Popular conception has the wedding day in a specific order with specific timing. Ceremony, half hour. Cocktail hour & bridal party pictures, one hour. Reception, three hours.
We tell many of our brides to rethink the only-one-hour-between-ceremony-and-reception-for-pictures rule. Here’s how that standard timeline really works (imagine you’re the bride): The ceremony begins a little late, because a bridesmaid couldn’t find her shoes. You’re totally flustered, but it’s time to walk down the aisle. You eagerly await that “First Glance” of your groom. Except the you’re coming down a long aisle, or from down the beach, or the back of the room. The guests stand, and all you groom sees is the top of a veil moving toward him. He may get choked up, but by the time the you reach him, he’s masked his emotions again.
The ceremony ends and it takes 15 minutes for the guests to file out of their seats. That 1 hour is cut down to 45 minutes. You and the bridal party will also need about 15 minutes to get to the reception site and get settled. 45 minutes is now only 30. In that half hour, we can do all the “must have” pictures — family, bridal party, lined up side by side. But that’s all. Then you’re whisked away to the reception, where family and friends tell you how great you look, and there’s a first dance, and a cake cutting, and dinner, and dancing… Everyone has a great time, but there’s a problem. On the most romantic day of your life, you haven’t had the chance to say more than 3 words to your new hubby! The night ends, and you go home, totally exhausted.
Now let’s rewrite that script. You plan for your bridal party to be completely dressed and ready an hour and a half before the ceremony. No last minute rush. You and your groom have arranged a pre-ceremony reveal. You leave all your bridesmaids behind for a special rendezvous. Outside, in a courtyard, or perhaps on the beach, your groom nervously waits for you. His back is turned.
You silently walk up behind him and tap him on the shoulder.
He turns and sees you for the first time, close enough to touch, his eyes full of love. He can see every little detail up close. You giggle, he looks down at his shoes, you hug, you kiss. You two are alone in the world for this special moment.
When the butterflies in your stomach subside, you have a chance to talk. You tell him how you could hardly sleep last night; he tells you that he couldn’t find his socks and is wearing a mismatched pair. After you’ve reconnected, your photographers (who’ve secretly been photographing all along) take the time for some romantic photos that you wouldn’t have had time for after the ceremony.
Now, there’s still an hour until the ceremony, so we bring the bridal party and the family out for the must-haves. It’s all out of the way. A half hour before the ceremony, you and your groom go back inside and sip champagne in a private room and chat until it’s time to walk down the aisle.
During that cocktail hour? Let’s wander around and take those fun pictures with the bridal party that you always wanted!
Tags: Wilmington NC Wedding Photography, beach weddings, pre-ceremony reveal, first glance portraits