Welcome to Emily Michelle Photography's bridal guide! I put this guide together to help you have an idea of how your wedding day will go, as well as help things run smoothly so that you get the best images possible! I am looking forward to capturing your big day! At the bottom of this page you can also find guides for your engagement, bridal, and boudoir session if you booked those! 



It's super important to me that I am easy to contact during your wedding planning process - Communication is HUGE to me, I don't want to book your wedding and then fall off the face of the earth! I give all my brides my personal cell phone number, as well as my personal email - both are listed below! If you text or email me PLEASE include your name and wedding date!




If you have any questions or concerns throughout your planning process, feel free to reach out. I have brides ask my opinion on lots of things, such as the timeline, colors that photograph well, decor, and even other vendors. I go to A LOT of weddings and can help in any way that I can! 

Keep in mind I will do my VERY best to reply during normal business hours, and sometimes I am able to reply after hours. Feel free to text after hours if needed! If you for some reason do not get a reply within 24 hours (which is extremely rare) please reach out to me again either through text, email or facebook! If I do not reply on weekends or after 5pm, I am probably with my family and left my phone at home, or am at a wedding or session - I will get back to you as soon as possible. I do take some days off or take vacations, and I try to post that on my business page when I do!


If you booked an engagement, bridal or boudoir session with me, you can get with me at anytime to set that up.

ENGAGEMENT: If you'd like to use photos for your  save the date cards, schedule your session about one month before you need to order cards. If not, I recommend scheduling in the same season as your wedding. So, if you are getting married in the winter, schedule in the fall or winter months. If you are getting married in the spring or summer, scheduled in the spring or summer months so that your engagement images will match your decor and theme of your wedding (it would be a little weird to have fall themed engagement photos at a spring wedding!)

BOUDOIR: You can really schedule boudoir at anytime - it takes me about 6 weeks to edit your images and design, order and get your book on my doorstep. 

BRIDAL: I usually recommend that brides use their bridal shoot for a hair and makeup trial, and wedding dress trial run! Once you get  your dress, schedule your hair and makeup trial to the  same day as bridals! We can coordinate that together! Wearing your dress for an hour or so gives a better idea of what needs to be altered and tweaked. You can also opt to do bridals after alterations if you want! Bridals are usually done closer to the wedding.

If you don't want a makeup and hair trial, or have already done it, we can schedule about 15 minutes the day of the wedding to do bridals! 

What I need

There is a small list of things I will need from you before your wedding day as well as on your wedding day! 

before your wedding

1. Itinerary. A list detailing your wedding day schedule will help me plan out my day, what gear I need and when, as well as set up at the appropriate places with plenty of time to spare. In your itinerary remember to carve out time for your first look (if you choose to do one) as well as your portrait session with you and your groom and bridal party. Ideally, I would like 15-20 minutes for this session right before sunset. 

2. Family portrait list. This will help me organize family portraits and get through them as quickly as possible. Remember that the more family portraits we do, the less time we will have for portraits of your bridal party and intimate portraits of you and your groom. I always tell brides to only include the most important images in your family portrait list and to keep it as simple as possible. We can ALWAYS capture images with cousins or distant relatives or friends during free time at the reception.

3. Shot list. This really isn't a requirement, but is nice to have if you choose to send me  one. You do not have to include  every shot (such as "bride getting dressed" "grooms reaction" "first kiss") because  I capture  those staple images in my normal wedding photography flow. What you do want to include are obscure shots I may not realize you want or know about, such as a photo of Aunt Karen alone with the bride, or a portrait of the groom and his best friend goofing off, or a photo of a special decoration or memorabilia. 

on the day of your wedding

1. Detail Box. Plan this now! If you want great detail shots, it takes a bit of planning. Before your wedding, grab a box or tub and keep the following items in it if you have them....

Shoes, Earrings, necklaces, Garters, Rings, flower sprigs (or small pieces of floral arrangements), a copy of your invitation and save the date and envelopes, handkerchiefs, perfume, lipstick,  vow books, ring boxes, something borrowed and blue, marriage license or any other small personal details you'd like to include. 

PLEASE DON'T FORGET THIS! This is very important to have all together for the detail shot portion of my photography. You can designate a bridesmaid or parent to get and keep your box together the day of your wedding. 

2. Your dress and bridesmaids dresses. Be sure to have all of these together in the bridal suite and ready to photograph if you want dress shots. Make sure that your dress is on a decorative hanger! 

the bridal suite

THIS IS IMPORTANT -  Make sure and keep your bridal suite, hotel room, or wherever you are getting ready as tidy as possible. Again, designate a bridesmaid to take care of this! Choose a corner away from the action for everyone to keep bags and purses, and be sure trash, cups, and bottles are thrown away. The makeup and hair artists can be as messy as they want, as it make for great images (since that's what the day is about!) but we want to avoid having XXL Whataburger cups, empty water bottles and food wrappers in your images. 

When you get dressed, we want to do that in a bright, sunny area or near windows. Please choose a spot that fits this description and keep it clean and clear of trash as well. If you are clueless on the best place to put on your dress, we can choose a spot and clean it when I get there! 

getting ready

I will arrive three hours before your ceremony, usually as brides are in the middle of or finishing up hair and makeup. Ideally, makeup and hair artists want to do the brides hair or makeup second to last. It is best to schedule makeup to be anywhere from beginning or finishing up when I arrive. If you need to be ready earlier, don't worry - we will get the hair and makeup artist to do some touch ups on your and your bridesmaids for photo purposes! 

You will want to get dressed about one hour before the ceremony if you are not doing a first look, or 1.5 hours before the ceremony if you are doing a first look. Don't get dressed until I arrive, set up your getting dressed area, and give the OK to do so - don't get dressed without your photographer present! 

If your venue does not have a getting ready suite or room, or if its dark and unappealing I HIGHLY recommend renting a nearby hotel suite, bed and breakfast, or AIR BNB. You can also look up homes on HomeAway or VRBO and ask the owners about a one day rental! I promise, it is worth it!!

first look

If you are not doing a first look, just ignore this, as your first look will be when you're walking down the isle! If you are opting for a first look, I will find a spot for that when I arrive. Typically, I will set up the groom and then bring the bride out, set everything up for gorgeous portraits, and prompt the groom when to turn around. You will need to set aside approximately 15-20 minutes for your first look. 


Yay! You're married! We truly want you to be able to relax and enjoy your reception! We just have a few request and notes..

Your photographers will eat when you eat. Wether that be first, or later in the evening, we will eat and break whenever the bride and groom do so that we are sure to not miss anything from your reception. Typically, we will grab some food before anyone else gets in line so that we can eat quickly and get back to work and not waste unnecessary time waiting in line. We are not doing this to be rude, we just want to be efficient with our time! 

Give your photographers time to set up between reception events, such as the garter toss and cutting the cake. We have equipment to move and set up, and need just a few minutes to do that. Try not to move into events too quickly, and wait until we give the go-ahead to proceed. We will more than likely place you into position or tell you which position to be in. 

We do not take photos of guests eating, but if you want any shots with any particular guests, please pull me or the second photographer aside during a little down-time during the reception so we can grab those shots! 

sample timeline

Here is an example timeline I set up (adjust times as needed) to help you plan your day, and make it go smooth and photograph well! 


1) Many brides prefer to do some bridal party photos before the ceremony to save time. For best results, I HIGHLY prefer to do bridal party and intimate shots in the 30-45 minutes before sunset, regardless of when that falls during the wedding day. To get an idea of when this may be, google "sunset time on YOUR WEDDING DATE" and schedule portraits 1 hour before whatever time that may be. This is for the BEST results possible, and I highly recommend it. FOR EXAMPLE, if sunset on your wedding date is 8:20pm, you'd want to schedule bridal party and bride and groom portraits from 7:15/7:20pm - 7:45/8pm. 

This is just a sample timeline, and if your timeline doesn't resemble this one NO WORRIES - this is just for those that need an example. Times should be adjusted according to sunset time! 

2pm | photographer arrives

2pm-4pm | getting ready, detail shots

4pm - 4:15 or 4:30pm | first looks OR bride gets dressed if no first look

5 - 530pm | Ceremony

5:30pm - 6pm | Gather family, family portraits

6pm | Reception entrance, bride and bridal party eat

6:30pm | first dances

7pm - 7:30pm | bridal party portraits and intimate bride and groom session

7:45pm | SUNSET

7:40pm | toast and cake cutting

8pm | garter and bouquet toss

8:30pm |free dancing or shoe game or money dance

8:30 - 9pm | fake exit, photographer leaves

9pm - end | free dancing, mingling


fake exit

I HIGHLY recommend a fake exit if you are using sparklers!  When you do a real exit, there is usually a large number of guests and depending on your wedding, they can be a little intoxicated. This makes for a really hard time for one person (me) to set everyone up correctly, get all sparklers lit at the same time and quickly, and keep anyone from lighting each other on fire (it happens!)

My recommendation is to do a fake exit, without announcing it, so that guests don't leave. What we will do is quietly pull the bridal party, family, and a few friends to do a small sparkler exit on the down-low. This will cut down on the amount of smoke (even smokeless sparklers put off a haze in photos) and will help me get better images because I can organize everyone MUCH easier and have you and your groom run through several times. Later on, if you want everyone involved in the real exit, you can still do that! 


If you have a videographer, please let your photographer know before your wedding - we LOVE working with videographers and 99% of the time, have zero issues all working together! We do have a few guidelines, as photographers, that your videographer will need to be aware of. These are in place to help us get the BEST images. It is easy for a videographer to cut us out of a small section of video, but as photographers, we cannot edit shoulders, arms, and tripods out of our images. Therefore, we want to make sure that we as photographers have precedence on your wedding day. We will need to cover bridal party portraits and bride + groom portraits before the videographer (and they are always welcome to shoot over our shoulder)  and have the most creative control over your day. Like I said above, we USUALLY have zero issues dealing with videographers, as these guidelines are pretty well known in this industry. 






| Send itinerary

| Send family shot list

| Send personal shot list (if you have one)

| Make final payment if you have an outstanding balance

| Confirm your second shooter with Emily, or add on a second shooter if you choose

| Designate bridesmaid or family member to put together detail box

| Start gathering details and container for detail box


| Bring detail box

| Designate a bridesmaid or family member (or two) to keep the bridal suite clean and tidy

| Have cash for second shooter in the bridal suite (if applicable)