Thank you so much for considering us for your wedding day! As Grand Rapids wedding photographers, we understand that wedding photography is one of the larger investments you're making of your wedding day. For that reason, we are simply honored you chose to work with us!
While every wedding is different, even the simplest weddings have a log of moving pieces leading to the big day. We like to help you make it all happen!
We designed this guide to guide you through your wedding planning process. We hope you find this wedding guide beneficial as it walks you through everything from the engagement session to the timeline to which fabulous wedding vendors to pick! 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 strongly believe that your wedding photographer should shoot your engagement session. It is the best way for you to become more comfortable in front of our cameras which will make your wedding pictures even better. This is why we include a FREE engagement session in our wedding package. We've created an entire guide dedicated to outfit tips, location, ideas, timing considerations and more!
We believe in the important role quality vendors play in creating a stress-free wedding day. We've worked with many of the vendors below and we can't recommend them enough! This is not a paid list - we chose these vendors for both the quality of their work as well as their professionalism on the actual wedding day. Click on the vendor to learn more!
Amway Grand Plaza
City Flats Grand Rapids
The Loft 310 - Kalamazoo
Downtown Market Grand Rapids
The Goei Center
The Ballroom at McKay Tower
Brumley & Bloom
Glamour & Grit Floral
Beauty by KVB
Beyoutiful Makeup Artistry
Veil Of Grace Artistry
Dearly Loved Bridal
White Flamingo Events
Gorney Wedding Co.
Heather Lynnette Calligraphy
Gary Lee Drive
Michael "Chia" Kowalczyk
Paper & Honey
Lauren Yvonne Design
Music by Chia
Moments in Time Disc Jockeys
Bryce Thomas Media
Eats & Treats
Castle Farms - Traverse City
The Barn at Adams Acres
Whether you choose to do a First Look or the traditional "no see before the ceremony" we will work with you on making sure you have the best timeline and plan for a stress-free wedding day.
If you're choosing to go traditional, you'll need two different sets of photo times: images taken before the ceremony and images taken after the ceremony.
You'll need to plan for about one hour of pre-ceremony bridal photos (bridesmaids and bride's family) and about one hour of pre-ceremony groom photos (groomsmen and groom's family) at separate times. You'll also need 30 minutes of combined bridal party portraits, 30 minutes of combined family portraits and at least 30 -45 minutes of couple's portraits after the ceremony if you're not doing any portraits together until after the ceremony.
If you're doing a first look, photos can be done all at one time, taking an average total of 2 hours pre-ceremony (although we also LOVE grabbing just the two of you for a few additional bride and groom photos at sunset!)
If you choose a traditional aisle reveal, all we ask is that you keep your ceremony time in mind when planning your wedding.
If you're planning a sunset ceremony or an evening ceremony, it's best to do all photos before the wedding, as daylight is crucial to getting amazing portraits for your families, bridal party and your couples portraits. Making sure we have enough time while the sun is up is a great way to make the traditional ceremony work.
One of our favorite parts of your wedding day is the very beginning of the day when we photograph all your elegant wedding day details. We know these details have been carefully chosen and are very special to you! Once we arrive on your wedding day, we take about 30 minutes to style and capture those details. We recommend choosing a getting ready location filled with natural light that is clean and free of clutter!
We ask that you put all of your details in one spot for us such as a bag or a table. Some things to get together include; your rings, jewelry, shoes, perfume, invitation, veil, and other keepsakes. Please unwrap your dress but don't worry about styling it - we'll hang it in a beautiful spot!
Wedding Dress Hanger
Rings (engagement and wedding bands)
Hair pieces and jewelry
Any other paper stationary you may have like program cards.
Wedding Vow Book
His Dress Shoes
Socks (if they're fun and special)
Tie or Bow Tie
His Vows Book
His Wedding Band
Anything else he'll have that is special or sentimental.
Any other sentimental keepsakes you would like to include
If you have something sentimental you'd like styled with your details, we love including family heirlooms in our detail shots.
Bonus: We'd 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.
Invitation Suite ( 2 full sets with envelopes + stamps)
We know that on your wedding day that your bride and groom portraits and your First Look will be the most beloved images from your wedding day. But your bridal portraits will come in a close third. You’re feeling more beautiful today than ever before. You are about to marry your best friend and the person who sees how stunning you are every day.
As photographers, we love to capture those intimate bridal moments for you to remember long after the wedding is over. From the quiet moments alone with your vows before saying “I do” to your glamour shots styled in hair and makeup like you’ve never seen yourself before, your bridal portraits tell the real story of your day as a bride. Your bridal portraits will be some of the most elegant and timeless photos from your wedding day. Trust us, you are going to love these!
On your wedding day, once your hair and makeup is done and you are in your dress, Leidy will take you aside for your bridal session. We typically spend 30 minutes shooting a bridal session. This is a great way to get warmed up in front of the camera for the rest of the photos during the wedding day. After your bridal session, not only will you feel beautiful but confident!
When it comes to choosing a location for your bridal portrait session, we recommend using locations that are well manicured, clean, and have great variety in indoor and outdoor locations. If you are getting ready in a bridal suite small or doesn’t have very many windows, be prepared to go outside for better light! But don’t worry, we won't take you very farm. We want to keep your dress as clean as possible and still, get a lot of amazing images inside and outside.
Make sure to bring your jewelry, your veil and your bouquet to your bridal portrait session! It's nice to have something to hold to make your hands feel a little less awkward!
Hair pieces and jewelry
That moment the bride and groom see each other for the first time on their wedding day is magical. And this is true whether the couple chooses to wait until the bride walks down the aisle or chooses to do a “First Look’ prior to the ceremony.
A First Look is a private moment couples choose to spend together prior to the wedding ceremony. It allows the bride and groom to come together sooner in the wedding day. Most of our couples opt to do a First Look.
While we consider ourselves people who value tradition, there are definitely a few good reasons to consider a First Look. Here are 3 reasons to consider a ‘First Look’:
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 your day 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 and to catch up with. 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.
When there is no First Look, the majority of the pictures have to be taken after the ceremony. 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 bridal party, and then bride and groom portraits. This generally runs into cocktail hour.
A First Look opens up time prior to the ceremony for full bridal party pictures and, sometimes, for a few bride and groom portraits (although we prefer to do bride and groom portraits at sunset). This allows the couple to get the most out of cocktail hour, which makes the rest of the evening feel less rushed.
If you’re expecting poor weather on your wedding day, it might be best to plan on a First Look because it gives you more options for pictures. If it is pouring rain after the ceremony, you’ll be thankful you had pictures done in advance.
And reason 3 is for all you cryers out there. If you know the tears are going to fly the first time you see your other half the day of your wedding, a First Look will give you time to freshen up before the ceremony.
First Look or not, the first time you see each other on your wedding day will be special!
If the forecast is calling for rain, fear not because rainy days can still be beautiful! We know because it rained on our very own wedding day! Even with the rain the entire day and it was still beautiful.
If rain is in the forecast, we recommend ordering a few clear umbrellas on Amazon. It also might be good to re-evaluate portrait locations to make sure we can still shoot in natural light - even if it means heading offsite.
You might want to consider bringing a pair of waterproof spare shoes to wear between shooting locations to keep your wedding shoes clean.
If you're not working with a planner, it might also be a good idea to 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 and if your wedding is outdoors, DJs and bands may need to take extra precaution to protect their gear. A quality rental team can also minimize the amount of mud at outdoor events.
While we can't guarantee that rain on your wedding day is good luck, we can put a plan in place to ensure a beautiful day and beautiful images.
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!
Family formals are your portraits with your immediate family members. This includes your grandparents, parents, and siblings. Your family formal will be done either at the First Look location or immediately following the ceremony.
We’ll place you in the center of a large group photo and keep removing family members and switch a few closer family members in and out so we get photos of you and your parents, you and your siblings, some with the groom and your family, etc. Then we’ll repeat the process with your spouse's family. The whole thing will go quicker and smoother if you let the family know how the portrait process will work ahead of time.
We save photographing the extended family portraits with aunts, uncles, cousins, and godparents, at the reception. This will minimize the amount of commuting your guests do. When we send out our pre-wedding questionnaire, we'll ask you for a list of specific groupings, special situations (such as divorces or handicapped family members & more), but if you want to start brainstorming photos in the meantime, you'll find our typical list below.
Bride + Groom + Bride's Extended Family
Bride + Groom + Bride's Parents & Grandparents + Bride's Siblings
Bride + Groom + Bride's Parents + Bride's Siblings
Bride + Groom + Bride's Parents
Bride + Groom + Bride's Siblings
Bride + Mom
Bride + Dad
Bride + Groom + Groom's Extended Family
Bride + Groom + Groom's Parents + Groom's Siblings
Bride + Groom + Groom's Parents
Bride + Groom + Groom's Siblings
Groom + Mom
Groom + Dad
Bride + Groom + Groom's Parents & Grandparents + Groom's Siblings
When we photograph details, we always take a photo of your rings while you're getting ready. If possible, try to have your engagement ring cleaned or clean it yourself. To clean at home, soak your ring in warm water with dishwashing soap for 20 to 40 minutes. Then gently brush the stone with a soft toothbrush, rinse and repeat if needed.
1. If you're getting married in the summer months, a "not-so-heavy" snack or lunch time before portraits is always a good idea for you and your bridal party to avoid hungry bellies and passing out!
2. If it's going to be hot, a cooler of cold waters and frozen washcloths can help keep a wedding party cool - especially if your men are wearing lots of layers.
3. Make sure and have your bouquet delivered in time to make an appearance for the detail shots and for your first look. Often they are delivered in water and need to be dried off before use. Having towels handy can help.
4. If you're planning on having a first look with your bridal party or a parent, they often feel more comfortable being fully dressed in their wedding attire.
5. If your reception is at a separate venue, add some "fluff time" so that we can run over to the venue to capture it while it's still "untouched" by guests!
6. We always recommend the bride go into hiding 30 minutes before the ceremony at the absolute latest. Guests typically arrive early to weddings.
7. To help make family portraits go smoother, it's best to have a breakdown of what portraits you'd like and it's really wonderful if both sides of the family have a chance to have their input on what portraits they'd like before the wedding. Supplying us with a list ahead of time, we can go over it and make sure we shoot things in an order that is efficient and won't leave anyone out.
8. During the cocktail hour and the reception, we'll follow you around. Anytime you'd like a photo with someone, grab our attention. We love being your personal paparazzi!
9. We'd love to help you plan your timeline. If you'd like our input, don't hesitate to email or call!
No, you don't have shopping amnesia! Our big secret is out, we love to gift our brides and grooms little surprises throughout their entire experience with us. From booking to weeks after the wedding day, keep an eye on your mailbox! For that reason we ask for a current mailing address even after your wedding day so we may stay in touch.
We can't wait to start planning with you and getting to know you! If you have any questions or would like to chat, we are here for you! Feel free to email us any time at hello@leidyandjosh or contact us on our Contact Page.
Above all else, we hope this guide helps make the process of planning your wedding details much easier and less stressful because we want YOU to have amazing wedding! We can't wait to see you soon! Thank you so much for taking the time to read through our Wedding Guide!