Hey there! I'm so glad you're here! I'm Monica Brown, a wedding photographer from Indianapolis who loves to celebrate couples & photographers. I hope you enjoy browsing through recent work, advice for brides & photographers, and taking a peek into our personal life!
I’m so excited to share my experience with something I recently did for the first time: photograph a family member’s wedding while being in the bridal party! You may be thinking, Monica, you’re crazy, that’s impossible, you can’t be in two places/ doing both things at once. And if you’re thinking that, then you would be correct!
I was only able to photograph sections of my brother-in-law’s wedding while two other photographers documented the other sections of the day. Thankfully, the two photographers were my good friends Kelsie Lynn Photography and Katelynn Dow Photography and they made pulling this off a DREAM situation! Literally, couldn’t have asked for it to go better! If you’d like to see what I mean, just head to Justin and Katie’s wedding blog post!
When my now sister, Katie, and I first started talking about the possibility of me getting to shoot and be a bridesmaid, I had to do some digging! I found this timeline from Katelyn James that was super helpful in our planning process. Since I had never done this before, I wasn’t sure if photographing sections of the day would steal me away mentally/emotionally from experiencing the celebration for all that it was so that was something I also wanted to be sensitive to.
Since I could only photograph a few sections of the day (super fun sections like the first looks and bride & groom portraits!) and I was SO confident in the other photographers, I really do feel like I was fully present and had SO much fun celebrating with family & friends!!
If this is something you’re curious about or if you’re a photographer and you’re interested in doing something like this, I’m sharing my top 3 tips of advice on how to shoot and be in the bridal party. Additionally, I’m sharing the specific roles & timeline we used on Justin & Katie’s wedding day! And, just for fun, some behind the scenes 🙂
This not only helps relieve stress leading up to the wedding celebration but is really loving to the other photographers and your family/friend you’re photographing for! For me, this looked like planning out the timeline and roles several months ahead of time and asking two photographers to join me. I chose these two photographers because I love them as both people and photographers and I was/am a million percent confident in their abilities! If you are working with photographers, the earlier you can let them know the date the better as schedules can fill up quickly during wedding season.
Everything that I’m sharing below is what I shared with the two photographers, bride, and coordinator months in advance. This helped set clear expectations as to who was responsible for documenting what and helped us all prepare. I think it’s also really important to be clear post production as to who is responsible for what. For example, giving the other photographers credit (because they worked their butts off!!) and letting them know when they can post their images on social media and/or their blogs.
This is key! I mentioned before that I was interested if photographing sections of the day would steal me away mentally/emotionally from experiencing the celebration but it really didn’t at all! I just constantly tried to be present in the moment to enjoy the day and celebrating my family, The Lord, and marriage!
I’m so thankful for these two!!
-Details (before wedding day)/ a few that morning)
-Getting Ready at salon (girls)/ Drew (guys at hotel)
-First look with dad (Dad’s reaction)
-First look with Bride & Groom (Groom’s reaction)
-Bride & Groom portraits (lead)
-Assist Kelsie with family formals (gathering people)
-B&G sunset portraits (lead)
KELSIE: 1-9:30pm (8.5 hour coverage)
-Ladies getting ready in shirts/ Bride getting into dress (lead)
-Father/Daughter First look (Bride’s reaction)
-First look with Bride & Groom (Brides’s reaction)
-Bride & Groom portraits (2nd)
-Bridesmaids (lead) (Katelynn shoot GM individuals)
-Groomsmen (lead) (Katelynn shoot BM individuals)
-Full Bridal Party (lead)
-Ceremony (standing at front/then move around)
-Family (lead)- Monica will assist with gathering family, Katelynn shooting couples
-B&G sunset portraits (2nd)
-Sparkler send off (lead)
KATELYNN: 1-9:30pm (8.5 hour coverage)
-Ladies getting ready in shirts/ Bride getting into dress (2nd)
-Getting ready images (2nd)
-Father/Daughter First look (side angle)
-First look with Bride & Groom (side angle)
-Bride & Groom portraits (2nd)
-Groom with each individual groomsmen + ushers (Kelsie shooting BM group)
-Bride with each individual bridesmaid (Kelsie shooting GM group)
-Full Bridal Party (2nd)
-Ceremony (standing in the back/then move around)
-During family formals (Kelsie + Monica), couples portraits then head to cocktail hour
-Cocktail Hour and Reception Details (lead)
-B&G sunset portraits (2nd)
-Sparkler send off (2nd)
Katelynn Dow Photography fluffing the veil then doing a mad dash to get out of the image! Love this BTS haha
This is me running back from chasing those cute but curious ducks out of the pictures haha
Kelsie rallying the groomsmen like a champ- this is no easy feat 🙂
The one above is just because these make me laugh. A LOT.
Drew is quite the gown fluffer at this point!
Dancing at weddings is a must, even for photographers 🙂 Please notice Kelsie both shooting and doing the line dance kick above haha. What a woman!
Kels gearing up to shoot the sparkler exit!
2:00 Monica photograph details at the wedding venue
6:30 Rehearsal Dinner
10:00 Get some sleep!
8:00 Ladies breakfast in hotel (Men breakfast at 9:15am)
9:00 Ladies to Salon for hair & makeup
11:00 Monica arrive to venue and photograph reception details
12:15 Ladies arrive to venue
1:00 Kelsie & Katelynn arrive
1:10 Kelsie take picture of BM + Bride with shirts on (Bridesmaids get dressed immediately after)
1:30 Bride in dress (Kelsie and Katelynn)
2:00 Guys arrive
2:15 First Look with Dad (Monica (Dad’s expression) Kelsie (Katie’s expression), Katelynn (side angle))
2:30 First Look with B & G (Monica (Justin’s expression) Kelsie (Katie’s expression), Katelynn (side angle))
Bride & Groom portraits (Monica lead, Kelsie & Katelynn 2nd)
3:00-3:40 Bridal Party Portraits (Kelsie: lead, Katelynn: 2nd shooter)
Full Bridal Party (Kelsie and Katelynn)
Bridesmaids Group (Kelsie) (GM individuals with Groom- Katelynn)
Groomsmen Group (Kelsie) (BM individuals with Bride- Katelynn)
3:40-4:15 Untouched Ceremony & Reception (Katelynn and/or Kelsie)
4:00 Bride in hiding & music starts
4:30-5:20 Ceremony (Kelsie: lead, Katelynn:2nd)
5:20-5:50 Family Portraits/Cocktail Hour (Family: Kelsie (lead)+ Monica (rally troops & help organize)/ Cocktail Hour + Couples: Katelynn)
6:00 Bridal Party Introductions, Welcome and Prayer by Katie’s grandpa (Kelsie, Katelynn)
6:05 Dinner (Everyone can relax!)
Monica may photograph the following formalities- going to play it by ear day of! Kelsie is the lead & Katelynn 2nd shooter for reception (IN REALITY: I actually didn’t photograph anything during the reception, only the Bride & Groom sunset portraits when we snuck away for a few minutes. I’m SO thankful that I was able to do this so I could just have fun and enjoy that time! Kelsie and Katelynn are the real MVPs!!)
6:45 Speeches by Drew, JT, & Maddie (Kelsie and Katelynn)
7:00 Cake Cutting (Kelsie and Katelynn)
7:04 First Dance (Kelsie and Katelynn)
7:08 Father/Daughter Dance (Kelsie and Katelynn)
7:12 Mother/Son Dance (Kelsie and Katelynn)
7:15 Bouquet Toss (Kelsie and Katelynn)
7:20 Garter Toss (Kelsie and Katelynn)
7:24 Couples Dance – dismiss couples based on how long they’ve been married
8:15 B&G Sunset portraits (SUN SETS AT 8:50PM) (Monica (lead) & Kelsie + Katelynn 2nd shoot)
8:30 Dancing in the Barn until the end! (All three of us!)
9:15 Last song
9:20 Line up for Sparklers (Monica will help rally/line people up)
9:30 Sparkler Exit (Kelsie & Katelynn)
I hope this post is helpful if you’re ever interested in documenting and being in a wedding! If you have ANY questions at all, please don’t hesitate to shoot us an email at email@example.com