Lets Tell Your Story

For most of you – this is your first wedding. It can get difficult to make so many decisions and know so many things about big events – so my hope is that this guide can help you have a better understanding of not only photography – but other aspects of the day that are so important.

My hope is that this guide can help answer any questions you might have – and that we can dive into the specifics as it gets closer to your wedding day.

How Does This Work? 

A month before the wedding

One month out, I will email you the invoice for your final payment as well as a questionnaire regarding your wedding location, scheduling details and other important things about your day.

A week prior to the wedding

I will confirm the details from your questionnaire with you via phone call, making sure there have been no significant changes. I will also answer any last questions you might have about logistics for the day.

The Wedding Day

Time to celebrate!

Image Delivery

After your wedding day, your photos begin to get edited. I will go through the (usually) thousands of photos I take to narrow it down to the best images. I will color correct and edit every photo. Then your images will get uploaded into a gallery which will be sent to you around 6-8 weeks after your wedding date. From this gallery you can download, share and make prints of your images.

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Wedding Timelines

Your wedding day is not a photo shoot. Your wedding day is a day to celebrate your relationship and be with your favorite people in the world. However – you’ve invested money in getting good photographs, and those cannot be accomplished in a rushed one hour time period. My goal as a photographer is to help you find the balance between having ample time to take the photos you are paying for and getting you to your cocktail hour!


Some grooms prefer not to be photographed at this stage of the day for location reasons or otherwise. Please feel free to do whatever feels best for you.

GETTING READY : BRIDE 1.5 to 2.0 hours

I like to arrive at the bride’s prep location just as she’s finishing her hair/makeup—that way, I can get a few photographs of the final touches. Once that’s done, I will document any meaningful accessories or items present, so remember to gather everything so that they’re ready for me to shoot when I get there (stationery, jewelry, flowers and any family heirlooms you are incorporating into the day).

THE CEREMONY 15 minutes to 1.5 hours

Ceremony length varies. A short and sweet ceremony might last 15 minutes; a church service more like 30-45. Whichever you choose, allow ample time to greet guests afterward (about half an hour) unless you plan for a quick exit.

FAMILY PORTRAITS 15 minutes to 30 minutes

The amount of time devoted to family portraits can vary widely, too, depending on size and family/group combinations. I recommend keeping the different combinations to a minimum—any more than 10 can start to eat into cocktail hour and/or the time allotted to couple portraits. Another option is to do all family photographs prior to the ceremony.


Timing depends on how many locations you’d like to visit (around 30 minutes per location is ideal). Consider how much time you’re willing to spend away from your guests—some couples prefer to keep personal portraits to a minimum so they can be with friends and family during post-ceremony cocktail hour.

THE RECEPTION 2.0 to 6.0 hours

Every wedding reception is unique and really depends on what matters to you. Your first dance, cake cutting, dancing, friends and family sharing your joy. I recommend deciding whether you’d like complete reception coverage or would prefer to have me stay just until the dance floor gets moving.

Family Photos

Here’s a list of family photo combinations to keep in mind for pre or post ceremony portraits. As mentioned, I recommend keeping the number of combinations to ten or less. I’ve also found it’s generally best to start with the largest group first and to pare down from there.

Before the wedding, I recommend asking family members what portraits are important to them. And, again, if there are any unique family dynamics we should be aware of, please let me know in advance. This will help ensure that the portrait process is as smooth and stress-free as possible. Here is a list of the common combinations. Allow 2 minutes for each combination, so if you ideally would like to keep this portion of the day to 20 minutes max, only choose a total of 10 combinations.

First Client’s family

» Couple with parents

» Couple with parents & siblings

» Couple with parents, siblings + grandparents

» Couple with immediate + extended families

» Couple with mother

» Couple with father

» Couple with siblings

» Couple with grandparents

» First Client with mother

» First Client with father

» First Client with siblings

» First Client with grandparents

Second Client’s family

» Couple with parents

» Couple with parents & siblings

» Couple with parents, siblings + grandparents

» Couple with immediate + extended families

» Couple with mother

» Couple with father

» Couple with siblings

» Couple with grandparents

» Second Client with mother

» Second Client with father

» Second Client with siblings

» Second Client with grandparents

» Couple with all parents

» Couple with all immediate families – both sides

Any other photo combinations of friends & family?

Nora & Steven East Lansing Wedding

Lighting Lighting Lighting

Great pictures ultimately come down to the quality of light I have to work with. Weddings can look completely different depending on the timing of things and the light provided. As a photographer, it is my job to be aware of the different lighting situations that can arise and help guide you to get you the photos that you want. Here are some guidelines or suggestions for things you may not have thought about.

Outdoor Ceremony

Light plays a bigger role in this than you may ever image. In the summer, the sun is brightest from 12-4pm. If possible, avoiding having your ceremony during this time will provide you with perfect soft light. If it is unavoidable, try to find a large area of shade to prevent severe or uneven light and if no shade is available at least put the sun behind the alter. We’d rather have your guests squinting than you and your spouse (no offense, guests)

Church Ceremony

Make sure you chat with your church about taking photos there. Many churches only allow photographers from the back of the room and some don’t allow photography at all. If photos during the ceremony are important to you, you MUST talk to the person in charge and request that your photographer be given the ability to photograph in the aisle or along the sides. You can tell them that I don’t use flash, and I am very unobtrusive . If you do not speak with them, it is possible that your photos could not include any expression or close up shots.


If you have purple up-lighting at your reception, prepare to see A LOT of purple in your pictures. Reception lighting can make or break photos and although I always come with flash for dark spaces- there are a couple things you can do to create a dreamy look. I recommend using bistro lights and candles to fill spaces that might otherwise be darker with a nice soft glow. And lastly- make sure your DJ is aware that if he uses lasers during your first dance- you WILL have laser points all over your face.

Nora & Steven East Lansing Wedding

Choosing Locations

First, decide whether you prefer a nature background (trees, water, etc.) or one that’s more urban (buildings, streets, sidewalks), and consider what’s most practical based on the location of your wedding. If there’s travel between your ceremony and reception, think about what’s in close proximity to each place and whether there are sites in those areas that you like—it’s always nice to find locations along the way so we lose as little time as possible traveling.

If your ceremony and reception are at the same venue, I can make the most of what’s available to us there. Just let me know what you’re drawn to about that particular place, whether it’s the natural beauty or the architecture, and we can work from there.

If the location of your choice is a considerable distance from your reception site, consider having your portraits shot before the ceremony. That way, you’ll be able to go straight to cocktail hour with your guests when it’s over.

Golden Hour & Blue Hour

As I wrote earlier, great lighting is key to great photography. My favorite time to shoot, hands-down, is the final hour before sunset, which is what the photo industry generally calls “the golden hour”. The light is warm and soft, and everything looks amazing. I would much prefer 15 minutes of this golden light than one hour in the harsh glare of early afternoon. But if  there’s no choice, I will do my best to avoid putting you in the sun. (If it’s a cloudy day, on the other hand, I will be a very happy camper. Clouds act like giant soft-boxes over the sun, reducing harsh shadows so that everyone looks great.)


Choosing a ‘Getting Ready’ Location

If you are getting ready outside of your own home or venue and need to book additional accommodation for where you will be getting ready, my recommendation is to choose an Airbnb / VRBO over a hotel room.

Hotel rooms can often be small and dark, whereas renting an entire home for you to get ready in makes for a more relaxed experience, as there is space for everyone to spread out and there will be more choices in terms of rooms to photograph in (and private homes always have so much more character than hotel rooms). It also gives me a larger variety of light to work with coming in through the windows. Light is the most important part to creating beautiful images, along with a great venue with character, it really has a big impact on the quality of images we can create for you.

Laura Catherine Photography

The Engagement Session

I believe the engagement session is just as important as the wedding. Your wedding day is about celebrating with family and friends; the engagement shoot focuses on just the two of you. It can add so much to the story of who you are as a couple, and offer an ideal opportunity for you to become more comfortable in front of the lens prior to your wedding day.

Engagement sessions can be as simple as a stroll through your favorite park, a stop at your favorite coffee shop, or a visit to the location where your proposal occurred. To best tell your story, I prefer to shoot in a location that’s meaningful to you, as I believe this brings an added depth to the final images.

Engagement photos are perfect for save-the-dates, invitations, or thank you cards—but please keep in mind that it’s best to book early if you’d like to use the photographs as part of your wedding stationery.