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Once you begin planning your dream wedding you’ll start reaching out to various vendors. The vendor most couples are looking forward to hiring the most is their photographer. You want to make sure your day is documented from start to finish and captured authentically. These images will be your looking glass back to your wedding day, photos you’ll share with generations (no pressure) but how do you know how to choose your wedding photographer?

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Here are the top 3 things to look for when hiring your wedding photographer:

Style

Does their style of work align with what you’re looking for?

Look through their portfolio and take note of how they use light throughout different times of day and different types of weather. Light can not be fully controlled during an entire wedding day so it’s important your photographer knows how to get the best images possible with what they have to work with! Request to see full wedding galleries not just the favorite instagram worthy pics.

Do you like how they edit the images? I suggest imagine you’re looking back on your photos 20 years from now, will they still look amazing because they are natural and timeless? or will it be like when your mom shows you clothes from the 80’s – trendy then but outdated now.

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Professionalism

I can not stress this enough- make sure you hire a professional photographer for your wedding. There are no re-dos for wedding day photos. I have heard so many horror stories of couples wanting to save money so they hire a cheap photographer or someone that’s never photographed a wedding before then sure enough the photos don’t turn out well or worse…. the photographer bails at the last minute with no solution or replacement.

I would hate for that to happen to anyone. Stay on the safe side and hire a professional. Someone that has a portfolio of work, experience with weddings, and knows how to run their business. A true professional will have a contract, back up gear, and will be prepared for any sort of situation that could happen on your day.

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Personality

This may be the most important element when searching through photographers. Choose a photographer that you genuinely get along with. You will be spending so much time with them during the planning process and even more time with them on the day of. Depending on the schedule of your day you might even spend more time with your photographer than your partner! Pick someone that makes you feel comfortable, understand your vision, and has your back on your wedding day.

Once you’ve read these tips on how to choose your wedding photographer check out what questions to ask your wedding photographer.

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How to Choose Your Wedding Photographer

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This year I asked my past brides to share their advice for future brides. All of the lovely ladies planning their weddings can take tips from brides that recently planned their own weddings. They all learned what is most important when it comes to wedding planning and making sure you enjoy your day of. Whether you’re planning a big wedding or an elopement these words of wisdom will be useful for you.

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Advice from Hannah

“I think my day went so perfectly because I didn’t freak out about small things. I didn’t even freak out about big things. I kept thinking, at the end of the day I will be married to my best friend, and whatever happens today is what was meant to be! I think having an easy going attitude during the whole thing helped a lot.”

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Loren’s advice on eloping

“Do what you want and do not plan too much! You should have a simple idea and schedule of the day, but planning it to the T takes away the fun of it! What worked for us was the simplicity of it all. We stayed at our hotel to prepare, the hotel was extremely close to the elopement location, we allowed the scenery and skyline to be our decorations, trusted in our pastor for the vows and ceremony, and focused on us. This was a decision that we would absolutely choose again and would recommend others to do as well!”

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McKenna’s Suggestion

“It [the wedding day] really does go by so quickly and it’s over and done before you know it. Hire a day-of coordinator so you can leave all the details and worries to them and really soak in every moment of the day!”

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Ann Marie’s tip

“There are so many things to figure out, but if you can find the right vendors, who you feel you work well with and whose vision meshes with yours, it is a game changer.  Don’t be afraid to ask vendors for advice on other aspects of your big day.  Keep in mind they have typically done this many times and have likely seen things go right or not so right.  A little professional advice never hurts.”

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Destiney’s Adivce

“Don’t stress it will all work out in the end. Just go with the flow and expect little bumps in the road.”

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Amanda’s tips if you have to change your wedding plans

“If anything, wedding planning during a pandemic taught me to be much more go with the flow and embrace everything with a sense of humor. It allowed me to just say “whatever happens, happens.” I know it sounds cliche but what they say is true. Once you are up there with the love of your life, nothing else matters. Don’t sweat the small stuff, and just lean on each other, your families, and if you luck out like us, your amazing vendors. Take in every single moment standing up there. This is it, it’s here, you made it.”

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These brides wanted to share their advice to soon-to-be brides to inspire them and give them the opportunity to learn from their experiences. Overall they all express the importance of not stressing over things you can’t control. Let whatever happens, happen. Just focus on enjoying your day to the fullest.

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For more wedding inspo check out other wedding day blog posts.

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6 Past Brides Share Their Advice for New Brides

questions to ask your wedding photographer

There are tons of things to consider when you start looking for your wedding photographer. As a Kansas City wedding photographer here are the essential questions to ask your wedding photographer.

questions to ask your wedding photographer

How would you describe your photography style?

I personally describe my editing style as “true to color”. I want your images to be a reflection of what your wedding day actually looked like. When you open up your gallery the photos should inspire you to relive your day all over again.

My shooting style is a mix between poses, promts, and candids. I love to be a fly on the wall during intimate moments to capture your emotions without even noticing I’m there, but I also know how important traditional posed photographs are (everyones Grandma cherishes a pic of their grandkids facing the camera and smiling for their refrigerator!) Let’s get the best of both worlds and mix it all together. This will give you a wide range of photos to choose from and a variety throughout your wedding gallery.

How long have you been working as a professional photographer?

This year (2020) will be my second official year as a professional wedding photographer. I’ve started taking pictures and learning how to use a camera back in high school. Right before college I realized how big of a passion it was for me so I decided to study the art of photography at Missouri State University. In 2019 I graduated from Missouri State with my Bachelor of Fine Arts in photography and a minor in art history. Throughout all those years I had been photographing all sorts of things until my heart found weddings early on in 2019.

What type of equipment do you use?

Currently I’m using two canon 5D Mark IV bodies.

What if you have an issue with your gear?

This is the advantage of shooting with two camera bodies because I already have a backup on hand ready to go!

If both my cameras are having issues I typically bring my older camera a canon 70D as an additional backup.

What’s your backup system?

Right when I leave a wedding, (sometimes at the reception before I leave a wedding) I immediately upload all my images to an external hard drive. Then as I’m edited the images are constantly backed up to my cloud storage system, I use Backblaze. The final images are then kept on the external drives, backed up to cloud storage, and stored on your personal online gallery.

  1. Original files on SD/CF cards
  2. Original files backed up on external drive
  3. Original files backed up to cloud storage
  4. Final images on external drive
  5. Final images backed up to cloud storage
  6. Final images uploaded to online gallery

Have you ever shot at our wedding venue?

If I haven’t shot at your venue before I will gladly go on a tour with you for any venues in the Kansas City area! If your venue is further away and we aren’t able to tour ahead of time, I can assure you that I am fully capable of all lighting situations and will come fully prepared! I’ll also arrive early the day of and explore all our options and locations within the venue.

How do you handle difficult lighting situations?

There are so many ways to work around difficult light! Between school and my education from additional lighting courses I have learned many tips to work with light. I have an understanding of how light works and how to work with what we have! Sometimes it’s as simple as twisting one way or another to find the most flattering light. Trust me! -I got your back. You’ll look good I promise.

Do you have a portfolio we can review?

YES!! There are images on my website and my blog. I would also love to send you some full wedding galleries so you can get an idea of a full day! -Just send me a quick email and I’ll get those galleries to your inbox ASAP.

Do you offer different packages?

Absolutely. Every wedding day is unique which means your photography needs will be different. To take care of each of my couples I create custom packages for them. You guys will get to enjoy your day stress-free, knowing that I have the photography part covered!

How long until I get my final images back? How many images will be included?

First thing you’ll receive from me after your wedding day will be a sneak peek of images within 48 hours! A little taste of the day. Then you’ll receive your final gallery within 3-6 weeks after your wedding. The size of your gallery will depend on the amount of coverage you booked- typically it averages about 100 images an hour. BUT! I never withhold amazing images. You’ll receive edits of everything besides blinks, blurrys, and duplicates.

Do I get a print release? How can I order prints/albums?

Yes you have printing rights for personal use! You’ll also be able to order professional quality prints directly through your personal online gallery. If you are interested in an album please let me know, I will help you with choosing your album and designing it.

If our event lasts longer than expected, will you stay? Is there an additional charge?

If the event goes longer than expected I can definitely stay! I won’t leave before all the magic is over. If we need to add on additional coverage time it will be an additional $200 an hour for just me to stay or $250 for me and a second photographer to stay. You will be invoiced a few days after your wedding, you will not receive your final gallery until it has been paid.

Will you be photographing other events on the same day as our wedding?

Nope! Your wedding will be the only event that day!

What happens if you are ill, or there is an emergency?

Ugghh hopefully this never never ever happens… but if something happens and I can not cover your wedding my second photographer will take over as the lead or I will find another trusted photographer in the Kansas City area (I have a lovely network of amazing photographers that I trust completely!) They will cover your day, deliver the images to me and I will edit them and deliver your final gallery as planned.

Do you have liability insurance?

Yes! My business is insured by State Farm. I have up to 1,000,000 in liability insurance.

Can you share some recent testimonials?

Of course! Please check out My google business page for the most current reviews.

If you have any other questions I am happy to answer! Contact me here

questions to ask your wedding photographer

Questions To Ask Your Wedding Photographer

Courthouse wedding

If you opt in for a elopement at the courthouse this blog post is for you! Plan with these Kansas City courthouse wedding pro-tips in mind.

Courthouse wedding

Make Your Appointment

Be sure to call your local courthouse to make your appointment. My KC people; I went ahead and found the phone numbers for you for both sides of the state line – Jackson County (MO) (816-881-3191) and Johnson County (KS) (913-715-3428).

courthouse wedding pro-tips

Get Your Marriage License

Depending on which courthouse you go to you might need to apply for your marriage license ahead of time. Double check all the requirments on the county government websites – Jackson County (MO) and Johnson County (KS)

couple on green couch

Decide Who Will Officiate

When getting married at a courthouse you have the option of having a Justice of the Peace or a Judge preform the ceremony, but you also have the option of bringing in your own private officiant.

Pro-Tip: If you bring in your own private officiant choose someone that is special to you and your soon to be spouse. Possibly an official from your church or a close friend that can become an officiant for the day.

unique wedding ring

Hire Your Photographer

Even if your wedding will be on the more simple side your photos can still be EPIC.

PRO-TIP: You don’t have to only stick around the courthouse for your photos! There might be some hidden gems a couple blocks away or hire your photographer for some additional hours and somewhere with a breathtaking view.

courthouse wedding

to hire Natalie Nichole Photography please fill out my contact form here or at the bottom of this page.

Week Day ceremonies = $500
-an hour of coverage
-sneak peek photos the same day
-50+ final images delivered 3-5 weeks after your wedding

Weekend ceremonies (Nov-Feb) =$700
-two hours of coverage
-sneak peek photos the same day
-50+ final images delivered 3-5 weeks after your wedding

additional hours can be added on to any package.

courthouse wedding pro-tips
courthouse wedding pro-tips

Hire Professional Hair and Make Up

Hiring professional hair and makeup is a great way to pamper yourself before your ceremony. You’ll be able to look your best without all the stress of having to do it yourself.

Pro-Tip: Make sure you have a hair and make up trial with your beauty team, you want to make sure the look still feels like you and sometimes the best way to know is to take it for a test run!

courthouse wedding pro-tips
courthouse wedding pro-tips

Flowers are Always a Good Idea

If you love flowers don’t forget to bring some for your special day! You can get a gorgeous bouquet from a local florist with all your favorites.

Pro-Tip: If you don’t feel like carrying around a bouquet as a florist for some little blooms to add to your hair. All the flowers with less hassle.

boho couple

Add a Personal Touch to the Day

Add a little something that truly reflects you two as a couple. Some ideas; bring a special getaway car or motorcycle for after the ceremony, grab something to eat afterwards at your favorite restaurant, or have your closest friends and family waiting at the next location ready to celebrate your new marriage with you!

bride and groom on motorcycle
boho bride and groom on motorcycle

Pro-Tip: Keep your photographer around for the special events- you’ll want to look back on those memories.

Keep these Kansas City courthouse wedding pro-tips in the back of your mind while you plan your special day.

Not wanting to elope at the courthouse but still want to keep it low key? – here’s how to plan a simple wedding

Kansas City Courthouse Wedding Pro-Tips

You can choose any music genre for your first dance song. It doesn’t matter if it’s an old school classic, a new pop song, some homegrown country, or a little alternative. What matters most is that you feel a special connection to the song. If you close your eyes while the song is playing you immediately see your partner. The rhythm should bind your hearts together, the lyrics should remind you of each other.

Here are my top picks of perfect songs from every genre for your first dance

couple dances their first dance at wedding

Classic

  1. Can’t Help Falling In Love With You – Elvis Presley (sooooo many good remakes of this song as well!)
  2. This Will Be [An Everlasting Love] – Natalie Cole
  3. At Last – Etta James
  4. My Girl – The Temptations
  5. This Magic Moment – The Drifters

Pop

  1. Perfect – Ed Sheeran
  2. All of Me – John Legend
  3. How Long Will I Love You – Ellie Goulding
  4. Give Me All Your Love – Brighton
  5. I Am Yours – Andy Grammer

Country

  1. Holding On to You – Miranda Lambert
  2. You Had Me at Hello – A Day To Remember
  3. Amazed – Lonestar
  4. My Best Friend – Tim McGraw
  5. I Want to Dance with You – George Strait

Indie/Alternative

  1. Love You For A Long Time – Maggie Roger
  2. Nothing Matters When We Dance – The Magnetic Fields
  3. All My Love – George Ezra
  4. I’m With You – Vance Joy
  5. Someone To You – BANNERS
choose any genre for your first dance at your wedding

Honorable Mentions

  1. Aquaman – Walk The Moon
  2. Overwhelmed – Tim McMorris
  3. Dreams – The Cranberries
  4. Yours to Keep – Jordan Mackampa
  5. Incredible – James TW
  6. Hooked On A Feeling – Blue Swede

For my fellow How I Met Your Mother fans: I’m Gonna Be (500 miles) – The Proclaimers

check out my full playlist of first dance songs here I’ll be adding to it constantly so go ahead and “follow” if you’d like.

genre for first dance
outdoors first dance at wedding

Before you pick your first dance, make sure your wedding day timeline is set- here’s how to plan the perfect wedding day timeline

The Perfect Songs from Every Genre for your First Dance

a simple wedding in kansas city

If a big wedding ceremony isn’t your thing, you might consider having a smaller ceremony or an intimate elopement. Here is how to have a simple wedding in Kansas City.

a simple wedding in kansas city

The key to making your marriage legal – Your Marriage License

In the state of Kansas (Johnson County)

You’ll have to go to the County Clerk’s office twice. Remember your IDs

Clerk of the District Court:
100 N Kansas Ave
Olathe, KS 66061
Hours: Monday- Friday 8am-5pm

-Apply for your marriage license

The application portion is a sworn affidavit. You’ll give basic info about both of you; name, age, city you live in. Then you’ll go under oath that you’re not related to each other, neither of you are currently already married, and that you don’t know of any other reason you shouldn’t get married.

-Wait three days

The state of Kansas requires applicants to wait three days for their marriage license to be processed.

-Return to pick up your license

Hot Tip: Technically only one of you needs to go to the Clerk’s office to apply, but going to get your marriage license together is a memorable moment I recommend you share together.

In the state of Missouri (Jackson County)

You can go to the Jackson County Courthouse, Historic Truman Courthouse, or you can apply online. If you go in person be sure to remember your IDs.

Jackson County Courthouse- Recorder of Deeds Department
415 East 12th Street
Room 104
Kansas City, Missouri 64106

Historic Truman Courthouse
112 W Lexington
Suite 30
Independence, Missouri 64050

apply for your marriage license

You’ll give basic info about both of you; name, age, city you live in.

-Pick up your marriage license

If you apply in person you can get it right then but if you apply online you’ll need to both go to pick it up.

a simple wedding in kansas city

The Fun Part -Your Ceremony

Both Johnson County and Jackson County will happily give you a list of judges that can perform your ceremony, you will need to reach out them and decide on a location. Your officiant can also be a religious official; a minister, a priest, a rabbi, etc. Nowadays you can have a friend or relative become a temporary officiant or become ordained which can add a personal touch to your ceremony.

Location Ideas:
Possibly in the court house (they don’t seem to be offering this very much)
Your backyard
A local park (check with each park about their fees and required permits)

Kansas (Johnson County)

Your ceremony will have to take place within 6 months after you receive your marriage license. All you will need for a ceremony is someone to officiant and two witnesses. Your officiant must turn in the license within 10 days of the ceremony.

Missouri (Jackson County)

Your ceremony will have to take place within 30 days. You’ll need an officiant and two witnesses. Your officiant must turn in the license to the Jackson County Recorder of Deeds Department within 15 days of the ceremony.

Hot Tip: Your wedding ceremony must take place in the State that you got your marriage license.

courthouse wedding

How much will it cost to have a simple wedding in Kansas City?

-License
Kansas $85.50 (additional $4.95 if you pay with a card)
Missouri $50.00

-officiant most likely between $100-200 (maybe free if your friend or relative is offering!)

-Venue will depend on where you choose! There are plenty of free options

courthouse wedding
backyard wedding in kansas city

How much will it cost to have a photographer at our simple wedding?

*quotes for Natalie Nichole Photography for a simple ceremony within 20 miles of Kansas City*

Week Day ceremonies = $500
-an hour of coverage
-sneak peek photos the same day
-50+ final images delivered 3-5 weeks after your wedding

Weekend ceremonies (Nov-Feb) =$700
-two hours of coverage
-sneak peek photos the same day
-50+ final images delivered 3-5 weeks after your wedding

Additional hours can be added to packages

a simple wedding in kansas city

Love KC? Have a simple wedding in Kansas City on a rooftop. The skyline makes for the perfect backdrop.

How To Have A Simple Wedding In Kansas City

If you’re like a majority of the country right now, or let’s get real – if you’re like a majority of the world right now, you’re probably somewhere between slightly nervous to full blown panic. If amidst all of the coronavirus drama you’re also engaged, you’re probably wondering “will the coronavirus affect your wedding”?

Regardless if the media is just trying to create hysteria, there still is a lot of panic going around.

If your wedding is coming up within the next few months it is important to think about your options.

As of right now in the midst of every major sport cancelling their seasons, schools closing for the rest of the semester, and large companies encouraging employees to work from home…. I think the main risk you’d face for your wedding would be creating too much of a “crowd”. Italy has officially banned people from gathering. The governor of Kansas has declared no groups larger than 100 people. BUT there are solutions to this problem.

Condense your Guest List

I know, I know easier said then done. Your family and friends will completely understand if you change your huge party into an intimate gathering. You can does this easily by only inviting your immediate family. If you’re immediate families still make a group larger than the size restrictions consider eloping! Just you, your partner, your officiant, and your photographer. Keep the ceremony incredibly small and host a large party for everyone once the world is healthy again.

Live Stream your Wedding Day

Hold your wedding exactly as you planned but have your guests celebrate with you from the comfort of their own homes. With todays technology you can live stream any event just at your finger tips. You can set up a Zoom call or Facebook Live right into a fb group. Everyone will get to share in the day in real time.

Reschedule

Now to everyone’s least favorite option. If your wedding is scheduled in an area that’s high risk the best option might be to push back your date. (I truly think this is only a worst case scenario option). BUT we never know so let’s prepare ourselves just incase. If none of the other options work for you, consider choosing a date that falls on a weekday. That will be the easiest way for you to reschedule with all of your vendors at an earlier date instead of having to wait until 2021 or even 2022.

Hopefully in a couple weeks the coronavirus and all it’s drama will blow over. Once the world can start turning again everything will go back to normal. For most couples the coronavirus won’t affect your wedding but it’s never a bad idea to be prepared.

the coronavirus affect your wedding

A Note to my 2020 Couples

I have to admit, I was one of the people at the grocery stores buying an extra pack of toilet paper (only 1 though!), some more hand soap, and a couple cans of soup. I might have let the panic get to me ever so slightly. Even though I took a little precaution I am still 110% prepared to cover your wedding day. Even if plans have to be adjusted I am here to help. Wether we keep the big party or switch to an intimate ceremony I will be there. I can even help set up a live stream for you and your guests! I am here for you, to serve you, and to help alleviate some stress – let me know what you need.

The most important thing to remember is – virus or no virus the wedding will still happen one way or another! You two will get married and spend the rest of your lives together. We won’t let the coronavirus affect your wedding day.

What a crazy story to tell in the future though, right?!

p.s. please wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds (happy birthday 2x – that’s all it takes!)

Interested in having an intimate ceremony – here’s how to plan a simple wedding in Kansas City

Will the Coronavirus Affect Your Wedding?

Natalie Nichole Photography, Kansas City Wedding Photographer, engagement photos

The date is set, the details are in order, now it’s time to make sure everything runs smoothly. Plan the perfect wedding day timeline to keep everything on track.

Before you create your timeline you’ll need to decide if you want to have a first look. If you chose to have a first look you’ll have plenty of flexibility in your timeline. If you chose to not have a first look, that’s ok, but you’ll want to make sure your ceremony is early enough in the day that you’ll have enough time before your reception (and sunset) to take care of all of your photos.

In this blog post I will teach you how to plan the perfect wedding day timeline (with or without a first look). For the sake of this post we will say we are planning a summer wedding in the midwest (sunset beginning at 7, fully set by 8pm)

Dreamy Barn Wedding - Natalie Nichole Photography

The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline- with a First Look

My biggest tip for creating your timeline is to start with your ceremony time and build off of it. If you choose to have a first look you’ll be able to have your ceremony later in the evening (say around an hour or two before sunset? HELLO GOLDEN HOUR, golden light, and amazing photos!!) For our beautiful imaginary summer wedding we will have our ceremony begin at 5pm.

TIP: non-religious ceremonies typically last 10-30 minutes and religious ceremonies tend to last 30-60 minutes.

Plan The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline - Natalie Nichole Photography
Plan The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline - Natalie Nichole Photography

Before the Ceremony

Once you know when your ceremony will be you’ll plan your timeline backwards for everything that needs to happen before your ceremony.

For example you’ll want to be hidden away at least 30 minutes prior to your ceremony because guests will be arriving and you won’t want to spoil the surprise of your beautiful dress.

Wedding Party Photos

Before you hide away you’ll want to be done with all of your wedding party photos (bridesmaids, bridesmen, groomsmen, groomswomen, guests of honor, flower girls, ring bearers, or anyone that is standing up with you during the ceremony- your wedding party/ wedding crew) Depending on the size of your wedding party I suggest having at least 30 minutes to an hour for these photos. If you have a large party and you know you specifically want multiple photos with each of them individually, you might need more time. For a majority of my couples up to an hour is plenty!

Plan The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline - Natalie Nichole Photography

Couples Portraits

You’ll also need 30 minutes to 45 minutes for couples portraits, because you two are what this entire day is about. This can be before or after photos with the rest of your wedding party, but you’ll want a little extra time alone together.

Plan The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline - Natalie Nichole Photography

The First Look

Of course before you can take any photos together you’ll need to have your first look! Such an intimate moment between the two of you, I usually suggest planning for a first look to take 15-ish minutes, but if you know one or both of you will cry… you might want to allow for a little extra time.

Plan The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline - Natalie Nichole Photography
Plan The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline - Natalie Nichole Photography
Plan The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline - Natalie Nichole Photography

Getting Ready

Now it’s time for you to make a big decision and be honest with yourself, you know yourself wayyyy better than I do… how long will it realistically take you to get ready? For some it’ll be an hour for others it’s four. It all depends on how much effort and time goes into all aspects of your getting ready process. If you’ve hired a make up artist or a hair stylist I recommend reaching out to them and asking them how much time it normally takes them to complete the look you’re wanting.

After the Ceremony

Since you’ll be having a first look, you won’t have too much to do after the cermeony, you’ll be able to make it to your cocktail hour or reception earlier and get to spend more time with your guests.

Plan The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline - Natalie Nichole Photography

Family Formal Photos

Most likely the only photos you’ll have to complete after your ceremony will be your Family Formal photos, I like to plan for 45 minutes to an hour in order to make sure every grouping on all sides of the family are taken care of. I’d rather add more time into our timeline than have to rush.

Plan The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline - Natalie Nichole Photography

Sunset Couples Portraits

After Family Formal photos are finished is a great time to send the family into the reception for cocktail hour while you and your spouse take a few more photos, just the two of you, during sunset (perfect time for you to soak in the moment as a newly married couple!) This typically takes only about 10-20 minutes.

Plan The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline - Natalie Nichole Photography

Reception Time

Then it’s time to get you to your party!!! Enjoy your first dances, eat your delicious meal, cut your cake, and celebrate with your closest friends and family.

Plan The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline - Natalie Nichole Photography
Plan The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline - Natalie Nichole Photography

Sample Timeline (with a First Look)

Getting Ready!!

2:30pm- First Look

3:00pm Couples Portraits

3:30pm- Wedding Party Photos

4:30pm- Hide away while Guests Arrive

5:00pm- Ceremony

6:00pm- Family Formal Photos

7:00pm Sunset couples portraits

7:20pm Reception Time!

Plan The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline - Natalie Nichole Photography

The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline- without a First Look

Whether you have a first look or not I still suggest starting with your ceremony when you plan the perfect wedding day timeline.

If you are not having a first look you will need to have your ceremony earlier in the day to guarantee you’ll have enough day light for allllllllllll of your photos after the ceremony. Depending on the time of year this is no big deal but for fall/winter weddings it becomes a little more difficult because the sunsets extremely early. For our lovely imaginary summer wedding let’s plan on our ceremony beginning at 3pm.

Plan The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline - Natalie Nichole Photography

TIP: For a ceremony earlier in the day, consider choosing a location indoors or a shaded area outdoors. The closer to noon the harsher the sun. Not only will the shade or indoor setting help with lighting for photos, but your guests will appreciate not having to squint into the sun.

Dreamy Barn Wedding - Natalie Nichole Photography

Before the Ceremony

Without a first look there is less that can be done before the ceremony. You’ll still want to be hidden away no matter what at least 30 minutes prior to the ceremony.

A Different First Look

Even though you don’t want to have a first look with your soon to be spouse you might be interested in having a different type of first look. Have a special moment with a parent, a grandparent, or anyone that has made a significant impact on your life (even your dog!) I’d plan about 15-30 minutes for each person you’d like to do a first look with.

Plan The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline - Natalie Nichole Photography

Getting Ready

Without having a ton to do before your ceremony you’ll have plenty of time to get ready- you might even have enough time to sleep in a little! Take this time to bond with your wedding party, relax, and get pampered.

Plan The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline - Natalie Nichole Photography
Plan The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline - Natalie Nichole Photography

After the Ceremony

Without a first look after the ceremony will be when all of the wedding party, family, and couples photos will be taken.

Plan The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline - Natalie Nichole Photography
Plan The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline - Natalie Nichole Photography

Family Formal Photos

I recommend starting your family formal photos right after the ceremony, before any relatives have the chance to wander off (can’t start without dear old aunt sue). Plan for 45 minutes to an hour in order to make sure every grouping on all sides of the family are taken care of. I’d rather add more time into our timeline than have to rush.

Plan The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline - Natalie Nichole Photography

Wedding Party Photos

Gather up your wedding day crew and all the special guests that stood with you on your special day. Time to take photos with your closest friends! Depending on the size of your group I’d plan for around an hour. A smaller party can get by with less time, but the general rule of thumb is the more people the longer it can take!

Couples Portraits

FINALLY!!! Time for you two to have a moment for yourselves. Have a minute of peace and quite together as a married couple (OMG!!) Remind each other again just how much you love each other and spend your time sharing your love together and taking some amazing photos to relive these priceless moments.

Plan The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline - Natalie Nichole Photography

Reception Time!

After your couples photos have wrapped up it’s time to head to your party! Chit chat with guests, grab a bite to eat, hit the dance floor, and make it a night you’ll never forget!

Plan The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline - Natalie Nichole Photography
Plan The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline - Natalie Nichole Photography

Sample Timeline (without a first look)

Getting Ready!!

3:00pm- Ceremony

4:00pm- Family Formal Photos

5:00pm- Wedding Party Photos

6:00pm Couples Portraits

7:00pm Reception Time!

Plan The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline - Natalie Nichole Photography

Now that you know how to plan the perfect wedding day timeline (with or without a first look) check out my other blog post about the Benefits of Having a first Look -it’s not just the timeline flexibility.

Photos in this post are from Makenzie and Cole’s dreamy wedding in the rolling hills of Omaha, Arkansas. Check out their venue The Barn at Cricket Creek

Dreamy Barn Wedding - Natalie Nichole Photography

Plan the PERFECT wedding day timeline

There are many benefits of a first look on your wedding day. If you’re planning your wedding, having a first look is definitely something to consider. But really, what are the benefits of a first look?!

More Time with Your Fiancé

One benefit of a first look is of course -more time with your fiancé. If you are having an evening ceremony but not a first look, you won’t be able to see your partner for the entire day before you walk down the aisle. This isn’t just a regular day…. this is your wedding day. This day is one of the most important days of your relationship. Let’s fill your entire day with love instead of just a couple of hours.

Cure any butterflies

Wedding days are notorious for being a little chaotic. Wether you’re feeling nervous, excited, or overwhelmed there are a lot of emotions happening at once, but the best way to calm any butterflies is to look into your partner’s eyes. The minute you see the love of your life on your wedding day, your jitters float away. It’s a minute of calmness before the natural chaos of the day. Sometimes the first look is one of the only moments you’ll have alone throughout the entire day. A quiet moment all to yourselves to just be together.

Flexibility in Your Timeline

First looks give you the opportunity to slow the day down a little, you don’t have to rush everything in the short little window of time between the end of the ceremony and the beginning of the reception. First looks early on in the day allow most of your photos to be taken before the ceremony even starts. Then after the ceremony you’ll only need time for a few more family photos and a couple portraits of the two of you as the newly married couple but then it’s time for the reception! You’ll actually get to go to your cocktail hour and enjoy it. You’ll be excited to welcome guests and celebrate with everyone because you’ve been able to relax throughout the entire day and have had your love by your side.

Overall first looks benefit the day by taking a way some of the stress. They save a little time in the timeline because you can get so much done early on in the day without having to stay hidden from each other. They also give you an intimate moment alone to be yourselves without the feeling of being in front of a crowd.

garden, kansas city wedding, natalie nichole photography
bridal details, kansas city wedding, natalie nichole photography
garden, kansas city wedding, natalie nichole photography
groom details, kansas city wedding, natalie nichole photography
bride and groom garden first look, kansas city wedding, natalie nichole photography
Courtney and Mason’s intimate garden first look
bride and groom garden first look, kansas city wedding, natalie nichole photography
bride and groom garden first look, kansas city wedding, natalie nichole photography
bride and groom garden first look, kansas city wedding, natalie nichole photography
bride and groom garden first look, kansas city wedding, natalie nichole photography
bride and groom garden first look, kansas city wedding, natalie nichole photography
bride and groom garden first look, kansas city wedding, natalie nichole photography
bride and groom garden first look, kansas city wedding, natalie nichole photography
bride and groom garden first look, kansas city wedding, natalie nichole photography
bride and groom garden first look, kansas city wedding, natalie nichole photography

regardless of if you choose to have a first look or not your wedding day is going to take your breath away. You’ll marry the love of your life and celebrate with allllllll of your friends and family that support you.

learn how to plan the perfect wedding day timeline (with or without a first look) here

Benefits of a First Look