Wedding Guide

engagement session tips, timeline guidance,
vendor recommendations + more!


a note about this guide

We are SO stoked that we get to be working with you! We can’t wait to get to know you better over the next several months! We know photography and videography is one of the larger investments you’re making for your wedding day, and we’re so honored you chose to work with us!

Regardless of whether you are working with a planner or planning a simple wedding, there are probably still many moving pieces left leading up to your wedding. 

We have photographed hundreds of weddings and we know the ins and outs on how to make your day absolutely spectacular and stress-free. To help, we have put together a guide that walks you through everything from timelines to engagement sessions to tips and tricks. 

So grab that cup of coffee and dive right into the process! We are here with you to make you shine on your wedding day!

Thank you again for choosing to work with us!

With love, the Cuyahoga Valley Photography Team

the steps + timing + schedules

If you are anything like us, we like to know when and how everything is going to happen, when to expect it, the next steps to make it happen, and how to contact someone if I have a question or need something. We are going to cover that right here!

timing + steps


Please read this wedding guide and the linked engagement guide at the bottom. There are some important decisions you will want to make together before your 1st phone consultation.


– pro tip: have this done within 1 month of booking us.

Please complete the quick wedding questionnaire. As soon as you submit it, you will get an automated email to schedule your call with your photographer. The call is usually about 30 minutes long. We will cover your whole wedding schedule and create a stress-free game plan! If you are having an engagement session, we will also chose a perfect location, date, and time for your session.

Please make sure that BOTH of you are able to be on the call so it doesn’t get rescheduled. We need both of you during your engagement session, during your wedding, and the phone call because we will be covering things that impact each of you individually and together.


– during a season you love

Come ready to rock + roll! We are going to have a lot of fun and go somewhere beautiful! Engagement sessions have limited availability mid-April through mid-November during wedding season. Many couples choose to take a 1/2 day off work for a hair + makeup trial run and for their engagement session. During the off season, there is more availability including some weekends. If you are out of state, just let us know when you will be in town and we will do our best to squeeze you in.

Expect your engagement photographs to be ready within a month. If you are interested in getting an engagement album (that can also be used as a guest sign-in album), just let us know.


– 6 weeks before your wedding

A quick questionnaire to see if there has been any changes since our last chatted and a little on about family and vendors.

Once that is submitted, you will get two automated emails to schedule your final check-in the week of your wedding and to schedule your reveal celebration to see your whole gallery and to design your album about 8-10 weeks after your wedding.


– 30 days prior to your wedding


– usually the Monday before your wedding

It is about a 10 minute final check-in to cover weather, family portraits, and if we need to finalize formal portrait locations. Super easy, again we can do a 3-way call.



Gallery Delivery

– about 1 month after your wedding

Pop the champagne! Celebrate! Fall in love with your wedding photographs and even more with your Love.

Album proof

– about 1 month after your wedding

After your album proof is delivered, please make all image change requests within one week. We will then make them and order your album. If you need more time, just let us know. If we have not heard back on any design requests after 2 weeks, we will assume you love your album as is and will order it and send it to the address on file. So please submit any requests, right away.

Album Delivery

– about 6-8 weeks after album is ordered

Connect + schedules

The best way to get in touch with us is via email and our typical business hours are Monday-Wednesday 10-4. Our office is closed Thursday-Sunday.

is a first look right for you?

One key decision to make that drastically impacts your wedding day and timeline is whether or not to do a 1st look. A first look is an opportunity for you to see each other on your wedding day before the ceremony with just you two (and your photographers in the background). This one is definitely a value call. Some people truly want to see each other for the first time as the bride is walking down the aisle and there is nothing wrong with that!

Others feel that a 1st look really creates the ideal wedding day. About 80-90% of the couples who work with us who are not having a Catholic or Eastern Orthodox ceremony choose to have a 1st look. Here are a couple of reasons why we find first looks super beneficial:


You get to experience the emotions of the wedding day in an intimate moment. You are looking spectacular and you get to see each other without dozens or hundreds of people looking at you. I don’t know about you, but I, Joelle, tend to put on my game face when I am in front of a crowd. Having a 1st look allows you and your best friend fully feel the joy and excitement as a couple. Oh, and couples are more likely to embrace their emotions during the ceremony, plus you’ll get all that nervous energy out and be more present in the moment. If you want to see him tear up while you walk down the aisle, it is actually more likely if you do a 1st look (counter-intuitive, but true).


First looks also give you a great pace for your wedding day. If you have your formal portraits before your ceremony, you can take more time to get the epic photos that you want! Additionally, everyone tends to be more relaxed with the schedule and you get a 30 minute break before the ceremony. When couples have a 1st look on their wedding day, the amazing and relaxed feeling is almost tangible. Want to decrease stress on your wedding day by a ton?! Do a 1st look.


You have spent a tremendous amount of time, energy, and money to celebrate your wedding with your dearest friends and family. 1st looks allow you to go right into your cocktail hour after the ceremony and family portraits. This gives you a lot more time to be with the people you love! Plus, you also get to spend more of your wedding day with your best friend!


We recommend a 1st look for the vast majority of our couples. All or almost all of our couples who were debating on doing and then did have expressed that they were SO glad they did for all the reason above and more 🙂 It is really nice in the moment, in the photography and videography, and so much more relaxed feeling for the whole day. WE THINK YOU DESERVE THAT!

If you are having a church ceremony (especially a Catholic ceremony), we would recommend on passing on it. There are a lot of moving parts, locations, and bodies for this type of wedding and more busy than everything on one location. If you really want to do it and have a church ceremony, here are some successful ways to do it. 1) Get ready at the same location such as a hotel or at the venue. 2) Have a later ceremony if possible like at 4pm if your church has that time availability.

Again, if your heart is set on seeing each other for the first time at the wedding ceremony, then by all means… DO IT! Your day will be wonderful and so beautiful!

most common wedding schedules


12:30 Photographer Arrives
1:30 Guys + Ties
2:00 Bride Puts on Dress
2:30 1st Look, Couple Portraits, Bridal Party
4:00 Break
4:30 Ceremony
5:00 Family Portraits + Cocktail Hour
6:00 Intros, 1st Dance, Cake Cutting, Toasts
6:30 Dinner
7:30 Parent Dances
7:45 Party Time!!!
Sunset and/or Night Photo
8:30 Photographer Departs


11:00 Photographer Arrives
12:00 Guy + Ties
12:30 Bride Puts on Dress
1:00 Drive to Church
1:30 Break
2:00 Ceremony
3:00 Grand Exit + Family Portraits
5:30 Cocktail Hour
6:30 Intros, 1st Dance, Cake Cutting, Toasts
7:00 Dinner
8:00 Parent Dances
8:15 Party Time!!!
Sunset and/or Night Photo
9:00 Photographer Departs

Wedding Day Details

Part of what makes your day unique to you is the details you choose! A lot of time and energy goes into selecting just the right look for your day and we love to showcase your details in your wedding day story!

Once your photographer arrives at your wedding, they will start capturing the details and then get some great candids of who all is having a great time and last touch ups of hair and makeup! We recommend choosing a getting ready location filled with natural light and, if possible, please keep the space free from trash and clutter.

It would be wonderful if you could put all of your rings, jewelry, shoes, invitations and other keepsakes together in one box. Please unwrap your dress but don’t worry about styling it – we’ll hang it in a beautiful spot!


• Dress + Hanger (we also have extras hangers)
• Shoes
• Bouquet
• Rings (her engagement ring + wedding band + his wedding ring)
• Hair pieces
• Invitation Suite (2 full sets with envelopes)
• Any other paper stationary you may have like program cards.
• 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 left over pieces we can incorporate those in your detail shots.

getting ready

It is super important to plan for enough time for everything on your wedding day so that you don’t feel stressed, but also feel like everything is moving at a great pace! Let’s dive right in! Here are some general categories and the timing that we have found to be best!

hair & makeup

Straight up – this is one of the most important things to get right. Why? Because it is the first of the day and can run late. From 2015-2017 we noticed hair and makeup artists were running later and later and in 2017 we found in our statistics that 80% ran late that year. No worries, we figured a solution to this. This is what you do 🙂

  • Have the moms go first and be dressed before we arrive so they feel good and confident
  • Have your girls go next where they will be done/almost done when we arrive so they are relaxed and ready of natural, candid moments instead of worrying about they makeup not on
  • You go last. HMU artists usually warm up and get better as time goes by, and we are looking to get the last touch ups of the hair and makeup. No foundation shots needed 😉 The best hair and makeup photographs are actually after your hair and makeup are done: a nice smiling lipstick shot, a little bit of blush or eyes, the last twists of the hair and hairpiece… golden!
  • During your 1st phone consultation, your photographer will give you a time when to tell your HMU artist to be all wrapped up.
  • A post 2020 note: we have been finding that some HMU are in and out and done very quickly. With that said, we are now trying to balance those who run late and those that now run early. For those that might run early just tell them when your photographers will be arriving at “X” time for the last “touch ups” for about 5-10 minutes. Just set expectations with them that your want your photographers to get those shots while they are still their. They should know how long it takes to do everyone’s HMU and what time they will be leaving.


  • Feel free to do your own makeup. About 30% of our brides now do their own. You know how you like it and what is you. Think a step or two above your everyday makeup will get you spot on. Joelle chose this option for herself and had her hair done at a salon.
  • Speaking of salons, this is another option. The pros of this is a very consistent product and this is timely. The cons are leaving the getting ready, travel, and might now be as photogenic environment. But then again, it might be perfect 🙂


Ok, some of these might be a little controversial, but bare with us. These are some of the things we see every wedding season. Please do whatever feels best and right in your heart, but we just want to toss out some of the experiences of past brides.

Too much makeup: makeup artists are artists and often want to go bold and trendy. Often recommending something that is not you. Know what you want and don’t be afraid to communicate that. Definitely do a trial run. Some people do that right before their engagement session and then you will have a better idea how it will photograph.

False eyelashes: We are going to pull back a wedding industry curtain… false eyelashes are an easy upsell that makeup artists often encourage last minute. Don’t get me wrong, they are not always a bad idea, but usually they are. Brides often get them because they are told that it will make their eyes pop. In a beautifully lit studio, yes it can. If you are doing a boudoir shoot and you want them, GET ‘EM! In the realities of a wedding day, it will make your eyes look very dark and hard to see your eyes. Especially in your photographs if you have heavy makeup. Think about it, your eyes are opened wide while you are inside. Now go out in the sun in the afternoon (when most formal portraits happen) and what will your eyes do? Squint. And with falsies, it will look like you are super squinting while you are outside (and maybe inside too). If you are not used to them, it can cause you to blink a lot. We have also have had them pop in very inopportune times.

Wispy hair: Looks totally fabulous in the magazines and blogs… when there is a hair artist to adjust between every series of shots. Yes, it does look cute and totally fun. In practicality, it’s going to get in your face most of your day. Pulled up, pulled back, pinned and/or braided wedding hair is your friend. You don’t have to mess with it all day long. You don’t have to worry about that wispy curl going out on hot summer days. From the perspective of your photographs, wispy hair is ways going across your face when you are outside with the slightest breeze during your formal portraits. Plus, Ohio is fairly humid and that beautiful hair is going to stick right on your freshly applied makeup. I know we are rambling, but wisps sounds like a great idea, but in reality every bride fights it for most of the day.

bride getting ready

Clean space, good window or outside light, excited people… yay lets do this!

Typically when we head over to the guys, this is a great time for your crew to get dressed. The moms should already be dressed before we arrive and now is a great time for everyone else. After your people are dressed is a good time for you to put on your dress. What we are looking for is the traditional last zips and laces. Your photographer will be outside your room and when you are feeling comfortable, we will come in for the last parts. If you need help with the dress, we are always there to help in anyway. This is also a great time for some beautiful emotions from you and the people you love. Embrace them and we will preserve those moments for you. After your dress is on, shoes and jewelry are next.

About 1/3 of our brides will also want to do a 1st look with her dad. Let us know if you would like to include this.

Guys + ties

Because that is what it is… the guys putting on ties. 10-15 minutes… easy. Have your people dressed except the last details like ties, jackets, cufflinks until we get there. Joelle can take care of all the boutonnieres. Some crews do a celebratory drink. We like to get a nice portrait of the groom and that’s about all.


Most couples like to exchange letters to each other before they see each other on their wedding day. It is a beautiful moment, your first gift to each other on your wedding day, and something to treasure or laugh about forever. We did this and each have a filled box with letters from each other.

It can be sweet and emotional… or super ridiculous and fun



Some couples don’t have an officiant for their wedding and are looking for one. Wedding officiants, pastors, and priests are professional communicators that will make your ceremony go off without a glitch. They have done it a million time.

Some will have a family member or friend do it. Getting certified online and then with the state is usually a super simple. It can be extra meaningful to have someone you love perform your wedding ceremony, whether that be a pastor, friend or favorite aunt. Something to keep in mind if it is their 1st or one of their 1st weddings officiating, make sure you do a rehearsal to work out any kinks. A professional will almost always always will have a rehearsal too.

Also it is nice to have the officiant step to the side for the kiss like the photograph above.


Always be present. Embrace all the feels. Enjoy the moment!

During the ceremony, especially during the vows just keep looking at the love of your life 🙂 Often people look at the people that are speaking to us, like the officiate who might be feeding you vows. You are not marrying the officiant, so grab hands and look across at those dreamy eyes!


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 request to ask guests to put down their phones, there’s a pretty good reason for it! You made a big investment in photography and videography and we’re sure one of the last things you want on your wedding day is for your photos of your ceremony to be filled with obtrusive phones, tablets, 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.

A sign generally works well. We also recommend the officiant making an announcement at the beginning of the ceremony stating, “It is the request of the bride and groom that you keep your cell phones and electronics off and put away during the ceremony. Our photographers are professionals and we just want you to be present with us.”


A nice classic exiting of the church while people cheer and blow bubbles that takes about 15 minutes.


You have to budget more time than you would think into your wedding day schedule to do a receiving line right after the ceremony. They last a lot longer than you would expect – think 30-45 minutes per 100 people. You also have to consider that when family has to wait for a receiving line to finish, it takes a bit more work to wrangle them back together for family photos. It’s also hard on grandparents standing around for a long time. We recommend skipping this and join your guests for cocktail hour and greet your guests in a more genuine way.

Sometime with more traditional ceremonies, couples choose to greet their guests as they are entering the reception later that evening during cocktail hour. We recommend this for Catholic and Orthodox weddings.

Family Formals

We have a SUPER efficient system for capturing family portraits. Basically, we will place you in the center and surround you by your family in a straight line, starting with the bride’s side. We will then pare down the group, capturing a wide range of combinations in a short period of time. Then, we will call the groom’s side of the family up and repeat!

If there has been divorce, death, remarriage, and/or other family dynamics, we understand that there can be some more tricky factors. We will handle this with care, respect, and ease. We will discuss these elements during final consultation the week of your wedding. In the case of a divorce, most couples have us photograph mom’s side first and then dad’s side.

We almost always do family portraits immediately after the ceremony, at the ceremony site. This gives us the best probability of everyone being ready and present.

Your family should have sunglasses off and purses and drinks down and away from where we are photographing (not behind the group). If there are babies and/or children there, don’t worry if they are not looking at the camera. We have great ways of getting them to look at the camera so nobody needs to be waving their hands behind us to get their attention. We have kids of our own and have photographed 100s of children and families over the past decade. All they have to do is just to smile and look at the camera. If these tips are followed and if family is there and engaged, typical family portraits are completed in about 15 minutes. Most of our couples elect for just immediate family (grandparents, parents, and siblings with their spouses and kids). If you want to include extended family (aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.), add about another 15 minutes. And if family portraits are happening indoors in a dark setting, add another 15 minutes for us to set up lighting.

Also decide who you want to be in your family photos and communicate to them at least three times: 

  • Send everyone a text/email the week before the wedding, something along the lines of, “Hey! I’m so excited that you are going to be at my wedding! We would appreciate you being a part of family portraits. Our photographers are fast. Just come up front immediately following the ceremony and we will knock them out!” But really, just copy and paste this!
  • Tell everyone at the rehearsal dinner – often many of the people who are in family photos are part of the rehearsal dinner. 
  • When your officiant dismisses everyone after the ceremony, make sure that they announces that “immediate family” or “all family and extended family” is to return to the front for family portraits. Once everyone has gathered, we will take it from there!

The arrangements

typical family portrait groupings after the ceremony


bride + groom + immediate family + extended family*
(extended is optional; most couples elect for just immediate family)

bride + groom + immediate family
(parents + grandparents + siblings)

bride + groom + grandparents
then groom out

bride + groom + parents + siblings
then groom out

bride + groom + parents
then groom out
then dad out
then mom out

bride + groom + siblings
then groom out


groom + bride + immediate family + extended family*
(extended is optional; most couples elect for just immediate family)

groom + bride + immediate family
(parents + grandparents + siblings)

groom + bride + grandparents
then bride out

groom + bride + parents + siblings
then bride out

groom + bride + parents
then bride out
then dad out
then mom out

groom + bride + siblings
then bride out


bride + groom

bride + groom + bridal party

After the bride’s family and also after the groom’s family, we always ask if there are any other groupings needed. This is the time for anyone to speak up. If you have a favorite aunt Suzie and you want a picture of both of you, we want to get that for you! We are also aware that families have different dynamics and different arrangements. Please let us know of these before your wedding.


So there is no right or wrong way to host an awesome reception and PARTY!!! We have seen fun things over the years. Make it yours!! If you want the standard classic reception, we will go line by line.


Cocktail Hour – Usually lasting an hour (who would have guessed, lol). But some venues have it for 90 minutes. Talk to them to make sure of the timing

Intros – Some couples want the whole hoopla and some want it more reserved like with no introduction. The choice is yours 🙂

1st Dance – About half of couple have their 1st dance before dinner. Pros for before dinner: it brings a bunch of energy to the party and it’s a big hit and sometimes the light is simply perfect and magical like the photograph above. Remember, whatever you do before dinner, people pay most attention to. Con: if you want to be more traditional, do it after dinner.

Cake Cutting – If the cake you are cutting is also going to cut up for your guests, we recommend doing it before dinner. This allows the caterers to cut and plate it while your guests are eat so they can get out to them without a delay. A lot of couples like to get as many formalities done before dinner. We recommend before dinner.

Toasts – Have your people give toasts before dinner. Trying to get people to listen during dinner is tough, plus we want to get some great candids of people busting out load before food is being eaten. We recommend 2-5 minutes per toast.

Intros, 1st Dance, Cake Cutting, and Toasts usually take about 30 minutes

Dinner – Dinner usually takes about 60-90 minutes depending on how many people are there and the catering. Please eat and enjoy your meal and a good drink 🙂 Some couples then choose to go around table to table to greet their friends and family. Just decide now on how much time you want to allocate. Then divide up that time by how many tables and then you know how much time to spend per table. You have to make the value judgement on time allocation and let us know during your 1st phone consultation so we can incorporate the perfect amount of time for your dinner. A post 2020 note: we and the industry as a whole has noticed that your people might not have seen you in awhile. With that said you might have a lot of “catch-up” conversations that can go on for a while. In previous years, going table to table might take 45 minutes, but we have seen it go well over 2 hours. And a flip side of that, when we have seen it go longer, many guests just simple get up and leave because they don’t know what is happening next. We have seen several times that 50% of guest are gone before the epic dance party starts.

Parent Dances – It is not limited to your parents. We have seen both parents, birth-mom and step-mom, a grandparent, aunt, uncle, brother or sister instead or in addition to. Whatever is important to you, do it 🙂

PARTY TIME or Whatever Is You Two

Anniversary Dance – Some couple do an anniversary dance and they show how long each couple has been married by counting down the years. If you do this, two thoughts: stay out there with your people. 2nd, think about how long it might be for your grandparents or other older couples and their health and comfort. We recommend a what DJs refer to as a “reverse anniversary dance” were people are added to the floor by number of years. This does 2 things, it is easier on the older couples that might have health concerns like standing for long periods and it loads up your dance floor.

Sparkler Exit Option – Here is the low down, you probably don’t want to do a sparkler exit at the very end of your night. Drunk people with fire… We have had a few brides almost had their hair catch on fire, we saw a fireball that almost took out the wedding coordinator, and other mishaps. This is how you do it to keep everyone safe and it will actually regroup your people that will crush the dance floor. About 15-30 minutes after sunset is perfect. We will help get everyone lined up and ready. You two come run up and down the aisle, kiss, twirl, carry, piggy back, or whatever is you. Just have fun!

Sunset/Night Photo – Couples love sunset and night photographs. Let us know if this is a priority and we will see if we can order up an epic sunset!


Weather plays a definite role in your wedding day! We will be watching the weather leading up to your wedding! Sun, clouds, rain, snow, fog all have their unique qualities, beauty, and challenges and we are ready for them. It hailed on our mountainside wedding and it was epic! We have a couple of tips regarding weather:

  • If you are worried about rain, you can also purchase clear plastic umbrellas. Target or Amazon sell them – we have beaten the snot out of the Target ones and they have performed really well. They let the light shine through so we can still photograph all your beautiful faces!
  • If you are worried about the cold and are considering wraps for you and/or your bridesmaids, pick a wrap that has a lot of texture, not just a thin shawl. Texture helps it look like a part of the outfit and not a blanket you are carrying around!
  • Embrace the moment! We have had some gorgeous weddings with some weather. Positivity is so key.

 Additional Tips

  • Remember this is a once in a lifetime event for you two.
  • Be present, be in the moment.
  • Feel and express you emotions.
  • If you normally wear glasses, think about if you want them or contacts. Most go for contacts. If glasses, make sure they are NOT transition glasses.
  • Encourage your family and bridal party to turn off and put away their phones on your wedding day. Heck, have a fully unplugged day!! Phones kill wedding day interaction.
  • Have getting ready room free of water bottle, beer cans, plastic bags, and general clutter and trash in the background.
  • Make sure that you provide a real lunch with protein for your bridal party. Bagels and mimosas don’t count as protein. No hangry people, lol. Food = happiness + energy = better photographs.
  • Make sure that there is adequate water where people are getting ready and on the party bus.
  • Be careful with alcohol before the reception for you, your wedding party, and family. Every wedding photographer can tell you a thousand stories that you don’t want for your day.
  • Make sure to have your bouquet delivered before we arrive to make an appearance in the detail shots. Often flowers are delivered in water and need to be dried off before use. Having towels handy can help.
  • Have the venue/caterer set aside a vendors table in the reception hall. This allows us to be aware of what is happening to be captured. Also it allows your DJ to monitor the volume, music, and any possible glitches.

    *And to save you one extra step, if there are different food choices, we would appropriate the beef, but we are thankful for anything with good protein. Thanks!

 For the Ladies

Something that you need to think about sooner rather than later is what shapewear you will wear underneath your wedding dress! ALL body types benefit from considering what your base layer is going to be and if you factor in the selection and cost of shapewear while you are selecting a wedding dress, you will be a LOT less stressed on the day of your wedding! Shapewear plays a HUGE role in how you feel during your wedding day. You want to be more confident and comfortable in your dress! Not only will this help you to enjoy your day more (who wants to be worried about popping out on their wedding day!?!) but it will also translate into more stunning photographs. Here are a couple of the things we have noticed that really helps with shapewear!


Pick the right bra. I’m not sure we can emphasize this enough! You will most likely need to purchase a specific bra that matches your dress, particularly if your dress has a low-cut neckline, is strapless, is backless, or has shoulder straps that cannot support the weight of the dress. Typically you are not going to spend more than $100 and it is well worth the investment. Fortunately, there are TONS of options available for nearly every kind of neckline and cut of dress. If you are going to select a strapless dress – particularly if you have a cup size bigger than an A – highly consider going with a dress with a bustier (boning moving up your ribs to provide shape and support). Sometimes this can be incorporated into the dress itself, but that is not always most effective. Only relying on bra pads sewn into the dress truly does not provide enough support. Wedding days are full of movement – you are not just a doll on display – and strapless dresses need extra shapewear or undergarments to support that movement.


If you are wearing a new bra for your wedding, make sure that you test it out ahead of time. Wear it for a day or an evening to make sure that it does not slip or dig in in uncomfortable places. Make sure you do this so that you have enough time to purchase/order a different bra if you need.


There is a myth going around that double-stick tape can do the work of a bra. Double-stick tape can keep a shoulder strap from falling off a shoulder, but it will not magically support a heavy wedding dress and keep it in place. Brides who wait until the last minute, crossing their fingers that a package of double stick tape will keep them comfortable and confident for their entire wedding day usually end up a bit frustrated. Also with double-stick tape, if you using double-stick tape to keep your neckline from flying open, make sure to tape at least an inch and a half away from the edge so that it doesn’t photobomb your photographs! If you are using tape, try it out a few weeks ahead of time. Some people have sensitive skin or allergic to the adhesive.


If your dress is form-fitting, or of certain fabrics, seamless smoothing shapewear like spanx can really help smooth out the tummy/hips region. Underwear lines are something best avoided by a little preparation ahead of time.


Give yourself time to test out your entire outfit so that you can go into your wedding day confident in your appearance! Buy a couple of sizes of bras and a couple of options of spanx and give it a test run with your wedding dress. Give yourself enough time to be able to order something different if you are not completely satisfied. You are most spending more on this outfit than any other outfit that you have purchased. You deserve to be confident in your selection and you want to feel fabulous on your wedding day. You deserve to feel amazing. Try out your shapewear with your wedding dress and go take a couple of photos in sunlight. Check that there are no unwanted lines that can be fixed with shapewear. Make sure that your bra provides enough support so that you feel comfortable moving around, giving people hugs, and dancing the night away. If you do the right amount of prep on the front end, you will have a fabulous, confident day and not even have to worry about it on your wedding day!

engagement session

Your engagement session is about you two being you, genuinely YOU! Believe it or not, but you probably know how to pose yourself already. Why, because you have spent weeks, months, and possibly years getting to know each other and how you fit next to each other while sitting, standing, and walking together. Sure, we will help guide you to through the process of making your photos look better and this guide will also give you some nice simple tips and tricks to help you feel like a million bucks. The focus is you two having a ton of fun, being relaxed, and being yourselves. That’s how we get those photos that you are so attracted to that we do every week.

when should we schedule our session?

We will schedule your engagement session during your 1st phone consultation when planning your stress-free wedding schedule with your photographer. We will select a date, time, location, and feel for your engagement session. During wedding season, engagement sessions are typically schedule on Tuesdays with more availably and some weekends during the off season. If you are coming from out of state and will only be in Cleveland one or few times before your wedding, just let us know and we will do our very best to squeeze you in during your time here.

what about poor weather?

In the event of poor weather such as rain, thunder, or other unsafe conditions, we will simply reschedule. No one wants to feel absolutely gross during their session. We will also say that rain and fog often produces some of the nicest and most dramatic conditions for photography. It makes colors more saturated, darkens trees, and can produce rainbows. Your photographer will text you the day before your session to make the call for you session if it is looking like poor weather. 


There are some truly incredible locations in Northeast Ohio. We have curated some of the best of the best places for your engagement session. Here are the best and most popular locations (and for good reasons)!!

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Brandywine Falls | waterfall, summer & fall wildflowers

Kendall Hills | hills, summer & fall wildflowers, fall color

The Ledges Overlook | sandstone cliffs, field, pine grove, fall color

Blue Hen Falls | waterfall, rocks, creek, fall color


Downtown Cleveland | east 9th pier, east 4th street, stadiums, alleys, cleveland library lobby, top of parking garages

Cleveland Museum of Art | cherry & magnolias bloom in april, classic & modern architecture

Edgewater Beach


Stan Hywet

Other Places

University of Akron

Springfield Bog, Uniontown | summer & fall wildflowers

Gervasi, Canton

Cleveland Botanical Gardens, Cleveland

Cleveland Cultural Gardens, Cleveland

Greenhouses (many both public & private)

Huntington Beach, Bay Village

Columbia Beach, Bay Village | waterfall

Headland Beach, Mentor | lighthouse, sand dunes

Rocky River Res, Berea Falls | waterfalls

Rocky River Res, Nature Center | cliffs, river

Bedford Res, Great Falls of Tinkers Creek

Brecksville Res, Chippewa Creek | waterfalls, boulders, creek, wildflowers

South Chagrin Res, Quarry Rock, Henry Church Rock | waterfalls, river, cliffs

David Fortier River Park, Olmsted Falls | waterfalls, bridge

McKinley Memorial Park, Canton

Patterson’s Fruit Farm, Chesterland | wildflowers, apple orchard, ledges


Ohio has phenomenal seasons and something unique every month! There are also fantastic flowers and wildflowers if you know where to look from April to the 1st heavy frost in November. 

MARCH: Spring if finally here, but really for most of the month is mud and stick season. A few flowering things might start appearing at the end of the month such as daffodils and forsythia.

APRIL: This is your classic spring!!! The best flowering happens in April. So if you want wildflowers, cherry blossoms, and other flowering trees, this is your month. Depending on the year. Redbuds and magnolias can be one of the 1st to start of the flowering trees. Carpets of bluebells and trillium bloom in mid-late April. Amazing cherry blossoms at the Cleveland Museum of Art and Brookside Reservation happen during this time as well. All of your classic spring flowers happen here and at the beginning of May before green foliage fully develops. Some years each of these blooms will last a long time and others, it is very short lived due to hot or cold temperature fluctuations which are common during April.

MAY: Early May has many more flowers tress such as crabapples and azalea found in many urban and suburban parks. Mid May starts wrapping up spring wildflowers and flowering trees with everything turning very green. Beautiful time of year.

JUNE: June is warm and beautiful. Lakes, ponds, and creeks are warming up and often the clearest before algae and pond scum starts. We usually do a lot of kayaking on rivers and smaller lakes during June. Creek and waterfall hiking starts in June.

JULY: Often hot and drier. Smaller creeks and waterfalls start drying up. Bigger creeks and river are fantastic such at Brandywine Falls and South Chagrin Reservation. Lake Erie is also warm and beautiful. Great for shoots on the beach and a few sand dunes that are in Cleveland. Summer wildflowers of yellow, white, and magenta start filling out fields and meadows.

AUGUST: Hotter and drier than July. All bodies of water are the warmest. Lake Erie is typically 75 degrees and sometimes as high as 80. Starting in August is the beginning of golden rod flowers and then filling out fields in September. Beautiful, but be mindful if you need allergy medicine. Towards the end of August has fantastic late summer wildflowers. Cuyahoga Valley National Park has thousands of Joe-Pye weed with giant pink flowers and acres of wildflowers.

SEPTEMBER: The start of fall! Everything feels a little quieter, calmer, and cooler. 

OCTOBER: Color starts towards the beginning of October and peaks typically mid to late October. Early October is often still warm enough by Lake Erie or hiking a creek with a few fallen leaves. If you want to take photos in leaves, later October and early November have the ground covered in them.

NOVEMBER: The past few years, the first 2 weeks of November had incredible fall color, maybe even peak. Great for bundling up with your favorite fall sweater and going for a hike. The last half of November becomes stick season.

DECEMBER: Sometime you get snow, sometimes not. Last half is your best chance for a snowy feel, plus you can add a little Holiday cheer and lights.

JANUARY: Coldest and cloudiest month of the year. Best chance for snow and for it to stick around. If you are looking for snowy session and great fluffy, fresh snow, often you have to be willing to jump last minute for it and be willing to embrace the chill. In Northeast Ohio we see snow most of the winter, but for photogenic, fresh snow, it is harder than you think, but totally worth it!

FEBRUARY: More snow and more blue skies. If you are still waiting for a snowy session, now is your chance!


As general rule: nice clothes, that fit great, that you love, that is solid is a great choice. Exceptions would be plaid (love plaid), really sharp looking clothes, something purposely bold. You are aiming for what you would wear for a first date…or nicer. For the ladies, dresses are almost always perfect. Guys, leave the gym shoes at home and wear freshly buffed boots or dress shoes with a pressed shirt and pants. And no ball caps or hair dents. Of course, clothing depends on what you are doing, where you are going, and the weather. Even with this recommendations, they are just recommendation. This session is about you two and your love and connection, so dress as who you are 🙂

tips for better photos

Most important: Be yourselves and have way too much fun!!! If goofy, goof off together. If snugly, then snuggle. You be you and be comfortable with that. We are going to capture that. We laugh… a lot… all the time.

Posing: You are better than you know. You know your chemistry. You know your personality as a couple. And you know your partner’s body and how your hands fit together, how you hug, and snuggle, and wrap your arms around each other. We will also help pull out that extra fun and connecting between you two!

Posing pro tips: Guys, have fun and make her laugh. I know you know how simply because she is marrying you. Ladies, when facing the camera, turn yourself 45 degrees diagonally. Put your weight on back leg (the one farthest from the camera) while your front leg is slightly bent and toes touching the ground. Connection is often revealed in photographs though body connection and touch (legs touching each other, hand on his chest, hand on her face, kissing, holding, etc).

Don’t bring: leave bags in your car. If wanting a 2nd change of clothes, we will come back and change later. Bringing a bag with you breaks up a natural flow. Some of the best images is the natural transitions from place to place. Also leave your wallet and cell phone in your car. You won’t need these during the shoot and will just be a distraction and bulges. I can carry your keys in my camera bag.

Do bring: feel free to bring a second set of clothes. If time and location allows, we will do it. Also if you feel not sure what clothes for the 2nd set, bring a 3rd or 4th. We can help pick!

Random things people forget: No gum, please. If warm out, bring bug spray because mosquitoes are awful especially before sunset. If cold out, bring gloves and hand warmers; they make a world of difference!

next steps

We can’t wait to start helping you plan and crafting out an amazing, stress-free day!


After you submit it, you will automatic get an email to book your 1st consultation with your photography

Please make sure that BOTH of you are available for this call so it doesn’t get rescheduled


Usually it’s about a 30-45 minute phone call with both of you.


Please make sure that BOTH of you are available for this call so it doesn’t get rescheduled

Create a perfect wedding schedule with your photographer

Schedule you engagement session


Time to rock out your session somewhere awesome!

thank you

thank you so much for taking the time to read through our wedding + engagement guide!