Are you ready for what is usually our favorite post of the year?!?! Here’s a peek at what it’s really like behind the scenes on a wedding day! Hopefully, it shows you WHY you should really like your wedding photographer as a person, because they really do impact how your day flows and how you feel on your wedding day! Everyone thinks that’s crazy to say until they experience their wedding day first hand!
(And, before you get TOO far into this, please know that these aren’t edited professional photos. Some of them are selfies on a cell phone. I always have to add that in case someone thinks *this* is our quality of work. It’s not – this is just a fun post that we like to share each year. It’s our 5th time sharing, so you’re welcome to search “behind the scenes” in the blog to check out the previous four years worth.)
This is what we look like when we show up to your wedding day (wait until the very end of this post to see what we look like after a wedding day)!
But, before your wedding day, I take your engagement photos! You get to pick the location. This couple flew us out to Seattle for their engagement photos, which is why there are any behind the scenes shots at an engagement. Usually, I photograph these sessions and bridals solo, but since we were out of state, Dylan was with me.
Yes, I did chop my hair off this year. A couple of our brides had to do a double take when I showed up in the bridal suite on their wedding day because they didn’t recognize me. I looked like the above (plus thirty pounds) at their engagement session, but showed up on the wedding day with short hair and down a few dress sizes (like the photo below). That was a big change this year!
We had a couple who wanted to shoot at a museum this year, so we planned a day date there before my shoot so I could see what the light was like. It didn’t really matter, as I wasn’t allowed to use any flashes at the engagement session, but it was still a fun date for us! After the museum, we checked out a local food truck!
If you bring your puppy to your engagement session, bridal session, or wedding day, do expect me to put the camera down to make crazy dog lady noises at your fur baby. :D Bring me all the puppies!!
Yes, bridal sessions happen before the wedding day. Plan to take them 6-8 weeks before the wedding or as soon as your alterations are complete. Bridals are a great chance for you to see how your wedding day look will come together before the big day, so you can make any changes to jewelry, hair, make-up, or your bridal bouquet. It’s also a great chance to get a feel for your dress in a real setting, so you still have time to alter it before the big day.
Back to the wedding day: I start every wedding day with bridal details. Your earrings, flowers, shoes and anything else you want photographed. It gives me an idea of the style you’re going for that day and lets me get creatively warmed up before portraits. I like 45 minutes to an hour during this section of the day. It’s easiest if you put everything together in a shoe box so I can walk in, hug you, and get started while you’re still in hair and make-up. Please remember to put a full wedding invitation suite in the box, too! That’s the number one detail that’s missing, but is so important! It’s the one item you sent to guests to give them a feel for your day, so bring one for me to photograph, as well. Of course, you’re welcome to stick one in the mail for me and I’ll bring it on the wedding day! We’ve had several brides do this.
These may look like a hot mess, but I promise the photos are a lot prettier than these behind the scenes shots will lead you to believe.
I like to photograph details in natural light, so I’ll sneak away to find pretty window light or head outside with your details.
Dylan is usually in charge of moving the wedding dress. He’s 6’6″ so he can usually easily reach places to hang dresses from.
After I’ve had a chance to photograph your details and you’re finished with hair & make-up (because no one wants photos without their makeup on), we’ll get those cute robe shots and mimosa toasts! Then, we’ll do a quick clean up of the bridal suite or head to a clean room to get you in your dress!
Once you’re dressed and ready and have done first looks with your dad (or brothers or grandmas or whoever), it’s time for your first look with your future spouse! I’ll probably have Dylan stand in before I officially decide on a location to make sure the light is just right, since light is what determines where we can shoot.
It’s not always fun to test light, but it’s gotta happen.
Usually, we set the groom first and let the bride walk up behind him to tap him on the shoulder. I’ll usually say something like “turn this way, so I can see your face when you first see her” which is what is happening here. I promise I’m not hitting Evan in this shot.
Then, Dylan or I will come help you with your dress to the first look. We’ll fluff it and get it exactly right before the shoulder tap. We like to help our brides, so parents/bridesmaids don’t take it as an excuse to stay and watch. The first look wouldn’t be the same if people are watching y’all, so we step in and help to make sure it’s just the two of you!
We make sure our grooms make it there safely, too! I love that Colin did not even want the chance of maybe seeing Mallory before the first look, so he covered his eyes and hung on to Dylan’s shoulder on the walk over.
Yes, our groom Colin has better hair than me, I admit it.
Dylan is the best at perfecting details.
Yes, I can pin your boutonnière! Don’t worry! It goes on the left lapel, if you’re wondering.
If there is a chance to get a different angle, Dylan will take it. You may be able to see from the photo above and the two below that Dylan is standing from a second story.
After the first look, you’ll be in the best mood for romantic portraits of just the two of you. We’ll need your bouquet for that! Dylan can find them fairly easily.
Dylan is also the master dress fluffer! While I did teach him, he is more detail oriented, so it works out well! Also, sometimes I just like to take pics of his booty!! I confessed this to Mallory and Colin (pictured below) and they found that hilarious!
After romantic portraits, we’ll bring your bridal party out for photos. If we’re on time and guests aren’t crazy early, we can definitely have fun during this portion of the day! I love it when groups are willing to have fun and be a bit silly! I even asked one group (what up Spenser and Jess!?!?) to make Chewbacca noises at me for a shot. Fun, right? :D My favorite shot is the groomsmen man hug.
Yes, I always make sure to get individuals of the bridesmaids with the bride and individual groomsmen with the groom.
Don’t worry about “knowing” what to do – I’ll guide you and your people through these! I got you, boo!
Dylan is also super strong and can move furniture if we need it. The above shot wouldn’t have been possible without a super cute sofa. It was in originally in bad light, so we had to move it and it was worth it!
All those beautiful detail shots from the reception happen about 30 minutes before the ceremony. Most brides don’t want to be out and about when guests start arriving, so they go touch up hair and make-up while we photograph reception details. Cool trick, huh? The secret is to make sure guests go to the ceremony instead of the reception. Otherwise, they start laying purses, jackets, and drinks down and start moving chairs.
This next shot was actually an outdoor June wedding, so all the flowers were in the fridge. Dylan set out all the centerpieces so I could photograph it before the ceremony. Then, he put them all back up. Isn’t that sweet of him??
How to keep your second shooter happy 101: keep them fed. Dylan keeps beef jerky in his camera bag and I keep Thunderbird Bars in mine. We also keep Double Shot Espressos in a cooler in the car for when the reception kicks off. Before every wedding, we also make sure we eat lunch whether or not we’re hungry.
During the ceremony, we like to stick to the back and to the sides (except during the processional, when I’m up by the officiant).
It helps if there is room on the side of the chairs to get photos of y’all looking at each other. If there isn’t space to either side (between the chairs and the palm trees below), we can’t get those shots and we don’t want that for you! Again, you can probably tell that Dylan is shooting from a second story based on his vantage point. He’s always looking for a different angle. During the day, I try to focus on the “must-have” shots, while he is free to get candids and creative angles. It’s a great balance for our couples’ wedding albums!
Dylan also follows the couples after the I Dos, while I stay to photograph the recessional. You can tell from below that Dylan is already ahead of Erin and Kyle (how cute are they?!?!), while I still have to focus on the bridal party who are about to head back up the aisle.
I love that Paulina and David did their exit from the church!
Another perk to Dylan’s height: he can get “candids” by shooting over people’s heads. We call them “grip and grins” because people are usually holding each other in a hug and smiling at the camera.
I’m not quite that tall… HAHA!
After the ceremony, we start with family photos. Dylan is in charge of gathering the next group, helping grandmas, and anything else gentlemanly. He’s the best!
Unless he’s stealing the baby’s pacifier.
After family photos, we may offer to get you a drink from the bar. Just say yes – we’re cool with it and you’ll like photos more!
Yes, I can help you with your dress when it’s time to switch locations!
I’ll also help you by showing you how to pose and interact.
Sometimes, I’ll even show you with Dylan as my groom. :D Another bonus of having a husband and wife team – we can show you and you can mirror us!
The secret to those beautiful veil shots: Dylan holds it and then drops it before running out of the shot.
He may steal it though…
Again, #shortgirlproblems. Sometimes, I need a bit of extra height!
I probably don’t need a video to bustle your dress. If you can remember how many loops/buttons there are, I can probably figure it out. I’ve bustled a dress or two. :D
Here, Liz just announced to her husband that I was touching her butt! You gotta do what you gotta do! I don’t think Ben was too jealous, though! HA!
Every day I’m bustlin’ bustlin!
Once your dress is bustled and we’re low on sunlight, it’s time to get the party started!!
Photo-bombing Dylan since 2010!
Although, sometimes he photobombs himself, so ….
We may or may not dance at your wedding. We are working at your wedding, but we also like to have fun. So, we may take a song to spin around the dance floor. Here, I’m trying to teach them Copperhead Road.
How do we light exits when it’s pitch black outside? Video Light. Dylan also has my off camera flash pointed at the couple the entire time. Can you see him in this next shot? If it’s too windy, I don’t use the umbrella, but I do prefer to have it for exits.
Do you remember the first image in this post – where we look nice? Yea… this is what we look like at the end of a wedding day. This is real life! We’re sweaty, stinky, and probably dehydrated, but… we’re happy! We get to celebrate with some of THE BEST clients on one of the happiest days of their lives! This job is such a blessing to us!
This is what happens after EVERY SINGLE WEDDING! While I upload wedding images Dylan gets all the puppy snuggles! Yes, our 165 pound Great Dane wants to lay on top of you in full-body snuggles. Good luck telling him no! You will get snuggled!
Anything for my #EurekaBrides!!! I love these babes and am SO THANKFUL to have the opportunity to serve them and their families on such a special day!
We share this award with each of y’all because we couldn’t claim it without your reviews! Thank you for taking time out of y’all’s busy newlywed schedules to write us a review! They are so very helpful and each one of them means the world to me! This is my fifth year as a full time wedding photographer (CRAZY!!!) and our fifth time to win “Best of Weddings” with The Knot!
Thank you to all of our couples who invite us to capture such a special time! We know we couldn’t do what we love without each and every one of y’all and are so very thankful that you trust us with your wedding memories! Y’all are THE BEST!!
Love, Mylah Renae