How to make the most out of your Sarasota Summer Wedding


Guest post by Orla James

Summer has always been a popular wedding season.

Why? Good weather means less problems. It means you can make the most of the amazing venue you’ve booked, and you can have your summer wedding photos taken in front of a beautiful, foliage-filled backdrop.

But a lot of weddings don’t make the most of the season. There are countless things you can do to make your day even more special.

This article is your ultimate guide to having a summer wedding.


Summer weddings give you loads of options when it comes to the theme.
Some of the most popular are:

Festival Theme – Make your wedding look like a music festival, right down to the invitations and festival band to finish the night off. This theme has become really popular in the last 10 years.  

Boho Theme – Based on the boho-chic fashion style, this bohemian theme is perfect for summer.

English Summer Theme – Think old-style ice-cream vans, strawberries and cream and other classic English treats.

You don’t have to be strict with your theme. You can pick your favourite bits from a theme and make it your own.

Colour Scheme

Pastel colours are always perfect for a summer wedding. It is becoming more popular to throw some bright colours in as well, but you have to be careful not to create a clash. It’s always a good idea to check out your wedding venue before deciding on a colour scheme so you can pick out a theme that matches with your dream location. Then, head over to Pinterest and create a board of your favourite colours.

Dress Code

Your dress code will depend heavily on what theme you pick, or even if you pick a theme at all. You need to factor in the weather to your dress code – choose light fabrics for the dresses and suits but also have something warm to wear in case the weather isn’t as good as you’d hoped. It’s also important to remember that what you’re wearing accounts for this too! While white dresses and gold rings is more traditional you could mix it up with more vibrant colours on your dress to match the brighter theme. Warmer coloured jewelry matches this well. Perhaps choose rose gold wedding rings instead of a more traditional silver, why not a sapphire coloured necklace, or maybe accessorize some bangles and bracelets for a more fun look.

Of course you’ve also got to bear in mind make-up too. With the sun beaming down all day it’s pretty likely everyone will start to break a sweat – which isn’t good news for makeup! Using waterproof and sunproof cosmetics wherever possible such as waterproof mascara and moisturizers containing SPF will do a world of good. And of course always remember to keep it light and bright! 


Your flowers are linked to your colour scheme. Always choose flowers that will fair well in hot weather if your wedding is outside – like dutch hydrangea and garden spray roses.

Work closely with your floral designer to get the best colours and florals for your wedding. 

Keeping Guests Comfortable

It’s not always the first thing you think about when planning your wedding, but it’s really important to think about your guests’ comfort. Summer weddings are beautiful, but can bring in extreme gear and humidity depending on where you are in the world.

If you are spending most of the day outside, you could provide sunglasses and sun-cream for guests. You should also make sure there is plenty of water available and plenty of shaded areas.

Having a basket of flip-flops is also fun so guests can take their uncomfortable shoes off for dancing.


It doesn’t matter when your wedding is, entertainment is one of the biggest factors. It will take up a large part of the evening and will be what you and your guests remember about the day.

Outdoor games – The benefit of a summer wedding is you can play fun outdoor games. A lot of companies rent out giant Jenga, Scrabble and other games. If you have a lot of outdoor space you could go for a game of lawn croquet or cricket.

Entertainment – Some wedding-band agencies have specific bands for summer weddings. You can get great Mumford & Sons style bands which will give your wedding that special touch. 


The food at your wedding is a huge decision to make. Here are a few quirky ideas that could make your wedding something to remember.

Summer Picnic – Instead of a formal sit down meal, why not have a summer picnic? Your guests can sit on blankets and eat from wicker baskets. If your guests are drinking, they will need something more substantial than a couple of sandwiches though.

Sweets Table – Why not have a classic pic ‘n’ mix table for your guests to select from. This is guaranteed to be a hit with the kids.

Posh BBQ – Who doesn’t love a BBQ in the summer? Why not have a posh BBQ with gourmet burgers and kebabs? Get a professional in though, the last thing you want is a stressful cooking experience on your big day.  

Ice-Cream Van – An ice-cream will fit into almost any wedding theme. You can have an old-style ice-cream cart for those english summer weddings and your classic ice-cream van for everything else.


Choose refreshing drinks for a summer wedding. You should make sure all the drinks are well chilled and not too heavy.

Pimp Your Prosecco – Have a prosecco station where your guests can embellish their drinks with different fruits.

Gin & Tonic – G&Ts always go down well in the sun. You could freeze pieces of fruit to use as ice. This is a great way to get creative with your gin.

Summer Cocktails – Hire a professional cocktail specialist and choose a couple of house cocktails so your guests don’t get carried away.

There’s no doubt that the summer is one of the easiest times of year to plan a wedding. Whether you choose the ballroom or the beach, picnics or prosecco or you dress down or up to the nines; your options are near endless.

However you choose to make your special day extra special you’re sure to have an incredible day surrounded with fun, friends and family and we wish you all the best for your sun soaked entry into married life!

There’s no doubt that the summer is one of the easiest times of year to plan a wedding. Whether you choose the ballroom or the beach, picnics or Prosecco or you dress down or up to the nines; your options are near endless.

However you choose to make your special day extra special you’re sure to have an incredible day surrounded with fun, friends and family and we wish you all the best for your sun soaked entry into married life!






How To Make The Most Out Of Your Summer Wedding by Vanessa Joy Photography and Orla James
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Wedding Time Line - Step by Step - Sarasota Ashley Lee

Time line - Step by Step

Thanks so much for checking our my Wedding information page.

Naturally I would love to be apart of your wedding and hope that this guide helps to answer some of your questions about working with me. I want to ensure that we can creat beautiful photos together but do it in a way that allows you to enjoy your day.

I love working with people who do their own thing and I want their photos to be authentic expression of who they are! I focus on dcumentary-approach, capturing the raw moments. I'm into catching quiet moments and spontaneous and joyful ones too. My goal is to capture the story of your wedding day by collaborating the candid photos, natural portraits, and unique details that make your day unique.

I am VERY into making memories! The Real ones. The ones that give your goosebumps and bring a tear to your eye. Those.

Shall we begin? (see guides below)

Getting Ready

This chapter usually starts 1-2 hours before your ceremony. As the details come together I will be documenting all the personal details that make your day special. If you are able to get ready in a room that has good window light, I may die in photographer heaven!

Also keeping clutter to a minimum or in a separate area is important to keep in mind when you want clean and conceptual images. 

First Look

A private moment. 

Some couples are really into this, and some are adamant about not seeing each other until the ceremony starts. This is your story. 

Deciding whether to have a private moment together before your wedding has some advantages. Knowing your options and also how it will impact your timeline, can help you decide whether or not it's for you! Typically first look will take place after you get ready and we'll choose a spot where you can still that surprise moment when you see each other for first time. For some couples sharing this moment with just each other (and well me too ;p), can make it more intimate than seeing each other for the first time.  It's a moment of reflection and a chance to really relax and take a breath before the story continues. 

Some of the best lighting of the day is about an hour before the sunsets. This is the golden hour and I will steal you two away for some beautiful photos during that time as you cannot recreate this lighting!

If you absolutely do not want to see each other before ceremony, that is totally fine. We will get the desired photos in a timeline that works for you! I need a good 30-45 minutes for these. I'll also have a list so a someone can round everybody up too!

At the end of the day I want to make sure you're allowing enough time to get the kind of photos that you want and will help you plan your timeline to make this possible. I'm here for you. 

The Ceremony

The Main Event! 

You'll want to check if your venue has restrictions for photographers. I am always careful to be quiet and subtle during the ceremony, ignore me!, and while I capture your intimate moments -- Vows, first kiss, and all the small moments in between. 

Group Portraits

Family portraits do not need to be stressful We keep things organized so we are able to work through them as smoothly and quickly as possible. consider a site lose to proximity to the ceremony/reception to keep you on track.

Take careful consideration when planning a timeline for portraits. The bigger the family the more time needed.

I like to think I'm great at planning and time management, lets discuss if you're unsure or just want to talk. 

The Reception

Time to Party! While you go relax, I'll ensure that all the work you put into your reception is documented. I focus on the details in the place settings, desserts, name cards, florals, and especially those great candids of your guests. After the toasts, cake cutting, and special dance, you and guests can really go all out as the camera will not be on them. 


12 Month Wedding Planning Checklist here

Wedding - Packing for your Elopement here

Wedding - Creating a Timeline here

Wedding - Planning your Elopement here

Wedding - A Complete DETAILED timeline breakdown here 

Your Wedding Proposal: Should you include family and friends? - Ashley Lee

Your Proposal: Should you include family and friends? 

Proposing to your loved one is a huge step towards the future — a future filled with new experiences, new memories and new family. Asking parents for your partner’s hand in marriage is an old tradition, however, including their family in your proposal is a new idea that many people are embracing.

The current trend of including family and friends into one’s marriage proposal is becoming more and more popular. Whether you choose to propose at a simple gathering of loved ones or you plan an extravagant proposal comprised of renting out a baseball stadium and hiding loved ones in the dugout à la Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, a marriage proposal that incorporates the most important people in your partner’s life is a thoughtful way to illustrate your commitment to them; However, sometimes keeping the big moment a secret can become a little tricky when you involve others.

Some people, especially family and close friends, may have a hard time keeping the news of your proposal to themselves. In general, the fewer amount of people you confide in, the less likely word is to get out. So, if you need to work with a family member to plan your proposal, choose your accomplice wisely. It’s important to work with a family member whose discretion you can rely on. Keep your trustworthy accomplice in the know so they can mobilize other family members without giving away your special plan. If you need more than one accomplice to help make your proposal a success, think about keeping them on a need to know basis. Maybe you start by telling them that you would like to plan something special for your partner, followed by feeding them more details as the big day approaches and finally, right before the special moment, reveal your true intention.

A unique way to involve family and friends without telling them your master proposal plan is by filming loved ones sending warm wishes and sharing stories about the two of you. Once you have an array of touching clips, compile them into a heartwarming movie that ends with you asking for your partner’s hand in marriage. This is a great way to involve loved ones and ensure the safety of your secret.

If you’d rather have family and friends present, arrange for the proposal to take place on an already special day — such as your partner’s birthday or your anniversary. While family and friends are under the impression that you are planning a surprise party, help them plan an unforgettable surprise, such as memorizing your partner’s favorite song or creating a crafty project.

If including loved ones in your marriage proposal is a must, don’t worry about the secret getting out, just be smart when choosing whom you work with and what you reveal about your plan





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Shopping for an engagement ring? Here's what to know when you walk into a jeweler. - Ashley Lee

Shopping for an engagement ring? Here's what to know when you walk into a jeweler. 

Engagement ring shopping is one of those super exciting and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. There are so many questions that come along with such a significant purchase so it’s important to educate and prepare yourself as best you can. To help, our founder Stacy sat down with our sponsor Jared The Galleria of Jewelry – where they turn feelings into jewelry – to figure out exactly what an in-store shopping experience looks like. From a list of things you need to know before you walk in to the questions you absolutely need to ask before you walk out, Stacy has the entire scoop.

what should i look for in a jeweler?

When you walk into a jeweler, you want to feel immediately welcomed, respected, and understood – if you feel anything else, turn around and walk away. A professional jeweler will always spend a significant amount of time getting to know you – asking open-ended questions to truly understand your needs and desires – before even showing you a single piece (aka before trying to sell you something).

When I was at Jared, I loved hearing their team members call every customer a “guest” – they continued to stress that their jobs weren’t just to find the right piece of jewelry for the groom-to-be, but to establish a great relationship with him too.

In addition to the above “feelingsy” signs, it’s important to look for a jeweler that offers service and repair capabilities. While long-term care likely isn’t top of mind when you’re selecting her dream ring, it’s essential you consider the lifelong integrity and beauty of it – having a trusted jeweler will offer tremendous peace of mind for years to come.

(Side note that I learned from my visit: you can bring your ring into ANY Jared location so if you move cities in your life, you’ll likely still have a jeweler on your side. Something interesting to consider, I thought!)

what should i already know before walking into the store?

You’ll want to have a basic understanding of the four C’s (cut, clarity, color and carat) and how your future fiancé values them. For instance, some brides-to-be will focus more on the carat weight or size, while others will be more concerned with their dream shape (round, princess, pear, emerald, and so on).

Next, you’ll also want to know your budget (which I’ll address shortly) and it would be good to do some price comparisons. You can do the latter fairly easily online!

Finally, you’re not expected to be an expert when you walk in – a good jeweler will be great at educating you. As a point of reference, the specialists at Jared said they see men who know exactly what they’re looking and others that simply have no clue. In the end, everyone walks out fully confident in their purchase!

what questions will i be asked when i’m there?

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions you’ll hear from your jeweler:

#1 – Tell us about you and her! Jewelers love hearing your unique stories and a lot of times, clues arise as you tell your story that helps your jeweler guide your ring-buying experience!

#2 – What’s her style? Do you have any photos or can you pull up her Pinterest board? Has she dropped any hints or clues before? If you’re not certain, a jeweler oftentimes knows the exact right questions to ask to narrow down the perfect style, so don’t worry too much. If you have a minute (which it seems like you might right now!), you might want to browse rings and styles before you go in, and Jared has a huge online ring gallery that could help with that.

#3 – What’s your budget? This is not something to shy away from – quite the opposite actually! Setting a budget helps the jeweler help you decide between the different factors that go into a ring purchase. For example, is she most interested in a larger center stone or is she hoping for a beautiful detailed setting? Does she have a preference in terms of color or clarity? Are you leaning toward a more expensive diamond shape when a different one could give you more bang for your buck? Being honest with your expectations will help the jeweler find the ideal ring that fits within your budget.

#4 – When are you planning on proposing? This one’s usually just for fun, but it also helps understand your timeline.

what questions should i be asking the jeweler?

#1 – You should always ask about their return or exchange policy. If she doesn’t love it or she wants to make even the tiniest tweak, you want to be sure you’re invited to come back to make it right. At Jared, for example, you can return or exchange up to 30 days after purchasing.

#2 – Next, get to know their warranties and extended service plans. If you do opt for a warranty or extended service plan, be sure you understand all of the details (i.e. What does the warranty cover and extended service plan include? How often must the ring be inspected and what documentation do you need?) so that you can take full advantage of the programs.

#3 – If you’re considering going custom, you’ll want to ask how long the custom design process takes and how much it costs. “Custom” can mean anything from picking a quality from one ring and combining with another, to sketching something entirely from scratch.

#4 – Finally, you should be asking for diamond certifications. Certifications are from third-party, independent grading houses. GIA, AGS, or IGI are the most reputable labs, meaning they grade against very strict guidelines. It’s important to know exactly what you’re getting and paying for (especially in the cases of upgrade), so be sure to receive this information in the buying process. Jared offers each guest a “certificate of valuation” which lists every aspect of the diamond + what you paid for it. This is also great because you can submit that right to your jewelry insurance.

Something above and beyond that Jared also recently launched was Chosen by JaredTM. It’s a high-quality loose diamond program that shows the journey of each Chosen diamond. By Jared’s own craftsmen, each rough stone is polished and prettied, and the process is captured in a series of 4 photographs that are inserted into a keepsake book which accompanies the stone. The book can be personalized to link a couple’s own journey to that of their diamond, making their ring uniquely their own. Finally, there is beautiful packaging that holds the ring and book, with additional space available to store treasured mementos of the couples’ time together (like… photos from the proposal!). It’s a concept I’m truly in love with.

parting words

One final thing to think about when you’re engagement ring shopping is your entire experience and the future experiences you’ll have surrounding your wedding jewelry. Often times, grooms-to-be are only concerned about the cost of the ring without considering additional values – like an on-going relationship with a full-service jeweler, convenience, guarantees and so on.

As you might have realized as you read, the ring-buying process is highly personal. You will learn a lot and be able to share this experience with your fiancé when the time comes, so cherish every moment and know you’re taking a beautiful step towards your future!

One final thing to think about when you’re engagement ring shopping is your entire experience and the future experiences you’ll have surrounding your wedding jewelry. Often times, grooms-to-be are only concerned about the cost of the ring without considering additional values – like an on-going relationship with a full-service jeweler, convenience, guarantees and so on.

As you might have realized as you read, the ring-buying process is highly personal. You will learn a lot and be able to share this experience with your fiancé when the time comes, so cherish every moment and know you’re taking a beautiful step towards your future!

9 Reasons to hire a professional proposal photographer - Ashley Lee

9 Reasons to hire a professional proposal photographer

Aside from your wedding day, one of the greatest memories you will have is when you and your significant other decide to spend the rest of your lives together (cue tears). Capturing that moment is something that you can cherish forever and we guarantee it’ll happen quickly. There will be lots of anticipation, emotions, maybe even some shrieks, so being able to relive it is important. If that’s not reason enough and you need a few more, here’s nine more reasons to hire a professional proposal photographer!

1. to avoid photo bombs like this….

Hey, we get easily distracted too, especially when it involves something diamond-y and sparkly. This friendly fellow aka Giraffe just wanted to see what the fuss was all about.

2. or like this…


It’s, well, all about timing. Let’s leave that to the professionals.

3. or accidents like this:

This groom-to-be opted for a DIY approach. He set up his camera with a timer nearby just before proposing to his girlfriend. Unfortunately a fellow Disney World adventurer stepped in and ruined the shot! It’s a small world after all?

4. because she’ll want it (trust us!)

We surveyed more than 1,000 women about their ideal proposal and learned that capturing the moment with photo and video ranked higher than selecting the perfect ring. 

5. because it can still be private…

Hiring a photographer for your proposal doesn’t have to involve a whole photo shoot (unless you want it too, of course). The proposal can be just an intimate as planned, but now you have some really beautiful photos to treasure forever.

6. so you’re featured on (duh!)!

We love reading your proposal stories from all over the world and it makes us tear even more when photos are included. Having proposal photos not only help tell the story but also help you share it. 

7. because you’ll both get swept up in the surprise

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with emotions and swept up by the surprise, so much so, that some women won’t even be able to remember what happened. A photographer will capture all the moments leading up to the big question, even the ones you forgot because you were too in shock or blinded by your new ring.

8. so you can personalize your save-the-dates

This creative save-the-date is made with a proposal photo and we think it’s one of the greatest we’ve ever seen. Instead of having to wait for an engagement photo session, you can get them in the mail immediately.

9. and finally… two words: social media

When it comes to announcing your engagement on social media a picture really is worth a thousand words. After posting a beautiful backdrop, two big smiles and one sparkling ring you’re soon to receive a zillion “likes” so why not put that photo in the hands of a pro?




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5 Tips for Your Perfect Marriage Proposal Speech - Ashley Lee

5 Tips for Your Perfect Marriage Proposal Speech:

1. Brainstorm Memories

Do this before you write your marriage proposal speech. Think about how you met, the first time you laid eyes on her, the moment she was no longer a “friend” but someone you wanted to date, what you were doing when you realized you absolutely wanted to marry this girl, why you can’t imagine doing life without her, etc. Starting off with a monumental memory from your relationship is a great way to begin your proposal speech, almost like you would a story.

2. Write It Down

Now get organized. Spend time putting all your thoughts about your memory (from step 1) on paper. Now that you have a starting point to your proposal, jot down all the traits and quirks you love about her. List all the reason you want to marry her. After you have a full sheet of paper you can evaluate and organize the traits/reasons on your paper that mean the most to you (and her). Now you should have a beginning and middle to your proposal speech. You’re getting close!

3. Ditch Lengthy

A 1 minute proposal speech it totally fine. Organize a meaningful but manageable proposal speech. That’s why it’s helpful to consolidate your thoughts (step 2) so you share what matters most and don’t have a million things to remember (even though you have a million good things to say, right? wink, wink.) If you feel like there is much to say and you don’t want to cut it short, I recommend writing it in a letter that she can read after you propose.

4. Final Words Are Most Important

Undoubtedly the final question, “Will you marry me?” is your grand finale; but the final words leading up to the question are just as memorable. When you first drop down on one knee and she realizes what’s about to happen, she’ll most likely be so surprised, giddy, flustered, excited, emotional, etc. that you’ll want to give her a few seconds to grasp what you’re saying so she actually hears you. This is precisely why you should save your most special comments for the end of your “proposal speech.” She will be more likely to truly remember and take it in.

5. Say It Aloud

It may seem silly but practice saying your marriage proposal speech aloud. Chances are you may forget a few thoughts you wrote down, but by practicing, it will come out more natural (even though it probably won’t feel that way). Plus, you’ll be less likely to stumble over your words during your big moment.

It may seem difficult to find the perfect words but hopefully the steps above provide some helpful guidance for your perfect marriage proposal speech. I know with a little thought and practice your girlfriends will love your proposal speech. If you are interested in more proposal tips or personalized marriage proposals we are happy to help.

Marriage proposal tips produced by The Yes Girls! 

Wedding - A Complete DETAILED breakdown

Complete Wedding-Day Timeline - Ashley Lee Photography (Sarasota)

The secret to a stress-free wedding day? Scheduling enough prep time! Here, get a complete detailed breakdown to what happens when on your wedding day.

Bride's hair: One hour. "This gives enough time to get it right and make any tweaks or changes from the trial run," said hair stylist  Kacee Geoffroy 

Bride's makeup: 45 to 60 minutes, depending on the makeup style the bride selects.

Bridesmaids' hair: 30 minutes per person.

Bridesmaids' makeup: 45 minutes per person.

The order: When your hairstylist arrives, have her start on your bridesmaids first. "I prefer to have the bride go last so that when her photographer arrives, they catch those last-minute getting ready shots, and the bride looks the freshest," said Geoffroy.

Instead, the bride should start with makeup. "We like to prep the bride's face first, let her relax and enjoy the day, and then allow her the last two hours of time for final styling," said Erica. "But it depends on the bride's preference as well. Regardless, with proper makeup application, her look will last."

When should the photographer arrive? One hour before the bride is ready to go. "It's generally best to arrive during the bride's hair and makeup. The latter portion of the hair and makeup styling, when the bride is closer to being finished, makes for more flattering photos," said photographer Suzy Clement. This also gives your photographer plenty of time to capture the details — gown, shoes, jewelry, etc. — in addition to the hustle and bustle of the room and the often emotional interactions between the bride and her bridesmaids and relatives," said Clement. 

If you have more than yourself plus four getting hair done, ask your stylist to bring an assistant to cut down on time. For makeup, add an assistant after yourself plus two. 

If you're traveling to a salon, double the travel time you anticipate — better to have too much time than not enough, advises Geoffroy.

Put on your veil after the dress. Consider asking your stylist to stick around until then to make sure your veil is secure. 

Pre-ceremony photos of the bride with her family and attendants/groom with his family and attendants: Two to three minutes per shot; more if the groups are very large, and less if they are very small. "You must also consider how punctual the groups tend to be and possibly cushion the schedule to allow for unexpected delays," said Clement.

First look: 15-30 minutes.

Groom and groomsmen arrive: An hour and a half before the ceremony. 

Bride and bridesmaids arrive: An hour* before the ceremony. We want to make sure you are hidden before your guests arrive, so they don't get an early peek at your gown!

*If the bride won't be taking photos at the church prior to the ceremony, then she can arrive moments before walking down the aisle and wait in the limo until it's time.

Ideal ceremony length: 30 minutes. "It's enough time to have meaningful reading and music to make your ceremony unique and memorable," said McLean.

Receiving line: For a ceremony with 100 guests or less, this will take 12-15 minutes. With 150 guests, allow 20 minutes. If you're expecting more than 150 guests, consider skipping the receiving line and visiting guests at their tables during dinner instead.

Maximum gap between ceremony and reception: One hour. "Any more than that, and I'd recommend suggesting places for your guests to visit between the ceremony and cocktail hour," said McLean.

Family photos: Two to three minutes per shot — if your family is properly organized! 

Bridal party: Two to three minutes per shot. "I like to keep these simple, as my clients are always eager to make it to their cocktail party," said Clement.

Didn't have a first look? Allow 30 minutes post-ceremony for photos of you and your groom. If you did have a first look, you'll still want 15-20 minutes post-ceremony for just the two of you. 

Save photos of very large groups (like classmates, coworkers, and large extended family groups) for the reception, when your DJ or band leader can make an announcement to gather everyone. You'll be able to take the photos much faster than trying to track down 50 people during the cocktail hour.

Tip: The best way to save time taking photos is by being prepared. "I work with my clients in detail prior to the ceremony to compile a list of all the necessary shots and who is in each one. This ensures the couple and their families have all their needs met, while saving a lot of time and confusion while shooting," said Clement. "It also allows me to politely manage family members who ask for additional shots during the session. I simply tell them we are covering the list first and, if there is time at the end, we'd be happy to add any additional shots they'd like."

Also, think about where exactly you'll want to take your photos. If your photographer isn't familiar with the site, see if he or she would mind scouting it out. "This is a huge time saver on the wedding day!" said Clement.

Ideal length: Six hours. This will allow an hour for cocktails, two hours for dinner, and three hours for dancing.

Order of events:

First dance: The most common timing is immediately after the bride and groom enter the reception, but  you can also do your first dance, following the conclusion of dinner or right after dessert.

Father/daughter dance: Immediately following the first dance.

Mother/son dance: Immediately following the father/daughter dance. Or, sometimes, this dance is shared with the father/daughter dance.

Welcome toast: Given by the father of the bride or by the bride and groom.

First course (salad/appetizer) served

Toasts: Ladies first! Start with the maid of honor, followed by the best man.

Second course (main course) served

Toasts: The bride and groom can give a toast here, if desired.

Guests invited to dance: Open up the dance floor, and get the party started!

Cake cutting: Two hours before the reception ends. "The cake will then be passed on trays or set on a table alongside other fun sweets for guests who may want a sugar boost after dancing for a while," said Blue Bird Productions. Other couples opt to cut the cake earlier in the night, like following their introduction or the toasts. "This ensures that all guests see the cake being cut and allows the bride and groom to have fewer obligations throughout the night."

Bouquet and garter tosses: Right after the cake cutting, or about two hours before the end of the reception.

Late-night snacks: A popular trend, many couples start passing around bite size snacks at this point to refuel guests.

Farewell: If you're doing a sparkler farewell, for example, have guests start lining up about 10 minutes before you plan to exit.







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