Last year, I published a post call “The Pragmatic & The Experiential at Your Wedding”. In the post (which is long, but worth reading), I implied something daring about photographers during a wedding: they get in the way.

The truth is, your wedding photographer will be responsible for some significant portions of the day which are really inconvenient. I’m talking about the formals. Your photographer needs at least about 90 minutes throughout the day to capture those images–and since you’ve probably never planned a wedding before, you haven’t yet realized how much easier it would be if you didn’t have to do that!

See, wedding formals don’t directly add to the wedding day itself. They can be fun, and they’ll spawn some wonderful memories, but there’s almost nothing about the actual wedding day that is improved by this activity. But, because of various reasons, the wedding day is often the most convenient time to capture these images. Wedding parties might be coming from all over the country, or there might be lots of them. Maybe the dress and tuxedos were rented. Maybe it’s impossible to get back into the venue later.

It’s so common, that most people don’t even consider whether there is another option. For plenty of people, there is! Depending on the circumstances of the wedding party, some couples can benefit from scheduling their wedding formals for another day shortly before or after the wedding.

Is this option for you? Lets find out.

Married couple at Johns Hopkins University

Do you have a wedding party? How big?

Big wedding parties (more than about 6 people on either side) can be difficult to pull together. A lot of times friends and family are coming from out of town. People also often have very busy schedules and being in your wedding party may already be asking a lot. All of this makes the wedding day itself usually the only viable time to get everyone in the same place and dressed accordingly.

But, if you’ve opted not to have a wedding party, or to stick to a small, local one, shooting formals on a day after your wedding should be possible. Everyone’s lives are complicated, of course, and the more people involved, the more effort will be required to get them all back together. But, even with small wedding parties, being able to put the formals out of your mind on your wedding day can relieve a lot of pressure and help you feel more relaxed.

Wedding party at the Baltimore Aquarium

Attire & Makeup

Getting your hair, makeup and attire just right on your wedding day is a high priority for most couples. Your makeup style, the type of dress and the tuxedos the men wore, they all contribute time, energy and cost to your wedding day. If you want to do your formals another day, you’ll want to make sure you hit all the same notes. This however, is going to double some of those costs.

With a little planning, you can call these extra costs “wedding day relaxation funds” because the extra money you’re paying various vendors is really going toward making your wedding day simpler. If scheduled in advance, the wedding formals session can take place within a couple days of the wedding so that tuxedo rentals do not need to be extended, and the bouquets are still looking fresh. You may want to hire your makeup artist to do your makeup again, but your bridesmaids can likely do their own makeup for this purpose.

Groomsmen at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens

What will your schedule look like?

Another significant question, which will affect whether you can shoot wedding formals on a day following your wedding, is what yours and other’s schedules are going to look like at that time. Will you be leaving for your honeymoon the very next day? Will your maid of honor have to return to her crazy medical intern schedule immediately? Will the best man be leaving on business travel?

When you spend a year or more planning for one special day, it might feel like a surprise the day after your wedding, when things suddenly stop revolving around this one day. Life comes back in quickly to fill the void. But, if you can plan for all this in advance, shooting wedding formals on a following day can be a fun and rewarding way to revisit your wedding day once the stress has subsided.

Married Couple at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens

So is shooting wedding formals another day right for you?

Now that we’ve gone over the major considerations in this decision, is it right for you?

Just about any way you look at it, it’s going to cost a little more time and money. However, if you plan for this from the beginning, you’ll find it makes much of the process easier–even planning. All of your wedding vendors must balance their wedding day schedules with each other, introducing more moving parts, and more opportunities for wedding day problems to arise, and thus, more energy from you.

Instead, we can work with you from early on to shoot your wedding day a little differently. We can capture formals a few days or weeks before the wedding to coincide with a makeup trial. While this, of course, would require giving up first-look ceremony traditions, it can also act as a great dry-run for the attire and can help everyone feel more comfortable on the wedding day. Alternatively, we can plan to shoot your wedding formals on a day shortly after the wedding. This may require extending tuxedo rentals, redoing makeup, and arranging the departure for your honeymoon around the session. But, there will also be a special kind of energy in your facial expressions and interactions that can only come along with revisiting the wedding day activities after the stress has been completely released.

Additionally, it’s not absolutely essential that you make this decision at the very beginning. In some cases, such as for bad weather, this decision can be made last minute. When making this decision at the last minute, it’s critical to keep in mind that planning this kind of thing late will increase the cost and effort, but can also relieve wedding day pressure in a pinch.

For couples who find this to be an option, we highly recommend taking it. The benefits outweigh the costs at every stage and you’ll certainly appreciate it in retrospect.