Wedding Guide

about me, candace weir, memories by candace, photographer, az, arizona

Congratulations, you’ve decided to marry your person! And congratulations to me, too, because you’ve chosen me to join you for the ride. Words cannot describe how honored I am to be a part of your love story. I can’t wait to get to know you, to capture your wedding day, and to join you for a reception boogie.


There’s so much to think about between now and then, and I’m sure your heads are already spinning – making decisions about things you didn’t even realize existed. So to make it a little easier, I’ve created this to help guide you through the whole process!


These are all the things that as a photographer I’m thinking about. I’ve made it as comprehensive as possible so that you spend less time worrying about the details and more time getting excited for your wedding!


Think of this as less of a rule book and more of a guide, aimed at preparing you as much as possible so that when The Big Day rolls around, you can kick back and enjoy the champagne (and the presence of all your nearest and dearest, of course).

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If the thought of making lovey eyes at your fiancé in front of a camera makes you want to never be out in public again, then it’s probably a good idea to book an engagement session. Not only is it an incredible way for us to have a bit of fun together without the pressure of a timeline or all your guests, but spending some time together calms the nerves, inspires confidence in front of the camera, and allows us to create beautiful keepsakes in a chilled atmosphere. Plus who doesn’t love a new profile pic! We’ll get to know each other better, come away from it having a better sense of how we work together, and be ready to roll for wedding day.


Every wedding package booked with Memories by Candace, the engagement session is included. So go ahead and get on the calendar now with setting up your engagement session. If you are reading this, you have already booked your wedding, and should have received a separate email with a link to go ahead and book your engagement session with a special code to check out with.


You’ll have beautiful images to add to wedding invitations or save-the-date cards!



I believe it’s my job to make sure that you feel calm, authentic, and engaged during a shoot with me and I will go above and beyond to ensure this is the case. I will always direct and pose you so you don’t feel or look awkward in any of your photographs.


As a wedding photographer, I’ve gone to a fair few weddings. I’ve seen it all – the cold feet, the wardrobe malfunction, the teary grandpa, and at least thirteen pairs of stashed stilettos in a bush. But one thing that I know for sure, is that regardless of how much planning you do, the wedding will always unfold as it’s meant to. People seem to swing between being extremely excited and extremely overwhelmed as they’re going through the stages of wedding planning–so if you’re feeling either of those things, know that this is completely normal!

Want to plan the wedding of your dreams and keep your sanity, too?


 Here are some tips from me to you:

~Tune out the noise that says you should invite people based on social obligations! This is your day, you should stay true to how you want to do it.

~There is no shame in asking for help. If you need to practice asking for help in small incremental steps, start now so that you’re a pro at calling in some big favours in the leadup to the wedding. And, guess what? People who love you will be thrilled to help!

~Hold on tight, and enjoy the process. It’ll rush by faster than you know it.

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Timelines make your day flow smoothly, giving your guests, staff, and vendors a general idea of when and where everything will pan out. With timelines as with weddings, there is no one-size-fits-all approach so it’s super important to make a timeline that works for you. If you have a wedding planner, they’ll be able to help you create something that aligns with your vision of the perfect day. But one thing to remember is that things almost always take longer than you think they will. Allow some time in between events so you have a second to breathe, kiss your partner, and drink some water. I always make sure to keep a 30 minute window of time before the ceremony without any photos to give you a chance to tame those flyaways or eat a quick bite!

Photo of groom leaning up on red brick wall with bride kissing him and her bouquet of flowers hanging down
bride photo in bridal suite at Tri Bella wedding venue in Mesa, Arizona

Try to structure your timeline so that we’re shooting the formal couple portraits at golden hour, just before the sun sets, with that beautiful afternoon glow all around you. There’s nothing like this time of day to capture the mood and magic of the moment. Planning your wedding day with this in mind is super helpful and makes my job a whole lot easier. Reach out when you’re ready to discuss this and I’ll talk you through why it’s absolutely necessary! Want to just flow with the day and not worry about portraits? No problem. Let’s talk about doing your fancy dress shoot on a different day.


I have created Timeline Tips especially for you to help you plan your day and prepare how much time we will need for photos. It may seem like a lot to read, but it is definitely one of my most used TOOLS to help you in your wedding planning.

Wedding timelines are super important to keep things flowing smoothly. I will say that my assistant, Joceline, and I are pretty good at going with the flow and rolling with whatever comes our way on those big Wedding Days.


Note: The next few pages are a lot to read, but you are investing in your wedding day. So these timeline tips are so important!

Q. How much time do we need for photos on the wedding day?


A. Well, it’s going to depend on which package you choose for one thing. Did you go with one photographer or two? Because if it’s one shooter, then I have to cover getting the bride and the groom separately at two different times. Whereas with my second photographer, we can be in two different places at the same time.


So all that to say, I’m going to give you my best rough and dirty guide here to help. Location also plays a factor to some of these. Getting ready in the hotel room but then going to a nicer location at a resort may take some time if it’s a big resort.


  • Getting ready: 30-45 minutes for both guys and girls (shoes, accessories, rings, jewelry, invitation, cuff links, bouquets, dress, finishing touches of bride/groom getting ready etc.)
  • Bride alone + Bridesmaids: 30 minutes (before ceremony)
  • Groom alone + Groomsmen: 30 minutes (before ceremony)
  • First Look (if doing one): 15 minutes
  • Wedding couple together: 30 minutes or more. We need at least 30 minutes, but sometimes depending on the venue and how spread out things are, the more time you give us the better. After all, when the wedding is over, these are the photos you are most likely printing and showcasing. So this is where you DON’T NEED TO SKIMP on time. If you want sunset photos, but maybe your ceremony doesn’t end at sunset, consider even splitting time up to get those sunset romantic couple photos (for example: bride and groom go back out with photographer after the first dance, etc.).
  • Whole Wedding Party: 20-30 minutes (usually what takes the longest is gathering and cooperation from the wedding party as everyone is ready to party)
  • Immediate Family: This is based on how many groups or breakdowns that you want to do. It’s usually about 2 minutes per small group (2-8 people) and about 5 minutes per large group (8+ people).
  • Extended Family: My suggestion is to keep family formals to immediate family and then do less “formal” photos with extended family members as the bride and groom mingle during the reception. However, if you would like to include extended family after the ceremony with traditional photos, then use the same timing calculations as for immediate family.
  • Ceremony Prep Time: 15 minutes. I need 15 minutes right before your ceremony so I can get detailed photos before the wedding takes place and make sure I’m in the best positions and angles before the bride walks down the aisle.


If you are able to give us those times (or even a little extra) – we will be sure to get you those gorgeous photos with no rushing and be able to pay attention to details.

Q. When do you start shooting?


A. There are two ways to figure this out, again, based on the wedding package you choose.

  • The first way is to take the time you have me for and count backwards. For example, if you have me and my assistant for 8 hours, start with the last event at reception plus 30 minutes of open dancing and then count back 8 hours. If our start time gives us 30+ minutes of getting ready, then you are probably great! If not, we will have to either adjust the start/end time or consider adding additional time to your package. Keep in mind, if you are having a grand exit (sparklers, confetti, etc.) you may want to double check that we will be there until then!
  • We can start getting ready photos right after the bride finishes hair and just before she starts makeup (that way she is somewhat done before we start photographing. I suggest having your hair done before makeup). So basically, I want to arrive around 30 minutes before the Bride is ready. If this isn’t the case, I’m doing a lot of standing around and there are only so many portraits I can capture of the bride getting hair and make up done. We want more portraits of the finished look in that dress.

Q. Should I have anything ready for you when you come?


A. When I get there and the bride or groom are finishing getting ready, I get detail shots. So you will want to have the dress, shoes, rings, bouquets, jewelry, special sentimental items, invitation, garters, etc. in a spot for me to grab and photograph. Also, make sure the space we are photographing at is free of clutter and sort of cleaned up to get those nice clean getting ready photos. If I have to come in and do this, it waste more time giving you less photos.

Q. Shouldn’t the bride get family photos before the ceremony and the groom do the same?


A. No, don’t do it! It will just waste more time that we could be getting other essential photos pre-ceremony. Just do all of the family formals after the ceremony and make sure that everyone knows exactly where to go after the ceremony. I cannot stress how it is your job to know what family you want in your photos, therefore, you need to make sure they are aware of this. As a photographer, I have most likely not met your family so I do not know who needs to stick around. They don’t need to go exactly where we will be shooting family formals, they just all need to know to stick around after the ceremony for formal photos.

Q. Shouldn’t the bride get family photos before the ceremony and the groom do the same?


A. No, don’t do it! It will just waste more time that we could be getting other essential photos pre-ceremony. Just do all of the family formals after the ceremony and make sure that everyone knows exactly where to go after the ceremony. I cannot stress how it is your job to know what family you want in your photos, therefore, you need to make sure they are aware of this. As a photographer, I have most likely not met your family so I do not know who needs to stick around. They don’t need to go exactly where we will be shooting family formals, they just all need to know to stick around after the ceremony for formal photos.


Here’s why: The thing that takes the most time with family formals is gathering everyone together and getting people organized. The difference between the group “Bride + Groom + Bride’s Parents” and the group “Bride + Bride’s Parents” is just saying “Groom, can you step out for a second?” which takes about 3 seconds to quickly re-arrange and will ultimately save you time in the end.


Also, a lot is going on before the wedding. Sometimes you are relying your family members to complete certain tasks before the wedding, so adding that stress of photos before the ceremony is too much. Mom may be busy helping with the florists, dad may have forgotten his boutonniere, or someone will forget that they were supposed to show up early for family photos before the ceremony (or they get caught in traffic or the list could go on and on… etc.) which typically results in everyone spending time getting everyone together only to discover that someone is missing and then spending more time trying to figure out where that person is and then finally deciding to just do that side of the family’s photos after the ceremony. So, all that to say, just hold off until after the ceremony. It will help things go smoother and not add stress.


If you let your immediate families know to just be in a certain spot after the ceremony, then you can save yourselves a LOT of headache and get your family formals done super quickly and efficiently. And side note: Bride and Groom, as you preach this to your own family, you also need to get away from the ceremony and get to that spot. It’s even harder pulling the bride and groom away if they don’t get out of sight immediately. Everyone wants to see you and hug you and come up to you to congratulate you on your big day. You are the stars of the show on your big day! However, your guests can do that at the reception. So get out of sight quickly so we can start gathering everyone for photos because that’s what takes a lot of time.

Q. My makeup artist and hair stylist gave me an estimated time, can’t I just go off of it?


A. We love our hair and makeup artists. And we are so grateful for what they make us look like on our big days, but nope. Unfortunately, sometimes they can get off schedule. And believe it or not, they start the day. So if they get off, the rest of the whole wedding, which is a lot to go, gets off on that timeline as well. And they are usually working extra hard on that day, even if they had a trial run, because it’s the actual day and they want to make it perfection. So while they are wonderful, and regardless of if they are at fault for not staying on your timeline, you need to have a buffer there. So give about 5-10 more per person they are working on, just to be safe.

Q. Is there anything else that I am not thinking of?


A. TRAVEL! Don’t forget that in your timeline, you have to include travel to and from the location (ceremony, reception, etc.) That can be a pitfall. It’s super

important! And take into consideration a little traffic just to play it safe, too.



With all my wedding timeline tips, I want to throw in one last thing. Plan your timeline absolutely, but don’t OVER plan it. If you are planning in intervals of less than 10-15 minutes-or-so, you are probably over-planning your day. You want to be organized, but you don’t want to be checking that timeline every two minutes. If you try to plan out every second of your big day, you will be constantly be looking at it, then stressing if you are a couple minutes behind. You want and NEED to enjoy your wedding day.


We look forward to capturing your wedding day and documenting this special time if you life. I hope these tips help you to help everything flow smoothly for your day.


Getting Ready

Phoenix Wedding Photographer - my work - wedding shoes at the Secret Garden VenueAt once calm and chaotic, the getting ready part of the day has all of the feels crammed into a couple of nervous and tender hours. With all of the action buzzing around the bride and groom, it’s easy to find yourself in a really chaotic, crowded, and cluttered space that inadvertently adds stress to the situation. Considering the right space for this part of the day is more important than most people think, which is why I recommend thinking about this early.

secret garden, phoenix, wedgewood, wedding, photographer, photography, az, arizona, candace weir, memories by candace, photo, big day, knot, wire, couple, engagement, bride, groom, barn, venue, photo, portraitThe factors that contribute to me getting good photos are also the ones that contribute to a more relaxed day for everyone. Here’s what I’ve learned we need:

  • A clutter-free space
  • Good natural light and lots of it! TIP: A big window is ideal when taking portraits of people getting their makeup done. (The makeup artist will love the extra light, too!)
  • A space with an interior style that suits your own. If at home, don’t forget to get rid of all of the day-to-day clutter like electric fans or socks or dog beds. Fill the space with flowers, your favorite things, and just a couple of your favorite people.
  • Enough time. I’ll be sure to show up right as the finishing touches are being placed. TIP: A great way to maximize my time is to put all of the things aside that I need for the detail shots. The ring, the shoes, the cuff links, the love letters – put it all aside so I can arrange them and swap through quickly.
  • While each of you are getting ready, chances are you’ll be filled with nerves. As you won’t have each other for comfort in these moments, consider writing a love letter for your fiance to read before the ceremony. It’ll be a nice little keepsake, make for some incredibly emotion-filled images before the ceremony, and help build the excitement in the leadup to the ‘I-do’s’.



wedding, first, look, bride, groom, bridal party, softball field, victory lane, glendale, arizona, az, surprise, peoria, phoenix, goodyear, litchfield park, avondale, buckeye, photo, portrait, photographer, photography, the knot, wire, marley park, surpriseFirst looks are probably hands-down one of the sweetest new wedding traditions, shaking off old school traditions that say you shouldn’t see each other until you’re on opposite ends of the aisle. They kick up the romance a couple notches, allowing you two to share a private moment without your guests, and allowing me to capture some of the unfolding awe and excitement between you.

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They’re a really fun opportunity for all of us to put our heads together and get creative, but they’re also sooo time sensitive. Planning is key to make sure that the light’s right and I can be in the right spot to capture the surprise and wonder of the moment. When you’re ready, let’s talk about where you’ll each stand, where I’ll be, and how we can tee everything up so the shot is absolutely perfect.



It’s guaranteed that you’ll walk away from your wedding day with so many incredible memories in your pockets. What’s not guaranteed is that you’ll walk away from your wedding day with a portrait of yourselves that you’re both absolutely in love with–unless we set some time aside for it. So let’s give ourselves at least 30-45 minutes (preferably during the blue or golden persuasion), in a beautiful pre-scoped locale to make some magic together. And, for the record, I’m not opposed to sneaking away for portrait time more than once throughout the day. These portraits are definitely something that are worth making the time for. So the more time you give us, the better for you.

silhouette photo of bride and groom dancing at sunset
bride and groom photo in the sun at Water Users Recreation area at the Salt River in Mesa, AZ

There’ll be plenty of time for us to become friends before your big day, but if you’re a little unsure about spending time in front of the camera, let me know. Most people have some reservations about it and I always do my best to get to know you so that I can give you the kind of direction that feels authentic to you. I’ve got lots of prompts up my sleeve for the shy and the rambunctious alike, so you’ll never be left wondering what to do with yourselves.


Portraits like these allow you to create precious keepsakes, step back from the buzz, look into each other’s eyes, and take a few grounding moments to yourselves.


Depending on your own family constellation, there are any number of configurations we can photograph the wedding party in. Some with everyone in them, some with each of your immediate, then extended families, and some variations of smaller and larger groups. One thing that’s absolutely necessary for this part of the day is that everyone knows it’s happening, everyone’s on board, and there’s someone (Wedding planner? Sibling? Best friend?) who knows who everyone is and can help me herd everyone in the right direction at the right time. Before the wedding, consider giving that wedding planner, sibling, or best friend a lists of people you want to make sure you include in the family portraits and she can start helping us get them into place when the time comes.


I usually call out the VIPS first. That’s the parents and grandparents. Usually anything after that you want in family portraits, that’s where I definitely need your help.


An ideal time to do this is immediately after the ceremony, but before the couple portraits. Once the reception starts, it’s hard to track everyone down (and likely we might capture hors d’orderves debris between someone’s teeth).


wedding party group photo in Mesa, AZ at the Salt RiverIf you have a fleet of bridesmaids or groomsmen (or both), it’s worth getting some images of everyone with the flowers and the dresses and the ties and the cute matching outfits. Just make sure people know what’s happening, and talk to the wedding planner so that they can put it in the schedule for the day – it’ll help everyone know where to be and when.

Ceremony + Reception

groom twirling bride in aisle at freed spirits animal rescue

I’ll start by saying this: take things slow. With the kiss, with the walking, with the everything. Tell everyone else to do so, too. Resist the urge to rush through and just savor every moment! This allows me plenty of time to get the shot I need, too.


If you have photos that you really want to get, let’s do it. I’m all for it. Just let me know it’s coming.


As your photographer, you have hired me to even stage some photos. So if you want to make sure we capture your friends and family around you – your support system, then let’s make sure that happens. So as long as you are okay with me getting up in your face during reception dances at times or summoning all your friends and family around you. Let’s get those shots!


unplugged wedding photo of unplugged sign

An unplugged wedding is not only an amazing opportunity for your guests to disconnect from their devices and to connect to the present moment but they also help me get unobscured shots of you and the rest of the ceremony. There are so many pivotal moments that happen in the blink of an eye – if someone jumps out in front of me with their iPhone while you and the love of your life have your first kiss as forever partners, chances are you’ll have a big iPhone shaped blur in the foreground and I’ll miss the shot.


It’s hard to ask people to keep their devices in their pockets. And although the people you’ve invited undoubtedly love and respect you, it can sometimes be hard to disentangle ourselves from our technology. Set out little reminders for your guests to help nudge them in the right direction. Make some cute signs to put up, add a note to the programs, and let your celebrant know so they can remind them before the ceremony begins.


And tell them not to worry – I’m on the job of capturing some great images for everyone to take home.


and dinner

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The more I know about the layout of the venue and the kind of lighting that will be used, the better prepared I’ll be to make sure all of the details line up in favor of amazing images.


From the details of where you’ll be sitting and what you have in the background, to where you’ll be in relation to the person giving speeches, all of this is super helpful for me to get a lay of the land and understand where to get the best shots. Will there be a sit-down dinner or will people be making their way around with snacks all night? Is it formal or more of a relaxed thing? If you’re having a DJ, will they be using their own lighting? The more fairy lights and candles and non-directional lighting the better, multi-colored disco strobes don’t look good on guests or their food!


Also, most people don’t like to be photographed while they’re eating, so this is a good time for me to grab a quick bite too and be well-prepared for the rest of the night! It’s great to put in a request with the kitchen that I get my meal first so that I can eat before speeches start!


& sparkler exit

Whether choreographed and theatrical, or shy and a little clumsy, the first dance is one of the most tear-jerking moments of the day. For me to capture this perfectly, ask everyone to give you two some time before flooding the dance floor – I’d love to get snaps that contrast the quiet and the chaos equally.


Ditch the cool, directional overhead lights in favor of sparklers, candles, and warm atmospheric lighting. A warm beam of light backlighting the two of you is a great addition as well.


If you’re planning a sparkler exit, make sure I get the memo about this! It works best if there’s a designated sparkler hander outer so that everyone’s sparklers are burning bright together! If you’ve booked a venue that doesn’t allow for a sparkler exit, you could opt for bubbles or eco confetti — just let me know so I can ensure there’s enough light available for the shot.


This is usually where my job ends, and I’ll leave everyone to party on into the wee hours while I head home super excited about all of the incredible moments I’ve witnessed throughout the day.


Whether your ceremony is indoor or outdoor, there are a few simple but effective things that can be done to make sure that all of the images sparkle as bright as your memories of your wedding day.

bride and groom photo with a sparkler dance
bride and groom in front of home wedding

If outdoor,

let’s consider the following:


  • What time is your wedding, and what will the lighting be like at that time? Can we ensure you’re both evenly lit? Will I be shooting into the sun? If we can make it so that I’m not, that’d be amazing.
  • What will your background look like? Can we make it pretty? Will there be anything that could cast shadows onto your faces?
  • If I have more physical space to play around with I’ll be able to get a nice mix of different kinds of shots. Close ups, details, wide-angles, and various candid guests.
  • Elevate the composition of your shots by having a symmetrical space. If you say your vows under an arch or between an arbour, your images will have that extra little aesthetic oomph.

If indoor,

let’s consider the following:

  • What kinds of windows does your venue have? Do they use natural or artificial light? Sometimes artificial light can make things look really cold or clinical, but it’s possible to warm things up a bit by stringing up some warm festoon lights or candles.

  • Are there any rules surrounding your place of worship (if this is where we’re having the ceremony) that I should know about? If you’re unsure, consult with your religious leader and ask them if they have any rules they’d like me to know about.

  • Would you like me to avoid using flash?

  • Do you have a preference as to how much I move around during the ceremony/reception? Would you like me to jump in the mosh or hang back?

  • Different photographers have such different styles. Chances are, if you’ve booked me you have a feel for my vibe. I always do my best to be as emotionally aware as possible, but it never hurts to have a chat prior to the ceremony so that I’m across it all.


It can take me up to two-three weeks to select, edit, and deliver your gallery of photos after the wedding but I’ll be sure to post a sneak peek within 48 hours so you can share them with family and friends while everyone’s still buzzing from the big day.


When I eventually do hand over all of the images, it’s always such a special moment for everyone! A few of my couples have invited friends and family over for a special viewing event–it’s always amazing getting to relive that day with your nearest and dearest. Plus, any excuse to make a batch of popcorn is always welcome.


Feel free to share your images with your guests so they can share them on their own social media. But please don’t forget to tag me! Not only does it help others find their way to my page, but it’s always so fun for me to see which snaps everyone loves most.


If vendors want to use any of my images for their business pages, refer them to me and I can provide them with the gallery and photo rights.



  • I will always direct and pose you so you don’t feel or look awkward in any of your photographs.
  • Write love letters to one another to read while getting ready if you can.
  • Give me the DL on lighting at the ceremony and reception.
  • Don’t forget to talk to your celebrant or religious leader about their preferences and my role as a photographer during the ceremony.
  • Slow down, don’t forget to breathe, take it all in, and have a good time.
  • Provide snacks and water wherever possible

I know that this wedding guide has been a lot of information to digest, but please know that not all of it applies to every wedding. Sit down and have a discussion with your partner about what feels right for both of you, and don’t hesitate to get me on the line if you feel like you just need a human being to talk you through all of the text.


I’m so grateful you chose me and I can’t wait for your big day to roll around so we can start capturing some beautiful memories together!


Talk Soon!