Having photographed over 100 weddings over the past few years, I tend to get asked the same things over and over again. So I put together a guide that walks you through what to expect during your wedding photography experience! I’m so excited to give you this guide and with it my knowledge from 9 years of photographing weddings, planning timelines and making your life easier!

Be sure to bookmark this page now, because it’s going to be your BESTIE as you plan and prepare for your big day!



Graceful Moments Weddings + Events

Eventfully Yours


Lost Mission

San Antonio Botanical


Powersounds DJ


We’re big fans of engagement sessions for a few reasons. First, they allow you to get comfortable in front of the camera. It takes time for most couples to warm up to being photographed and understand how we pose. Timelines can be pretty tight on weddings days and 30 minutes may be all we have for portraits – which is why we’ve found that wedding day portraits turn out so much better when couples do engagement sessions ahead of time.

This session will make a HUGE impact on how the wedding day flows. I’ll arrive on your wedding day already knowing how you two interact, what your best poses are and how to photograph you in a genuine way! What I will learn about you during your engagement session is invaluable! 

You will feel like such a pro on your big day because of the great practice you had during your engagement session! Since this is likely your first professional photo shoot, these tips will help you prepare


1- Don’t try to match, try to pick outfits and accessories that coordinate instead. Don’t wear the exact same color. 
2- Do wear the same color family, like a dark and a light of the same color. Try pastels or light colors contrasted with bold color. 
3- Accessorize and make your outfits your own! Try bold jewelry or shoes with solid colors. 
Try to avoid graphics and overwhelming patterns.  
4- Fitted clothing photographs better than loose clothing but a flowy dress is more fun and carefree than a mini skirt. 
5- Start with a casual outfit and bring along a formal one too. This will give your shoot two totally different looks. 
It’s a great time to have a trial run with your makeup artist and hairstylist. You should look and feel your best on the day of your session.
6- Relax! You don’t have to be a pro at this! I am going to help you along the way and it’s going to be a blast. Enjoy this time together and make a date out of it. Plan dinner afterwards and celebrate!!


Don’t drink the night before you have photos taken. Drinking dehydrates your skin and makes your eyes puffy.

BE ON TIME: We typically plan your start time based on sunset time. If you are late, it cuts into the sunlight we have available! No one wants dark photos, so arriving on time will ensure we have gorgeous light to work with.

BRINGING THE DOG: The best way to include pups is to have a friend come along to leash and watch the dogs during your session.

CLEAN THE RING: Your ring will be a focal point of your photos, and I’d love to grab a few up close shots of just your ring while you change outfits! Cleaning it will ensure it’s nice and sparkly for photos!

EMPTY YOUR POCKETS: Especially for guys, make sure you don’t have anything in your pockets!

GET YOUR NAILS DONE: Make sure your nails are freshly painted! Chipped nails will be noticeable in your photos. Neutral colors and pastels photograph beautifully and will match any outfit!

BRING COMFY SHOES: If you’re wearing heels, bring a pair of flip flops or comfortable shoes to walk from spot to spot. Your feet will thank me later!



1. I find that 1.5 hours of coverage is the sweet spot. It gives me enough time to settle in, get photos of your details, photos of you actually getting dressed, and all the sweet and happy moments in between. Here are my top tips for Getting Ready.
2. Get ready somewhere within a 10-15 minute drive of your ceremony or venue! If something happens and sets you back by 10-15 minutes, it will be extra stressful knowing you have a 30 minute drive with possible traffic than if it’s right down the street! 
3. Have your florist deliver your bouquet and boutonnières BEFORE I am scheduled to arrive. This ensures they will be included with all of the other pretty details!
4. Add lots of buffer time for your hair and make up. This tends to be the thing that sets everything behind schedule, so be sure you have a large enough window between when your MUA finishes and when you need to be out the door. I’d say 1 hour is safe. It may seem like a stretch but trust me, if it means avoiding rushing to your Ceremony, you won’t regret it. Plan for all of your family/wedding party to be done and dressed by this time as well so I can photograph them helping you into your dress.


1. Don’t drink the night before you have photos taken. Drinking dehydrates your skin and makes your eyes puffy. A few the morning of is totally fine as long as you Hydrate before AND after you pop the champagne or toss back the shots. 
2. Make sure to eat while you are getting ready. Grab a sandwich platter for the bride and bridesmaids and the groom and groomsmen. 
3. Choose getting ready rooms with lots of natural light, the more windows, the better. 
4. Keep the bridal / groom prep areas neat and tidy. The background of your photos matter!
5. Wear something nice before getting into your gown. 
6. Refrain from putting any jewlery on. I love shooting all of those final steps once you’re in your gown! 
7. If your gown is on a plastic hanger, bring a wooden hanger along for picture sake. 
8. Gather every detail you want photographed beforehand and leave it all together. If they’re all in one place when I arrive, I won’ t have to bug you or distract you and you can just focus on getting ready!


why it’s worth it

That moment when you see each other for the first time on your wedding day is magical! About half of my couples choose to do a First Look. I’m all for tradition and you are in no way obligated to do a First Look, I only recommend it because I want the best for you. A first look gives the two of you a private moment to share before the rest of the wedding day craziness. Remember why you are getting married – because two people fell in love. Here are a few reasons to choose a First Look:


Couples who are not interested in a First Look usually think that by seeing each other beforehand, it will not be as emotional or as intimate. Most brides don’t realize that when you come down the aisle he can’t tell you how amazing you look, he can’t touch you, embrace you or even speak to you. And most Grooms tell us that they feel so much pressure to have the right reaction with all of your guests eyes on him.

A First Look is an opportunity to enjoy an intimate moment alone, and reflect on all this day means for you both, and you’ll be SO much more relaxed and ready for the ceremony! Our Couples have told us the First Look was the only time they had alone together all day!


When there is no first look, the majority of the pictures have to be taken after the ceremony. Family pictures, full bridal party pictures, and then bride and groom portraits can feel a little rushed. 

A first look can help your wedding feel a lot more laid back, your Portraits aren’t rushed and you will have more time to hang out with your Bridalparty before your Ceremony. You’ll maximize the number of Couple Portraits you’ll get because you will have 2 rounds of Portraits; plus splitting the time won’t make Photo taking feel painfully long. Lastly, you’ll get to enjoy part of your cocktail hour!


If you’re expecting poor weather on your wedding day, it might be best to plan on a first look because it gives you more options for pictures. If it’s pouring rain after the ceremony, you’ll be thankful you had pictures done in advance.

If you know the tears are going to fall the first time you see your other half the day of your wedding, a first look will give you time to freshen up before the ceremony.

First look or not, the first time you see each other on your wedding day will be special.


Plan your schedule around the sun, especially if your ceremony is outdoors. Lighting is the most important element of good photos! Ceremony lighting is really important, if you get married outdoors at 12pm, the lighting will be extremely harsh and not only will there be harsh lines of light on your faces, you will also be squinting. I suggest planning an outdoor ceremony 2 hours before sunset if you are having a First Look. If you are not interested in sharing a first look, then I would suggest having your ceremony 3 hours before sunset to ensure that you will have plenty of time for all of your portraits afterwards. The lower the sun, the more romantic the lighting. If you are having an indoor ceremony, it is always best to have even lighting at the altar. If there are two spotlights on the bride and groom, I will not be able to expose the rest of the bridal party. It is better to have soft, even light across the whole altar.

Unplugged Ceremony

Imagine this, you are standing at the front of the aisle and you cannot see your fiancee because guests are leaning and standing in the aisle to take a shot of you. You can’t see the expression on your fiancee’s face, but you do see him straining to see you. Then you notice one of your close friends not looking at you, but at her cell phone. Everywhere you look you see your favorite people staring at their devices. All in all it wasn’t the moment you thought it would be–people seemed more interested in taking pictures than being present in the moment with you. 

When your photos come back from your wedding photographer, all of your Ceremony photos are framed with guests holding devices. People are smiling, but they’re all staring at little screens. I know that it can be super-frustrating to spend a small fortune on wedding photography and have guests block your photographers shots, or spend your entire wedding with a phone in front of their face. But how do you get family and friends to understand that you want to have them present and not using devices during the ceremony? Post a sign as people enter the ceremony space, include instruction in your printed program and before the Ceremony begins have a family member or officiant read a short request.

Family Formals

I absolutely love meeting couple’s families on the wedding day! Family formals are normally my first interaction with them and so I love to have a game plan for this part of the day. I tackle family formals by starting with a big group photo of both sides of the family. Then I ask one side to step out and work my way down to smaller and smaller groups before asking the other side to step back in. Below I have listed the standard photos I take. Four weeks before the wedding, you’ll receive a questionnaire from me that will ask you to list any additional family formals you want us to capture and notify us of special family situations (like divorces and disabilities). 

We do have to limit the family formal time in order to ensure that we have plenty of daylight for your romantic portraits. However, any large family group shots that we don’t accomplish during family formals, we can be sure to capture at the reception! Keep in mind that family formals are for immediate family. At the reception, we take group shots with each table as you go around greeting and thanking your guests. So don’t worry we will make sure you get a photo with everyone!


Taking these photos in the morning will ensure we will not feel rushed after the Ceremony. If you choose not to do a First Look, I will take the full Bridal Party group photo immediately following the Ceremony. These will be really quick since we will have already taken the majority of the Bridal Party Formals.
PRO TIP: Make sure there is a Non-Bridal Party, kid rangler available for the flower girl and ring bearers.

Don’t freak out! Overcast skies = perfect lighting. Sunlight, especially mid-day, is actually very harsh. Rainy days give that perfect, soft, natural lighting, no matter where you take your photos! This gives you perfect lighting + the ability to use a lot more locations. It also tends to make colors look more vibrant. 
PRO TIP: Be willing to go outside! I bring along cute, clear umbrellas that keep you pretty darn dry and they look adorable!

Sunset portraits are literally the BEST ten minutes of portraits you’ll get on your wedding day. Typically we’ll sneak out for 10 minutes during your reception or right after family formals to grab a few of these glowy, swoon-worthy photos! Trust me, they are WORTH IT! 
PRO TIP: Bring the veil + bouquet! This looks DREAMY with sunset lighting!


Receptions can be a blast! Much like the ceremony, you have the freedom to make your reception your own! It’s your party, it should be exactly how you want it to be! Make sure that you plan out all of the aspects of the evening. Your coordinator and your DJ will help you plan the flow and design of the reception but I do have a few recommendations for you based on my experience. 

Taking these photos in the morning will ensure we will not feel rushed after the Ceremony. If you choose not to do a First Look, I will take the full Bridal Party group photo immediately following the Ceremony. These will be really quick since we will have already taken the majority of the Bridal Party Formals.
PRO TIP: Make sure there is a Non-Bridal Party, kid rangler available for the flower girl and ring bearers.

There are SO many options when it comes to exits. Sparklers, bubbles, glow sticks, rose petals… there’s so many options!

If your coverage ends before your exit, you have the option of planning a mock exit with your bridal party. This is more common than you may think. Instead of saving your exit until the very end, you can plan a mock exit with just the members of your bridal party and your immediately family members. This allows us to have more control over these shots and the party never has to stop. In most cases, no one even notices that the bride and groom are missing for a few minutes. Also, it’s almost impossible to tell that the whole wedding isn’t there waving sparklers and sending off the happy couple. This suggestion will help you save money and still have all of the photos you’ve dreamed of.

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Christian Margain

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