Some of this content was taken from "Wedding Guide" Written by Unscripted. All photos are by Melanie Cooper Studios LLC
You're Getting Married!
I know your head is probably spinning during this crazy time! So, I've created this wedding guide to help your wedding planning go a little smoother, and to ensure you get the BEST photos from your wedding day.
All of my base packages include an engagement session.
An Engagement Session is a great way for us to get to know each other and instill confidence that working together on your big day will go smoothly!! Not to mention the photos are great for Wedding Announcements, Save the Dates, or just beautiful photos with your loved one to have around the house.
Not sure what to wear check out my Style Guide below!
Need help choosing a location? Here are some of my favorite Engagement Locations in VA
If you have a wedding planner, they’ll be able to help you create something that aligns with your vision of the perfect day.
MOST IMPORTANT: Try to structure your timeline so that we’re shooting the formal couple portraits at golden hour, just before the sun sets, with that beautiful afternoon glow all around you. There’s nothing like this time of day to capture the mood and magic of the moment.
Planning your wedding day with this in mind is super helpful and makes your photos incredibly gorgeous.
At once calm and chaotic, the getting ready part of the day has all of the feels crammed into a couple of nervous and tender hours. With all of the action buzzing around the bride and groom, it’s easy to find yourself in a really chaotic, crowded, and cluttered space that inadvertently adds stress to the situation. Considering the right space for this part of the day is more important than most people think, which is why I recommend thinking about this early.
The factors that contribute to me getting the best photos are also the ones that contribute to a more relaxed day for everyone.
Here’s what I’ve learned we need:
- A clutter-free space
- Good natural light and lots of it!
TIP: A big window is ideal when taking portraits of people getting their makeup done. (The makeup artist will love the extra light, too!)
- A space with an interior style that suits your own. If at home, don’t forget to get rid of all of the day-to-day clutter like electric fans or socks or dog beds. Fill the space with flowers, your favourite things, and just a couple of your favourite people.
- Enough time (at least one hour for each partner, but longer if you’re rolling with a big crew). I’ll be sure to show up right as the finishing touches are being placed, then head on over to your fiance to spend some time with them too.
TIP: A great way to maximise my time is to put all of the things aside that I need for the detail shots. The ring, the shoes, the cuff links, the love letters - put it all aside so I can arrange them and swap through quickly.
- While each of you are getting ready, chances are you’ll be filled with nerves. As you won’t have each other for comfort in these moments, consider writing a love letter for your fiance to read before the ceremony. It’ll be a nice little keepsake, make for some incredibly emotion-filled images before the ceremony, and help build the excitement in the leadup to the ‘I-do’s’.
I’m a big fan of first looks because they ease the pressure of portraits during the ceremony knowing we’ve got a few good ones in the bag. As soon as the ceremony’s over you can loosen the tie, kick off the heels, and get silly with your friends and family.
It’s guaranteed that you’ll walk away from your wedding
day with so many incredible memories. What’s not
guaranteed is that you’ll walk away from your
wedding day with a portrait of yourselves that
you’re both absolutely in love with...unless we set
some time aside for it. So let’s give ourselves at least an hour.
And, for the record, I’m not opposed to sneaking away for portrait time more than once throughout the day.
Before the wedding we’ll sit down and write down a list of every single person we’ll need and where they should be at what time, so we can fly through these and get everyone back to celebrating as quickly as possible!
An ideal time to do this is immediately after the ceremony, but before the couple portraits. Once the reception starts, it’s hard to track everyone down.
WHY HAVE AN UNPLUGGED CEREMONY?
An unplugged wedding is not only an amazing opportunity for your guests to disconnect from their devices and to connect to the present moment but they also help me get unobscured shots of you and the rest of the ceremony.
There are so many pivotal moments that happen in the blink of an eye - if someone jumps out in front of me with their iPhone while you and the love of your life have your first kiss as forever partners, chances are you’ll have a big iPhone shaped blur in the foreground and I’ll miss the shot.
It’s hard to ask people to keep their devices in their pockets. And although the people you’ve invited undoubtedly love and respect you, it can sometimes be hard to disentangle ourselves from our technology. Set out little reminders for your guests to help nudge them in the right direction. Make some cute signs to put up, add a note to the programs, and let your celebrant know so they can remind them before the ceremony begins. And tell them not to worry - I’m on the job of capturing some great images for everyone to take home.
RECEPTION & DINNER
Most people don’t like to be photographed while they’re eating, so this is a good time for me to grab a quick bite too and be well prepared for the rest of the night! It’s great to put in a request with the kitchen that I get my meal first so that I can eat before speeches start!
From the details of where you’ll be sitting, to where you’ll be in relation to the person giving speeches, all of this is super helpful for me to get a lay of the land and understand where to get the best shots.
If you’re planning a sparkler exit, make sure I get the memo about this! It works best if there’s a designated sparkler hander outer so that everyone’s sparklers are burning bright together! If you’ve booked a venue that doesn’t allow for a sparkler exit, you could opt for bubbles or eco confetti -- just let me know so I can ensure there’s enough light available
for the shot.
This is usually where my job ends, and I’ll leave everyone to party on into the wee hours while I head home super excited about all o