Kelley Raye
photographer

Pre-Wedding Day Prep Guide

Prep Tips 

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location, style and timing

If any one of these 3 things is missing, we are in for a major challenge my good friend. But I'll always do my best to make any situation work :) Tips and tricks on how you can help me help you lie ahead. I hope this guide will help you feel the utmost confident that your wedding day will go exactly as you planned :) #hah


How to rock your wedding portraits

otherwise known as the answer to "What do we do with our hands?!"

You gotta give me emotion! You can't tell me in your inquiry that you hate "posed" photos and then get to the session and just stand there holding hands and smiling at the camera......um hi thats a 'pose' babe. Show me all the love! Forget I'm there, bear hug each other, play with each other, chase each other, whisper secrets in each others ears, act like 2 goofy teenagers in love, grab each others face, for crying out loud- kiss without me having to prompt you to, wrap each other up and then close your eyes and listen to the wind, admire each others hands and body parts, theres no one here but us chickens! Cuddle under a cute blanket, take a walk, grab butts, help me bring life to your photos by bringing your real selves and your real love to our session. I'm literally yelling this by now and I know you cant hear me but still....

Give me feeling.

Give me emotion.

Show me how much you love each other. Please.

This ain't Sears portraits yall! Dont just stand there! Move around, dance, play, make people jealous, throw your hands in the air if you dont know what to do with them.

The more you interact with each other on your own, the less I have to direct you to do something different.


the anatomy of a wedding day photo timeline


Prep Shots (Hair, Makeup, Getting Dressed)

Lighting is important. I utilize natural light every chance I get. For portraits, for prep shots, for anything that comes before the reception really. Your prep location should have light. Your bridal suite should have light. The difference between a 'cute' image and an amazing image is proper lighting (and a few other things). Please keep that in mind when planning where you're prepping, where you're standing during your ceremony, the time of day it will be when you'll be doing your couples session, etc.

Try to keep the house, hotel room, or bridal suite you are getting ready as clean as possible or at least keep try to keep one area (near the window if possible) so that when Im taking photos of you getting dressed you are not being photo bombed by trash.

Estimated Shoot Time: 45 min for bride, 15 min for groom

Locations: 1 (typically hotel room or home)

What I need to make your prep shots beautiful: CLEAN room, Natural light, Not a million people in the shot. If I have to spend time cleaning up a messy room before I start shooting, we will have less time for your prep shots. Please don't let your wedding party trash your prep space. If your prep space is messy, your photos will look messy. It is what it is.

First Look + pre-ceremony wedding portraits

Estimated Shoot Time: 30-45 mins

Locations: Several, preferably outdoors. Your first look does not have to be at the place where you are getting dressed. Feel free to jump in the car and go to a better location nearby in order to get nicer photos than in your front yard or the hotel lobby. You only take these photos once, get creative!

What I need to make your first look beyond belief: PRIVACY; Also the GROOM should put his wedding ring on for these shots as they are technically your wedding portraits (and especially if these are the ONLY portraits you plan to take.)

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Ceremony Shots

What I need to make your ceremony photos memorable: Face each other so that I can see your profile, don't have your back to your guests because you will in turn have your back to me; Public affection may not be your thing, but please kiss for longer than usual so that I can get all my shots. Also, ask your officiant to step away when you kiss so that he's not right behind you; Try not to speed down the aisle when you are coming and going.


post-ceremony wedding portraits

Estimated Shoot Time: 30-45 mins

Locations: Preferably outdoors and away from guests

What I need to make your wedding portraits magazine worthy: A great location + a great attitude. If your wedding reception is 4+ hours, taking 30 minutes after your ceremony to take some truly epic portraits isn't the end of the world. I'm sure you've carved out plenty of time to hang with your guests, so don't think of shooting portraits during cocktail hour as missing out on your them. They'll be there when you get back. Promise.

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Wedding Party Photos

Estimated Shoot Time: 15 mins

Locations: 1  (preferably outdoors)

What I need to make your wedding party portraits fab: Everyone in their designated area at the right time. Wedding party portraits only take more than 5 minutes when you are looking for that one missing groomsmen or bridesmaid. Whether you decide to shoot these before or after the ceremony, give your wedding party a specific time to take photos so that everyone is ready to go when you are.


Family Photos

Estimated Shoot Time: 20 min

Locations: 1 (preferably outdoors)

What I need to make your family portraits tolerable:  Same as the wedding party. These photos only take a long time to shoot when everyone is not together in the designated spot at the right time. When you send me your Family Photo list it is easiest for me to shoot each photo in the order I've printed it out in. When grandma or brother #2 is not in the designated spot on time, and we have to start skipping around the list in order to not waste time, it starts to get crazy and frustrating for everyone involved, you, me, and the family members waiting to take their photos.

If you are doing a First Look you can get your Family Portraits out of the way before the ceremony: This is the easiest way to shoot your family portraits since it is much less chaotic, there are no open bars that family members can run off to forgetting that they have to take pictures, and less guests for your family members to be distracted by. Give all family members a specific time to meet at the venue prior to the ceremony, so that we can knock these out quickly.

If you are not doing a First Look and plan to take your Family Portraits after the ceremony: Make sure ALL included family members know that they are taking pictures immediately after the ceremony so that they don't stray too far. Too often I hear someone say they weren't told they had to take photos immediately after the ceremony. Taking family portraits after the ceremony can be frustrating, especially when family doesn't stay put and your sister has to play duck duck goose among one hundred guests at cocktail hour looking for family members chatting it up with guests and standing in line for a drink. DJ's, officiants and wedding coordinators are all people that can help you announce when and where family photos will take place so that we can knock them out smoothly.


Reception Photos

I do not take photos of people while they are eating. During dinner service, I have to eat and be done before speeches.

What I need to make your reception photos feel good: Don't look at me every time you see me :) also if you want to be in these photos you should probably dance. Also all grooms, try to dance for at least one song so you're in at least one reception photo :) Also I will do my best to shoot every guest, but it is not a guarantee that every guest will show up in your photos. If there is anyone specific that you definitely want a photo with you need to pull them aside for a picture and grab me to take it. Otherwise, I'll be shooting candids all night, mostly of those on the dance floor.


Send Off Photos

What I need to make your reception photos unforgettable: come out on time :) and walk at a medium pace through the sparklers or whatever your guests are holding so I have time to get the shots (I know sparklers will make you feel like running because fire, but please don’t, otherwise I won't get the right shots)