bound and branch rochester ny photography

Guide to Prepare for Wedding Day Photography

Guide to Prepare for Wedding Day Photography

Please note:

We LOVE and RESPECT everyone as a couple and any life choices they make. Please DO NOT take offense to this guide being geared towards the typical saying of "Bride and Groom". This guide is for brides and grooms, groom and groom, bride and bride, brides who become grooms or grooms who become brides. This is just a standard guide and the terminology means nothing so you can ignore any part that does not pertain to you and your day and your lifestyle. I mean look at us, we are not the typical "Bride and Groom" But this guide is very helpful on what to expect and how to prepare.

Getting beautiful wedding photos is not just the "job" of your photographer. It takes the combination of a few key things.

  • Emotion : Your love and joy is everything! Our most important piece of advice we can give you is to - Enjoy Your Day!  Allow your wedding day to simply be what it is, whether that means inclement weather, a little dirt on your dress, forgetting that bracelet you wanted to wear, or events running off schedule. Wedding days always have little quirks or things that go “wrong”. It is just like any other day, shit happens!!! If you can keep an open mind, smile and be joyful throughout the day your photographs will reflect that beauty and joy. And besides, you will only marry this lovely person once right?!          


  • Time: Nothing hampers our creativity more than lack of time. The photographers can only work with the time we are given.  If we don't have sufficient time allotted we can not magically produce a ton of beautiful images. We simply cannot overemphasize the importance of hiring wedding planner or day-of coordinator. Photography on your wedding day is second-most affected by your schedule. Us having the optimal time to document your love, your family and your wedding details is crucial!

IMPORTANT: If you plan to hire a videographer be sure to know whether they need time allotted for footage of the two of you as well. We do not mind if they stand back and take documentary footage while we photograph your portraiture. However, if the videographer needs to direct you for shots they need to schedule a separate time to do so on your wedding day. Photographers and creative videographers need something very different. It does not work for both of us to direct you during one portraiture session. 

  • Location and Lighting : The location and lighting conditions greatly affect how a photograph turns out. We are natural light photographers and will direct you to locations where the lighting conditions and backdrop will photograph beautifully. It’s possible that you have a few locations in mind that day-of are in direct sun and will photograph terribly. We are experts at this - please take our advice throughout the day. Also, when planning locations to get ready, pick places with lots of windows and natural light. (If you get ready in a church basement, your photographs will look like you got ready in a church basement…there is only so much we can do to disguise an environment. ) We do our absolute best to make the best of every lighting senario and bring lights and flash just in case so DO NOT WORRY! We got this and will make it beautiful!


To maximize your photography potential on your wedding day we have created a list of suggested time allotments to incorporate into you wedding day timeline. We want you to plan your day just the way you imagined it. Take into consideration what are the most important photographs you want from your wedding day and be sure to allow us adequate time to document these events and/or items for you.


  Ideal Time Allotment:

30-45 Minutes

Ideal Location:

Naturally lit room: Bridal Suite, Bed & Breakfast, Hotel Suite or even your favorite room in your home

Having at least 60 minutes for details ensures that we have plenty of time to get beautiful photos of your dress, rings, shoes, bouquets, and the other meaningful details of the day. There are times when a hotel room is too crowded or simply unappealing; we have to take the details all the way down to the lobby or even outside. This can take some time, but as you can see from the results, it’s well worth the additional work.


Have all your details ready for your photographer to shoot on arrival. Please have all of these items in one location - your dress, shoes, rings (engagement and all bands) , jewelry, invitation, flowers and anything special that you would like shot such as a family heirloom or gifts. For groom’s you’ll want your cufflinks, shoes and tie / bow tie and any other items that you would like photographed! 


Ideal Time Allotment:

60 Minutes

Ideal Location:

Bridal Suite, Hotel Suite, or any Beautiful Naturally lit room


 -Having at least an hour of preparation is ideal for our style. During this time, we are getting close ups of the hair and makeup being applied. We are also capturing those wonderful candid moments between you and your closest family and friends. Keep in mind that these can be some of the most emotional and fun times of the day, so you don’t want to cut it short. It is ideal to have the bride and groom getting ready in close proximity. This allows us to seperate and not waste time with travel.

-If you have hired two professional photographers, often people assume the lead shooter will be with the bride while the second shooter will be with the groom. Sometimes it is more beneficial for us to both be in the same space at the same time. For instance it doesn't take the guys very long to get dressed so we may both go to the grooms room to document them for 15 minutes. This allows us to capture multiple angles and perspectives of the special moments. It is also most often ideal for both photographers to be with the bride when she is putting on her wedding gown. While this is not always necessary because we are amazing at what we do, sometimes we will both be there, sometimes just one of us. 


-When getting ready, have your bridal party put all their stuff in another room or in the corner of the room—I call it a “crap corner” ;) This way there are not neon bras and food wrappers in the background of your beautiful photos.

-Get ready in the lightest possible room at your ‘getting ready venue’ for lovely natural light in your images.

-As you’re finishing out your wedding day schedule, ask your hair/makeup artist for an estimated time on how long this process will take per person, and then add at least 30 minutes as a buffer. This is when wedding days begin to run behind - which is why that 30 min buffer can help so much! 


Ideal Time Allotment:

15 minutes each person

 Ideal Location:

Outside in soft natural light


-Right after prep is the best time for individual portraits. Makeup and hair are completely fresh and the day hasn’t gotten hectic yet - so we can take our time!


Ideal Time Allotment:

30-45 minutes

Ideal Location:

Outside in soft natural light


The first look should be around 45 minutes. During this time, the bride and groom enjoy seeing each other for the first time on the wedding day. While the actual first look might only be 5-10 minutes, We will spend the rest of the time on portraiture of the two of you. It is ok to save some of the couples session for later however we recommend getting the bulk of your portraits sooner rather than later. The day might run behind, and we might run into inclement weather.  


-First Look: If I were to give one piece of advice to a couple it would be to STRONGLY consider doing a First Look.

-What’s a First Look? It’s when the bride and groom see each other before the ceremony, have a few moments alone, and get portraits done beforehand. There are several ways to do this, but most of the the time, the groom will get set up in a a beautiful, intimate and well lit location, and the bride will then come to him and either tap on his shoulder or say his name for him to turn around. You can also close your eyes and face each other and do the big reveal together, make it your own! 

-Why do we recommend this? Because weddings go by incredibly fast, we feel like it’s the one time the couple can slow down and truly be together 

-Photography at this time is very photojournalistic, we want you to have a beautiful and intimate moment together free from distraction

-It’s such a special moment—I’ve seen couples pray together, say their vows or affirm each other, exchange gifts.. It’s awesome!  

-Most importantly, this private moment alone really sets the tone for the rest of the day, calms nerves, and gives the couple a chance to connect before the moment they are standing at the altar together. I totally get the tradition of waiting until the bride walks down the aisle..but if you’re prone to stress or anxiety especially, the First Look can be a calming and tone-setting alternative..

-All that said, you should have the wedding you’ve always envisioned and no photographer, coordinator, officiant or family member should pressure you into doing anything you don’t want. If a First Look isn’t something that interests you and your fiancé, no worries! It’s not for you.



Ideal Time Allotment: 

45-60 minutes (depending on size)

Ideal Location:

Somewhere beautiful and in soft Natural Light. Possibly an Off-site Location such as a park or a location with beautiful architecture. 


 -Wedding Party Photos should be around 45 minutes to 1 hour. During this time, we capture a variety of shots in a variety of poses. We focus on classic portraits in a variety of poses and beautiful candids during this time. Below is a list of the traditional portraits we typically take.

• Bride with each bridesmaid ( individuals )

• Bride with all bridesmaids 

• Groom with each Groomsmen ( individuals )

• Groom with all Groomsmen ( With and Without Ushers )

• Bride & Groom with Full Bridal Party ( With and Without Ushers )

While we will get many poses of everyone together and groups separate this is also a time for your wedding party to CELEBRATE YOU! So we will try to make it as fun as possible and get some great shots and awesome poses. We have a guide of a bunch of different poses we will choose from!


Ideal Time Allotment:

 30-60 minutes (depending on size)

 Ideal Time of the Day:

 Just Before or After the Ceremony

 Ideal Location:

Somewhere outside in soft natural light


Immediate Family Formals should take around 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on the size of your family. We strongly recommend just doing immediate family during this time or photographing extended family one family unit at a time.. Large group shots are very timely to organize and often far from perfect; more times than not there are blinks and people looking off in other directions despite our best efforts. DO NOT WORRY! We take a lot of photos so we will get at least 1. (Plan on 2-3 minutes per group on average. For example, if you have 10 groups, schedule in a 30 minute time slot. Always add 15 minutes wiggle room)


-We recommend doing immediate family right before or after the ceremony (parents, siblings, grandparents ). If you have bigger groups, do them at the reception.

-We always recommend doing family portraits outside in soft natural light or in a well lit room. 

-If you are doing family photos at the altar of the church know that it will take longer because of the necessity of flash photography and that there are often discoloration of skin tones that we can not control. We are pretty good at editing if I dont say so myself so we will capture beautiful photos no matter what!


Your Immediate Shot List:

-For organizing your thoughts ahead of time and making sure all those important to you end up in a family portrait, a shot list is NECESSARY.

-The following shot list includes everyone in the immediate family and streamlines the portrait process. Make this list your own.

• Bride with mom

• Bride with dad

• Bride with mom and dad

• Bride with siblings

• Bride and groom with her siblings

• Bride and groom and her parents

• Bride and groom with her mother, father, sisters, and brothers

• Bride and groom with her mother, father, sisters, brothers and Grandparents

• Bride and groom with her grandparents

• Bride and groom and The bride’s immediate family: mother, father, brothers, sisters, spouses and children

This same list of shots would be applicable for the groom’s side as well. 

Tricky Combinations

-If you have divorces on one or both sides of your family it can get a little tricky, and you will have a few more combinations to shoot. Just remember to make a detailed family portrait list and we can help you to make this process go as smoothly as possible. 

-If you have other special people in your life that you would like to get portraits of, such as godparents or sorority sisters for example, invite them to have their pictures taken with you right after you finish your family photographs.


 Ideal Time Allotment :

20-30 minutes

 Ideal Location :

Ceremony Site

Advice :

-Please allow 20 minutes for us to take pictures of the ceremony site, completely set up with no guests or vendors in the area.

-Before you have the guests seated, it’s important that we are there to capture the complete set up of your ceremony site so we can capture the scene at its best.


-Before you book your church, please be sure to ask whether photography is allowed and if there are any restrictions. We are happy to work with anything, but it’s important for your own peace of mind to have realistic expectations in advance.


-Remind your Bridal party to smile during the processional, they are being photographed!

-When you and your bridesmaids walk down the aisle, keep the bouquet around your belly button. I know it can be nerve-wracking to have all eyes on you, but don’t block your pretty faces with your bouquet


 Ideal Time Allotment: 

1 hour

 Ideal Time of the Day:

Late Afternoon (Sunset)


-Couple session should be around 1 hour and should take place ideally one hour before sunset. This is the best time in terms of lighting.

-Shooting at sunset allows us to capture large scenic shots (Large fields, gardens, in front of the entire venue etc.) with colorful skies. At this time the light is even enough for us to photograph you anywhere!

-If your wedding is in downtown or in an area with tall buildings, it’s not as important for us to have this specific time frame (although it still helps).

-IMPORTANT: If you booked your venue because of the spectacular views & grounds; such as rolling fields, the ocean or the gorgeous vines in the winery, it’s essential to schedule your couples portrait session ONE HOUR BEFORE SUNSET.


 Ideal Time Allotment:

20-30 minutes

 Ideal Time of the Day:

Early Evening

Ideal Location:

 Reception Site


IMPORTANT!! Please allow 30 minutes for one of your photographers to take pictures of the reception room, completely set up with no guests or vendors in the area.

-Similar to the ceremony details, this is the only opportunity we have to capture the beauty of the reception room prior to guest arrival.


-Table Shots:  We simply focus on photojournalism, capturing the smiles and hugs as you mingle with each table. If you’re planning on doing formal table shots, please keep in mind that these will take about 3-5 minutes per table. For example 20 tables would require 60-100 minutes of time.

-Your photographer isn’t a mind reader, so make sure they are aware of the ‘must have’ shots with the people who mean the most to you.

-It’s essential that you trust your photographer to do what they do best and remember why you hired them. That is, presumably, because you love their style and the way they captured other couple’s weddings. Let them do the same for you.

-Don’t Forget To Eat And Drink: When we’re stressed and/or busy, we forget to eat. Make sure your bridesmaids are bringing you water and checking in on you to make sure you are at least snacking all day, or else it’ll catch up to you. If you’re worried about missing out on special moments or not getting the chance to see everyone, keep in mind, that you’ll be fed first, and that when you’re done eating, the guests will still be sitting at their table and you and your spouse can visit each table and greet all of your guests. Don’t rush! Enjoy your meal! You certainly paid enough for it :)

-Hair & Makeup Trial: You want to look like the best version of yourself on your wedding day! It breaks my heart when my brides don’t feel drop dead gorgeous and confident. Make sure to schedule a consultation with your hair and makeup artist before your wedding and work out the kinks to make sure you look exactly how you want. Keep in mind that even if the makeup feels more dramatic than the way you usually wear it, it will photograph well.

-Have An Emergency Kit: Make sure a bridesmaid or your coordinator has a safety kit in case you need something. Some good things for the kit to contain are stain removal (‘Tide To-Go’ pens are awesome), tampons, small scissors, mini sewing kit, hairspray, safety pins, bobby pins, energy bars, gum, q-tips, band aids, deodorant, makeup remover and name a few. 

-Hire Vendors That You Like: If you’ve been in a bridal party, you know that a bride and groom spend a majority of their wedding with their vendors. Like choosing the friends you want by your side on your wedding day, you want to choose vendors whose company you enjoy, who you trust, and who will help your day be more fun and less stressful, rather than the other way around.

A Few Additional Tips

Include Toss Items

Whether it’s in your group photos, during your first dance or your grand exit, toss items add that extra touch to your photos.  Confetti, flower petals, paper planes, rice, even smoke bombs, the list can go on and on! These pictures radiate bliss, excitement and results in genuine smiles and laughter from you and your guests.

Incorporate A Sparkler Exit

You’ve planned your grand entrance, but have you thought about a grand exit? Sparkler exits are a great way to end a day of celebrations. Not only are sparkler exits unique and exciting, but it makes for stunning photos. We’ve seen nothing but smiles from guests as they send off the newlyweds.

Although many venues allow the sparkler exit, others may not. Confetti, bubbles, and flower petals are alternative options to include in your grand exit and will still look great in photos.

Even if you are not "leaving" for the night when we capture this, it is ok to plan this towards the end of your photography time to capture this beautiful moment!!

Feeding Vendors

After the initial blast of important scenes, there's usually up to an hour-long down time during dinner. This is a great time to feed your vendors. It's even better to instruct your caterer or venue to feed your vendors right away and not wait until all the guests have been served. We have nothing to do for an extended period of time. If we get fed after all the guests, more often than not, we won't even get the chance to eat as important events are beginning again at that point. You're probably paying a fee for vendors to eat... might as well make sure we get to have them! Also, it is important to make sure the venue has a place for vendors to sit and eat set up. One of the most awkward situations is when a vendor does not know where to go and has to ask the couple or the venue staff and most times if not pre discussed, there is no place and they have to set one up. You want your vendors to feel cared for too as they spend the day with you, so make sure the venue handles that part if you already did not preplan a place for them while doing your seating chart.

We are so glad you chose us and can not wait to capture your day and all the beautiful moments! You have put your trust in us and we won't let you down! We know how important this day is and will capture the beauty inside and out!!!