Jasmine Star: Timing Is Everything

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I shot my first wedding in October 2006. Back then, I simply hoped for the best. Hoped the wedding wasn't delayed, hoped the family members remained nearby for formal pictures and hoped I received a timeline for the day in advance. I'll never forget the terror of standing outside—in a garden—after my first wedding on a pitch-black night for the family formal pictures.  


It was so dark I couldn't get my camera to focus. I actually resorted to having my assistant hold a flashlight on the wedding party just to provide enough light to get my camera to fire. 

I redefined awesome. 

After that experience, I realized how important it was for me to address a wedding day timeline in advance. Namely, using my experience (you know, all ONE wedding I had tucked under my belt) to best prepare my clients for an optimal photographic experience. This meant discussing my clients' desires weeks in advance and offering guidance if the bride was inclined. This was of tantamount importance if a wedding coordinator was not involved with the planning, as the ebb and flow of the day is controlled by the wedding photographer.

In 2007, I photographed 38 weddings and—through trial and error—created what I think is an optimal timeline. Now, this is just my opinion. Everyone works differently, but I've discovered I'm able to balance my clients' desires as well as my creative desires adhering to the following timeline.

 

2:00 p.m.     Photography begins

                                    Details photographed (wedding dress, shoes, jewelry, invitations, bouquet, etc)

                                    Last-minute hair and makeup touch-ups

                                    Candid photos of the bridesmaids preparing

3:00 p.m.     Bride dresses

                                    Candids of bride with mom and bridesmaids

3:30 p.m.     First Look

                                    Bride and groom see each other before the ceremony for photos

4:00 p.m.     Bridal-party pictures

                                    Bride with her bridesmaids, group and solo photos

                                    Groom with his groomsmen, group and solo photos

                                    Entire group

4:30 p.m.     Bride gets tucked away from early arriving guests

                                    Photographers shoot ceremony details and cocktail hour location, if available

5:00 p.m.           Ceremony

5:30 p.m.           Ceremony Ends

5:40 p.m.            Family pictures

6:10 p.m.            Sunset photos with bride and groom

6:25 p.m.            Photograph reception details

6:45 p.m.            Grand entrance

6:55 p.m.            First dance

7:00 p.m.            Welcome and prayer, if applicable

7:15 p.m.            First course served

7:30 p.m.            Toasts

7:45 p.m.            Second course served

8:15 p.m.            Father/daughter... mother/son dance

8:25 p.m.            Open dancing

9:30 p.m.            Cake cutting

9:40 p.m.            Bouquet/garter toss

10:00 p.m.   Photography coverage concludes

As I mentioned before, everyone works differently and there's no such thing as a perfect approach. I wrote this blog post because I wish I had something to consult when I first started photographing weddings. I made many mistakes, but I learned from each of them, and I used them to build my business. Most importantly, simply go out of your way to ensure you're on the same page with the bride. Your experience, your client's experience and the overall flow of the day will be amazing if everyone knows what to expect.

I'll be discussing more about how I started my business, shooting tips, as well as shooting a LIVE wedding starting Wednesday, August 25, 2010. The FREE five-day online course will by hosted by creativeLIVE and I look forward to connecting with you on the Web if you're interested in wedding photography.  Hope to see you there!

 

 

Jasmine Star left law school and started her business in 2006. The joy and fulfillment she receives in documenting the most special moments on a wedding day compare to nothing else. For more of Jasmine's unique point of view, go to Jasmine-Star.com.

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Great time line - but I think you mean that photography coverage CONCLUDES at 10 pm.  Commences means begins.

Beautiful. Thank you for this!

Jasmine,

Nice article. I've been asked to consider photographing a wedding, and as a purely fine art photographer I was nervous to accept such a task. This article is helpful, especially with the timeline.

All the best

Sara

 Wow. I'd love to know how you got from your first wedding in 2006 to 38 in 2007!

I shot my first wedding, as the official photographer, a couple of weeks ago, and I must say that I had drafted a sort of checklist many many weeks before the wedding. What I would humbly like to add  as comment is: I have seen many photographers impose on the newly-wed couple their way of seeing things, and causing some frustration of the couple. I tend to disagree to that. As the photographer, we can try and guide the couple as to how we think the photo will be best, keeping in mind that it is THEIR DAY, and we are only part it.

Thanks Jasmine for sharing your experience.

Bernard

I've shot two weddings so far. One was a renewal-of-vows where my father officiated. The second was a family wedding. Hopefully, I'll start to know what I'm doing. Also very much looking forward to CreativeLIVE later today.

Back in the '90s (at the end of the Westward Expansion), I photographed a number of weddings. On film, no less. My approach was slightly different from Ms. Star's in that I did acquire a timeline from the appropriate party, but then proceeded to cover the event as if I were a photojournalist on assignment (without directing activity), as surreptitiously as possible.

The clients who hired me seemed to like this approach a great deal. I made myself as invisible as I was able—and yes, I did get the requisite portrait permutations of bride, groom, wedding party and families. One can slip quietly through such an event and come away with some wonderful images. I was even able to capture a candid reception portrait of a newlywed couple's kiss, at night, which was illuminated entirely by the light of two 4th-of-July sparklers.

Lovely work here, Ms. Star. I particularly like the first black-and-white wedding portrait at the left. Beautiful **** and gesture you captured, and nicely lit.

Jasmine,

Thank you for your post. Can you tell us a bit about the equipment you use?

Best wishes for your continued success.

Hi Jasmine,

I'm also curious as to what equipment you use. What type of flash set up do you use for such events?

All the best

Sara