Here’s exactly what to expect when I photograph your wedding — Hudson Valley Wedding Photographer

Let’s walk through a wedding day!!!! If your wedding is coming up, here’s basically what you can expect from me and my second shooter. Our goal is to put you and everyone else at ease. Because that’s how we get beautiful photos!

My objective is to tell the story of your day through imagery. I want your photos to call to mind each special section of your wedding day. In my mind, I divide a wedding day up into four parts:

  1. Getting ready
  2. Portraits (including first look)
  3. Ceremony
  4. Reception (including cocktail hour)

I thought it might be helpful to break it out and show you exactly what to expect from me as your wedding photographer on your big day.

Let’s get straight into it!


Ooooooh! This is one of my absolute favorite times of the day! There’s so much anticipation and excitement. It’s SO, SO special. To tell the story of your getting ready time without making people feel like they’re being stalked for hours on end, I’ll usually arrive about an hour before it’s time to head out to the first look or ceremony. At this point, hair and makeup is either done or finishing up. And I can immediately get started taking photos. About 90% of my brides opt for this kind of coverage; the other 10% ask for more coverage time (which is totally cool, too!).

Here’s what I’m typically looking to capture and how you can prepare for being photographed during this time.


The dress on its own. If you know where you’d like to have the dress hanging to be photographed, feel free to have it up and ready for when I arrive. It’s probably the very first thing I’m going to photograph because it allows people to ease into the fact that a photographer is in the room, even though the camera is still not on them.

Private Home — Wilmington, DE

If you have NO idea where to put the dress, no worries … we’ll figure out a great spot when we arrive. I’ll often leave it hanging up somewhere in the room where people are getting ready because it can be a really lovely background in your photos.

I especially love when I get to do something really meaningful for a bride, like when I got to photograph Brittany’s STUNNING gown next to a photo of her Mom as a bride. A closet might not be an obvious spot for a wedding dress photo, but in this case, it was perfect.

Private Home — Newark, DE

Details — Jewelry, stationary, shoes, etc. About half of my brides ask for these shots, the other half just aren’t into it, which is totally fine. We’ll talk ahead of time to see what you envision for your photos. If I’ll be photographing those details for you, I’ll remind you ahead of time to have them set aside so we can quickly photograph them and get them right back to you.

I especially love when I can tell your story a bit through detail shots. In this case, there was a beautiful antique piano in the home where Isen was getting ready, so it felt like the perfect place to photograph some of her jewelry.

Private Home — Wilmington, DE

Getting ready candids — Now that the details and dress are photographed, I usually hang back (sometimes hidden behind plants if possible : )) and document the beautiful mess that is this moment! Curlers, champagne, laughter, lipstick, sweet looks, bride tribe robes … there’s nothing specific here that I feel like MUST be captured. I just want to take photos that preserve this slightly chaotic and beautifully stressful moment for you in a very authentic way. I’m pretty good at reading which brides like a more hands-on photography experience and who feels more comfortable with a truly wants fly-on-the-wall documentation. I love both.

Private Home — Wilmington, DE
Private Home — Wilmington, DE

Private Home — Wilmington, DE

Getting into the dress — Dress time! Whether you want your whole bridal party there helping, or an intimate moment with just your Mom — or a totally private moment — I’m going to hang back and capture the moment as its happening. We can chat about this moment ahead of your wedding day so I know if there’s anything really special that you were envisioning for your photos.

Private Home — Hudson Valley, NY

Final touches and heading out — As you head out, this is a great time to touch up lipstick and hair … and the perfect opportunity for some sweet moments with friends and family.

Private Home — Longwood, PA


This one is way more straight forward : ) My second shooter or I will sneak into the room and just grab some shots of the guys being guys. Often I’m told that grooms feel particularly apprehensive about these photos … like it will be SUPER weird. Plus, they just want to hang with their guys and enjoy themselves. (I totally get that.) Ironically, though, we show up, and those same apprehensive guys suddenly have a million photos they want of them goofing off with their groomsmen. So just trust me on this one … they’ll be SUPER glad we came in for some shots of their sacred guy time ; ) We don’t need much time. Fifteen minutes even will do.

Hotel Dupont — Wilmington, DE

Portraits + First Look

Ok, bride and groom are dressed … looking good … and here we gooooo!

Private Home — Hudson Valley, NY

First Look + Couples Photos – Probably 90% of my couples opt for a first look. I love first looks so much (See why here.) But I also understand if a couple just doesn’t want to do one. It’s your wedding … and however you do it, my job is to document your day. For those scheduling a first look, I typically recommend leaving a solid hour for the first look and couple portraits. Truthfully, we can get away with as little as 10 minutes … or you could spoil me and give me more than an hour … either way, this time is honestly the only time of the day that you two will be alone. And for that in itself, it’s very special and precious. My goal is to treat this time like it’s yours … and I’m just hanging back and photographing it. I’ll gently guide you along when needed … but mostly, this is your time to soak everything in just the two of you.

Greystone Hall — West Chester, PA

We’ll chat ahead of time about what areas of the venue you’d like to use for your photos. The goal will be to keep you away from arriving guests while taking advantage of the beautiful scenery your venue offers.

Bartram’s Gardens — Philadelphia, PA

Typically I’ll have my second shooter come along with us so that she can hang back and get some different and AMAZINGLY beautiful perspectives. I work with THE best second shooters!

Winterthur — Wilmington, DE

Mostly, I’ll be focused on capturing very authentic and emotional photos of the two of you.

Winterthur — Wilmington, DE

But, I also make time for a few traditional shots. I call them the Grandparent Shots since they’re a bit more traditional, but parents and grandparents often appreciate having them.

Winterthur — Wilmington, DE

Posed Family Photos – A few weeks before your wedding, we’ll designate a spot and time for family photos. The goal is to make it as easy as possible for the family members  … so somewhere close to the ceremony … but at the same time, somewhere away from arriving guests. And of course, we want it to be beautiful, too. This is one part of the day where I will ask for a shot list ahead of time. It’s super important that you already know who you want in your family shots so that they can know to be there ahead of time. I’m also going to ask you to designate someone who knows your families to be my assistant. This individual will literally help me go right down the list of groupings and guide the right people in and out of the photos (since I don’t always know who is who!). I can get through even the longest of lists pretty quickly and efficiently. My goal is beautiful photos as fast as possible. Any extra family photos we’re not able to take during this time period we’ll take immediately after the ceremony if possible. Since I’ll have your list of family photos with me, I’ll know exactly which ones we’ll still need to get.

Mountain Top Inn & Resort — Chittendon, VT

Posed Bridal Party Photos – We’ll chat ahead of time to see how much time we need for this. I’ve found that couples are all really different with what they want … varying from tons of different poses to just one good bridal party shot. I’m down for either! But chatting ahead of time will allow us to schedule the right amount of time that we need. The goal here is for us to get these shots done and then for you to have at least 30 minutes of downtime before heading out into your ceremony. That’s really important because there’s nothing worse than rushing from one thing to the next on your wedding day.

Winterthur — Wilmington, DE

Alright … you did it! That’s pretty much the last part of the day where I’m going to have to directly interact with you and where you’ll actively feel like you’re having your photo taken. Now you get to go get married … dance … laugh … drink … eat … and just totally enjoy yourselves while I hang back and capture everything as it happens.


It’s finally happening! You’ve planned for this moment for so long and now it’s finally here. So there’s no way in the world I’d ever step in and interrupt anything. EVER. I mean, maybe if someone falls over … I’d jump in there to help them up. But that’s about it.

When it’s time for the bridal party and bride to make their way down the aisle, you’ll find me sneakily tucked away somewhere behind(ish) the groom as you’re walking down the aisle. I want to capture it all without causing a distraction. You will NEVER see me walk down your aisle in front of you. That aisle is YOURS! Meanwhile, my second shooter will probably be hanging back somewhere opposite of wherever I am to ensure we’re getting different perspectives of the ceremony.

Winterthur — Wilmington, DE

One of my all-time favorite wedding shots is the couple’s walk back up the aisle after the ceremony is over. So just know that I’ll be counting down the seconds until I get to shoot that photo for you guys! It’s a special moment filled with so much joy and excitement.

Winterthur — Wilmington, DE

Greystone Hall — West Chester, PA

Cocktail Hour

What do I need from you during this time? NOTHING! Well, unless we still have some family photos left over … but we’ll do those really quickly if needed. Your cocktail hour is going to FLY by. I’ll typically take this time to head over to your reception area to photograph the room all beautiful and set up before guests make their way in.

Winterthur — Wilmington, DE

Terrain at Styers — Glen Mills, PA

While I’m doing that, my second shooter will be hanging out and capturing candid photos of the cocktail hour. When guests ask for photos, we’re always super happy to oblige. But rarely will we walk over and make up our own formal groupings unless you specifically request that we do. We don’t like to interrupt the party … we prefer to photograph it!

Mountain Top Inn & Resort — Chittendon, VT

Mountain Top Inn & Resort — Chittendon, VT


A few weeks prior to the wedding, you’ll give me a schedule of the reception so I know exactly how things will play out. That way I know where to be when and won’t have to interrupt your night with questions. My second shooter and I will stop to eat dinner at the same time that you (the couple) are eating, since eating photos aren’t usually people’s favorites ; ) After our quick break (oh how it helps!), we’ll be right back out there with guests to capture dancing, speeches, and all the other special beautiful moments of your reception.

Winterthur — Wilmington, DE

Greystone Hall — West Chester, PA

Mountain Top Inn & Resort — Chittendon, VT

You just never know what fun moments may transpire! But we’re ready for them.

Down Town Club — Philadelphia, PA
Red Maple Vineyard — West Park, NY

If sunset will be taking place sometime during your reception, I may try and grab you two for just five minutes of photo time out in the beautiful light. We’ll talk about it ahead of time so you can let me know if this is something that you’d really like.

For some weddings, I stay until the end … especially if there’s a special exit or a post-wedding bonfire. But typically, shooting will wind down after the first hour of dancing and after all the big moments (cake cutting, etc.) have happened.

Thousand Acre Farm — Middletown, DE

Private Residence — Hudson Valley, NY

This way guests don’t have to feel like they’re being photographed the entire night (which can be a relief for some people who have a hard time letting go on the dance floor while the cameras are on them!).

I will never interrupt you during your first dance or parent photos for staged photos. It’s just not my style. I prefer to capture things as they’re happening. My goal is to photograph your reception in a way where you can forget about the camera and just truly live in the moment.

So there it is … a wedding day!!!!! I won’t show you the photos of me stopping for a pint of ice cream on my way home : ) Though, that happens at least 50% of the time.

Questions?? Wondering if I might be a good fit for your wedding? Shoot me an email at I’d LOVE to chat with you!



Kate Callahan is a Hudson Valley wedding photographer and family photographer who LOVES to capture authentic memories for people. She’s available for weddings, senior photos, child photo sessions, and family photography. Kate works with clients throughout the Hudson Valley, NYC,  Delaware (and the tri-state area), and beyond.


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