the wedding guide


These are more than just photographs.

The photographs taken on your wedding day will be the longest lasting memento from the day; it's essential that the task of taking them is in the right hands.

Believe it or not, the day whizzes by very quickly. You'll be getting ready, you'll blink, and then the reception is over. You should be responsible for one thing only: having an AMAZING day.

Leave the time-freezing & memory-capturing to us. We got you.

creating a budget

It sounds daunting, but the first step to wedding planing should be creating your (ideal) budget. Set reasonable expectations for what kind of bang you can get for your buck, but don’t be afraid to dream big and write down EVERYTHING. Include what you’d like to have in your dream wedding, then prioritize once it’s all on paper.

Once you have a list of all the grandiose items on your wedding planning bucket list, make a separate list: want vs. need. Separate the vendors into those two categories. Here’s what I would do to organize the need category, in descending order:

Officiant (I put this last because maybe you already have a friend or family member who is/can get ordained)
Here’s a list of some vendors and items that may be in your wedding planning want category that couples have said they spent TOO MUCH money on:

Makeup and hair
Things to keep in mind while creating your budget:

Is this vendor a boutique/mom & pop type business?
What goes into their pricing?
Do they give each couple their full attention?
Do they only take on a certain amount of events per year?
Is there a travel fee?

engagement session

prepping for your engagement session

what to wear

An engagement photoshoot is a great opportunity for you to showcase your relationship and personalities. It’s also a wonderful way to practice in front of the camera in a less formal setting. Your engagement photos should be fun, but picking engagement photo outfits can feel overwhelming. You’ll likely use these photos for save the dates, a wedding website, and countless instagram posts, so you’re going to want to look and feel your best.

From cozy fall and winter outfits, to spring and summer-friendly t-shirts and dresses, read on for all our recommendations and tips.

Each couple likely has a place or two that is sentimental and special for them. With each location comes different engagement photo outfit pieces that will complement it. If you’re planning on taking your photos at the beach, you should opt for something super light and flowy. It’s also probably best that it’s something that can get wet and sandy. One great example is when we had a session at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the beautiful bride-to-be went ALL OUT with a vibrant gown.

Having two outfits for your engagement photos is great for if you’re planning on going to more than one location. The outfit you choose for your in-the-park photos may not go best with more urban/city settings. I wouldn’t plan on changing more than once, though. You don’t want to feel rushed, and it’s important not to overthink something that’s supposed to be fun!

Whether it’s heirloom jewelry or a versatile new bag/clutch, accessories are a great way to mix up your look. They’re easy enough to slip on and off, so you can opt to have them or not during your photos. It also makes for some great variety/detail photos.

There are probably tons of other wedding-related sources out there claiming that “neutrals” are best for photos. While I can agree to an extent, sometimes neutrals make you fade into the background a bit. If you’re wearing earth tones in a photo surrounded by greenery, you’re not exactly going to stand out. And we WANT you to stand out. So, with that, consider this a blessing to dress in bold, fun colors. Within reason, of course.

When you and your partner are trying to decide what to wear, your goal shouldn’t be to match. Instead, you should try to complement each other’s outfits. Play with layering, similar textures, and complementary colors (red/magenta & green, yellow & purple, or orange & blue).

You might love your fur-lined bucket hat now, but next year you might think “…I wish I didn’t wear my fur-lined bucket hat to my engagement photos.” Trust us.

If you feel your best in a white tee and jeans, now’s not the time to pull out a three piece suit. You are going to look amazing in whatever makes you feel amazing. Wearing anything outside of your comfort level is going to show in photos. In other words, you’re going to be uncomfortable and you may be counting down the minutes until you can go home and change. The goal of your engagement photo outfits should always be to showcase your authentic personality. Plus, you’ll be wearing/walking around in it for at least an hour, so don’t try to break in new shoes either, lol.

If you’ve got it, flaunt it. That’s really it.

Trust us, you don’t want to be walking for an hour in the city in your brand-new Louboutins without the option of changing into your broken in birks.

You’ll thank us later

All of this is to say: if you have an outfit that you’re really excited about, or one that makes you feel amazing, go for it. There’s always a way to incorporate it into photos in a creative, sensible way.

prepping for your engagement session


why the location matters

Taking your engagement photos is one of the first things you’ll do in the wedding planning process, and it’s a great way to get to know your photographer. It’s also a wonderful way to get comfortable in front of the camera, and to learn the types of photos you’d like on your actual wedding day.

A question that usually comes up when planning the session is “where should we go?”

There is no right or wrong answer to WHERE your engagement photos should be taken. It is tough to choose, especially in New York where there are so many unique spots.

Do you have a favorite spot to go to with your partner?

Is there a location that's especially sentimental or essential to the development of your relationship?

If you don't have any particular places in mind, we'll find a spot for you. A place to make some new memories.

hiring vendors

vendor recommendations

Your wedding vendors should be made up of people you trust; people you know have your best interests at heart, as well a similar priorities.

Don't be afraid to ask all of your questions during initial meetings and consultations. I can only speak for us, but we always appreciate an open and honest dialogue not only about our process and what you can expect from us, but also about how we are different from others.

There is a perfect vendor team for everyone, they are waiting for you to pop into their inbox.



catering & cake





now that you know who to book

here's when to book them

16-9 months before

8-6 months before

The venue you choose in the wedding planning process is likely the first big vendor decision you will make. This choice will determine your wedding date, and put the biggest dent into your budget.
It is recommended that your wedding venue is chosen between 16 and 9 months before your desired wedding date. The location you decide on may also have some peak & off peak pricing differences, so be sure to ask about that if it applies.

For some, hiring a wedding planner is basically step one after getting engaged. For others, a wedding coordinator may not come along until after the date and venue have been decided. It is possible to plan a wedding without hiring a coordinator, but they may have some suggestions or vendor recommendations that you can utilize.

As soon as you book your wedding venue, you should plan out your DJ or band. Due to high demand, most entertainment books out over one year in advance. Something that we find is becoming more and more popular is a live music/instrument element alongside a DJ. This way, it’s like the best of both worlds!

While wedding planning, you may come to realize that photography is probably one of the most important investments you will make on your wedding day. It may sound biased coming from wedding photographers, but it’s true. After the cake is eaten, the flowers are dried, and the decor is returned, you are left with your photos (and video, too). Your photos will be cherished for generations.

Due to how much work goes into planning a full menu and creating recipes/cake designs, it's best to figure out who your caterer will be soon after booking your venue. This will take so much stress off your plate (literally) and prevent scrambling to try to find food to feed your guests.

Wedding florists are usually the vendors that people are shocked to find out how quickly they will affect their budget. Flowers are not cheap, even less so if they need to be imported from another country. Make sure you have a good idea of what your wedding colors/theme will be. Some advice from my friend after planning her own wedding: “Don’t spend too much money on flowers, especially if you’re getting married outdoors. You can’t take it with you!

You should try to book your hair and makeup artist at least 8 months before your wedding. If you are having an engagement session, try to time your hair and makeup trial around the same time. You’ll be able to test the wearability of your hair and makeup while taking photos for about two hours. It’s not as long as a wedding day, but try to keep it on all day! This way, you’ll have bomb makeup and hair for your engagement photos and above all, you get to put the look to the test.

Unless you have a close friend or family member who is (or willing to get) ordained, you'll need an officiant. The right officiant will assist you in writing your vows, planning the outline of the ceremony, and getting to know you both as individuals and as a couple.

If you have guests coming from out of town or if you are anticipating needing lodging for your vendor team, make sure to book a block of hotel suites at the closest hotel. When you have a different location for getting ready, ceremony, and reception, you will need transportation. It's best to secure a car ahead of time instead of trying to rely on uber or lyft. Trust us.

wedding attire

It may seem like there is a "right" or "wrong" way to dress on your wedding day. Let me be the first to say: there isn't.

I'm going to reassure you that there are truly no rules for how to look on your wedding day. Dress however you like. It's your day.

Wear a jumpsuit, a pantsuit. Suspenders. A ballgown, a two-piece dress. Any color you want, any style you want. Heels, sneaker, boots, anything.

Here are some great places to find outfits:

Monique Lhuillier
Mr. Ned
Stuio Levana
Needle & Thread London
Elizabeth Dye
Eton Shirts
Bijou Bridal
Elie Saab
Galia Lahav
Vera Wang
Carol Hannah
Never Fully Dressed
ASTR The Label

getting ready checklist

[ ] Invitation suite
[ ] Jewelry
[ ] Florals (bouquets, or extra flowers/petals from your florist)
[ ] Shoes
[ ] Nice hangers for attire + command hooks
[ ] Champagne
[ ] OJ (for mimosas)
[ ] Getting ready outfits/robes
[ ] Perfume or cologne
[ ] Deodorant
[ ] Rings + boxes
[ ] Vows or letters
[ ] Face masks
[ ] Band-aids
[ ] Tampons
[ ] Motrin
[ ] Safety pins
[ ] Crochet hook (for small buttons)
[ ] Music
[ ] Snacks + drinks



Try to nail down your getting ready space in advance. Although we'll be prepared for any lighting situation, it helps a lot if it is well lit, has plenty of windows, and has some space to move around freely. Also, we'll make sure any clutter or in-the-way furniture is moved so a to not be eye sores in the photos!

Some things to have ready for your photographer to document: the rings, bouquets, invitation suite, shoes, accessories, etc.

If you're not getting your hair and makeup done, it may seem like you have much more time to get ready. This is a farce. Carve out some extra time, just in case. Some things to consider:

How to tie a bowtie/tie, finding your matching socks, making sure hair flyaways are tucked away, lax time for games, cigars, portraits, general tomfoolery.

Make sure to have all your details in order for your photographer. We like to capture: buttoning the shirt, tying the tie, putting the jacket on, lacing shoes, etc.

first look

A first look is some time set aside after getting ready before the ceremony where the spouses-to-be get to see each other in their full wedding getup for the first time.

Some also choose to do a first look with a parent, or their wedding party. It can get very emotional (I have cried at all of them).

We always recommend a first look because it allows for a LOT of flexibility in your wedding day timeline. How, you ask?

When you have a first look, this not only gives you the opportunity for solo portraits, but also gives you the opportunity to take all the wedding party and family photos ahead of time. If you're not staying separated the entire time pre-ceremony, it's easy to get everyone together and knock out all the photos so you can enjoy cocktail hour later.

It's all relative, though, as the whole day is dependent on two things: the ceremony time, and the sunset time. Figure those two things out and the rest falls right into place.

a good timeline is everything when it comes to photos.

I want to start out by saying: at almost every wedding we have shot AND helped with the timeline (maybe 90%), we have been ahead of schedule. This is because we account for about 15-20 minutes extra during each segment of the day. Since we know pretty much exactly how long certain photos will take, we are able to accurately predict the timing for each portion of the day.

For example, let's say the ceremony starts at 4:00 PM, and you want to take formal family photos before it begins. A good time to start photos would be around 2:30 PM. In the timeline, we'll have the photo time carved out between 2:30 - 3:30 PM, giving you 30 minutes to wind down pre-ceremony even if we use the full amount of time. In reality, it will probably only take about 30-45 minutes for these photos ESPECIALLY if everyone is on time!

Another thing to account for: the sunset. We all love golden hour portraits, as this type of light provides super flattering and dynamic shadows and tones. Each time of day presents its own set of unique challenges, though, and we welcome them all.

how a timeline changes is based on how many hours you have booked

Getting ready photos

First look

Family photos


Cocktail hour

Golden hour portraits

Reception begins

Dinner / dancing

Cake cutting

More dancing /  fun












9:30 / 10:00

Getting ready photos

First look

Family photos


Cocktail hour

Golden hour portraits

Reception begins

Dinner / dancing

Cake cutting

More dancing /  fun












9:30 / 10:00

the ceremony

let's get MARRIED

If your ceremony is outdoors, think about how the light will fall on you during that time. Scout out the area when the lighting is similar -- we usually do this a week before the wedding. If your ceremony is at high noon the sun will be directly above you, casting a harsh shadow under your eyes and nose; you also may be squinting. Keep this in mind!

Some other tip and general info: make sure your officiant scoots away after instructing you to kiss. This ensures a nice, clean final image of your first kiss as newlyweds.

family portraits

Family portraits are notoriously the most chaotic portion of the wedding day. It's very important to be realistic about just how many photos can be taken in the amount of time set aside for this.

We've been lucky enough to be able to crank this part out in 40 minutes or less, but it's best to set aside at LEAST one hour for this part. Here are the ways to ensure it runs smoothly:

  • Have a concise, clear list of your family members/VIPs and their combinations. Have this ready at least 3 weeks prior to your wedding day. 
  • Make sure everyone is on time (or early) and in the pre-determined location. If you have a planner or on-site attendant, they should be in charge of this.
  • Take the wedding party photos during the getting ready/first look portion of the day in order to save time.

1. Newlyweds
2. Newlyweds + parent of one spouse
3. Newlyweds + other parent of one spouse
4. Newlyweds + both parents of one spouse
5. Newlyweds + both parents of one spouse + sibling of one spouse
6. Newlyweds + immediate family of one spouse + extended family of one spouse
7. Newlyweds + extended family of one spouse
8. Newlyweds + friends of one spouse


wedding party photos

Wedding party photos are usually swept up in the craziness of the family portrait session. I recommend getting them done once you're finished getting ready. 

After prep, you can bring both sides of the wedding party together during your first look and finish the morning/afternoon with a group photo.

Easy peasy!

couple portraits

This portion of the day usually happens around golden hour - the hour right before the sun is fully down. It gives us beautiful golden light, highlighted skin, dynamic shadows, all that good stuff.

If your  venue is super spacious, it's best to explore all of that space and take advantage of all our time.

If you'd rather utilize the scenery at a nearby park or if you have a special place in mind, it's very important to account for that (travel time) in the timeline. Don't want anyone missing too much cocktail hour or reception time!

If you don't want to be pressed for time, we can book a separate session just for this part of the day. Like an engagement session, but in full wedding day attire.

This portion of the day usually happens around golden hour - the hour right before the sun is fully down. It gives us beautiful golden light, highlighted skin, dynamic shadows, all that good stuff.

If your  venue is super spacious, it's best to explore all of that space and take advantage of all our time.

If you'd rather utilize the scenery at a nearby park or if you have a special place in mind, it's very important to account for that (travel time) in the timeline. Don't want anyone missing too much cocktail hour or reception time!

If you don't want to be pressed for time, we can book a separate session just for this part of the day. Like an engagement session, but in full wedding day attire.

dinner time


Don't go too crazy here (remember: catering is something couples have admitted spending too much $$ on), but keep in mind that this is your chance to have the dinner party of your dreams. Wow your friends and family with a meal they'll never forget, set at a table with thoughtful details and designs.

There's only so much you can take home and save, though. To quote a deeply flawed favorite character of mine, Don Draper: make it simple, but significant.

Arrange for a curated playlist to play while everyone is enjoying their food. I say a playlist and not your already hired musical talent because, well, they have to eat too! Which reminds me: don't. forget. to. feed. your. vendors. Chances are, the last thing we ate was a granola bar or a forkful of hors d'oeuvres during cocktail hour.


let's party

let's party

Here are some fun, miscellaneous things to consider, as well as some important reminders for your reception.

1. You don't have tot do the bouquet/garter toss. Don't get pressured into it.

2. Think about the mood you want to set with the music (especially if you're having videography services as well). Are we thinking lots of disco or dance music that echoes Studio 54? Or are you more into jazz? Pop?

3. Pick up some cheap fujifilm FLASH cameras from Walgreens/CVS and leave them on the tables for your guests. Your friends and family can snap photos throughout the night from their perspective, and we'll happily develop the film for you and create some memorable print boxes or an album.

4. Section off a portion of your cocktail hour or reception for games like billiards, cornhole, foosball, etc.

5. Some things that make for GREAT images: smashing piñatas, going swimming, sparklers, etc.

the send off

Send offs are not mandatory, of course. However, if you'd really like it documented BUT you only have your photographer until the first hour of your reception, fake it!

Consider it a test run - but keep it between the wedding party if you don't want everyone thinking the reception is over LOL.

Have someone make a toast and everyone hold their glasses high, throw some rice or lots of itty bitty confetti, get some sparklers, make a grand exit down the stairs, or even jump in the pool/ocean if it's warm enough.

Like I said before: there are no rules.

after the wedding

Some photographers may wait until the immediate memories of the wedding day fade in order to send the finished photos (1-3 months).

That's nice and all, but we do things a little differently. The entirety of our weekday schedules are (mostly) dedicated to editing. You'll have a small gallery of 30-50 sneak peek images within 12-24 hours, and the full gallery within - or less than - 2 weeks.

After I photographed my friend's wedding in Italy, I was editing on the plane. He received the images shortly after I got home from the airport.

wedding albums

fine art

Don't let your photos stay trapped behind the screen.

An album lets you show off the quality of your images and becomes a tangible heirloom that can be passed down.

With choices from 8x11 glossy-cover magazines, to fine art velvet and suede cover albums, there's a little something for everyone.

Oh, and the gallery platform will even design it for you based on your favorite images. I usually design them all myself, though.

thank you.

We hope this guide gave you a bit of insight of what your wedding day will be like, as well as what it will be like to work with us.

You're the reason we get to do what we love, and we can't thank you enough for putting your trust in us to capture this day for you.


fill out this short (yet detailed) inquiry form and we will be in touch ASAP. we can't wait to hear all about your wedding plans.



contact NYC wedding photographer sava studio

Let us know if you prefer to meet up for a coffee date.