We are so honored and thrilled that you would have us join you on such an intimate and special day.
We want your wedding experience to be a memorable one and hope to help make things as easy as possible for you.
So, we've put together this wedding guide to help you plan and prep- from getting ready to sparkler exits.
Let us know if you have questions along the way. We are always willing to help in any way that we can!
Getting ready images are some of our favorites from a wedding day: the anticipation, the excitement, the emotion as mom or a best friends sees you step into your dress. However, the vibe can easily be squashed by aesthetic. Here are some things to consider when planning for your getting ready space:
Light: The most important thing is that their is ample natural light. We HIGHLY recommend that there be enough light coming through the windows that we can turn all lights in the room off. Artificial light creates an orange hue on your skin that isn't pretty no matter how much we edit and alter it. Ask your MUA to position you in front of a window before starting your makeup.
Decor: We suggest renting an Air BnB with white walls and very little clutter. It also helps to assign a bridesmaid or family member to keep the mess and clutter of clothes, bags, food etc neat and tidy.
Distractions: It's always a good idea to decide beforehand what kind of energy you want around you in the early hours of your wedding day. Do you want loud music and lots of people? Do you want quiet and to only have a close friend in the room? Set expectations with family and friends so that your day is free of unnecessary stress. We can't tell you how much of a bummer it is when a bride is stepping into her dress, starts to tear up out of excitement, and a family member spoils the moment and yells over, "Hey can you help solve 'x' problem really quick?" Let family and friends know that during bridal prep, specifically getting into your dress, to please let you enjoy these moments.
Typically we take all of the personal detail shots during bridal prep. Gather everything you'd like photographed- dress, shoes, invitations, rings, jewelry, perfume, and anything else sentimental and put it in one place so that we can take those photographs in a timely manner. If these detail shots are important to you, we recommend having a coordinating silk ribbon, flowers, greenery, or something else pretty to add some texture in your detail shots. If you aren't sure where to get something like this or need a more specific suggestion on what to purchase, let us know! We're down to help. :)
Many of our couples ask our opinions on first looks and our answer has always been that it 100% depends on the couple.
For some couples, it eliminates a lot of unnecessary stress: the schedule runs a little smoother and they get to see each other for the first time in a more private, intimate setting.
For others, that moment when they walk down the aisle and see each other for the first time is so important. They want that "first look" to be during the excitement of their ceremony and they want family and friends to be a part of it.
Both choices are awesome and we fully support either!
What we do suggest is, either way, exchange letters. This adds a more personal, intimate piece into your day, whether you read them separately before you walk down the aisle or read them to each other during your first look. Wedding days often become so crowded with things that need to be done or photos that need to be taken. Letters to each other is an easy, beautiful way to stay focused on what you're there for in those early hours of the day.
We ask that our couples keep the family shot list to less than 10 portraits (and we are happy to help you navigate this if you find you have a list of 30 portraits you thought you needed). Family portraits can be extremely time consuming if things are not organized, though we try and make them as quick and easy as possible. Make sure to tell family WHO is in family portraits, WHERE they will be, and WHEN (and we suggest telling them 15 minutes earlier, just in case).
We also ask that family members avoid taking their own photos during this time. It often leads to wandering eyes in the professional photographs and makes things take way longer than they should.
Here is an example of a Family Formal shot list:
1. Bride and groom with both sets of parents
2. Bride and groom with bride's parents
3. Bride and groom with groom's parents
4. Bride and groom with bride's immediate family
5. Bride and groom with groom's immediate family
6. Bride and groom with bride's immediate family + grandparents
7. Bride and groom with bride's grandparents
8. Bride and groom with groom's immediate family + grandparents
9. Bride and groom with groom's grandparents
10. Any other combination - obviously, things can change if there is divorce, remarriage, etc.
Bridal Party Portraits
Bridal party portraits are a time to let loose a little bit. We'll likely make you do a little bit of running around, lots of laughing, and most definitely bear hugs.
All that we ask* is that your bridal party be present (and ready) during this time. Be sure to give them a heads up on where to be and when.
*Oh, and maybe discourage drunkeness before the ceremony starts. ;)
We ask our couples to give us an hour of scheduled portrait time with just the two of them. Lots of things get moved around on your wedding day... THIS ISN'T ONE OF THEM!
The portraits of just the two of you are so important because they are the photos that you'll hang on your wall and the photos your kids will one day treasure.
We shoot these after your ceremony, just before sunset. At that point, our brides are much less nervous about getting their dress dirty, the nerves have passed, and the two of you are giddy over MARRIAGE! We love that it's a time for the two of you to relax, snuggle up close, and be together away from wedding craziness.
That being said, be do not allow family members, friends, bridal party, etc to come along and watch during this portion. Above all else, we want it to be an intimate piece of your day where you're able to drown everything out while we make killer images of the two of you.
Ahh, your wedding ceremony! We love to witness our couples sharing vows and I can't promise that we won't cry. There are a few things that will heavily impact the photos during your ceremony:
Light: Even, soft, evening light photographs like a dream. However, if the sun is still high, we suggest back-lighting yourselves so that the sun is behind your officiant. That way, you are back lit evenly. If you have questions about this, please ask! This one is important!!
PLEASE, HAVE AN UNPLUGGED CEREMONY: Encourage your guests to be present. We HIGHLY suggest you put a sign walking into your ceremony or something bold in your programs that you will not allow photographs or videos to be taken during your ceremony. That iPhone photo your Uncle Bob takes will not only not be as good as your professional photos, it gets in the way, is a disruption, and can RUIN your professional photos. If you're not convinced, please ask us about the MANY horror stories we have seen/heard/experienced because of cell phones/iPads/cameras at weddings.
Reception lighting greatly varies by location. Most of our couples opt for an outdoor setting, underneath twinkling market lights. We do our best to embrace the mood and grit and very rarely use a flash outside of dance party photos. If you are having an outdoor reception (or an indoor one with more romantic lighting), please use a LOT of candles and/or market lights, otherwise it will make it very tricky for us.
When our couples eat, we eat*. No one enjoys being photographed while they are stuffing their face, so we take this opportunity to get some food in our bellies and take a few minutes off of our feet before the dance party begins.
*Friendly reminder: feed us what you and your guests eat. Vendor meals are generally a PBJ sandwich (MAYBE spaghetti, if we're lucky) and this is usually our only meal during our 8-10 hours of work.
Sparkler exits are super fun and make for really gorgeous photos. However, it's a huge bust if half of your guests leave and there aren't enough sparklers to illuminate the way to your exit. We suggest that you do one of two things if you are considering a sparkler exit:
1. Make it an early night. Many guests will leave after an hour of open dance floor. We suggest scheduling your exit about 45 mins after open dance floor begins.
2. If you're having an outdoor reception, consider doing a sparkler first dance instead! Your guests can circle around the dance floor and illuminate your first dance. SO gorgeous!
Also- make sure you purchase the long sparklers as the short ones burn out too quickly.
THE SHEPARDS ARE A HUSBAND & WIFE WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY TEAM DOCUMENTING RAW, HONEST LOVE STORIES
IN PHOENIX, ARIZONA AND ACROSS THE UNITED STATES.
THEY LOVE TO TAKE PHOTOS OF COUPLES THAT CAPTURE WHO THEY ARE AND HOW THEY LOVE EACH OTHER.
THEY LOVE ADVENTURE AND AREN'T AFRAID TO TAKE RISKS TO GET BEAUTIFUL PHOTOS.