vendor recommendations, wedding day details, ENGAGEMENT SESSION TIPS, and more!
A NOTE ABOUT THIS GUIDE
We’re so excited to be working with you and we can’t wait to get to know you better over the next several months! We know photography is one of your top priorities and we’re so honored you chose to work with us.
Even though you’re working with a wedding planner, there are a lot of moving pieces leading up to your big day and we’re here for whatever you need.
After photographing more than 400 weddings over the past decade, there are some frequently-asked questions and plenty of topics about which we are very opinionated! This guide will walk you through everything from our top vendor recommendations and doing a first look to ordering your album after the wedding day.
Team Anna Delores
Thank you again for choosing to work with us and please don’t hesitate to let us know if we can offer any additional guidance throughout the wedding planning process!
Engagement sessions not only allow you to get comfortable in front of the camera and spend time with your photographer before the wedding day, they also give you the opportunity to showcase your personalities in a more casual setting.
We’ve created an entire page dedicated to outfit tips, location ideas, timing considerations, and more!
WHO WILL MAKE YOUR DAY INCREDIBLE
Over the years, we’ve learned the important role that quality vendors play in creating a stress-free wedding day. This is our tried-and-true collection of top wedding vendors in the Santa Barbara and Central Coast area (psst: many of them are happy to travel, too!).
We can’t recommend them enough! This is not a paid referrals list—we chose these professionals for the quality of their work and their ability to enhance your wedding day experience at every turn.
DJ + BANDS
HAIR + MAKEUP
OTHER PROS WE LOVE!
That moment you see each other for the first time on your wedding day is special, and this is true whether you choose to wait until walking down the aisle or decide to do a "first look" prior to the ceremony.
A first look is a private moment couples spend together prior to the wedding ceremony, and they’ve become a popular choice for couples who want to optimize photography efficiency and spend more quality time mingling with their guests! About 75% of our clients decide to do a first look.
This is a personal decision for you and we support whatever you decide—it’s not our place to dictate what feels right for the two of you! But if you’re unsure, here are some considerations for why it can be a great idea.
If you're wondering whether a first look is right for you, WE'RE HERE TO HELP!
Once the ceremony begins, the day takes off quickly. A first look is an opportunity to enjoy some quiet time alone, enjoy each other’s company, and reflect on all this day means before it really takes off.
Wedding days can be a whirlwind and they tend to fly by. There’s much to do and a lot of people to see. We always encourage our couples to take a few minutes every so often during their wedding to stop and soak in everything that’s happening. A first look is a great way to do this!
1. A first look cuts through the chaos of the day.
When there is no first look, most photos have to be taken after the ceremony, during cocktail hour. Family pictures are generally done as soon as the ceremony ends because it’s the easiest time to round everyone up. Next up is full wedding party, and then couple’s portraits. This generally takes up the bulk (if not all) of cocktail hour.
A first look opens up time prior to the ceremony for full wedding party pictures and, usually, immediately family portraits. This allows you to actually attend your cocktail hour and makes the rest of the evening feel less rushed.
2. IT MakeS more time for Pictures without sacrificing cocktail hour.
This is an emotional day that is going to zoom by faster than you can imagine, so taking a moment to yourselves before all the festivities begin is a great opportunity to cry, hug, kiss, and whisper about how excited you are without all your friends and family looking on.
Yes, we’ll be there with our cameras, but the moment is MUCH more intimate and allows the two of you to have a more authentic interaction (you’ll love that you have photos of this moment when the day is over!).
And, trust us on this one, it really doesn't take away from the big moment of walking down the aisle.
3. The anticipation of seeing each other for the first time is private.
building the perfect
Whether or not you choose to do a first look, we will work with you and your wedding planner to ensure you have the best timeline and plan for images.
We typically have two different sets of photo times: images taken before the ceremony and images taken after the ceremony.
You’ll need to plan between one to two hours of pre-ceremony wedding party and immediate family photos (depending on wedding party size and how many siblings and parents will be involved), ideally at separate times if you’re not doing a first look (so you don't accidentally run into each other). You’ll also need 15 minutes of combined wedding party portraits, 20-30 minutes of combined family portraits, and at least 30-45 minutes of couple’s portraits after the ceremony if not doing a first look.
FAMILY PHOTOS TIP: To help determine timing, allocate two minutes per photo combination. This will give you the approximate time frame we need for your list of must-have photos.
Whether you’re planning a first look, epic sunset portraits, or a late-night dance party with lots of blackmail photos, we have tips to help make planning your timeline as easy as possible, though we ALWAYS work with and defer to your wedding planner!
If you’re doing a first look (our favorite!), almost all formal photo combinations can take place pre-ceremony, with a brief amount of time (typically 15-20 minutes) for extended family immediately after the ceremony. We also LOVE grabbing just the two of you for a few additional portraits just before sunset!
If you opt against a first look, all we ask is that you keep your ceremony time (and sunset time!) in mind when planning your wedding day.
For a sunset or evening ceremony, we strongly recommend doing all photos before the ceremony, as daylight is crucial to getting amazing photos of your families, wedding party, and couple’s portraits. Making sure we have enough time while the sun is up is a great way to avoid feeling rushed or even disappointed in too-dark portraits of your loved ones.
If the forecast is calling for rain, fear not! Rainy days can still be amazing. If you don’t believe us, just take a look at Erica and Jesse’s wedding. It rained the entire day and it was still beautiful!
If rain is in the forecast, we recommend ordering a few clear umbrellas on Amazon for us to use during portraits. It also might be good to re-evaluate portrait locations to make sure we can still shoot in natural light.
If you don’t own a pair of cute rain boots, now may be a great time to order a pair, even if you’re just wearing them in between shooting locations. We like Sam Edelman or Hunter!
You and/or your wedding planner can also check in with your entire vendor team to make sure they’re aware of the weather. Hair and makeup may need to be tweaked to withstand humidity if your wedding is outdoors; DJs and bands may need to take extra precautions to protect their equipment.
You might want to reserve a tent from your rental company (just in case) if your ceremony and reception are outdoors, as well.
Rainy day weddings may require a little more flexibility and creativity, but there isn’t any reason why they can’t be as beautiful and as joyful as sunny weddings!
We love capturing all the little details you’ve curated as a part of your wedding day. Once we arrive, we need about an hour to capture and style details. We recommend choosing a getting ready location filled with natural light and, if possible, please keep the space tidy and free from too much clutter (direct your wedding party to drop their belongings in a specified corner of the room to keep chaos contained!).
Put all of your rings, jewelry, shoes, veil, perfume, invitations and other keepsakes and heirlooms together in one spot for us (have everything for BOTH partners together so we can tackle all the details at once!).
Dress hanger (if you have one)
Rings (engagement ring and both wedding bands)
Shoes (both partners)
Invitation suite (two full sets with envelopes + stamps)
Other stationery, like place cards or menus
Socks (if they’re special)
Tie or bowtie
Welcome bags for guests (if applicable)
Any other sentimental keepsakes you would like to include
We once had a bride bring her grandmother’s hand mirror. This is completely optional, but if you have something sentimental you’d like styled with your details, we love including family heirlooms in our detail shots.
Flowers: We love to have a few cuts of the florals you’ll be using throughout your wedding day. If your florist will supply us a small bucket of extra pieces we can incorporate those in your detail shots.
When we can, we always try to take a photo of your rings while you’re getting ready. Even though you might be giving the rings to the best man or ring bearer to present during the ceremony, set them aside with the rest of your personal details for us to photograph at the beginning of the day. We’ll make sure they get to the right person before the ceremony begins!
If possible, try to have your engagement ring cleaned before the wedding day (not a huge deal if you forget!).
We highly recommend immediate family portraits pre-ceremony, as it helps save time and gets everyone to cocktail hour a little sooner! After the ceremony, we’ll place you in the center of a groupings with your extended family of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and anyone else who should be included (usually your immediate family is part of these shots, as well).
When we send out our pre-wedding questionnaire, we’ll ask you for a list of specific groupings and special situations (such as divorces, sensitive relationships, etc.), but if you want to get a head start, you’ll find our suggested list below. Typically, we recommend scheduling about 30 minutes for pre-ceremony immediate family photos and another 15-20 minutes for post-ceremony extended family.
When planning for family portraits, we allocate two minutes for each combination to ensure we have enough time for your must-have photo list. Keep this in mind when deciding which combinations are most important to you (and balance this with the timeline for the rest of the wedding day).
On the wedding day, we’ll cycle through the family groupings you’ve given to us according to what is most efficient. The whole process will go faster if you let family know when and where to be; for example, if immediate family needs to arrive before the ceremony, make sure they understand timing, and inform relatives to stick around after the ceremony for extended family photos, if applicable.
your entire family, dressed up for the occasion!
Each partner with their parents (together + individually)
Couple + each side of parents
Couple + all parents
Each partner with their siblings (together + individually)
Couple + each side of siblings
Couple + all siblings
Each partner with their immediate family
Couple + each side immediate family
Couple + both immediate families
Each partner with their grandparents (together + individually)
Couple + each side of grandparents
Couple + all grandparents
Couple + each side extended family (aunts, uncles, cousins)
Please note that this list is just a starting point and that we’re happy to take any requested family portraits as long as time permits!
(include first names when sending us this list so we can call for everyone by name)
If you’ve been to a wedding recently, you may have seen a sign from the happy couple asking for their guests to remain "unplugged" during the ceremony.
And while it might seem like a strange requests to ask guests to put down their phones, there’s a pretty good reason for it! You made a big investment in photography (and maybe also videography) and we’re sure that one of the last things you want on your wedding day is for our photos of your ceremony to be filled with obtrusive iPhones, iPads, and relatives standing in the aisle with their own cameras.
In order to help us do the best possible job capturing your wedding, we recommend asking guests to unplug during the ceremony. You can do this with a note on your wedding website and by asking your officiant to make an announcement at the beginning of the ceremony.
1. We suggest hiring a videographer to capture the movement and audio elements of the day that don’t translate to still photos! The photo and video teams work VERY closely together, so we strongly recommend selecting your videographer from our pre-approved list (see above!). A low-priced or last-minute videographer might influence our ability to capture your day as beautifully as possible; let us know if we can suggest additional options for you!
2. Break in your shoes! While brand-new, pristine shoes photograph beautifully, it’s also important for you to be comfortable on your wedding day. To keep them as clean and photo-ready as possible, wear them around the house for an hour or two at a time. It’s also a great idea to have a second pair of comfy backup shoes available to change into for the reception, just in case!
3. Plan to order lunch for yourselves, your immediate families, and the wedding party before portraits and ceremony; make arrangements for food delivery ahead of time (a few days before the wedding is ideal!).
4. In the summer, a cooler of cold waters can help keep the wedding party comfortable, especially if anyone is wearing lots of layers.
5. Ensure your bouquet is delivered in time to make an appearance for the detail shots and for your first look (including extra blooms for us to use in styling your details). Flowers are usually delivered in water, so have some towels handy for drying off your bouquet!
AFTER SHOOTING MORE THAN 400 weddings over the last decade, we're happy to share a few additional tips
6. If your reception is at a separate venue, add some extra "cushion time" so that we can run over to the venue to capture it while it’s still untouched by guests.
7. To help make family portraits go smoothly, it’s best to have a breakdown of the list of portraits you’d like ahead of time. We plan for two minutes per combination of family members, so keep that in mind and make sure it fits the timeline when building your list (we are happy to provide feedback for you if you have any questions or there are any concerns about family photo timing!). It’s also helpful to designate one member from each side of your families to assist us in wrangling (since we don’t know what all of your relatives look like!). We’ll review your family shot list and make sure we capture each combination in an order that is efficient and won't leave anyone out.
8. During the cocktail hour, we’ll follow you around. Anytime you’d like a photo with someone, grab our attention. We love being your personal paparazzi!
9. We love to provide timeline suggestions in collaboration with your wedding planner or even accompany you to a walk-through of your venue! If you’d like our assistance, please don’t hesitate to email us and let us know how we can help.
One of the best ways to make your wedding memories last is by ordering
an album. These archival-quality heirloom albums come in a
variety of linen, leather, and vegan leather covers. These aren’t the same albums your parents’ wedding photos came in; they’re modern, lay perfectly flat, and look incredible on a coffee table.
the perfect way to remember your wedding
We are so excited to support you in your wedding planning journey! If you have any questions or would just like to chat, we’re here for you, even if it’s not photography-related!
Feel free to email us any time at email@example.com.
We hope this guide helps make the process of planning your wedding details much easier and less stressful, but if there’s anything else we can do to help, please don’t hesitate to reach out.