest we do our couples portraits?

This is a twofold answer. If there is rain in the forecast, get them in when you can! If there isn’t any rain in the forecast and all things go smooth with your timeline. Try to schedule the majority of your couples portraits during golden hour (i.e. the hour leading up to sunset). In our experience, couples usually value these photos the most and this time of the day will in most cases yield the best light!

dramatic lighting portrait of the bride and groom in a flower field
sunset portrait of the bride and groom in the mountains

Our venue doesn’t allow sparkler exits, do you have any other recommendations or ideas for that?

For venues that don’t allow sparklers, we’ve seen everything from light sabers to human tunnels of guests holding their cell phones in the air. I would say the two options that tend to have the best look in place of sparklers are bubbles and streamers/pom poms!

bride and groom exiting through bubbles

When should we do our ceremony?

Depending on your venue (or venues for that matter), your transportation situation, time of year, etc., you may not be given an option on this. Sometimes certain ceremony spaces are booked and they only give you a few available times throughout the day. Other times, many venues are all inclusive in terms of their event planning, catering, etc. so they have a format they follow for timelines and rarely will they vary from it. If you have the option and your venue doesn’t fall into one of the above categories, we usually suggest having your ceremony in the evening between 4-6 when possible for the best lighting. It’s not to say if it’s outside of this window of time your photos of the ceremony won’t be gorgeous, but it definitely stacks the odds in your favor. An example break down of this might be:

  • 4:30 - 5:00pm ceremony

  • 5:05 - 5:35pm post ceremony family photos

  • 5:35 - 5:55pm bridal party photos

  • 6:00 - 6:30pm couples portraits (sunset 6:30pm)

Now this is by no means the only way to set up your ceremony timing. It’s just an example. Based on your venue, individual differences, planner, vision for the day etc. it may work out better to modify this completely, or you may find this fits perfectly!

mountain top elopement

Do people do first looks with their Dads?

Yes! First looks with Dads are by far one of the sweetest moments you are likely to experience on your wedding day! It’s not something that I would say every bride does or even a lot of brides, but for those who do, it’s so special!

bride smiling at her dad as he smiles at her

Will having an uneven number of bridesmaids/groomsmen look weird in photos? Should we cut one?

Fear not! Even if you have 5 groomsmen instead of 6, you can still create some great looks for your images! There are a few strategies and set ups that can help minimize how noticeable an uneven number is in pictures, but overall it’s not as apparent as most people would think.

wedding party walking in front of downtown Asheville

We were thinking of doing something during the reception like the shoe game, is that still a thing or is that lame now?

We are all about games, personalities on display, and having fun at your reception! The shoe game, the game where the groom goes blind folded and feels other peoples’ hands until he finds his bride, the bouquet toss, all of these and more are still hits on wedding days! If you’re leaning towards wanting to do it, we would encourage you not to worry about trends, just do you, make it your own, and have fun with it!

bride laughing during the shoe game

We hope you have found this article helpful in planning your special day! If there are any photo related questions you would love us to cover but didn’t see discussed here, feel free to drop us a line!

Joe & Jenny

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