Love is Magic

We know photography is one of the larger investments you're making for your wedding day and we're so excited to give you this guide and with it our knowledge from 8 years of photographing weddings, planning timelines and making your life easier!

Even if you're working with a wedding planner or you're planning a simple wedding, there are likely still a lot of moving pieces left leading up to your big day. 

Having photographed over 100 weddings over the past few years, we tend to get asked the same things over and over again. So we thought it would be beneficial if we put together a guide that walks you through everything from engagement sessions to  timelines.

A NOTE ABOUT THIS GUIDE

Please don't hesitate to let us know if we can offer any additional guidance throughout the wedding planning process! We've placed a contact box at the end of this guide to make it easier for you to get in touch!

- chanelle & ernest

ENGAGEMENT

session

We’re big fans of engagement sessions for a few reasons. First, they allow you to get comfortable in front of the camera. It takes time for most couples to warm up to being photographed and understand how we pose. Timelines can be pretty tight on weddings days and 30 minutes may be all we have for portraits - which is why we’ve found that wedding day portraits turn out so much better when couples do engagement sessions ahead of time.

This session will make a HUGE impact on how the wedding day flows. I’ll arrive on your wedding day already knowing how you two interact, what your best poses are and how to photogaph you in a genuine way! What I will learn about you during your engagement session is invaluable!

You will feel like such a pro on your big day because of the great practice you had during your engagement session! Since this is likely your first professional photo shoot, these tips will help you prepare.

HOW TO PREPARE

HOW TO FEEL COMFORTABLE IN FRONT OF A CAMERA

PORTRAITS

LIGHTING AND PHOTO TIMING

SEASONS

BEST SO CAL PORTRAIT LOCATIONS

LOCATIONS

 - Don’t try to match, try to pick outfits and accessories that coordinate instead. Don't wear the exact same color. Do wear the same color family, like a dark and a light of the same color. Try pastels or light colors contrasted with bold color.

 - Accessorize and make your outfits your own! Try bold jewellery or shoes with solid colors.

 - Try to avoid graphics and overwhelming patterns.   - Fitted clothing photographs better than loose clothing but a flowy dress is more fun and carefree than a mini skirt. - Start with a formal outfit and bring along a casual one too. This will give your shoot two totally different looks.

 - It's a great time to have a trial run with your makeup artist and hairstylist. You should look and feel your best on the day of your session.

 - Empty your pockets. You don’t want to have keys or phones showing through your pockets.

 - Be on time! The sun is only out for so long. The later you arrive, the less time we have to shoot!

 - Clean the ring! I love to shoot a few ring shots while you change outfits. The cleaner the better!

 - Relax! You don’t have to be a pro at this! I am going to help you along the way and it’s going to be a blast. Enjoy this time together and make a date out of it. Plan dinner afterwards and celebrate!!

WHAT TO WEAR

1. Don't drink the night before you have photos taken. Drinking dehydrates your skin and makes your eyes puffy. A few the morning of is totally fine as long as you Hydrate before and after you pop the champagne or toss back the shots.

2. Make sure to eat while you are getting ready. Grab a sandwich platter for the bride and bridesmaids and the groom and groomsmen.

3. Keep the bridal / groom prep areas neat and tidy. The background of your photos matter!

4. Wear something nice before getting into your gown.

5. Choose getting ready rooms with lots of natural light, the more windows, the better.

6. Make sure there is a non-bridalparty, kid rangler available for the bridal party photos.

7. Put your wedding cake in a nice location free of distracting background elements.

8. Do not eat during the toasts. Chewing food does not make for a flattering photograph.

tips

Better Photo

WEDDING

getting ready

1. I find that 1.5 hours of coverage is the sweet spot. It gives me enough time to settle in, get photos of your details, photos of you actually getting dressed, and all the sweet and happy moments in between.
2. Add lots of buffer time for your hair and make up. For whatever reason, hair & makeup tends to be the thing that sets everything behind schedule, so be sure you have a large enough window between when your MUA finishes and when you need to be out the door. I’d say 1 hour is safe. It may seem like a stretch but trust me, if it means avoiding rushing to your own wedding, you won’t regret it. Plan for all of your family/wedding party to be done and dressed around the same time as well so they can help you into your dress.
3. Will you and your groom exchange gifts or letters during this time? If so make sure your photographers are present when you open them. 
4. Gather every detail you want photographed beforehand and leave it all together. If they’re all in one place when I arrive, I won’ t have to bug you or distract you and you can just focus on getting ready!
5. Are there certain women in your life who would appreciate seeing you get into your gown?
6. Refrain from putting any jewlery on. I love shooting all of those final steps once you’re in your gown!
7. If your gown is on a plastic hanger, try to bring a wooden hanger along for picture sake.
8. Do you want to share a “first look” with your fiance, your dad or any other person who plays a huge role in your life? 
9. Get ready somewhere within a 10-15 minute drive of your ceremony or venue! If something happens and sets you back by 10-15 minutes, it will be extra stressful knowing you have a 30 minute drive with possible traffic than if it’s right down the street!There are a few things to consider about the “getting ready” time portion of the day. 

Keep reading along for more getting ready tips to help you prepare!

1. I find that 1.5 hours of coverage is the sweet spot. It gives me enough time to settle in, get photos of your details, photos of you actually getting dressed, and all the sweet and happy moments in between.

2. Add lots of buffer time for your hair and make up. For whatever reason, hair & makeup tends to be the thing that sets everything behind schedule, so be sure you have a large enough window between when your MUA finishes and when you need to be out the door. I’d say 1 hour is safe. It may seem like a stretch but trust me, if it means avoiding rushing to your own wedding, you won’t regret it. Plan for all of your family/wedding party to be done and dressed around the same time as well so they can help you into your dress.

3. Will you and your groom exchange gifts or letters during this time? If so make sure your photographers are present when you open them. 

4. Gather every detail you want photographed beforehand and leave it all together. If they’re all in one place when I arrive, I won’ t have to bug you or distract you and you can just focus on getting ready!

5. Are there certain women in your life who would appreciate seeing you get into your gown?

6. Refrain from putting any jewlery on. I love shooting all of those final steps once you’re in your gown!

7. If your gown is on a plastic hanger, try to bring a wooden hanger along for picture sake.

8. Do you want to share a “first look” with your fiance, your dad or any other person who plays a huge role in your life? 

9. Get ready somewhere within a 10-15 minute drive of your ceremony or venue! If something happens and sets you back by 10-15 minutes, it will be extra stressful knowing you have a 30 minute drive with possible traffic than if it’s right down the street! 

Keep reading along for more getting ready tips to help you prepare!

There are so many moments that happen while you prepare for the day: having your groomsmen, best friends and family around to help you dress and goof around with you. These people have had a hand in creating the person you are and the memories you make with them, on the day of your wedding, are entirely unique and can never be recreated on any other day or in any other place. Bask in those moments, thank your groomsmen with a unique gift, have your last beer or shot as a Bachelor and let your photographer capture the memory.

SHOES
BELT
SUSPENDERS
TIE  
CUFFLINKS

WHAT TO GATHER:

WATCH
COLOGNE
BOUTINEERS
GROOMSMEN GIFTS
LETTER FROM BRIDE

Groom Details

DETAILS

Groom

Usually when I arrive on the day of a wedding, the Bride is preoccupied with hair and makeup. It is at this time that I shoot the dress and all of your details.

My main goal during Bridal Prep is to make sure that my Brides are excited without stressing out. I recommend having the dress and details gathered and easily accessible when I arrive, this way I do not have to bother you, while you mentally prepare for the day ahead.

BOUQUET
GARTER
INVITATIONS
BORROWED & BLUE
BRIDESMAID GIFTS
LETTER FROM GROOM

DRESS
VEIL / HAIR PIECES
RINGS (ALL THREE)
SHOES
JEWELRY
PERFUME

WHAT TO GATHER:

Bride Details

DETAILS

Bride

Boudoir photography is a fun and sexy trend that's especially popular as a wedding day gift from a bride to her groom. Many brides like to have the best of their boudoir photos bound in a mini album just for their hubby. Boudoir photos are usually taken wearing either just a little, or well, nothing at all. 

Schedule a boudoir session a few weeks before your wedding day in addtion to or as an alternative to an engagement session. A fun and pampering photo shoot, before the big day is a good way to indulge and take some time out from wedding planning. Or let me know you want to add a mini shoot the morning of your wedding. All we need is a private space with natural lighting. It will take about 15 minutes, after hair and makeup and right before you get into your dress.

The most important thing—choose outfits that make you feel confident and sexy. A good rule of thumb: Bring something white, something black, and something in a bright color or a sheer robe so you can mix and match. In addition to lingerie, don't forget shoes, jewelry, veil, garter and that engagement ring.

SEXY & FUN

Boudoir

FIRST LOOK

why its worth it

That moment when you see each other for the first time on your wedding day is magical! About half of my couples choose to do a First Look. I’m all for tradition and you are in no way obligated to do a First Look, I only recommend it because I want the best for you. A first look gives the two of you a private moment to share before the rest of the wedding day craziness. Remember why you are getting married – because two people fell in love. Here are a few reasons to choose a First Look:

If you’re expecting poor weather on your wedding day, it might be best to plan on a first look because it gives you more options for pictures. If it’s pouring rain after the ceremony, you’ll be thankful you had pictures done in advance.

If you know the tears are going to fall the first time you see your other half the day of your wedding, a first look will give you time to freshen up before the ceremony.

First look or not, the first time you see each other on your wedding day will be special.

When there is no first look, the majority of the pictures have to be taken after the ceremony. Family pictures, full bridal party pictures, and then bride and groom portraits can feel a little rushed.

A first look can help your wedding feel a lot more laid back, your Portraits aren't rushed and you will have more time to hang out with your Bridalparty before your Ceremony. You'll maximize the number of Couple Portraits you'll get because you will have 2 rounds of Portraits; plus splitting the time won't make Photo taking feel painfully long. Lastly, you'll get to enjoy part of your cocktail hour!

Couples who are not interested in a First Look usually think that by seeing each other beforehand, it will not be as emotional or as intimate. Most brides don’t realize that when you come down the aisle he can’t tell you how amazing you look. he can’t touch you, embrace you or even speak to you. And most Grooms tell us that they feel so much pressure to have the right reaction with all of your guests eyes on him.

A First Look is an opportunity to enjoy an intimate moment alone, and reflect on all this day means for you both. And you'll be SO much more relaxed and ready for the ceremony! Our Couples have told us the First Look was the only time they had alone together all day!

AVOID POSSIBLE BAD WEATHER AND/OR HAVE TIME TO FRESHEN-UP AFTER CRYING

YOU'LL HAVE MORE TIME FOR PICTURES WITHOUT SACRIFICING COCKTAIL HOUR

A FIRST LOOK CUTS NERVES AND gives you an intimate experience

WEDDING

ceremony to reception

Ceremony lighting is really important, if you get married outdoors at 12pm, the lighting will be extremely harsh and not only will there be harsh lines of light on your faces, you will also be squinting. I suggest planning an outdoor ceremony 2 hours before sunset if you are having a First Look. If you are not interested in sharing a first look, then I would suggest having your ceremony 3 hours before sunset to ensure that you will have plenty of time for all of your portraits afterwards. The lower the sun, the more romantic the lighting. If you are having an indoor ceremony, it is always best to have even lighiting at the altar. If there are two spotlights on the bride and groom, I will not be able to expose the rest of the bridal party. It is better to have soft, even light across the whole altar.

Imagine this, you are standing at the front of the aisle and you cannot see your fiancee becasue guests are leaning and standing in the aisle to take a shot of you. You can’t see the expression on your fiancees face, but you do see him straining to see you. Then you notice one of your close friends not looking at you, but at her cell phone. Everywhere you look you see your favorite people staring at their devices. All in all it wasn’t the moment you thought it would be–people seemed more interested in taking pictures than being present in the moment with you.

When your photos come back from your wedding photographer, all of your Ceremony photos are framed with guests holding devices. People are smiling, but they're all staring at little screens. I know that it can be super-frustrating to spend a small fortune on wedding photography and have guests block your photographers shots, or spend your entire wedding with a phone in front of their face. But how do you get family and friends to understand that you want to have them present and not using devices during the ceremony? Post a sign as people enter the ceremony space, include instruction in your printed program and before the Ceremony begins have a family member or officiant read a short request.

CEREMONY

Unplugged

I absolutely love meeting couple’s families on the wedding day! Family formals are normally my first interaction with them and so I love to have a game plan for this part of the day. I tackle family formals by starting with a big group photo of both sides of the family. Then I ask one side to step out and work my way down to smaller and smaller groups before asking the other side to step back in. Below I have listed the standard photos I take. Four weeks before the wedding, you’ll receive a questionnaire from me that will ask you to list any additional family formals you want us to capture and notify us of special family situations (like divorses and disabilities). 

We do have to limit the family formal time in order to ensure that we have plenty of daylight for your romantic portraits. However, any large family group shots that we don’t accomplish during family formals, we can be sure to capture at the reception! Keep in mind that family formals are for immediate family. At the reception, we take group shots with each table as you go around greeting and thanking your guests. So don’t worry we will make sure you get a photo with everyone! 

EXPLAINED

Family Formals

B&G with Bride’s Immediate Family
(Parents, Siblings, Grandparents, Nieces, Nephews)
B&G with Bride’s Parents & Siblings
B&G with Bride’s Siblings B&G with Bride’s Grandparents
B&G with Bride’s Parents
B&G with both sets of Parents

B&G with Groom’s Immediate Family
(Parents, Siblings, Grandparents, Nieces, Nephews)
B&G with Groom’s Parents & Siblings
B&G with Groom’s Siblings
B&G with Groom’s Grandparents
B&G with Bride’s Parents

Receptions can be a blast! Much like the ceremony, you have the freedom to make your reception your own! It’s your party, it should be exactly how you want it to be! Make sure that you plan out all of the aspects of the evening. Your coordinator and your DJ will help you plan the flow and design of the reception but I do have a few recommendations for you based on my experience.

tips

Reception

It is my recommendation that you take care of formal traditions at the start of the Reception, one right after another. Formal traditions are events like the Bridal Party Introductions, Toasts, First Dance, Parent Dances, Cake Cutting, etc. If you eliminate the wait time guests spend between events, you will guarantee that everyone will be present to enjoy these moments with you. This is especially important if you have elderly guests or families with children that are not able to stay until the very end.

The biggest benefit is that you will spend more time celebrating and dancing with your guests if you have all of the reception traditions out of the way early on.

I also recommend ending the formal traditions with one of these events: Money Dance, Bouquet & Garter Toss or a Large Group Photo. Since most guests will be up and away from their tables, the DJ can easily transition into the open dance floor portion of the night.  

WHY YOU NEED A MAGICIAN

ENTERTAINMENT

RECEPTION timeline

TIMELINE

OPTIONS

Wether you're planning a First Look or Sticking with Tradition and not seeing each other until you walk down the aisle, we have tips to help make planning your timeline as easy as possible.

NO FIRST LOOK,
AT MULTIPLE LOCATIONS

NO FIRST LOOK, AT ONE VENUE

TIMELINE WITH A FIRST LOOK

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Send me any questions or comments about anything you've read above.
Or just shoot me a quick note and let me know you have finished and are prepared for your Wedding Day!

contact chanelle

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