Just as no individuals are exactly the same, no weddings are exactly the same either. That is why I make it a priority, before the wedding day, to learn about my bride’s and groom’s priorities. Once I understand those priorities, they become my priorities as well. One way I do that is by making sure to have a very detailed schedule—approved by the bride and groom—of each significant event during their wedding day.
While no two weddings are the same, there are often general similarities between them.
First, I usually arrive right after everyone wakes up and take some time meeting family members and documenting the details of the morning: dress, hair, makeup, jewelry, shoes, bridesmaids, groom shaving, tying tie, groomsmen, etc.
Once everyone is ready, I head out to a location we have chosen for a first look, taking signature bride and groom portraits while allowing them to take some time to just be together, away from the hustle and bustle, away from the gaze of family and friends, as the day gets started.
Afterwards, we’ll often capture the wedding party portraits, finishing about an hour before the ceremony, allowing everyone some time to freshen up while the guests arrive.
The ceremony usually comes next and is often short and sweet but full of emotion. I attempt to capture these emotions in a way that tells the whole story, as they happen. I often have my second shooter stay up front while I work the aisle and sides.
After most ceremonies comes the cocktail hour. During that time, we usually take family portraits. I try to keep these to about 30 minutes, allowing for a little bit of buffer time, and giving the bride and groom a few minutes to enjoy the cocktail hour themselves and/or to freshen up before the reception. During that break, I will also be setting up lights and preparing to photograph the entrances and dancing.
The reception comes next and are usually full of energy and excitement, starting with the entrances. I aim to show that energy by being right on the dance floor, capturing moments up close and personal. I add interest to these photos through creative lighting and by anticipating the most entertaining and important moments.
Often during the reception, which tends to be the longest block of time, the bride and groom will slip away for a quiet moment to take some JMGant signature sunset shots. My couples often tell me these end up being some of their favorite photos of the day, and it gives them a second chance to just relax and take it all in.
After this moment away, the party continues and usually culminates in a formal exit or send-off. I typically backlight the couple for these shots and exit with them, again trying to capture the movement to get that perfect closing shot.
Through all of this, I have learned that in every wedding, I have to expect the unexpected not just for myself but for my couples as well. There is always an earnest effort for me to capture everything, and there is always an earnest hope for my couples to do everything on their schedule with perfect timing, but flexibility always plays an important role, because no wedding is ever flawless. This is where creativity and experience step in to make the best of each situation and to make sure my couples’ experience is the best it can be. Throughout the day, I will gently remind my couples of where we’re at on our schedule and how I see the timing going, to help them with that process.