Birmingham, AL wedding & portrait photographer Kelly Cummings

Scheduling for sun :: Wedding Planning

I’m including an image from Jessica’s bridal session, (the wedding and more bridal goodness to come soon!), because posts without images bore me and I spent the hours leading up to this shot waiting for the glorious falling sunlight.

Daylight Savings Time is the worst. I grew up in the Eastern time zone and now that I live just over the central line I’ve had to readjust to earlier sunrises and sunsets. November rolls around and exchanges 5 pm for dark’o’clock and a 4pm ceremony becomes a dance with the dark.

So many thoughts went into my head when I was planning my own wedding last year. I wanted an evening reception but opted for buffet style heavy horsdoeuvres instead of a seated dinner. I wanted alcohol and dancing and I was afraid a morning/early afternoon wedding would impede those desires.

We ended up with a 6:30 blessing in early October (we got married in San Francisco prior to our Birmingham celebration) and it was oh so dark by the time it ended. We had a “day after session” to get some more daylight photos of the two of us, so they only real sacrifice were the family photos. We didn’t have a great deal of light and our families were eager to be on time to the reception, and that made it a lot harder to get a great shot.

With all of the future brides out there in mind, here are some good things to keep in mind when selecting a time for your ceremony and when scheduling the photography:

Find out what time sunset will be on your date. Also, consider when the light will be directly overhead (the time that the sun in your eyes makes you feel like a vampire). You’ll want to avoid having the bulk of your outdoor photos scheduled during this time (especially in the summer) unless there will be a lot of shade available.

Will you see each other before the wedding? If not, try to allow for some light (and time!) after the ceremony ends for photos of just the two of you. These are honestly the most important photos of the day for me, because they are so personal and emotionally charged.

• Having at least 2.5 to 3 hours before the wedding for photos is optimal. I usually start with the bride getting ready and try to finish up with everything posed by an hour to 30 minutes before so that the bride and groom can relax.

Schedule your hair and makeup appointments (especially any off-site appointments) so that you have plenty of time to get to the ceremony venue.

• Plan to have photos with older relatives at a time that is most convenient for them. Often scheduling these photos just before or just after the ceremony is helpful so that they have less time to sit around and wait. If they’d rather come early in the day and leave to rest until the ceremony that’s fine too, just let the photographer know!

• Along those lines, if you have any kids in your wedding party or in any of the photos, you may want to check with their parents for scheduling the photos with them in them to minimize melt-downs.

•  Often my couples opt to knock out as much as they can before the ceremony. Even if you aren’t seeing each other before you can get a lot out of the way (photos with parents and siblings, photos with bridesmaids/groomsmen, individual portraits, etc.).

Most churches will request that photography within the sanctuary is finished by 1 hour prior, and guests usually begin arriving 30 minutes beforehand.

If you have a wedding planner or coordinator that will be there the day of, make sure they are looking at the same schedule as the photographer. When we are aligned, bird sing.

Don’t be afraid to use trickery if your family members are always late or you want to be on the safe side.

Asking a notoriously late groomsman to arrive 15 or 20 minutes earlier than the schedule calls for is no big deal. Sometimes family members get frustrated if they arrive on time and other family members aren’t there yet or if they’ve been waiting around for 30 minutes, so it’s best not to abuse your power.

I tend to add in a little bit of wiggle room and shift things around if we are missing anyone, and it’s always good to have a cushion of extra time, especially at the beginning, just incase.

Don’t exhaust yourselves! A full day of posing for wedding photos leads to jaw pain and glaring. Try to keep your groom, bridal party, and family members in mind when making the schedule and have some time to just enjoy the day!

• If you know you’d love to have more time for photos of the two of you or if you don’t want to see each other before and are worried about light, ask your photographer about scheduling a day after session. They aren’t always the very next day, depending on your schedule and the photographer’s, but either way they allow for more time and locations for

Does anyone have any questions or tips to add? I’d be glad to feature more wedding planning tips from a photographer (and fairly recent bride) if there are any topics you are curious about!


One response

  1. LOVE LOVE LOVE your post… oh, and i might have to use this info for my own brides. 🙂

    December 4, 2010 at 9:39 pm

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