Your Top Wedding Questions – Answered!

April 6, 2019

southern maryland wedding photographer


Wedding Q&A | Maryland & DC Wedding Photographer

The 2019 wedding season is upon us, so we’ve compiled some of our best planning advice! As a wedding photographer, my role is to be your advocate, coach, and encourager on one of the most beautiful, emotionally-charged days of your life, and to document it in a way that looks as beautiful as it felt. My goal is always for you to have the most joyful, stress-free wedding possible, and so today I’m sharing some questions from #AWPbrides!

Q. How should we schedule hair & makeup? 

A. We want the bride to be almost done with hair & makeup when we arrive on the wedding day. Your bridesmaids, mom, and anyone else that you’d like included in the “getting into the dress” photos should have hair & makeup done before you. Going last ensures that your look is as fresh as possible, and it also means that as soon as you’re ready, the fun part of the day can start!

Q. Should we do a first look?

A. In case you don’t know by now, I am definitely team first look! My husband and I did one, and I can honestly say that it was my favorite part of the entire day. On a day that was chaotic and bustling with activity, it was so special to have a few sacred moments alone together. Weddings that have first looks are typically more relaxed, too. Because we’re able to accomplish so many of the “must-have” portraits before your guests even arrive, you’re able to actually enjoy your cocktail hour! In the event of inclement weather or early sunset times (like early spring and late fall), planning for a first look ensures we have multiple opportunities for portraits throughout the day, too.

maryland wedding photographer

Rebecca and Anthony had the dreamiest glowy light during their ceremony!

Q. What time should the ceremony be?

A. From a lighting perspective, it’s best to avoid midday outdoor ceremonies. This helps reduce harsh lighting, which can cause dark circles under eyes. Be sure to keep the time of year in mind when planning your ceremony start time! For example, a June wedding can start at 4PM and be totally fine, whereas on an overcast December day, it could be dark at 4PM! Yikes! The light becomes softer and dreamier as sunset approaches, so a ceremony about 3-4 hours prior to sunset is ideal.

Q. What details do I need to have with me in the bridal suite? 

A. We always start our coverage time by photographing all the little details that you’ve carefully chosen for your wedding day. I typically allocate about 45 minutes to photographing details, weaving in documentation of hair & makeup finishing touches throughout. This gives everyone time to “warm up” to the camera being around, and ensures we have BEAUTIFUL images of those special details! Plan to have all of these items gathered together in the bridal suite before we arrive. This will help us stay on schedule from the get go!

– wedding dress
– veil
– bride’s shoes
– rings (BOTH wedding bands and the engagement ring!)
– bridal jewelry (necklace, bracelet, earrings, hair pin, etc.)
– full invitation suite (invitation, inner & outer envelopes, enclosure cards, maps, embellishments, etc.)
– bridesmaids dresses
– bride’s bouquet
– perfume
– special gifts, letters, items of significance to the couple
– anything else that you want photographed editorially, in the best possible light

southern maryland wedding photographer

Kelsey had her details ready to go in the bridal suite!

Q. We want to do a special exit, but our photography coverage ends before the reception. What should we do?!

A. Our goal is always to get as much of the photography done before the ceremony as possible. This helps you really be relaxed and present at your own wedding, rather than feeling like you’re constantly getting whisked away for photos. We want you to ENJOY this event that you’ve spent so much time planning!  If we can get the obligatory portraits and details captured early in the day, that frees us up to be more creative and documentary as the day goes on, too.

That said, it’s pretty normal for our coverage window to end before the reception does. When we create the timeline together, we’ll be sure to schedule the big events (special dances, cake cutting, etc.) to happen before we leave, and we’ll definitely capture some sweet moves on the dance floor. However, having us there until the bitter end usually isn’t a great use of time or budget, as those images can start to look pretty repetitive!

The problem becomes what to do if you’re planning a reception exit, such as a sparkler exit. One idea that some of our 2019 brides are hopping onto is a ceremony exit, and we are LOVING IT! Here’s a few reasons to consider a ceremony exit instead of a reception exit:

  1. There’s so much pure joy in that walk up the aisle! Give your guests streamers to wave, or perhaps petals or biodegradable confetti to throw. So romantic and celebratory! (Just check with the venue for any restrictions!)
  2. You’ll be much much fresher and photo ready in the beginning of the day. Enough said!
  3. WAY LESS DANGEROUS! Sparkler exits are all the rage, but more and more venues are starting to prohibit them – and for good reason! It’s really common for photographers and couples alike to get burned while walking through the sparklers. Add in a few drunk guests, and it’s a recipe for disaster. Avoid the liability and skip the sparklers!
  4. A ceremony exit photographs WAY better! The light will be so dreamy and beautiful after your ceremony, compared to the pitch black of night after your reception.

I hope this has been helpful! Thank you to all of our 2019 brides for sharing your questions and planning process. Can’t wait to hug you all as brides!


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At home near the sea. Ever-focused on beauty and the thrilling art of creation; found in the moments that matter most.

Amanda is fueled by a desire to preserve the best humanity has to offer: our love for one another. She draws her inspiration from classic literature, sprawling wildflower fields, thoughtful design and architecture, and her travels across the world, particularly Europe. 

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