There is something to be said for perfect timing. Chris and Amanda’s wedding day timeline was exactly that, perfect. I’ve shot a lot of weddings. A lot. Every couple makes their own decision on if they want to see each other before the wedding in what’s called a “first look.” It’s the time we set aside for a bride and groom to see each other, alone, before the ceremony while we photograph it. Typically, grooms are more emotional in a first look, and feel comfortable enough to react authentically rather than having 300 wedding guests staring at their reaction. First looks are great for many reasons, one of which is you can photograph EVERYTHING with the family, bridesmaids and groomsmens, and the couple before the ceremony, no waiting to go to your reception. However, first looks aren’t for everyone. Some couples, like Chris and Amanda, just don’t want to do that before the ceremony.
Here’s where their timing was spot on. They chose not to do the first look, but fully understood that the use of time for photographs needed to be well planned. They understood the importance of moving from one thing to the next right after the ceremony, because they wanted to stack most of the photography time in front of the ceremony.
Immediately after the sand was poured and the couple was announced…
They wasted no time jumping right into photographing the wedding party, family, and the two of them. No time was wasted, because every minute wasted, is a minute your guests are waiting for your arrival to the reception. And really, it’s your wedding day, that precious time is intended to be celebrating, not taking obligatory photos.
Here’s where Amanda veered from the typical no first look timeline, and in my opinion, it was a brilliant decision on her part. Instead of using photography time to have us stand around photographing hours and hours of dancing waiting for their sparkler send off, she opted to use more of that time in front of the wedding, capturing the sweet moment when her dad saw her in her dress, and photographing the moment she opened her gift from her husband, and the countless other moments, that weren’t posed or forced, but just unfolded during their day. She also chose to do a different type of “exit” photos at the end of the night. This would prove to be the best move in the timeline. Right after we photographed the family, bridesmaids & groomsmen, and the couple, we went straight into the reception, where one event lead into the next. Couple introduced, first dance, father/daughter, mother/son dances, cutting of the cake, the fun kept coming. It wasn’t rushed at all, in fact, it was a really natural flow of one happy moment to the next. So, I was able to photograph all of the traditional reception happenings.
Plus, we had plenty of time before the ceremony, to get lots of pre-ceremony photos.
And then plenty of time after the ceremony, to get the couple photos.
So, by only having us photograph the reception for a short amount of time, she got all the usual stops (garter, bouquet, cake cutting, dances, etc.) and she got loads of photos before the ceremony, and “exit” photos that are so very sentimental. Amanda told me she would rather plan the schedule of the day that way, then have us shoot dancing for several hours just so we were still there for the exit. It was the best use of time. I told her in lieu of the traditional exit photos, I would take them back outside for a few minutes before it was time for us to leave and get some sunset shots of them. This would be their end of the night photos instead of the send off of whatever your wedding guests might be throwing or waving at you as you leave for your honeymoon. And, boy, will she be glad she did that. These two got a few minutes to just be with each other and giggle and take in the glorious evening. Like a first look, except after all the activities of the night. After our sunset shots, the couple went back in and danced the night away, but they had utilized their photography time in such a grand way. And, they had photos that told the close of their wedding day story without the hours of dance floor pictures. (Don’t worry, we still snagged plenty of groovy dance moves before the sunset shots.)
You don’t have to follow the rules of tradition. You don’t have to do what everyone has always done. Amanda will end up with many more photos from her day that are of her and her husband rather than hours of dance floor reception photos. Your happy ending doesn’t have to end with a bang, in fact, it can end in perfect silence and still be just as happy.