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Welcome Joy Michelle Bride! I couldn’t be more thrilled to have you here. This lounge is a guide full of helpful tips and advice for you to use as you plan throughout the months and days before your wedding.


Your engagement session is such a great time to get dressed up and feel glamorous, get comfortable in front of my camera, and have FUN! I love romantic cuddly, giggly photographs so just pretend you’re on a date! We will begin about 1.5 hours before sunset when the light is most flattering and warm. Your session will take around 2 hours.


The best thing to do when choosing a location is to think of an activity you enjoy together. No idea is too crazy. I’ve had couples take a hot air balloon ride, rent a tandem bicycle, and do a wine tasting. We can be in your back yard, or favorite park.

Some of my favorite locations to at shoot are:

Downtown Annapolis

Jonas Green State Park

Quiet Waters Park

Downtown Ellicott City

I’m happy to suggest some spots for you, too!


It’s not everyday you get professional photographs taken together, so I always recommend that my couples dress up! You’ll feel fantastic and get even better images because you’ll be more confident in front of the camera. Gowns and suits also photograph beautifully. Is a great option for dresses!

When choosing what to wear, remember that flowing soft fabrics and soft colors like blush, cream, taupe, and gold (not super white) photograph beautifully. Feel free to bring options and I can help style you when you arrive.

Be sure to book a hair and makeup appointment before your session. This is a great time to trial an artist before the wedding day too. (link to preferred vendors)




Don’t forget about your nails and to clean your engagement ring.


Bring a vintage box for your ring. The Mrs. boxes are my favorite.


Have your florist make you a bouquet. Not only will it add an element of elegance and romance to your shoot, but also it gives you something to hold while modeling!


Sentimental elements are the best. It could be your vows written in calligraphy, or some chocolate covered strawberries because you had them on your first date. These little details make beautiful props for the shoot.


Champagne and toasting glasses are a classic and elegant touch for your session!

your wedding day

Thoughts for planning your timeline:

Your wedding day timeline greatly impacts the types of final images you will receive in your gallery. The candid moments and authentic smiles cannot be rushed or forced. Since light and location also affect the look and feel of your images it is crucial to plan your day accordingly.


The getting ready starts 3 to 4 hours before the ceremony start time. I usually begin photography when the makeup starts and flowers arrive. During this time, I will need around 1 hour to document your girls in their matching robes sipping mimosas and having your hair and makeup done. All bridesmaids should be done with hair and makeup and only bride needing to be done. It is also during this time that I photograph all those meaningful wedding day details. This includes your shoes, veil, all rings, bouquet, dress, garter, and any gifts and stationery.

Touches you may have forgotten: A Hanger for your dress, flowers for me to style with. Be sure to have all the bridal details (listed above) including flowers ready in one area for when I arrive. Having a special vintage ring box will make your pictures even better! Please also bring two sets of your wedding invitation for me to photograph. Having two sets allows me to photograph the front and back at the same time. One of the invitations should be your names and have a dummy address in calligraphy.

Be sure to get ready in a space that is clear of clutter and mess and has lots of natural window light!


This will happen 2 hours before your ceremony. I couldn’t recommend the first look to my brides more for a couple of reasons. You will receive more portrait images, feel much less rushed on your wedding day, and also get an intimate and quiet moment together on your wedding day. The day goes by in such a flurry that it’s so nice to be able to stop and be alone. During this time, no one besides the photographers and videographer (if you have one) will be present. If family is around, we can do family shots too before the ceremony and no one will have to stick around after the ceremony.


If you chose not to have a first look, we will need to do your bride and groom portraits, family portraits, AND bridal party portraits after the ceremony which will take at least 1 and half hours.


Plan to reserve 30-45 minutes for images of just you two. This is such a fun time of the day! These are the images that will go up on your walls and make up the wedding album and there should be no rush. When this is done right after the first look, there is no rush to get to your reception.


Wedding party photos take 30 minutes (more if it is in a different location or with a very large bridal party.) If you are having bridal party portraits done in a different location than your ceremony or first look spot, be sure to plan for transportation for everyone (keeping the group together is the most efficient) and keep in mind that extra time.


30 minutes before the ceremony, Bride and groom will be in their separate areas and freshening up. Guests will begin arriving.


These photos happen immediately after the ceremony. Family shots are for immediate family only. Be sure to let your immediate family know they will be in portraits so they stick around as others leave for the cocktail hour. My goal is to keep family formals as efficient and fast as possible. The more people you include, the long it will take and the crazier it tends to become. I will have your shot-list that you complete 6 weeks before the wedding. My standard list is as follows:

Bride and Groom w/ Bride’s parents
Bride and Groom w/ Bride’s immediate family
Bride and Groom w/ Groom’s parents
Bride and Groom w/ Groom’s immediate family
Bride and Groom w/ both sets of parents


This is one area brides often forget to plan for. I need to get to the reception space before guests are allowed inside so that I can set up my equipment and document the untouched room.


YAY! You’re married and it’s time to party! Most of my brides have me stay for about 1-2 hours of the reception to document the special dances and cake cutting but there is no need to have me stay for more than 30 minutes of dancing. After that, it’s much of the same images.


Some brides choose to seat me and my team in the reception hall with their guests (sometimes with the planners, and DJ at our own table) so that we don’t miss any impromptu speeches and we always have water and a place to put our things.

If you are doing a send off (like sparklers) after I leave, we can do a mock send off with your bridal party and immediate family so you don’t miss out on pictures.

albums + heirlooms

I believe your Wedding Album is truly your very first family heirloom. Your first kiss, the moment you say I do, and those small but meaningful details will live on within its pages. Whether you chose to commission an album, print on canvases or put your photographs into a keepsake box, your images deserve to be made into art. Each Heirloom Album and Keepsake Print Box is customizable to beautifully represent your love and your wedding day.



Select an album size: 10 x 10 or 12 x 12.


Pick 20 of your favorite images by clicking the heart icon in your online gallery. I will supplement where needed with my favorite selections as well.


Select your cover material (leather or linen) and color.


Then, I design your album pages and the slides will be sent to you for approval before going to print.


After your design is approved, your custom Heirloom Album will be hand made and arrive on your doorstep within a beautiful box for storing!

Albums are printed on acid free paper with archival ink for lasting quality.


If you have been considering one of these gorgeous custom albums, this is your chance to snag one for free! Yes, free. As a Joy Michelle Bride, there’s a good chance you have engaged friends who would also fit right into the Joy Michelle Bride family!



Send your engaged girlfriends my way!


For each wedding referral that books, I want to thank you with a complimentary 10 X 10 leather or linen album of your choice!


There is no limit to the number of albums you can earn!