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as I shared that my sister was engaged, the “Are you shooting her wedding?!” questions started pouring in. It’s a tricky situation to have a family member or best friend getting married when you’re heavily involved in the wedding industry. I was a bridesmaid AND a photographer twice for two of my college roommates’ weddings and it was such an honor to have two important roles on their wedding days… however, it’s also one of the most challenging balancing acts!! After I shot those two weddings, I remember telling my sister that one day when it was time for her to get married, I didn’t want to shoot her wedding

because I wanted to be present and not worrying about photography. She responded with “KK really?! But you’re my favorite photographer!!”. Well, how do say no to THAT?! I told her that there are SO many other photographers that we could hire that would do an amazing job!… And she wasn’t interested.

So fast forward a few years… Emy met her future husband and it was time for me to start preparing for all of the roles I would need to play for her wedding day! Because I know a lot of incredible vendors, have been to 200+ weddings and like the “design” part of the planning process and Emy does not, I took the reigns with a lot of the planning. It was just easier that way. Emily and Joe were 5 hours away from the venue and they were just as busy as us! So I planned a lot of the event with the help of momma and Emy. Invites, programs, photography, videography, hair and makeup, florals, planner, DJ… it was easy to pick vendors!! We worked with amazing friends that made Joe and Emily’s day completely worry-free and that is a MUST! The last thing I wanted to do was worry about other vendors AND the photography!!

So now that we had great vendors, my next role to figure out was how to decorate, be Matron of Honor and sing at the ceremony. I learned from my own wedding that I needed to get all of the DIY crafty things out of the way several days before we left town for the wedding. So we called Michael’s mom to come down and help us crank out the crafts a week before the wedding. On the day of the wedding, I gave Anna (coordinator!) a list of details and all of the pieces included in each station and I let it go. Sure, I spent about an hour the morning of the wedding decorating in the barn but once it was shower time, I had to walk away and let our family friends handle the rest!! Delegation is a beautiful thing… I’m getting better at it!!

So all of the decor and details were taken care of and I honestly didn’t think about that stuff once we started getting ready. So how did the whole PHOTOGRAPHY part of the day go down?! Well, there was some prep work involved. I asked two dear friends of mine to help me shoot this important day. It was important that these two girls were FRIENDS that I trusted and who were equal to my skill level because I wanted to be able to trust them with everything that I couldn’t shoot. Jill and Annamarie were the perfect pair for the job!! Before the wedding, I sent them a detailed “photographers” timeline that divided up our duties!! Everyone was responsible for different parts of the day and we were all on the same page. I’m really so impressed with how we conquered this huge task and I can’t thank Jill, Michael and Annamarie enough for their flexibility and willingness to do whatever I needed.

So as I was thinking about this post, I thought of a few tips for those that are attempting to shoot a family member or close friend’s wedding!! :

  •  Don’t try to do this on your own… you need a TEAM of people who can come alongside of you and carry some of the workload! Work with FRIENDS who are ok with you editing and who don’t mind not shooting certain aspects of the day.
  • Divide up the duties!! For example: Michael and I took the first look since that was a super emotional moment. Jill took on bridal party and Annamarie shot all of our many details while bridal party portraits were taking place! Everything was over-covered!! 
  • Shoot ALL of the BRIDAL DETAILS before the wedding day!! I shot Emily’s dress, shoes, jewelry, etc before the big day arrived and that saved SO much stress! 
  • Only agree to this if you’re capable of switching roles well. Once bridal party portraits were done… I had to swap out of “photographer” mode and get into “Oh my gosh my sister is about to get married” mode! I also had to remember words to the song I was singing with Emily’s best friend Julianna! Luckily I’m ok with swapping roles. That doesn’t stress me out or throw me off. 
  • Listen to people when they tell you to stop shooting and just enjoy the moment. I enjoy shooting… and so as Daddy and Emy were walking to the dance floor for their daddy/daughter dance, I grabbed my camera… and Jeremy gave me the look of “Are you really going to watch this through your camera?”. He reminded me to just enjoy their dance and let Anna and Jill take care of it and I’m so glad I listened! I stood by my momma and we cried together. haha
  • Have someone in charge of your bag. Michael was this person for me. After the ceremony, we went right into family formals and then did a few portraits and I needed my gear. Instead of holding up the timeline while everyone waited for me to run to the barn and grab my bag, Michael had it waiting for me! (He’s a keeper:) 
  • Remind your helpers of just how wonderful they are. Seriously, it’s nerve wracking to shoot for another photographer… especially when it’s YOUR wedding photographer. Jill and Annamarie were the PERFECT pair and I’m so thankful for them!! 
  • Now more than ever, have a family formal list. We kinda veered away from ours a little bit but it worked out ok. It’s easy to want portraits with EVERYONE because you KNOW these people! :) Having a list will save time and stress! 
  • Remember both sides of the family when you’re shooting portions of the day. This is TOUGH… there were 256 people at Joe and Emily’s wedding and I knew half of them. The problem is that I gravitated towards the friends and family that I knew. That just comes naturally to anyone… but the event needs to be photographed EQUALLY and that’s why you have to have un-related assistants that can capture cocktail hour and the reception well! 
  • Last but not least, remember to CELEBRATE and not to show your stress. When you have a ton of responsibilities, it’s easy to get stressed and let your duties steal your joy. This is too big of a day to miss the celebration aspect of it all!! Above all of my duties, it was my SISTER’S WEDDING DAY and that trumps all stress!!! Being Emily’s Matron of Honor was my first priority!!

 

So thankful for these ladies!!

I hope this was helpful and explained a little bit about how we made it happen! Here’s the timeline we used!

9-10ish Brunch delivered to the house (Katelyn)
11:00ish Hair/makeup begins (KK sets up barn stuff with help)
1:00-2:00 Bride and Bridesmaids getting ready (Jill & Katelyn)
1:00-2:00 Boys getting ready (Michael)
2:00 Annamarie arrives (2nd photographer)
2:30 In the dress (Jill and Anna if she wants to!)
2:30 Guys arrive
2:45 First Look with Daddy (Jill and Anna… I’ll probably shoot this for fun:)
3:00 First Look with B & G (Just Michael and Katelyn)
3:30 Bridal Party Portraits (Jill)
3:30-4:30 Untouched Ceremony & Reception shot (Annamarie)
4:00 Katelyn Shoots Details for fun:) (Katelyn)
5:00 Ceremony (Jill and Annamarie, Michael to shoot a wide shot from house)
5:45 Family Portraits/Cocktail Hour (Family: Jill / Cocktail Hour: Annamarie)
*Jill, I’ll rally the troops and Michael will call up the groups!!
6:30 Introductions, First Dance, Welcome and Blessing
(Jill, Anna & probably Katelyn just for the first dance)
6:45 Dinner (Everyone can relax!)
7:30 B&G Sunset portraits on hilltop
(Katelyn, Michael , Jill and Anna cover reception while we’re gone)
8:15 Toasts and Cake Cutting under tent (Jill and/or Anna)
8:30 Dancing in the Barn until the end! (All three of us!)
10:30 Exit with Sparklers

Love that Jill and Anna shot some of me shooting! Sweet memories!

Annnnd then Daddy walked in… and we were all in a puddle. 

This is the “I’m so happy even though I’m crying” face!

Walking her to her first look… like any normal Matron of honor. Michael had my bags! Emy was a bit teary as we got closer to Joe:)

Love this! #dreamteam.

After the first look, we started their portraits! 

And now I know why my body aches after shooting weddings. Ps. note to the ladies… I always wear shorts or spanx of some kind when I shoot!… Just to be safe!

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xoxo, Katelyn
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