In weeks past, I’ve shared the details on our wedding ceremony and our wedding reception, and today I’m excited to continue my Wedding Wednesday series with details on our day-after photo shoot. These wedding posts are a slight departure from my style-focused working girl blog, but it’s been a joy to share and relive some of these special moments here in hopes that I might pass along some of the wedding planning wisdom I gleaned along the way. As a working girl, I know how challenging it is to juggle your real job and wedding planning—which is basically a full-time job in itself—so I’m eager to share tips and recommendations from our wedding experience to hopefully ease the journey for those of you currently facing wedding planning challenges, or expecting to face them in the future! Today I’m continuing the wedding series with details on our day-after session, with information on (A) what the heck a day-after photo shoot is, and (B) why you should consider one for your own wedding…
“Day-After” photo shoot? Sounds absurd, I know, but let me give you the lowdown…
Going into the wedding planning process, Rich and I both really wanted to keep the old-school tradition of not seeing each other on our wedding day until I was actually walking down the aisle. However, nowadays, many couples choose to have a “first look” moment where they see each other after they’ve both finished getting ready before the ceremony. Some couples feel that this is a special moment for just the two of them (without the rest of their guests around) and, perhaps most of all, it allows them to have extra time to take all of those special couples’ photos before the ceremony, so that the time between the ceremony and reception isn’t too packed.
A first look is especially encouraged by photographers and wedding planners if you have a late afternoon wedding (like ours which was at 3pm) with a reception immediately to follow (also, like ours). But, we were problem children. There was no changing our 3pm ceremony time, yet we were also insistent on not doing a first look, so our photographers and wedding coordinators were rather concerned about timing for pictures.
When I was relaying this challenge to a good friend of mine, she mentioned having heard of a “day-after shoot”—something I’d never heard of before, but something that turned out to be a total godsend.
A day-after session is exactly as it sounds—you schedule a time with your photographer either the day after your wedding, or in our case, two days later, to get back into your wedding day duds—dress, hair, makeup and all—and take some of those special wedding photos that you may not have had time to take on the actual day due to scheduling constraints.
On our wedding day, Rich and I both (A) wanted to wait to see each other until the ceremony and (B) wanted our reception to start as soon as possible after the ceremony so that we could get to the dancing and debauchery that was eagerly anticipated by all. On the official day, we certainly wanted all of the special moments captured, but we were less excited about stepping out of the “moment” (sorry for the cliché, but I mean it) to spend lots of time taking the more formal pictures.
Our 3pm ceremony and a 5pm reception meant that we would have a little over an hour between the end of the Catholic ceremony and the grand march of the wedding party into the ballroom. When you consider that this hour includes photos in the church of both families and the wedding party AND transportation to our rehearsal dinner venue where we were taking outdoor shots in the gardens, we were going to be cutting it CLOSE.
I think for anyone (but perhaps because we’re particularly into photography) the pressure to get really spectacular wedding photos is huge! By choosing to do a day-after shoot all of the stress of a tight photography timetable was lifted—which actually resulted in better photos, because we weren’t stressing about timing. Since we knew that we would be getting back into our wedding best two days later for more couple photos, we didn’t worry out about getting the perfect staged photos on our actual day, which allowed us to just fully enjoy every moment. Knowing that we had that extra day completely lifted any pressure or anxiety on the day-of and allowed us to spend the hour we had focused on getting all of the family photos and wedding party photos done well. Since we were so stress-free, the process went much quicker than expected and as you saw in this post and this post, we ended up having time to spare to get lots of shots of the two of us which turned out great—likely because we felt zero pressure.
If you’re doing a first look and/or you’re having a morning or early afternoon wedding with several hours between the ceremony and reception, you’ve got nothing to worry about. You’ll have plenty of time between the ceremony and reception to take all the pictures you want. But, if your ceremony is in the afternoon and you want to keep to the traditional no-peeking-until-the-aisle thing, don’t let anyone convince you that a first look is your only option! Hey, it’s your wedding day, and thanks to the day-after shoot, you can actually have your cake and eat it too. ; )
We knew we would be too exhausted the day after our wedding to look halfway decent in photos, so we scheduled the shoot to actually be two days after our big day—which was the day before we left for our honeymoon. It ended up being really special, because we were each able to put on our wedding garments again one last time. While Rich will get more use out of his tuxedo, I will of course never get the chance to wear my wedding dress again, so being able to wear it for one more afternoon with him was magic.
BUT HOW DID YOU KEEP EVERYTHING CLEAN?! This definitely can be tricky, so plan carefully here. Since our ceremony and reception were both indoors, I didn’t face the same intense dirt-on-hem-of-dress issues that brides with outdoor weddings face. As previously mentioned, we did take pictures in the gardens on our wedding day, so there definitely was some dirt on the underside of my dress, but as you can see in the pictures today, not enough to really notice. Otherwise, I got through the reception without any spills, and one hour into dancing I changed into my dancing dress which took the beating during the more aggressive hours of dancing and drinks. For Rich, he just had his shirt express dry-cleaned the next day, and his dark tux didn’t show any spills or sweat from the reception, so we were good to go!
If you remember my previous wedding posts, you’ll note that I chose to do my hair a bit differently for the day-after shoot. I had always been really torn about my wedding day ‘do—going back and forth between wearing my hair all the way up or just half-up—but decided to go with an updo on the big day. My thick, naturally straight hair immediately falls out of any semblance of curl when humidity is high, and since August in Milwaukee usually sees a good amount of humidity, I decided to play it safe for the real deal and go all up. For the day-after shoot, however, it was fun to have my hair stylist switch it up a bit and do the half-up style that I had always loved as well. Luckily the weather was clear as a bell that afternoon so it worked out nicely.
Thanks for all of your emails, comments, etc. about my wedding posts. I have lots of posts to come on wedding registry, honeymoon and more but if you have other specific areas you’d like me to chat about, I’m all ears! Let me know in the comments below : )
Photography by Front Room Photography