How To Plan The Perfect Photo Tour
Many of the weddings I photograph take place in downtown Chicago, which leaves room for planning a “photo tour” of the city on your wedding day. The photo tour is a time we schedule for the bride, groom, and wedding party to go around town and take photos at fun and meaningful locations.
This can seem like an overwhelming task to plan out on top of everything else, but I have some helpful tips to aid you in planning a memorable photo tour.
Step 1: Figure out your timeline
Before you even start thinking about your photo tour, you’ll want to create a skeleton timeline for your wedding day. You’ll want to consider things like, “Will you see each other before the ceremony?” If you are planning a First Look, the photo tour naturally follows this moment. If you are not planning to see each other prior to the ceremony, the most fitting time for a photo tour is directly after the ceremony and family photos.
When considering your timeline, I would note that it’s ideal to have a least an hour, if not two for the photo tour. That may sound like an excruciatingly long time to take photos, but remember most of that time is allotted to travel and getting the wedding part from point A to point B. You’ll also want to consider that on Saturdays, you will certainly run into traffic in Chicago from festivals, movie filmings, road closures, and many other obstacles.
If you’re wondering what all is photographed during this time, let me break it down for you. Alongside selecting winning locations to photograph, I like to take this opportunity to capture all the candid photos that will certainly be your favorites from the day.
Here’s my must capture list:
Bride & Groom alone (portraits in each location)
Bride & Groom candid shots (these are the fun, real-life moments as you walk around and interact)
Bridesmaids - as a group, each alone with the bride, and candid moments
Groomsmen - as a group, each alone with the groom, and candid moments
Full wedding party - posed portraits and candid shots
Step 2: Decide on locations
Where should you go on your photo tour? I always recommend finding two very different locations, or one location with a variety of scenery. The variety of two locations will give you the best of both worlds and make your photos look unique and different. For example, I could photograph the groomsmen in an urban area as they walk down the street, while the beautiful ladies I might pose in a romantic garden that complements their dress colors.
There are so many options for locations, but creating your ‘wish list’ is a great place to start.
Here’s a few ideas to get you started:
Landmarks - this could be the skyline, an iconic feature like the Bean, or any other destination that is meaningful to you.
Garden/beach - any park or green space works like magic on a wedding day. I love to use a garden setting for capturing the bride and groom, as well as the bridesmaids
Urban/Rural - Think murals, unique architecture, and bridges. This can be anything from a graffiti wall in Fulton Market, to a bright red barn or apple orchard in the more rural areas.
Step 3: Think through all the logistics
Once you have your timeline locked in, and your location wish list created, it is time to think logistically. What will traffic be like that time of day? Is there a festival or any road closures? Will you have everyone ride together on a bus/trolley? (highly recommended!) Is the location a good fit for the time of year of your wedding. For example, think about a beach in August at 2PM — sand, sweat, wind, a million other beachgoers — you get the picture.
The best advice I can pass along is to talk to your photographer and seek out their advice. I have shot so many wedding days and tried many different locations that I just have the knowledge of what works well and what doesn’t — especially if you are concerned with how a location will look in photographs.
Your photo tour is often the time on your wedding day that you get to spend uninterrupted time with your fiance. With the right amount of planning, you can look forward to creating beautiful photos alongside some of the best memories of your wedding day!