After 5 years of photographing weddings, I know that planning a wedding is a lot of work. So, I thought I’d share my own personal tips for planning a wedding in San Antonio. These tips are mainly geared towards what to expect on your wedding day, and not a full on planning guide from engaged to wedding day. I’d recommend a wedding planner to help out with all of that.
If your wedding photos are important to you, I believe it’s essential to plan your wedding timeline around how your photographer shoots. That’s what this guide will cover. Every photographer approaches their way of shooting differently, so it’s important that it’s based around how your photographer works. This guide is based around how I work and my personal recommendations.
For me, there are two things that are important. One is obviously light. The other is great communication. Having great light ensures that the photos will look gorgeous. Great communication ensures that you’ll have a stress-free experience. That way the day is planned out how you expect.
My ultimate goal with every wedding is to not have you away from the party too long. That’s the one thing about me that’s different than most photographers.
These means no endless amounts of formal group photos. In fact, I don’t allow more than 6 formal group photos with family. Parents can get carried away with the different combinations. This typically results in your wedding day falling behind and stressing you out. I’ve had brides in the past break down and cry because of the stress, which is why I’m now strict on this. I want you to have fun.
An Example Timeline
I like to build timelines around when sunset will be on your wedding day. I prefer to shoot portraits an hour before sunset. For example, if sunset is at 7:30pm and your ceremony will last about 30 minutes, then it would be best to have your ceremony at 6:00pm. This also ensures you’ll have great light for your ceremony and your guests won’t be as hot. Although, when is it never hot in San Antonio? Lol.
Here’s a typical wedding wedding for me:
Usually, the first thing I shoot are detail shots. This means, flowers, dress, the ceremony area, table setups, and any other things you may want photographed. That takes me about 30 minutes. I prefer to do these shots first because there are minimal interruptions during this time.
From there, I’ll photograph you both getting ready for about an hour. I’ll go back and fourth between you both if you’re at the same location. Usually by this time, the bride already has makeup done and is almost finished with hair.
By about 30 minutes before the ceremony, you both should be dressed. Most couples tend to use this time to try and relax with family and friends. I still tend to go back and fourth between you both during this time, but I also will photograph guests arriving.
GROUP PHOTOS & PORTRAITS
After the ceremony, guests go to cocktail hour and then we’ll do formal group photos with your family and wedding party. Once again, I keep group photos to a minimum to ensure your day doesn’t fall behind. We’ll start with family photos first so that we can get them to cocktail after we’re done. Then, we’ll do wedding party photos and get them to cocktail hour. After that, we’ll do portraits of you both. I do them in that order so that you’ll get to have some quiet time to yourselves. Otherwise everyone will be all up in your face wanting to take photos of you on their phones.
From there, it’s dinner and the reception. Every wedding I photograph is different, so the order always varies for toasts, cake cutting, first dances, bouquet toss, etc. And not all couples do every one of those things either.
Here’s an example timeline for 6 hours of coverage with sunset at 7:30pm:
Begin Coverage/Detail Shots – 4pm
Getting Ready Coverage – 4:30pm
Pre-Ceremony – 5:30pm
Ceremony – 6pm
Portraits/Cocktail Hour – 6:30pm
Dinner – 7:30pm
Reception – 8:30pm
End Coverage – 10:00pm
Most couples book 8 hours of coverage because it allows me to photograph everything from getting ready to the end of the night without ending coverage early.
Light isn’t usually a thing couples think about when it comes to planning their wedding day, but it’s definitely important and will affect the photographs.
Most of my couples have outdoor weddings. If that’s you, one thing to consider is where the sun will be during your ceremony. If the sun is shining directly on your faces, you’ll be squinting. And if it’s coming in from the side harshly, one of your faces will be a dark shadow in the photos. If possible try to find a shady spot. If not, having the sun come from behind you both is great too.
I use an iPhone app called Sun Seeker to help me plan and visualize where the sun will be coming from at certain times of the day.
Since I do not photograph church weddings (cause they bore me), indoor light usually isn’t much of an issue for me since I won’t have restrictions on using flash if I absolutely need it.
Planning For Rain
If you’re from San Antonio, or anywhere in Texas really, then you know how weird the weather here can be. Especially in the Spring, Fall, or Winter. It can go from being 105 degrees one day, then down to 30 degrees and raining the next day.
So, be sure to have a backup plan just in case it rains. Usually it’s your venue or coordinator that will help you out with planning that. I’ve had a few weddings where they wound up having their ceremony inside where everyone was going to be seated for dinner. Rain sucks, but don’t let it ruin your day, get you down, or stress you out.
The iPhone app I use and recommend for weather is Dark Sky. It’ll give you notifications if rain is headed your way. It will even give you minute to minute updates on when rain will be ending or starting back up again. That app totally saved me and one of my couples at their wedding, and we wound up being able to have their wedding outside as planned.
Having an unplugged ceremony is something that I encourage couples to have. An unplugged ceremony means that you ask your guests to put away their phones or cameras during the ceremony. Personally, I’m not bothered by the fact that people are taking pictures with their phones. In fact, I like taking of photos of people taking photos with their phones.
The reason that I do encourage unplugged ceremonies, is because it upsets me when I see people posting to social media right after the bride has walked down the aisle. Although having an unplugged ceremony certainly won’t prevent people from getting on their phones, it will encourage them to be in the moment with you both.
Vendors In San Antonio
San Antonio Wedding Planners
Having a wedding planner will allow you to have a stress-free experience. I highly recommend All In The Details Events. Melissa and her team go above and beyond to make sure you have an awesome day.
San Antonio Wedding Venues
Most couples have already picked a venue by the time they’re searching for a photographer. But if you’re still looking for a venue, here’s a few that I’ve photographed at: Welfare Cafe/Goat Barn, The Veranda, The Tobin Center, The Ingenhuett on High, The Guenther House, ZaZa Gardens, Canyon Springs Golf Club
San Antonio Makeup Artist
My go-to for makeup is Chelsea McKay. Not only is she great at what she does, but she’ll also meet you at the venue. Not all makeup artists will do that.
San Antonio Florist
If you want the best looking flowers and bouquet, you want to hire Eden’s Echo. Erin does a phenomenal job, has amazing style, and is badass.
Great DJ’s are definitely hard to come across. Lumen Events has a distinct approach. They have both a DJ and an MC to make sure everyone is having a good time on the dance floor.
Hotel Emma, Menger Hotel, Hotel Havana, St. Anthony Hotel, The Crockett Hotel, Sheraton Gunter Hotel, Hotel Valencia Riverwalk, and houses on Airbnb.
Things to do in San Antonio
If your friends or family are coming from out of town, they may want something to do. Here’s a few suggestions: Go for a walk on the Riverwalk, go to the Pearl to check out the local shops and restaurants, grab some food or a beer at The Luxury, grab a coffee at Rosella Coffee Co, take the kids to the Doseum, go vintage shopping at Montage, check out the San Antonio Museum of Art, or the White Museum, walk the strip of bars on North Saint Mary’s, have some fancy cocktails at The Brooklynite, or delicious margaritas at Ocho.
Planning your wedding can be an overwhelming, complex, and stressful experience. But ultimately, you’re planning a beautiful and memorable day that will mark the first day of your new lives together. Hopefully these tips and suggestions give you new insights on how to go about planning this monumental event. Your wedding day should be one full of love and laughter. Those moments, the candid, intimate moments full of joy and tenderness, are what I’m after. I want to preserve for you both the memories and feelings of your big day.
Fill out my inquiry page HERE to find out if I am available for your wedding date.